It is never easy to improve a product that has already set a high standard. LG and HTC have launched a new phone each; they are an evolution of the very successful LG G2 and the HTC One M8 respectively. We test both to see how they perform against their older siblings.

LG G3

47,990 (16 GB); 50,990 (32 GB)

The G3 has the dimensions of a typical 5-inch smartphone because of the thin bezels around the 5.5-inch screen. The good-quality polycarbonate panel has a brushed-metal, fingerprint-resistant finish. At 149g, the G3 is 14g lighter than the Sony Xperia Z2.

The display packs 2,560x1,440 pixels, a quad HD resolution—4K, in a nutshell. What stands out is the sharpness of the screen. The Oppo Find 7 has the same resolution, but it is not as crisp. The IPS panel is extremely bright, and if you don’t turn down the default 100% brightness, you may experience temporary vision discomfort. The colours reproduce well, and don’t pop out as they do on the Samsung Galaxy S5’s Super AMOLED screen. Playing low-resolution videos and movies on this screen will be a travesty of justice.

The performance is excellent. The quad-core 2.5 GHz processor, with 3 GB of RAM, offers blazing-fast performance. There are not enough apps in the world to slow this phone down.

LG G3’s new user interface is a refreshing change.
LG G3’s new user interface is a refreshing change.

The 13 MP camera packs in a lot of interesting stuff, at least on paper. The laser autofocus feature uses an invisible laser beam that measures how far the subject is from the camera. Other smartphone cameras rely on contrast variations to set focus. The dual LED flash isn’t entirely new—the iPhone 5s and the HTC One M8 already have it.

In terms of picture quality, the G3 offers mixed results. Most of the daytime shots are crisp, and detailing is better than the rival flagships. The close-ups have good detail, but the colour separation isn’t the best—a portion with a slightly lighter green shade may not be well distinguished from the rest of the green, for example. For low-light shots, it takes a while to focus, and depending on where the focus is set, the colours in the picture tend to vary a bit.

The massive 3,000 mAh battery lasts a bit more than a day, with brightness set at 50%. The display packs in a lot of pixels, and they consume a considerable amount of battery power.

Consider the G3 for its excellent screen and its very quick performance.

HTC One E8

34,990

HTC takes the M8, widely acknowledged as the “best phone in the world", replaces its beautiful metal body with plastic and names it the One E8. Critically, that makes the E8 a lot more affordable than the M8 (market price: around 46,000), with almost the same specifications—good 5-inch, 1,080p, Super LCD3 screen, powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 2,600 mAh battery, which has surprisingly good stamina.

Its performance is the same as its pricier sibling, and that gives the E8 an advantage over the Galaxy S5, which feels a tad sluggish at times. The dual-SIM capability (the slots are meant for nano-SIMs only) enhances the appeal.

HTC has always done well with the polycarbonate finish—the One X and One X+ were testament of that fact. Which is why a shift from metal to plastic isn’t a step down when HTC is building a phone.

The E8 feels well put together and is 15g lighter than the M8, which tips the scales at 160g. The white enamel on the back doesn’t scratch easily, but the slippery finish means you have to be careful. The speaker grilles have the M8’s classy drill design. The glass above the display cascades over the right and left sides, which feels reassuringly premium when you’re swiping your finger across the screen.

The E8 has a 13-megapixel camera, a change from the M8’s UltraPixel technology. The new camera captures a little more detail across all shots. There is the occasional yellow tinge at times in some shots, but you can immediately take a second snap and the tinge doesn’t show up. The colours are not as bright as the Galaxy S5’s camera.

Indoors and in low light, the 13 MP camera is a bit inconsistent with exposure. The trial and error method of tapping on different parts of the screen to change the focus area sometimes improved the handling of light. Basically, the E8’s camera is a tad better than the UltraPixel, but still some way behind the Sony Xperia Z2’s low-light performance. Between the E8 and Galaxy S5, the latter’s camera is slightly better all round.

At this price, the E8 is competing directly with the Samsung Galaxy S5—and it is too close to call. The Galaxy S5 has a slightly richer display, but the E8 feels better to hold, and the BlinkFeed UI scores better than Samsung’s TouchWiz in terms of looks and functionality. If the accessory range is a critical point for you, Samsung’s phones have a significant advantage over the HTC phones, at the moment. The E8 offers the same impressive performance as the M8 at a much more affordable price point.

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