Samsung Galaxy S3 vs HTC One X: Smartphone showdown

Two Android behemoths go head to head...

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs HTC One X: Who takes the Android crown in this civil war? Here's the T3 verdict...

Hate the iPhone 4S? Unimpressed by the Windows Phone 7 crew? Looks like you need to bag an Android. If so, you're faced with a mighty tough choice, one that we feel obliged to try and make easier.

The HTC One X is the new top boy on the block, swaggering around Android-ville like it owns the place with its all-powerful quad-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and built-in Beats Audio. Genuine contenders such as the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Nokia Lumia 900 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus have been beaten into submission by the Taiwanese bruiser, but now a new combatant has entered the ring - and we suspect the Samsung Galaxy S3 is here to fight.

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

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: 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 S3

Available in 'Marble White' and 'Pebble Blue' (pebble... blue?!), the Galaxy S3 is sporting a curvier look than the iPhone 4S and sits in the hand nicely. It actually looks far less like it's older brother, and actually is more resemblant of the Galaxy Nexus, both in size and contours.

Like the HTC One X and many other premium smartphones, the S3 is also just under 9mm thick (8.6mm to be precise). But it's still a pretty large handset in all, measuring in at 136.6mm x 70.6mm. "That's almost the same size as the Galaxy S2!" we hear you cry. It's slightly bigger actually, good try though. But to fit the new screen, which is 0.5-inches bigger than the old S2 one, the bezel has been made much smaller.

You'll remember that one of our major gripes with the Samsung Galaxy S2 was the tacky feel of the plastic body. Not everyone was so bothered, it's a subjective point but if you, like us, didn't like the S2's lightweight plastic body, you'll be equally disappointed with the S3's. Then again, even with a lightweight, plastic body, the handset already tips the scales at 133g, so you can hardly blame them. But it doesn't really compare to the premium feel of the One X's polycarbonate.

T3 Verdict: HTC One X

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: 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 S3

The S3 one-ups the One X on screen size, with an enormous 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED screen, which displays at a maximum resolution of 720 x 1280.

At 306 pixels per inch, the screen is slightly below the quality of the HTC One X and the iPhone 4S but frankly, 306ppi is still eye-searing stuff. Everything that we said about the HTC looking great because of it's size is even more true of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

T3 Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S3

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: 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 S3

The rumoured 12MP camera sadly does not make an appearance. Instead the Galaxy S3 arrives with a perfectly reasonable 8MP/1080p camera, exactly the same as that on the HTC One X.

In burst mode, the camera takes contiunous shots at a rate of 6fps, then picks the best shot based on smile detection, blink detection, contrast and blurring. According to Samsung, the camera also has zero shutter lag along with an improved shot-to-shot time.

You'll also be able to set up rules for photos to be automatically placed in groups based on faces, contacts or location. There's also Face Zoom which means that you can tap on a face when lining up a crowd shot and the camera will zoom in automatically. The lack of optical zoom means that this is going to be fairly limited, but we look forward to trying it out in the wild.

It also has a 1.9MP camera on the front, which suffices for profile pictures, video calls and the like. Curiously, that's actually smaller than the Galaxy S2's 2MP front camera sensor, but still an improvement over the One X's 1.3MP front camera. The difference this makes is negligable at best, but this battle will come down to the wire and the Galaxy S3 just shades it here.

T3 Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S3

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Power


With a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 1GB RAM, the One X runs Android 4.0 smooth as you like. Thankfully the UK got the global One X release with the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip, and not the dual-core version released in the US, and the result is a phone that barely seems to break a sweat, even when you really push it's multi-tasking capabilities.

Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung has put their own quad core 1.4GHz Exynos processor into the Galaxy S3, and bolstered it with 1GB RAM. Again, this seemed more than enough to make the handset a more than capable multitasker and media platform, but we won't know for sure whether it can deliver more juice than the One X until we've had a bit more hands-on time.

T3 Verdict: Draw

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Android


The One X was 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 S3

The Galaxy S3 comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as standard - anything less would be enormously disappointing. Like HTC, Samsung has taken Android 4.0 and overlayed their Touch Wiz UI - an interface that we already loved from it's Galaxy S2 days. Since then Samsung has simplified things somewhat. It's still great to use, and the wealth of features remains, but things feel a little less cluttered.

Also present are new functions galore. Smart Stay uses eye detection to ensure that the screen doesn't dim as long as you're looking at it. Smart Alert makes the phone vibrate when you pick it up to let you know that you have a notification. Smart Call automatically dials the number you're looking at as soon as you lift the phone to your ear when you're in contacts, messages or call log.

All of these functions are more than welcome, and involve all kinds of impressive technical wizardry... but did we used to have problems seeing that we had a notification, or calling people on our contacts list? We're not sure we did, and we're not sure how many Galaxy S3 users will actually need/use/care about these new functions.

T3 Verdict: HTC One X

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Battery


Battery life hasn't always been HTC's strongest suit, the One X rights that. The 1800mah 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 S3

The Galaxy S3's 2100mah battery is a big improvement on that of the S2, and ought to be hefty enough to handle all the tech that has been packed into the S3. A bigger battery doesn't mean longer battery life, but we'll give the S3 the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

T3 Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S3

HTC One X vs Samsung Galaxy S3: Verdict

As you've probably gathered by now, these two handsets are incredibly similar. Both are slightly on the large side, but still thin enough to slide into a pocket. Both are phenomenally powerful and fully capable of creating and handling large media files.

If there is one area where one handset wins hands down, it's the build quality. By no means does the Samsung Galaxy S3 feel like it's going to fall apart, it's still sturdy if a little creaky, but it just doesn't feel like premium build quality. By comparison, HTC's polycarbonate body and attention to detail convinces you that you are the owner of a quality product, in a way that Samsung's does not.

For that reason, if we had to come down on one side of the fence we would still stick the the HTC One X. But frankly, this could change after we've had more time with the Galaxy S3, and we'd thoroughly recommend that you try both at your local phone store before making a decision. Better yet, have a quick look at the best deals and tariffs for the Samsung Galaxy S3, which should be in stores on May 30th.

Whatever side of the battle you line up on, there's no denying that these two are the best Android phones out there, and certainly two of the best phones money can buy.

T3 Verdict: HTC One X

Still not decided? You can read our HTC One X review and Samsung Galaxy S3 review to get to know the Android smartphones a little better.