Which of the year's Android flagships is worth your dosh?
Both are quad-core Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices, both sport expansive HD screens and both are crammed with future-friendly tech from hyper-social apps to NFC for mobile payments. HTC’s secret weapon is its phenomenally quick, capable camera and beefed up Beats Audio, while Samsung has pumped the Galaxy S III full of unique social extras and software tweaks.
Here’s how they stack up on six key areas.
The HTC One X (above) fits a 4.7-inch screen into a 134x70x8.9mm body made of polycarbonate, a soft-touch plastic that feels smooth and sturdy in the hand. The Super LCD 2 screen packs in a high-res 1280x720 pixels, and displays images in sharp, true colours with excellent viewing angles.
Though the Samsung Galaxy S III has a larger display at 4.8-inches, its extremely narrow bezel means that its chassis is actually a touch slimmer at 136.6x70.6x8.6mm. It’s made of a similar material to the One X, but its flimsier back cover and gloss coat give it more lightweight feel that could put some off. Like the Galaxy Note, it packs a Super AMOLED HD screen, which delivers extreme brightness and vibrant colours. Viewing angles are outstanding and there’s no motion blur.
Both screens are Gorilla Glass-fronted for extra protection against drops.
Verdict: Both phones are well built and pocketable despite screen sizes stretching towards the five-inch mark
HTC One X (left) and Samsung Galaxy S III
Both phones run on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but HTC has gone a step further to customise the One X with its new, streamlined Sense 4.0, which adds tons of personalisation features including various widgets and apps for the lock screen to minimise clicks when you need to get into the phone. As always, its social integration is comprehensive. Like the Galaxy S III, the One X has tons of small efficiency features too, like pinching to view all home screens, or flipping the phone to mute a ring.
The Samsung Galaxy S III sports TouchWiz 4.0, an interface that Samsung has dialled way down over the years so that here, it’s an unobtrusive layer that largely adds proprietary Samsung widgets for Weather, Social Networking, Media and Calendar. Unique to the Galaxy S III though are new tweaks designed to help you use the phone more quickly, including Direct Call, where you can lift the phone to your ear while writing a text to call that person instead; and Smart Stay, where the display ostensibly stays on as long as you’re looking at it, though in practice, you need to be facing it straight on.
Verdict: Both phones are smooth and fast to use – but Sense 4.0 is an evolution on a great interface, while the feature list on the Galaxy S III is innovative but occasionally gimmicky
Its snapper is one of the HTC One X’s defining features – this eight-megapixel lens sports zero shutter lag and a larger f/2.0 aperture for great lowlight photography. It’s not as crammed with extra features as the Galaxy S III, but it does a masterful job at all sorts of photographs. You can record 1080p video too, and take photos while recording simply by tapping the screen.
The Galaxy S III also has an eight-megapixel camera, though it's less capable at low light shots. Both phones support burst mode for a clatter of over a dozen photos in a couple seconds, but the Galaxy S III takes it further with a plethora of shooting modes and ways to share photos with friends.
It was noticeably smoother to use for snapping a panorama shot too, where the HTC One X continually stuttered in stitching each frame together.
Here's how the two cameras stack up in everyday situations:
HTC One X: Outdoors
Samsung Galaxy S III: Outdoors
HTC One X: Colours
Samsung Galaxy S III: Colours
HTC One X: Macro
Samsung Galaxy S III: Macro
HTC One X: Action
Samsung Galaxy S III: Action
Verdict: The One X has beefier hardware and takes less saturated images but the Galaxy S III has more fun add-ons and shooting modes to play with – and they’re executed well
Android phones by and large support deep social integration, with Facebook, Twitter and Flickr working well with other apps such as the camera, web browser and phonebook. The HTC One X offers an easy, intuitive interface for adding and using all these social apps, with a startup menu holding your hand through it all, and widgets that you can place right on the lock screen (above) for immediate reading.
That’s trumped by the level of social stuff on the Galaxy S III (above) though. In the gallery, the Social Tag function uses face recognition software to tag friends in photos, with an extra shooting mode for sending a photo immediately to everyone in a group shot. There’s also built-in integration with more social networks, including the ability to share photos (below) with Dropbox, Picasa, Google+, and Flipboard, which debuted for Android on the Galaxy S III.
Verdict: The HTC One X does the standard social features superbly, while the Galaxy S III also offers next level social extras – but that you may or may not use.
Both phones come with quad-core chips – the Galaxy S III runs on Samsung’s Exynos 1.4GHz four-core processor, while the One X packs the Nvidia Tegra 3 1.5GHz chip. HD media, apps and games run beautifully on both, and the touch-screen never lagged.
So where’s the difference?
The One X’s special feature is Beats Audio, a software music enhancer, while it also supports DLNA for wireless media streaming.
The Galaxy S III harnesses its four cores to perform multitasking feats like run HD video while you write a text or email – Samsung calls it Pop Up Play. It’s impressively smooth and the next level from being able to switch between open apps. The AllShare apps do cool things like let you use your phone as a TV controller, collaborate on files over the internet and watch movies from your phone on a TV sans wires.
Verdict: Both phones can run heavy duty apps and games with ease, but the Galaxy S III has greater software enhancements to make the most of its hardware features right now.
The Galaxy S III has a 2,100mAh battery, second in size only to the Motorola RAZR Maxx, while the One X bears a 1,800mAh juice pack. In real life terms, the Galaxy S III ponies up a full 24 hours with heavy use, impressive for a phone with a display that big and bright.
The One X managed to trump it in our tests, lasting more like 30 hours on the same usage pattern of streaming, web surfing, background data sync and the odd spot of sat nav.
Verdict: Both phones will easily last you into the next day before needing a charge, but the One X will last a little longer
Do you have the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III? What do you think of it – and are you glad you chose it?