No manufacturer was more responsible for Android’s rise than HTC. In 2010, the Taiwanese company was king of the hill, releasing the first Nexus device (the weak-selling Nexus One), and the first 4G phone (the hot-selling EVO 4G). Fast-forward to today, though, and Samsung has cleaned HTC’s clock. Does its new handset, the HTC One, provide hope for a comeback? Read on, as we compare its specs – and other features – to the Samsung Galaxy S III.
The HTC One is a hair taller, a smidge narrower, and a bit thicker than the Galaxy S III. Minor differences aside, the phones’ dimensions are in the same ballpark.
The Galaxy S3 is 10 g (0.35 oz) lighter than the One. This is a relatively minor gap, considering the One’s solid aluminum unibody build and the S3’s plastic casing.
HTC’s display is a bit smaller, but it packs many more pixels. You could argue, however, that anything over about 320 pixels/inch is overkill.
With processors, we’re really comparing three different devices – as the North American and international versions of the Galaxy S III have different chips.
If you want to be on the bleeding edge, the One wins the prize. It will be one of the first Snapdragon 600 devices. Qualcomm says that its new CPU promises unprecedented performance per watt, potentially delivering great battery life.
Here we also have three variations. The One’s 2 GB of random-access memory (RAM) match the North American Galaxy S III, and double the global edition’s 1 GB.
Samsung sells the Galaxy S3 in three different storage options, while the One comes in two. Samsung's handset allows you to expand its storage with a microSD card, while this capability is only included on HTC One models sold in China and Japan.
If your carrier offers LTE, then both phones will ride the speedy network. LTE is becoming more commonplace, and the Nexus 4 may be the last high-end device that doesn’t support it.
The One offers a bit more juice, and its processor could also contribute to power savings. Actual uptimes with the One, however, are still an unknown. The Galaxy S III’s battery life is a known quantity, and will easily last all day for most users.
Take heed of the big honkin’ asterisk. Megapixels are an imperfect measurement of camera quality, and no device illustrates this more than HTC’s One.
Its rear shooter is only 4 MP, but it utilizes what HTC calls “ultrapixels.” Its sensor has fewer – but larger – pixels, which are able to capture more light than conventional smartphone shooters. The lens also boasts a maximum aperture of f/2.0, which allows more light through to the 1/3-inch backlit-CMOS sensor, which should translate to better low-light performance.
The One’s camera software also sports a new feature dubbed Zoe. It captures a three-second clip of 1080p video, while simultaneously snapping stills. This spawns a “Living Gallery,” where each image has multiple still-shots along with accompanying video. This also lets you choose the best of several shots.
HTC knows its back is against the wall, and it’s delivering revamped software along with its bold new hardware. The new version of Sense delivers a Flipboard-like hub called BlinkFeed, where you can browse news and social feeds. It's an interesting alternative to the standard icon-centric home screen.
You can’t look at the Galaxy S III and ignore the fact that its successor is coming soon. Samsung hasn’t made an official announcement, but multiple sources have confirmed that it will reveal the Galaxy S4 on March 14. So this probably isn’t a great time to buy the Galaxy S3 – and you may also want to see what Samsung has in store before throwing down for the One.
Time will tell if HTC has an epic comeback up its sleeve, but CEO Peter Chou has learned from his company’s mistakes. Rather than relying solely on gimmicks (the EVO 3D) or Beats Audio (every HTC phone from mid-2011 onward), HTC has made a phone with a premium design, cutting-edge specs, and some genuinely-intriguing software features.
Samsung’s market lead over HTC, though, is significant. Even if the One is an amazing handset, the company will need to throw all of its weight into marketing it. With the Galaxy S IV waiting in the wings, it may take every dollar HTC has left to remind customers that their choice extends beyond Apple and Samsung.
Update (Aug. 21, 2013): To those commenters claiming the HTC One does have an SD card slot and the others claiming it doesn’t – you’re both right. The HTC One sold in China and Japan does have an SD card slot, while the international model sold in other markets doesn’t. HTC claims internal space restrictions resulting from the mobile radio frequencies used in those markets is to blame. We've updated the text to reflect this.