Samsung Galaxy S III/HTC One X Comparison

HTC released the One X barely a month before the Galaxy S III and is the Samsung device’s closest and most comparable rival. Both handsets feature quad-core processors, run Android Ice Cream Sandwich and are similar in size. We’ve already reviewed each of the devices individually but now we’re placing them side-by-side to compare the two and see if one comes out better than the other.

When putting the two phones up against each other we’ll be focussing on three key areas:

  • Design and display
  • Processor and performance
  • User interface and multimedia

With the design and specs of each device being so closely matched, is it possible to set one apart from the other? Read on to find out …

Design and Display

In contrast to the large, black devices which have dominated smartphone design for several years both the S III and One X are available in white. The difference between the two is that the HTC effort is fitted with a matte-finish polycarbonate backplate which is lightly textured, making the phone easy to grip. Conversly, the Samsung has a shiny, polycarbonate backing which is very slippery indeed. We found that the One X is the more stylish of the two handsets in terms of aesthetics and that the glossy casing of the S III made it especially difficult to grip. For everyday use an additional case may be required for the S III, as its slick outer shell is not conducive to grippiness.

Whilst the S III does have the larger screen of the two there is little difference between them. Samsung’s offering sport s a 4.8-inch display while HTC has fitted the One X with very slightly smaller 4.7-inch screen. When holding the devices next to each other the difference in size is evident, but it is so slight that it has little effect on what is displayed by each screen. However, there is a very small downside that the S III suffers from as a result of its larger display – with both phones having a screen resolution of 720×1280 pixels, the One X has a slightly higher ppi of 312 compared to the Galaxy’s 306. This tiny difference does little to affect everyday use though.

There are however a few other differences in terms of the displays which do affect the overall user experience. The S III’s Super AMOLED HD screen offers slightly better overall performance than the Super IPS LCD 2 display on the One X with images on the Samsung appearing to have more depth. Light emitted from the S III’s screen is softer and easier on the eye, and when coupled with the graphics and animations brought along by the new TouchWiz Nature UX user interface, makes for a better viewing experience.

Processor and Performance

Whilst the S III has the larger screen, the One X has a faster processor, although again there is very little noticeable difference in the power of these two handsets. Headlines were made by both HTC and Samsung when each announced a move into the realm of quad-core processors and it’s no surprise that each firm’s flagship devices have been utilised to showcase the technology. Samsung’s CPU offering comes in the form of the Exynos 4212 and clocks in at 1.4GHz whilst HTC has gone one step further, employing the NVIDIA-produced Tegra 3, clocking in at 1.5 GHz, a chip widely regarded as being at the cutting edge of mobile technology.

As with the previously mentioned screen size situation, the choice of CPU has little practical effect, and day-to-day use of the two devices shows that neither has any discernible advantage over the other when it comes to speed. We put both phones through their paces, navigating around the user interface, opening apps and streaming video, as well as browsing the web, and found that they were both lightning fast and had truly staggering capabilities in terms of processing power.

User Interface and Multimedia

Both the One X and Galaxy S III run the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, with user interfaces laid over the top by their respective manufacturers. Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX is an impressive looking interface, full of animations that give it character such as  the ripple effect that manifests itself on the homescreen when the phone is unlocked. These sophisticated touches aren’t matched by anything on the One X, but that doesn’t mean that HTC’s Sense UI is without its charms.

The latest version of Sense, 4.0, has gained critical acclaim for its scaled-back appearance compared to its predecessors. Where earlier versions were full of animated features and graphics, the newer version has trimmed a lot of this away so that the UI only embellishes a few aspects of ICS beyond the basics. Although the unlock screen doesn’t look as stylish as that found on the S III, the practical functionality of being able to attach app icons to the lock screen and open them directly by sliding them over the ring icon is something that we love. HTC’s approach to creating a UI is definitely substance over style, and it works.

Nevertheless, the S III has some very good native features built into its user interface. S-Voice is the rival to Apple’s Siri, a voice-activated  digital assistant to which the One X has no answer. Other features such as Smart Stay, which tracks user’s eyes and puts the screen into sleep mode if they’re no longer looking at it, and Direct Call, which will call a contact when the device is lifted to an ear, are great although their performance can be temperamental.

Both devices feature an 8 megapixel camera and are capable of producing excellent results with images being clear, crisp and detailed. We found that the Samsung is slightly more adaptable to unfavourable conditions such as low light levels, but there isn’t a great deal of difference between the performance offered by each.

Each of the handsets also boast an excellent camera app that offers a wide range of functionality and scope to enhance images captured. HTC’s attempt at introducing high-end camera functionality with One series is excellent, with some simple touches such as dual-capture buttons that allows the capture of still images whilst recording video. Samsung’s camera capabilities include a Best Photo function, which takes a number of images at once then chooses the best one based on factors such as contrast, and exposure.

Although each camera offers different features they are both excellent examples of how a manufacturer can build excellent software on top of a good, basic camera unit. Both phones are capable of quick, carefree snapping and more advanced mobile photography.

Conclusion

HTC wasn’t subjected to the same levels of the hype surrounding the launch of the One X that Samsung was with the Galaxy S III, although the presence of a quad-core processor did succeed in grabbing some headlines for the Taiwanese manufacturer. Despite the modicum of overblown hoopla, the One series flagship is a fantastic handset that mixes power and performance with an excellent user interface.

The S III comes with some extra features that the HTC produced handset cannot rival, such as the S-Voice voice assistant, but these can be a little unreliable and this does detract somewhat from their usefulness. Even though the One X is lacking in comparable features it performs the more basic functions very well, with flamboyance having been eschewed in favour of practicality. The Galaxy S III’s extra  functionality, coupled with the impressive TouchWiz Nature user interface, could make it the more appealing of the two to mobile consumers, but the HTC One X is still a solid, impressive and useable high-performance phone.

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