Samsung Galaxy S III vs. HTC One X: A professional observation

Samsung Galaxy S III vs. HTC One X: A professional observation

Summary: After spending the past couple months with the latest Android hero devices, Jason Hiner has some observations and recommendations for business users.


Despite what you may hear coming out of the Apple-Samsung trial, there has been plenty of innovation in the Android ecosystem over the past year. With Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” reunifying the platform and a new generation of hardware in 2012, Android is easier to use, less buggy, faster, and more elegant.

That’s my conclusion after spending a couple months with two of the newest Android powerhouses -- the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. I thought I’d briefly share my thoughts on the two smartphones, tell you which one I liked more, and why there are a couple other phones I’d recommend instead, in some cases.

The main point is that I really liked both the Samsung and HTC devices and I think both are solid smartphone upgrades for business professionals. As I’ve said before, I’m a daily user of both Android and iPhone. The iPhone is my personal phone and Android is my work phone. I’ve been using both platforms since their earliest beginnings and I was formerly a long-term user of Palm Treo and BlackBerry.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich really shines on these two new 2012 smartphones. Both of them have amazingly bright, crisp, and clear screens. Both of them are quick, smooth, and responsive -- moreso than almost any Android devices I’ve used. They’re also both remarkably thin and light, which makes them easy to carry and easy to slide into a pocket or a bag.

If I were forced to choose between the two solely based on the phones themselves (and not their respective wireless carriers), I'd take the HTC One X over the Galaxy S III because the body of the HTC feels more high-quality and less slippery and plasticky and the HTC Sense UI is a little more refined than Samsung TouchWiz UI. However, those are two very subjective things. I know people who prefer the plastic feel of Samsung’s phones and actually like TouchWiz. I’m just not one of them.

All in all, either phone would serve as an excellent upgrade for a business professional looking to trade in a BlackBerry or a previous Android device like the Motorola Droid or the HTC EVO or even a first-gen Samsung Galaxy S.

That said, for heavy-use business professionals, I'd still recommend the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx because the battery life is unbeatable -- even if the screen and the overall performance is a little less impressive than the S III or the One X. The new flagship phones from Samsung and HTC both have fairly mediocre battery life and will struggle to get through a full day on a single charge in some cases, so the Razr Maxx is a more practical device.

Also, for true Android fanatics I'd still recommend getting the Galaxy Nexus since it's going to get the latest Android updates a lot faster than the One X or the S III. For example, Google’s newly-released incremental upgrade, Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean,” has already started rolling out to Galaxy Nexus phones. It could be six months or more before the One X, Galaxy S III, and the Razr Maxx get Jelly Bean (although Samsung is rumored to be getting Jelly Bean before the end of the summer -- that would be a welcome development, but we’ll see if it materializes).

So there you have it. If you’re in the market for a new Android device , I’d recommend the HTC One X, except for heavy business users (get the Droid Razr Maxx) or serious Android fanatics (get the Galaxy Nexus).

Also readAndroid's one killer feature that trumps the iPhone (CNET)

Topics: Smartphones, Mobility

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  • Samsung has a replaceable battery HTC doesn't

    The distinguishing feature between the two is the replaceable battery in the Samsung. Unless you are a slave to fashion and value thinness above all, you would be a fool to buy a phone that lacks a removable battery. The default batteries are undersized and all batteries have limited lives. I have the Galaxy Nexus, the default 1800ma battery was useless, but for $20 I was able to replace it with a 3800ma battery that goes all day. For the S3 there is a 4000ma battery for the same $20. When the battery dies in a year or two you can spend another $20 and replace it. When the battery dies in the HTC, or an iPhone, you have to replace the phone, that's unacceptable.
    • If most people can normally get all day use out of it for the life of their

      typical hw refresh cycle then that wont matter to them. The crappy samsung build quality will probably matter alot more.
      Johnny Vegas
      • HTC = cheap build quality

        It's a common misconception that HTC has better build quality than Samsung.

        As someone who runs a small electronics business, I deal with a lot of customers who buy both of these phones.

        Here are some pointers for people who want the real low down:

        1. HTC is also made of plastic.

        2. Samsung build quality lasts much longer than HTC.

        I can't recall how many times I've had to personally accept returns of malfunctioning or defective new HTC devices. Or hear and read countless stories of customers who had their devices for several months and have found their HTC phones are breaking apart. Not to mention HTC's poor battery quality.

