Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs. HTC One
September 30, 2013
The Galaxy Note doesn't have a lot of peers. Sure, there are other huge phablets like the Optimus G Pro and the Xperia Z Ultra, but neither of those has a built-in stylus or quite the same degree of software features to enhance your phablet experience. So while we're taking a long look at the new Galaxy Note 3, why not compare it to one of the best smartphones of 2013, the HTC One? Join Gizmag, as we compare the features and specs of the two popular handsets.
The HTC One is much bigger than something like the iPhone 5s, but it's very small compared to the Note 3. We're talking nine percent shorter and 14 percent narrower. The Note 3 is, however, a full millimeter thinner.
The much bigger Galaxy Note is, unsurprisingly, about 17 percent heavier than the One.
You can check back soon for our full impressions, but the build of the Note 3 at least brings something new to the table. It's a faux leather (plastic) finish, that extends the notebook theme Samsung has graced the Galaxy Note series with.
The aluminum unibody build of the HTC One makes it one of the – if not the – most striking smartphones to date.
With phones like the Moto X and iPhone 5c, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the colorful smartphone. Both of these handsets give you a few hues to choose from as well (though the red and blue versions of the One are only sold through Sprint and Best Buy, respectively).
The HTC One only gives you 68 percent as much screen area as the Note 3. With that said, the One's display is still plenty spacious, and it's a much more pocketable phone than the hulking Note is.
Resolutions are identical, making the smaller screen of the One quite a bit sharper. We think the pixel densities of both handsets, though, are going to be well above the "sharp enough" threshold for most customers.
You can't talk about the Galaxy Note without mentioning its stylus. The S Pen is what makes it more than just a giant-sized phone. With each generation, Samsung throws in more software-based goodies that enhance what you can do with the slide-in stylus.
Internal storage options are even, though the Note 3 also has a microSD card slot. Only certain Asian variants of the HTC One support microSDs.
At launch, the Galaxy Note 3 is the only phone or phablet that's compatible with Samsung's new Galaxy Gear smartwatch (support for the GS4, GS3, and Note 2 will come by the end of the year). The Gear relieves you of the burden of yanking out your huge phablet just to read a text or check your messages. For an extra US$300, you can do all of that (and much more) on your wrist.
The One is still compatible with several Android-friendly smartwatches, like Pebble and the upcoming Sony Smartwatch 2. But none of those are as advanced as the Gear, with its wristband camera, voice control, and ability to make phone calls.
We haven't yet put the Note 3's camera through the paces, but we expect it to be similar to the Galaxy S4's more-than-solid rear shooter.
Don't be fooled by the low pixel count of the One's camera: it's excellent in low light, and has some nice software-based camera features to boot.
This category is becoming redundant in many of these comparisons, as nearly every high-end smartphone these days is going to support speedy 4G LTE mobile data.
There is, however, a version of the Note that skips LTE and maxes out on HSPA+ airwaves. If you live in a market that supports LTE, though, you should be getting the LTE model.
The Note 3 holds more juice, but you'll want to wait for our review before drawing any conclusions about its battery life. If it's anything like the Note 2, then it shouldn't give us anything to worry about.
The Note 3's battery is removable for swapping on the go, while the One's is sealed shut.
The One is extremely fast, and we expect the Note 3 to be even faster. As we've mentioned several times before, though, sweating differences in the speeds of recent high-end smartphones (and phablets) is becoming sillier all the time. Most top-of-the-line handsets are going to provide plenty of zip, and more horsepower than you'll ever need for the vast majority of mobile apps and games in existence.
The Note 3 packs a whopping 3 GB of RAM.
Both the Galaxy Note 3 and the One have NFC chips. NFC plays a central role in setting up the connection between the Note with the Galaxy Gear (though the actual pairing is via Bluetooth).
Both handsets also sport IR blasters, so you can use your device as a remote control for your TV.
When you consider that many major carriers still haven't updated the One to Android 4.2, the Note 3 will, in some cases, be a couple of full Android versions ahead of the One.
The bigger difference, though, will be between Samsung's TouchWiz UI and HTC's Sense UI. TouchWiz is much more heavy-handed, with a huge list of features, ranging from eyeball tracking to in-air waving gestures. We find TouchWiz to be a more welcome addition in the Note series than in the Galaxy S series, though, as it makes the S Pen much more than just a plastic replacement finger.
One of the nifty features in the Note 3's TouchWiz software is its simultaneous multitasking. You can make the most of that huge display to run two apps on top of one another, including (for the first time) multiple instances of the same app.
Google Play Edition
If you don't mind paying full price to buy off-contract, Google will sell you a stock-Android-running version of the HTC One.
The One has been around for over six months now. If HTC is following an annual upgrade cycle, then we're over halfway towards the One's follow-up. The Note 3 (along with the Galaxy Gear) launched last week in the UK, and follows this week in the US and other parts of the world.
Starting price (on contract)
Speaking of the US, if you live there, chances are you'll pay for your phone subsidized on contract. Here the Note 3 will typically ring up for an extra US$100. Since the One has been around for a while, you can also occasionally find it marked below the standard $200 on-contract price.
Starting price (off contract)
When paying full price, the Note 3 makes its presence felt. You'll be ponying up the same amount as a 64 GB iPad to get the entry-level version of the new phablet.
Wrap-upSo the Note 3 gives you a much bigger screen, lots of stylus integration, and the option of adding one of the most intriguing smartwatches to date. But it's also going to leave an impression in your pocket, as well as in your wallet. Customers who aren't worried about those perks may find the One's sleek aluminum design, Ultrapixel camera, and more grippable exterior to be worth saving a few bucks on.
The much more interesting comparison may come when HTC announces the well-leaked 5.9-inch HTC One Max phablet. We aren't expecting a stylus there, but just bringing the One's iconic build to a phablet (with some other upgraded components thrown in) could be enough to offer an eyebrow-raising alternative. Stay tuned for more on that front.