I honestly do not understand it. Back when I bought my Android phone - Galaxy SII - I genuinely thought it was a better phone than the HTC competition, and to this day, I think the SII is the best phone in the Galaxy lineup. I strongly dislike the SIII - shapeless plastic blob with no identity - and the S4 doesn't seem to be changing up the formula. It's more, but the same.
After Samsung's success with the SII, HTC started to get it's act together. The One X was met with raving reviews (aside from its version of Sense), and if you held the SIII and One X in both hands it was clear right away which of the two was the better phone. Sadly, the world didn't seem to agree; the SIII became yet another smashing success, and nobody bought the One X.
This year, I think the gap has widened even more. I have to do without first-hand experience for now, but judging by the reviews, videos, and photos, it certainly does look like the HTC One takes a huge leap forward in build quality and material choices, and even Sense has been changed considerably and looks far less outdated and ridiculous than it did before.
The S4, on the other hand, is more of the same; same plasticky phone with loads of 'features' that most likely won't work properly, that nobody is going to use beyond the novelty factor, marred by the horrendous abomination that is TouchWiz. In fact, with every new Galaxy S flagship, Samsung seems to be moving more and more to the phone equivalent of The Homer.
Of course, neither the HTC One nor the Galaxy S4 have been widely available long enough, so this year, everything might be different. This year, the tables might turn, and people might start buying HTC's flagship instead of Samsung's. I hope they do, since Samsung is becoming far too dominant for my taste, and with Nokia failing to make any inroads into the market and LG and Sony scribbling in the margins, HTC is my only remaining hope.
So, to all of you who opted for the Galaxy SIII last year, or those of you considering the S4 right now - why? Why did you or are you planning on going with Samsung over HTC? What are your reasons? Does Samsung have something HTC does not? If you live in a country with carrier lock-in (like the US), is HTC too expensive on your carrier? In countries without carrier lock-in, where you get to pick whatever phone you want regardless of carrier, is Samsung cheaper?
What is it?
While I prefer Windows Phone1, I still rock my SII, and still think it's a fantastic phone. I do plan on replacing it at some point, though, and I really see very little reason to pick anything other than the HTC One (The Netherlands is not important enough for Google, so the Nexus 4 has never been available here). When I talk to friends with some modicum of what's going on in the industry, they tend to prefer HTC as well.
It baffles me why no one else seems to.
1 My daily driver is an HTC 8X, which I easily chose over Nokia's 920 - which I found too large and slippery to hold, but that's a very personal thing. I don't think either the 8X or the 920 is significantly better or worse than the other.