        On the other hand, Samsung's phones have tended to last extremely well, even after 2 years.

        Here's a comment from an actual former HTC owner, which captures the general trend between Samsung and HTC:

        "The SGS3 beats HOX in the build quality. Heres why:
        I have the following samsung devices: 2 sgs2, galaxy note(also 2) and one galaxy nexus.
        The following htc devices: sensation xl and the one x (my fourth, i sold one and exchanged others for new)

        Well when compairing the build quality of htc versus samsung its clear that htc basically sucks.

        On paper and on pictures the one x seems like an amazingly built device, i mean its a unibody phone so nothing should move or creak right? Like in nokia lumia?(which is also polycarbonate unibody and also doesnt creak and which i aslo have 2 of)

        well one x does creak and it feels cheap and thats only now.. My sensation feels like its about to fall apart being half a year old and i havent even used it for that long and never ever dropped it. I feel like one x is going to be the same. Its already pretty bad.

        Samsung phones on the other hand feel very premium and well built, all of them with no exception. Even my one year old galaxy s2 feels like a brand new! Btw the super amoled PLUS screen on it is absolutely fine too "

        3. HTC software, which is Sense, lags even on their newest flagship devices.

        Based on these real world observations, I don't think this writer knows what he's talking about, especially since he doesn't know that the device he "prefers" is also plasticky.

        Either that or this is a paid advertisement for HTC.
        • HTC Returns

          As much of a fan of HTC (More of a fan of Sense really) that I am, I have to admit... the build quality is problematic.

          I've owned the following:
          Evo 4G: Replaced 4-5 times for crippling defects, first time the day after I bought it.
          MyTouch 4G by HTC: Replaced once immediately after receipt for defect.
          HTC Amaze 4G: Screen issues, replaced once
          HTC Sensation 4G: Button LEDs died.
          HTC One S: Replaced once, could not produce anywhere close to white, all whites where heavily tinged yellow by the AMOLED screen. Replacement was not as harsh but it was still present, preferred the blue tint some of them had honestly.
          HTC One X: Nothing wrong... yet. Battery life is hit or miss sometimes. Do not like the following: screen is most promonent frontal feature, so you need a case to set it down (same with SGS3 I believe) and camera lense is not recessed enough.

          Seroiusly, I've had all those phones and have yet to be happy with one thing beyond Sense, especially sense 4.0. Defects ranging from ports becoming completely unsoldered to just suddenly no longer working... I'm a bit tired of it.

          I do like HTCDev though, not gonna lie.
          Christopher Hall
        • Had them both... HTC much better.

          Had them both. HTC much better in built quality and perf. Can't wait for the 4.0.4 (the same ICS version as the SGS3)... As I remember, it scored 5900 vs 5500 of the SGS3. Even better... the 4.1 Jellybean... wonder how it would go there...
      • Crappy Build Quality?

        Sorry, but if we're going on who wins on build quality, that would be the HTC One S, not the X. The camera lense is easily scratched, the plastic isn't all that solid on it, and the curvature of the back is much more pleasant on the Samsung... and I'm an HTC Fanboy! I've had an Evo, Sensation 4g, Amaze 4G, One S and now a One X. I have to say that comparitively I prefer the Samsung Galaxy S 3 as, aesthetically, it is more pleasant, it has a menu button which frees up more of the screen in apps (I hate that about ICS as I lose so much to the silly menu bar) and the AMOLED screen in this case far outstrips the one used in the One S, which was it's one weak point against the One X and similar phones.

        Plus, after playing with 2 SGS3s I can't say that they feel cheap or plasticy at all. It feels solid and more like what I've come to love and expect from an Android OEM.
        Christopher Hall
        • One flaw in your comment

          With the latest official update to the One X, you now can assign the multitasking button to also work as a menu button getting rid of the black bar. It's in the settings under display.
          Brian Pace
    • Samsung and replaceable battery is spot on and a must

      I really want(ed) to get an HTC. I do prefer HTC in general over Samsung. However, HTC definitely does want to be the iPhone of the Android universe. Why else would they opt out of micro SD card and replaceable battery?

      Android and smartphones in general suck the life out of your device prematurely. Business professionals for one thing cannot be left stranded without a full battery. This is where Samsung has got that down. Expandable memory is another. Many people want to either backup or move their data/software/images/videos to their PC rather quickly. Over the cloud isn't there yet. It's still slow.

