Two flagships, one winner: HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3. This is the comparison we’ve been itching to do ever since we saw murmurs of both phones confirmed into specs and finally embodied in plastic and quad-core circuitry.
Right now it’s the Galaxy S3’s turn to be in the limelight. Adverts for the Samsung Galaxy S3 are everywhere and we’re being asked questions about the famed phone left right and centre. But this is dejavous. Only weeks ago we were oohing over the HTC One X’s gorgeous 4.7-inch display and stunning camera performance, watching adverts involving parachutes, 5 frame per second burst modes shooting Gaga fashioned models and being harangued with questions as to whether the HTC One X was the best gadget of all time.
HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Design
Unibody vs Removable back cover. 4.7-inch screen vs 4.8-inch screen. Curves vs edges. Pulling out both white versions of the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3 did make us double take, they look so similar, but first glances can be deceptive.
The HTC One X packs a plastic unibody design. It’s slender and matted around the back and front with just the sides being high-gloss. For a 4.7-inch screened device, it’s light and comfortable to hold with elements like the micro-drilled holes adding additional refinement to the mix. There’s no denying the HTC One X is a good looking phone, especially in white.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 in contrast has a removable back cover giving it a less cohesive overall look and feel. It looks curvaceous, smooth and feels unimposing but the high gloss across falls short of the refined HTC One X ever so slightly. There are some great touches such as the hyper glazed elements along the side of the white version and fascia of the pebble blue version. The S3 is a big improvement over the Galaxy S2, but feels considerably more plasticky than the HTC One X though.
HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Screen
As far as screens go, the difference between 4.7-inches and 4.8-inches is negligible. What’s worth our attention however is the screen technology. HTC use Super LCD 2, the latest version of LCD to hit mobiles. It delivers a bright picture and rich accurate whites. Thanks to the non-pentile nature of the display, text and icons are considerably sharper than that of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and side by side, web pages do look noticeably better.
The Samsung Galaxy S3’s HD Super AMOLED display is no slouch though. It shows off eye popping saturation and vibrancy as well as deeper blacks. Both are extremely responsive and do a good job with pictures and movies. The HTC One X offers better viewing angles and outdoor performance, edging it slightly ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S3 if web browsing and reading is your thing.
HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: User Interface
Both phones run Android 4.0, however HTC ships its Sense 4.0 skin on the HTC One X while Samsung offers Touchwiz Nature UX on their Galaxy S3. Both are the latest versions of each respective manufacturer’s skin and are the best iterations we’ve seen to date.
We prefer the styling of the HTC One X. It’s subtler, more understated and everything seems more cohesive. It may be skinned head to toe but it runs smoothly, has a huge array of widgets that enhance day to day use no end and makes for an altogether slick user experience.
Touchwiz nature UX still manages to improve considerably upon Touchwiz 4.0 on the Samsung Galaxy S3. Visuals look less cartoonlike, transitions are smoother and the whole experience has been streamlined. Samsung has killed off some stock ICS features such as stackable home screen folders which is irksome and in our time with the phone, we weren’t able to figure out how to change the lock screen shortcuts – something very easy in HTC’s Sense 4.0.
While the HTC One X touches on gesture support with a three finger swipe throwing our media content to a TV with an HTC Media Link attached, the Samsung Galaxy S3 takes gesture, motion and UI tweaks to new heights.
Direct call for example is one of these very useful features that enables you to call a contact simply by putting the phone to your ear. The stipulations for this working are either having a text conversation open or the contact selected before bringing the phone to your face. Another feature, the floating video window delivers an un-paralleled way to multi-task on your smartphone – when in video, simply tap the minimise icon in the bottom right and your video will turn into a small floating window. We used this without even thinking about it after a couple of days and found these amongst other features to truly innovate and improve upon user experience. So while prefering the aesthetic of HTC’s Sense, thanks to Samsung’s success in experimentation, the S3 egdes ahead when it comes to UI.
HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3 Camera
Two 8-megapixel camera with 28mm wide angle equivalents and different, class leading user interfaces and we’ve been tasked with picking the best one. The problem with camera comparisons between two similar devices is that each manufacturer will optimise its camera differently, so picking a better option is likely subjective depending on what you, as a photographer value. How do we rise to this challenge? Take a staggering number of photos with both devices side by side and pick ten that represent key differences, that’s how.
Click above to download the entire grid (large file)
For starters, both phones expose very differently. The HTC One X uses spot metering and will re-meter the shot based on where you tap to focus. The Samsung Galaxy S3 on the other hand uses matrix metering by default, also known as evaluative. This picks exposure based on the entire shot as with the iPhone, and while it gets it right 9 times out of 10, the HTC tends to get exposure on your focal point right every time.
Detail is better on the Samsung Galaxy S3. Pictures are sharper when viewed at 100%, however unless cropping into your pics, you probably won’t see this. The Samsung Galaxy S3 also produces deeper colours and more contrasted images. These are enjoyable to look at, but can curb on dynamic range which the HTC One X had a tendency of picking up more detail in.
