HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Android showdown

It's battle of the Android smartphone goliaths...

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Which of the Android smartphone greats comes out on top? Here's the T3 verdict...

Phone contract on its last legs? Eyeing up the next smartphone in your life? If the iPhone 4S or one of the Windows Phone 7 mob doesn't take your fancy then you are probably looking to bag an Android smartphone.

The HTC One X is the Taiwanese mobile maker's flagship device from the One Series range and boasts a power-mongering quad-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and Beats Audio all packed into slick, brightly hued surroundings. The question is, does it have enough to take on T3's 2011 Phone of the Year the Samsung Galaxy S2?

Reading time? About 10 minutes. Deliberating time saved in the phone shop? Limitless. Read on, Android pioneer...

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Build


It’s a highly tactile phone that you want to stroke and roll round your hand like a worry stone, it’s perhaps the most touchable handset since the iPhone 3GS. That’s partly because there are no visible seams apart from the power and volume buttons, the micro USB charging slot and a tiny cover for the micro SIM.

It’s under 9mm thick and this makes it manageable in all but the smallest hands. There’s a sealed battery, so no removable back to spoil the look, and more space to squeeze in more battery with less cladding; vital with such a big screen in such a thin body.

The One X is made from polycarbonate – posh plastic, basically – making it light in spite of its size. The unibody frame means it all holds together effortlessly, with no creaking, no matter how much you try and flex it.

Look closely and you’ll see the white back is matt but the edge and front are gloss. Matching these different finishes so smoothly is further proof of HTC’s forensic attention to detail.

Samsung Galaxy S2:

Pick up the phone and the first thing you notice is how light it is – it’s just 116g. Measuring 8.49mm, it’s incredibly slim in comparison to 9.9mm for the original Galaxy S; 9.3mm for the Apple iPhone 4 and 8.7mm for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.

While the Galaxy S2 will certainly fit into the tightest jeans pocket, the compromise is build quality - the body just feels cheap and uninspiring. Things don't improve when you remove the wafer thin back to insert a sim - we’d be seriously worried about snapping it.

Controls are limited to volume on one side, power on the other, MHL port, which serves a dual purpose of charging via USB and outputting to HDMI, and a 3.5mm jack on the top, Samsung includes a range of streaming options including DLNA.

T3 Verdict: HTC One X

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Screen


About that screen: turn the phone on and you can’t miss the remarkable display. At 4.7 inches, it’s massive, sure, but actually it’s the resolution that stands out. This measures 312 pixels per inch, almost as high-definition as the iPhone 4S, and the larger size means it looks arguably more impressive.

It’s sharp, colourful and deeply attractive, looking as detailed as a printed photograph. It’s especially good with video or showing off photographs.

Samsung Galaxy S2:

The highlight of S2 is the 4.3-inch 800x480 screen, which incorporates Super AMOLED Plus technology. Colours are eye popping and blues and greens literally jump out of the screen at you. Off-angle viewing is excellent too - the first phone we’ve seen to match the iPhone 4.

A larger screen sizes means that the phone is bulky, but it’s a joy for movies. When playing back our test HD movie clips, detail is sharp and action smooth. We found that whites aren’t as pure or bright as those on the Apple iPhone 4, although blacks seem darker and colours are bolder and warmer. It handles action smoothly too.

T3 Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S2

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Camera


You’ll likely be doing plenty of that because the eight-meg/1080p camera with backside illuminated sensor and LED flash is another standout feature. It takes great pics and vids, with minimal shutter lag, but HTC has really aced it with the extra features.

You can shoot stills while recording video or even extract stills from video in “post-production”, picking the frames you want from recorded footage. Stills shutter and video recording buttons are onscreen at all times, along with a lens which, in Instagram style, lets you add sepia, vignette, distortion and other effects which you can view as you snap. Then, when you’re playing back video, touching the shutter icon will capture still images from the moving ones.

Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung has boosted the camera resolution from 5-megapixels to 8-megapixels, instead of a dedicated shutter; you tap the virtual shutter, which is fairly quick if not quite as nippy as the offering on the iPhone 4.

There are plenty of manual controls. Adjust the ISO from 100-800, choose from five white balance settings and choose between three metering settings. Samsung has also included Smile Shot, Beauty, Action, Cartoon and Panorama scene modes. Alongside auto focus, Macro mode captures sharp shots to around 10cm and there’s an effective Face Detection mode.

Still results are pleasing, the S2 is pretty good at controlling noise, and we’d like them to be a little sharper, colours are very natural. The S2 shoots HD video at 720p and 1080p at 30fps and results are pleasing; it’s smooth, with natural colours, perhaps lacking a little definition.

T3 Verdict: HTC One X

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Android


It’s also one of the first to market with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android. As ever with HTC, its overlaid with the company’s Sense skin. Sense is far better than similar overlays from LG, Sony and Motorola. HTC Sense is all-encompassing, with really well thought out apps and features.

Take the lock screen. There, you drag a ring up the screen to wake the phone, but you can also drag one of four, user-selected icons – defaults are phone, mail, messages and camera – into the ring, to launch that app or function.

Lists and menus on Android phones used to have an elastic spring to them as you scrolled. Now when you reach the top of a menu, contacts or missed call list, say, a blue light seeps out to tell you you’re at the end. On the One X, the list’s entries separate like carefully arranged slips of paper sliding apart. It’s really rather satisfying.

Samsung Galaxy S2:

It's taken a while, but Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has arrived for the Samsung Galaxy S2. Well, for most S2 users. For those still waiting for the latest Android update to arrive, the S2 runs on Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread out of the box. That means you get seven homescreens customisable with widgets and shortcuts. Swipe down to quickly activate WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and Auto Rotation settings. Phone, Contact, Messaging and Application settings along the bottom are static when you are browsing the homescreens. Like other Android phones, press down to customise with Shortcuts, Folders, Wallpaper and numerous Samsung widgets.

Samsung’s overlayed Android with its TouchWiz UI which is functional and adds some neat features, including four hubs: Music (see below), Games, Readers and Social Hub, which acts as a portal to Kobo bookstore and Magazines via Zinio.

Social Hub syncs social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, to IM accounts including Google Talk; and MySpace and Linked-in. It’s functional, syncing your contacts, but we prefer HTC Sense. In addition Sony Ericsson’s Xperia skin is slightly easier to use, for example here you can only organize the Applications via grid or list and to create App Folders you make the folder first before dragging items onto it.

T3 Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S2

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Battery


Battery life hasn’t always been HTC’s strongest suit, the One X rights that. It gives a good 12 hours of power usage, making it to its nightly recharges with few alarms. The good stuff really is laid on thick, here.

Samsung Galaxy S2:

With WiFi on, maximum brightness, moderate browsing, some video and photos we got into our second day. One of the most useful features is Task Manager, where you can view and kill active applications and clear the RAM, and you can enable Power Saving Mode to cut in when the power gets to 50%.

T3 Verdict: Draw

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Video

Samsung Galaxy S2 video

HTC One X video

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S2: Verdict

So is the HTC One X a better Android choice than the Samsung Galaxy S2? HTC's new flagship device clearly has the hardware advantage in many departments, particularly its snappier overall performance courtesy of the quad-core processor nestling under the hood. It also sports one of the best feature-laden cameras we've seen on a smartphone. That said, the Samsung Galaxy S2 still manages to combine slender, good looks with a speedy performance and finally has Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to add to its armoury. The One X in our opinon is the best Android smartphones on the market, but if you are looking for value for money, you should go for the Samsung Galaxy S2.

T3 Verdict: HTC One X

Still not decided? You can read our HTC One X review and Samsung Galaxy S2 review to get to know the Android smartphones a little better.