      Sadly, I have to go with Samsung again. This time though, I will be buying an extended warranty as Samsung reliability and quality in both software and hardware just blows. HTC, get your sheet together. Give us more options so Samsung doesn't win in the Android universe!
    • Extra battery is old school

      First of all if your phone can't last one day, it sucks. Second the fact that you have an extra battery means you have to make sure both batteries are charged every night. So instead of just plugging your phone and going to sleep, you have to have more crap to worry about. Either you have to somehow wake up and replace the battery to charge the second battery or you have to have some secondary means of charging the second battery.

      There is a reason why extra batteries are going the way of dinosaurs.
      • Replaceable batteries give you option of a bigger battery

        Big AMOLED screens, LTE and GPS suck power so you need a big battery, there is no way around that. The batteries that most phones ship with, the Droid MAXX being the single exception are simply inadequate. The solution is to put in a big battery which is only possible if the phone uses replaceable batteries. I have a 3800ma battery in my Galaxy Nexus, that's more than twice the size of the battery it came with. There are 4000ma batteries available for the S3. With a big battery you don't have to carry a spare, although it's nice to have the option. It's also nice to be able to replace the battery when it wears out which they will before the 2 year commitment is up.
        • Battery life

          I still have one of the earliest HTC Desires, now used by my wife (as her Original HTC wildfire, it was cheap in every way except the casing, it SUX!!) the desire, it’s battery is still going well, lasting all day, it never really went flat as fast as the typical ginger bread smart phones, BUT has a tiny on board storage that has to be constantly cleaned out of any apps that won’t store on the external storage card jut to allow updates!!!
      • Old School?

        If your phone doesn't last one day it means you are a heavy user. Secondly, you DO NOT have to charge both batteries at night. You simply have the second as a standby for those heavy days. As you fail to recognize, batteries can hold a charge for 200-300 hours, meaning they can last several days without charging. So contrary to your belief I would rather be OLD SCHOOL and have that extra battery than be stuck with a phone that's useless because it died on me.
        The "V"
      • Um.. Not quite.

        For less than $10 including shipping, you can get an external charger and 3 batteries for the S3. I have been using these type of chargers and batteries for years now and they work wonderfully. You can charge two batteries at the same time and still have 2 more to spare.

        The only thing now is that the NFC chips in the phones are in the batteries. I have no idea why the heck the manufacturers are doing that. So if you are going to use NFC, then you will have to spring for the more expensive batteries. But I'd rather have the ability to do that rather than be stuck with an unremoveable battery like on the One X and the iPhone.
        • Cheapo batteries

          If you buy a cheapo battery it may give you maybe 75% of the life of a charge of a "real" battery and who knows how many charges [less].
          To give you an example,m bought a pair of cheapo batteries for my camera. At about $8, it was cheap. Listed as 1400 mAh. My original batter is at about 11 mAh. Ran the same test on both - recorded video with the same quality. The original lasted 85 minutes. Both clones lasted just over 60 minutes.
          • If you're using them as secondary/emergency batteries

            Then the price savings will probably make up for the fact that they don't last as long. Lots of times people who use a second battery don't kill that one too. For under $10 even at 75% capacity you're getting a pretty good deal.
      • Battery life

        My Blackberry Bold 9700 is still chugging along at roughly 4 days on a single charge after over 2.5 years. The occasional charge and text/SMS and about 40 Emails [in and out] per day.
      • The Tamagotchi effect

        This is how it is called.
    • bjrosen

      You really think that you can't replace the battery? It may be a bit more difficult and so may want to have the local cell phone guru do it. I have replaced the battery in my Kindle Keyboard and am getting ready to do my ASUS Transformer. It's not hard and is under $30.
      Blanca Pez
  • What makes you think ics is faster? Are you comparing to froyo running on

    the same cpu? I think the speed is coming from the cpu upgrade, not ics. Look at how WP runs on a 1Ghz single core cpu if you want a taste of fast from the os itself. I'll be very interested to see the performance that comes when WP8 dual/quad core hw comes out this fall.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Re: What Makes You Think ICS Is Faster?

      It's been reworked for better efficiency, responsiveness, battery life etc.

      It's easy to check this for yourself. Even if your phone doesn't have an "official" upgrade from the vendor, there's always a third-party option like CyanogenMod etc.