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HTC One vs. Galaxy S3

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February 19, 2013

We compare the specs - and other features - of the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One

We compare the specs - and other features - of the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One

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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.

Size

Sizes are similar

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.

Weight

The Galaxy S III is a bit lighter, but it also has a plastic body next to the One's alumin...

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.

Display

The One is the latest high-end phone to sport a 1080p display

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.

Processor

The One rocks Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon processor

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.

RAM

HTC's handset has 2 GB of RAM, same as the North American version of the S3

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.

Storage

The Galaxy S III comes in a 16 GB model and has an SD card slot - otherwise we're all even

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.

Wireless

Where available, both handsets ride speedy LTE networks

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.

Battery

The HTC One has a slightly higher-capacity battery

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.

Cameras

Megapixels make for a simple camera comparison, but - in this case - it's somewhat decepti...

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.

Intangibles

The One has a revamped version of HTC Sense, but will it matter with the Galaxy S IV waiti...

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.

Wrap-up

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.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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9 Comments

The better comparison for these new phones is against the Lumia 920

Rocky Stefano
20th February, 2013 @ 05:01 am PST

It seem like HTC's announcement cycle always hurts them with respect to Samsung. HTC announces first, then Samsung trumps their efforts just months later, in this case it will be the Galaxy IV. There is one issue HTC doggedly sticks to - the no SD card slot for memory expansion - that continues to be a 'no-sale' for me. Oh well, at least their base memory configuration this year is 32GB, up from the 16GB-only versions sold last year.

BleedingEdge
20th February, 2013 @ 06:19 am PST

I guess this comparison makes sense in that so many own the Galaxy S3, so they have a sense of what they can expect should they upgrade...but in all fairness to Samsung the HTC One should have been compared to the soon to be released Galaxy S4 that we will see in just weeks, even the iPhone 5 was ignored in the specs comparison...measuring a new smartphone to just one of an older model is a bit unfair and misleading to consumers...even so, the variance in technology between the new crop of phones and last seasons models show a very definite slowdown in advancements technologically...we seem to be hitting a ceiling here in the smartphone market within the trendy 'thinness' fad...i wouldn't mind a thicker phone for a doubled battery life.

John Hemingway Parkes
20th February, 2013 @ 07:24 am PST

Another issue with HTC is the back of the phone cannot be removed to change the battery. If the battery life is sufficient, then this might not be an issue. My daughter (Samsung Galaxy S) has two spare batteries charged all the time to swap one out for a fresh one. If the Galaxy S IV comes with a non-removable battery, she'll go for the S III.

dchall8
20th February, 2013 @ 06:20 pm PST

I don't think the SD card is that big an issue really. I know that htc has some sync software that you can download which might not make that a big deal at all. But if the battery isn't removable... Now that would be a deal killer for me. I mean these type of phones drain batteries in no time. And that sucks because I really do like htc phones.

Snatr
21st February, 2013 @ 06:03 pm PST

If it weren't for the non-removable battery and lack of micro see, I would have bought the HTC One X last year, or the One X+. I was sorted of forced to stick with my quality built Desire from 2010 with both elements. If HTC make either the One or OneX or OneX+ to have them I will get one. Until then, my HTC Desire still run fast enough for daily use and recent games. I don't like Samsung, it's as expensive yet feel cheap both hardware (screen color and chassis ) its touchwiz UI.

Skyler Enola
22nd February, 2013 @ 11:12 pm PST

I Adore HTC One .. it's a masterpiece

Steve Smith
8th March, 2013 @ 01:55 pm PST

agoIt was time to replace my evo 4g. Based on what ppl have told me I jumpedon the the s3. I was extremely disappointed in the phone, for starters it felt cheap like a happy meal toy the plastic did not make me confident it would last 2 year. Every time I turned it on I felt as if I was having ads shoved down my throat . It did have quite a few bells and whistles but I saw most of them as useless and constantly having to change the settings to make the phone do what I want it do. the phone ffroze on me 3 times in a 4 day period. I was unable to access my bank account on the s3 and several other sites all I got was a blue lego, my 3 year old evo 4g had no problems performing these tasks. I returned it on the 5 day when my sister texted me from her s3 telling me her screen broke she did not drop it she went from a hot car with no ac into a cold house with ac. The temperature change cracked the screen. I bought the HTC one instead and it is wiping the floor with the s3, it has killer speakers the screen res is better instead of of constant ads the dash was full of news and useful info, I am able to access my bank once again on my phone. The power button doubles as an infred sensor to make using the phone as tv remote seamless and usful unlike having to use dnla one s3 witch was setup intensive to get working make it not useful. HTC one feels solid it made of metal and has a lol weight and don't feel like it's going to just slide out of my pocket while in running or climbing at work, and as far as ppl using multiple batteries thats a lil excessive. Its called a charger and some self control theres more to life than stairing at a screen, take a break go out side. after I broke in my evo 4g battery I could get a full 24 hour in 30 minutes, I havnt timed my HTC one charge time yet

dawhittington
4th May, 2013 @ 09:52 am PDT

I don't know who said the HTC desn't have a SD Slot because it does, I'm looking at it right now.

Timm Chambliss
20th August, 2013 @ 10:42 am PDT
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