Macro detail is directly comparable as you can see from the shots above. Both get some stunning precision in the foreground with totally blown out blur in the background. The HTC One X is more of a challenge to focus up close however. If the entire frame is filled with a close up object it’s fine, but if, as in the image of the tree of wall you intent on getting a fair amount of background in, be prepared to take a few dud shots.
Low light and the HTC One X wins out when the flash is off. The indoor low-light shot illustrates where the Samsung Galaxy S3 throws up noise and black where the HTC One X brings up nuance and detail. Flip the flash on however and it’s the total reverse of this with HTC’s LED performing pretty poorly in comparison to the S3’s blinding light. It’s one of the only on-phone flashes that isn’t Xenon able to light up the best part of a room.
As far as colour reproduction goes, the HTC is a little more realistic with the Galaxy S3 loading a little too much saturation into its snaps. White objects tended to look more white on the One X as well, illustrated above with a white wall and applicable also to paper with text and white boards.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy S3 will produce the most visually appealing pictures to the majority of users and for anyone who uses a flash often on a night out or indoors. It does more for you without any toggles tweaked or settings shifted and packs a simple and customisable UI.
The HTC One X on the other hand could be for anyone who’s looking to faff with settings. If you want to tweak sharpness so it rivals that of the S3, you can, you can adjust contrast and the UI is quicker as well. In addition, the HTC One X packs a slightly faster burst mode.
Thanks largely to the UI, we prefer using the HTC One X though when it comes to output in auto mode, the S3 is the safe bet. Download the grid of images above and decide for yourself which takes the better images in auto mode for you.
HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Connectivity and storage
This round is relatively neck and neck with the Samsung Galaxy S3 delivering exactly the same connectivity hardware as the HTC One X. That said, Samsung do tweak things a little to add S-Beam to the mix.
Kicking off with what’s on board, the two handsets rock DC-HSPA. This is the faster version of 3G that’s rolling out across the UK. If you’re a speed demon and are on O2, Orange, Three or T-Mobile, you might want to opt for the Galaxy S3. The reason for this is that the S3 max speed is roughly double as fast as the One X. If however you’re on Vodafone, it won’t make much difference as it will be capping their DC-HSPA max speed.
Also on board is Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi direct, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC. The interesting thing about the Samsung Galaxy S3 is that it’s got S-Beam on board. This pairs devices with NFC and then transfers data using Wi-Fi achieving much faster transfer speeds than NFC or Bluetooth. Sadly, it will only work with Samsung devices that support the technology.
Thanks to the slightly sharper screen and more accurate whites, the HTC One X just edges ahead when web browsing. The browsers are very comparable using the stock ICS Webkit engine. There are nice customisations across both phones including an offline view mode and mobile optimised view.
32GB sits pretty inside the HTC One X making your options simple in terms of storage. The Samsung Galaxy S3 makes things a little more complicated with its 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of on board memory. The key difference between the two phones however is that the Samsung Galaxy S3 packs a micro SD card slot under its back cover making it expandable by an additional 32GB, irrespective of the size you go for.
HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Performance and Battery
In terms of day to day use, the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3 are pretty neck and neck. They both have ample processing power to drive their user interfaces and seldom stagger or stall if at all. Having said that, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is better in terms of benchmarking and multi-tasking while the HTC One X may be better for games.
The reason the Samsung GS3 is the better multi-tasker of the two is because it actually multi-tasks applications. In contrast, the HTC One X closes an app once you exit it resulting in it refreshing when you reopen it. This is a something HTC have done on purpose, perhaps to improve power management.
Thanks to the Tegra 3 processor and the backing of gaming giant Nvidia however, the HTC One X will probably offer more quad-core optimised games despite the Exynos 4 quad having the benchmarking edge.
Battery life can make or break a phone and indeed, in a pretty close battle so far, it is the deciding factor. We struggle to get a day out of the HTC One X. With regular usage which includes sync, Spotify and occasional web browsing as well as regular call and message functions, it was often empty by the late afternoon – a crippling shortcoming. The Samsung Galaxy S3 in contrast goes the distance, lasting longer and offering a removable battery, so anyone happy to carry a spare can have that extra peace of mind.
HTC One X VS Samsung Galaxy S3: Conclusion
The battle of the flagships is one that rages on year in year out, and this year Samsung takes the crown. There are plenty of things we prefer about the HTC One X – its design, its screen and its UI aesthetic to name a few. But the Samsung Galaxy S3 steals the show when it comes to combining truly innovative features and great performance across the board. It’s propelled to victory by the battery. With the HTC One X’s crippling battery life unable to last a day with moderate use, the Samsung Galaxy S3 by comparison will get you from morning to night and even offers a removable battery for anyone who wants to carry a spare. Two incredible handsets, but only one that goes the distance.