Using the picture comparisons posted earlier, I made the following:
The top is the original HTC One shot, and the bottom is the original iPhone 5 shot. In the middle is my manual post processing of the HTC One photo via photoshop.
What I want to note here is that image quality, as far as the physical camera specs are producing, are very comparable between the high-end smartphones. What most people are debating here is really the software/firmware treatment of the image AFTER the camera has done its work.
For most people, they don't want to deal with having to run through their photos through photoshop; they want the camera to just give them a pic they like. And as we've already seen, some people prefer the iPhone's rendering and some people prefer the HTC One's offering.
My image is simply to illustrate that with post processing, I can easily make the HTC One photo look like the iPhone's, and had I chose to do so, I can easily make the iPhone photo look like the HTC One's. And the reason I can do this is because from an image quality perspective (resolution, contrast, color, et. al), the two raw images are practically identical.
I think using the camera's physical specs to justify why a photo SHOULD be better only goes so far. I stand by my previous post that most people judge photos based on the firmware's ability to post-process the raw image to the user's liking.
The iPhone does not take perfect photos every time. My wife has one and we've seen shitty photos come out of it. And sometimes I'll run her photos through photoshop before we post it on FB. Likewise with my Evo LTE. But as far as raw image quality is concerned, the difference is small, as hopefully I've shown in my image by normalizing contrast, saturation, and color temperature.
As for personal preference, in this comparison, I prefer the post processing of the iPhone, even if it's not quite as realistic. Take a look at postcards and tell me if the colors you see there are realistic. We don't always want realism in a photo. Sometimes, photography is the glorification of light, not simply the reproduction of it.