Is the HTC One X better than Samsung's Galaxy S III?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: June 7, 2012

In the world of Android, there are two major hardware manufacturers who are constantly battling back and forth for the love and adoration of mobile consumers. Samsung and HTC are easily two of the most recognizable brands when it comes to Android. And, this year, neither are pulling any punches.

Both Samsung and HTC have announced and launched their flagships (at least overseas) for the year: the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X. Packing some seriously impressive specifications, the two devices are widely regarded as two of the best smartphones to date and are receiving a lot of attention. The beautiful, unibody design and topnotch performance of the HTC One X has garnered lots of love from reviewers and consumers alike. And the Galaxy S III, which has just recently landed in the hands of reviewers, has received quite a lot of praise, too.

The question now is: which is better? As these things usually go, there is no straight answer.

By sales, the One X has come up short of HTC's expectations for Q1. But it's still unclear whether that can be attributed to the ITC bans on One devices due to a patent infringement case with Apple. The Galaxy S III, on the other hand, has exceeded expectations, having already been pre-ordered by over nine million people on May 18. The device has since opened for pre-order on countless other carriers.

But sales and pre-sales hardly speak for the quality of the devices themselves. They're offered in different markets, on different carriers and HTC is on the spur of a pretty terrible year, whereas Samsung had an awesome year in 2011. Even if you look at the spec sheets, there's no real winner. The two devices are neck and neck, and each specification is a trade-off for the respective one on the compatriot device.

HTC, however, believes their handset takes the cake. (Of course, right?) Android Authority managed to get their hands on some internal documents called "special packs" for their HTC sales team, in an attempt to spark another strong sales push. The packet consists of several comparisons of different specifications and aspects of each device. And, as Chris Smith of Android Authority summarizes from the photos, the conclusion is the HTC One X has:

  • Better speed/faster – Quad-core 1.5GHz vs Quad-core 1.4
  • Better camera – 70% better quality with f2.0, Faster: 4fps/99 shot, Faster startup: 0.7s vs Poor low light with f2.6, Slower: 3fps/20shots, Slower startup: 0.99sec.
  • Better sound – Beats Audio vs “none”
  • Better screen – Brighter & cleaner, higher density vs “Dull Bluish,” lower density
  • Better durability – Polycarbonate vs Plastic
  • Better design – “World acclaimed” vs “Disappointing”

HTC even offers some counters for some of the features of the One X that could be considered "flaws". For instance, the Galaxy S III may be 0.3mm thinner, but the "HTC One X is lighter, feels slimmer and looks way better." While the Galaxy S III has a removable battery, HTC claims the "One X's battery can easily last a full day." (After a month with a One X, I totally disagree.) And even though the Galaxy S III has expandable memory via microSD card slot, the HTC One X (global version) has 32GB built-in storage and 25GB of free Dropbox storage (for 24 months).

What say you, ladies and gents? Which phone takes the cake? HTC One X? Or Galaxy S III?

It's impossible for many of us to say first-hand which phone looks, feels or operates better. Only our own Aaron Baker, the others who have received review units and people overseas can attest to those attributes. But, on paper, there is a clear winner for me.

I, of course, reserve my final opinion until I get some hands-on time with the Galaxy S III, but I'm inclined to say the One X is my top pick, based solely on the entire package. Specs do carry some weight. But when you're dealing with smartphones of this caliber, software, design and quality all matter just as much, if not more.

I love the polycarbonate unibody and the design of the One X. It's extremely lightweight, feels sturdy and it looks fantastic. The Galaxy S III actually has a polycarbonate backing (despite what most people are calling just "plastic"), but it is not a unibody, nor does it have the same quality look to it. Just based on past experience with Samsung devices, my hopes aren't too high for a better build quality with the Galaxy S III. And although it's completely in the eye of the beholder, the Galaxy S III looks absolutely atrocious.

As far as internals go, the U.S. versions of the One X and Galaxy S III have the same chipset, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4. The One X comes with 1GB RAM, 16GB built-in storage, a non-removable 1,800mAh battery. The Galaxy S III comes with twice the RAM, either 16GB or 32GB built-in storage and expandable memory and a 2,100mAh removable battery. While the S III has the edge here, when it comes to specs, the display is a make-or-break feature for me. The Galaxy S III has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display. No doubt it's a beautiful display but, as I have explained before, there are some flaws with the PenTile Matrix subpixel layout of Samsung's panels. The HTC One X comes with a 4.7-inch S-LCD2 display at the same 720p resolution. The colors still pop, the blacks are still very inky and whites don't look like parchment when you turn the brightness all the way down.

Another big factor is software. Both run Android 4.0, but Samsung's phone comes with a new version of TouchWiz, dubbed Nature UX, which I have yet to use. It looks mostly the same as TouchWiz 4, just with some additional features. HTC's device comes with Sense 4. I never really like Sense in the past, but much to my surprise, Sense 4 has been bearable and actually pleasing to use. I have never really been a fan of TouchWiz either, and it could really go either way with Nature UX. But I know for certain I like Sense 4, and I've never truly liked anything but stock Android in the past. It's entirely possible that TouchWiz Nature UX could win me over, too. But those odds are very, very slim.

There is going to be a great divide between these two devices, I'm sure -- at least until something better comes along. And it will be interesting to see which Aaron picks in a dogfight (if or when he even does, though I'm sure he will at some point). I wouldn't feel right saying I whole-heartedly pick the One X over the Galaxy S III without having hands-on with both. But HTC really plucked at my heartstrings with polycarbonate and S-LCD2. And a long history of cheap plastics and buggy software from Samsung have me on the fence about their latest flagship.

Which side are you on? One X or Galaxy S III? Is it all about the spec sheets for you? Or do design and build quality make a big difference, too? Sound off in the comments below and let us know which one wins your vote below!

Image via Android and Me

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