Friday, May 4, 2012

Samsung i9300 Galaxy S III - Does it one up the HTC One X?

Samsung has officially announced its new Android flagship, the i9300 Galaxy S III. The Galaxy S III is a massive phone and its main competition is well regarded HTC One X. In looking at how successful the new release is, a direct comparison to the One X cannot be avoided. This comparison will take a look at the hardware (with the exception of cloud storage which we will include in this comparison), and we wont be looking yet at the accessories (wireless charging) and numerous software tweaks and features Samsung added to their new flagship.

Display and case. As rumored, the Galaxy S III has a large 4.8 inch Super AMOLED display with a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution. What many will find disappointing is that it is of the pentile matrix variety and not a Super AMOLED plus display like that Samsung P6800 Galaxy Tab 7.7. I personally have no problem with a pentile matrix display being satisfied with the similar display found in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The Galaxy S III display is protected by a new Corning Gorilla Glass 2 which allows the glass to be 20% thinner without sacrificing durability. This supposedly enhances the quality of the image and has better touch responsiveness.

The Galaxy S III is a bit thinner than the One X and the Galaxy Nexus, but otherwise there is no magical bezel shrink making the device smaller. Having the biggest screen, it is also taller and wider than either the One X and the Galaxy Nexus. 

  • Galaxy S III - 136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6 mm, 133 grams
  • One X - 134.4 x 69.9 x 8.9 mm, 130 grams
  • Galaxy Nexus - 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm, 135 grams

The case of the Galaxy S III has a plastic polycarbonate case, like the One X and Nokia Lumia 800 and 900. The Galaxy S III case has a glossy "hyperglaze" coating which makes it look more "plasticky" than the One X or Lumia's. While plastic is a very good material to build a phone from as it does not interfere with radio signals and resist shock well, many people were hoping for something built from more exotic materials. The Galaxy S III is available in a dark blue and white case.

The case design itself it like that on the Galaxy Nexus, with the curved sides making the large case friendlier to the hand. It is not as stylish as the Galaxy Nexus case, the Galaxy S III case being a simpler design.

In terms of case design, the Galaxy S III did a better job with housing the camera which sits almost flush in the case and does not stick out as much as the camera One X.

Like the One X, the Galaxy S III also keep dedicated buttons rather than use the on screen soft keys on the Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy S III also keeps the physical button. In this regard, I much prefer the soft keys or capacitative buttons on the Galaxy Nexus and the One X. Physical buttons are much more prone to breakage and wear and tear.

In terms of the display or the case, Samsung does not break new ground, and the 0.1 inch size advantage is not a killer blow. Many would actually prefer the One X's 4.7 inch IPS 2 display and the more stylish shape of the case.

Processing power. The Samsung Galaxy S III has Samsung new 1.4 GHz quad core Exynos processor with Mali-400MP graphics and 1 GB of RAM. GSM Arena has benchmarked the new quad core Exynos and the performance is very impressive:

Quadrant (higher is better) -

Samsung Galaxy S III - 5642
HTC One X  (Tegra 3) - 4842
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 2316

SunSpider (lower is better) -

Samsung Galaxy S III - 1479
HTC One X (Tegra 3) - 1757
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 1863
Apple iPhone 4S - 2217

BrowserMark (higher is better) -

Samsung Galaxy S III -169811
HTC One X (Tegra 3) - 96803
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 103591
Apple iPhone 4S - 2217 - 88752

Notably GSM Arena did not run the graphics oriented benchmarks, and those might give the Nvidia Tegra 3 some solace. But for now, its not looking too good for the Tegra 3 and the One X.

Endurance. The new quad core Exynos is built on the new more power efficient 32 nm process. By comparison, the Nvidia Tegra 3 is built on the 40 nm process while most others like Apple's A5 and the TI OMAP on the Galaxy Nexus is built on the 45 nm process.

In order to further improve efficiency the new quad Exynos chipset can scale/reduce the voltage of each core and even power down cores when not needed. Samsung claims the new quad Exynos uses 20% less power than the dual core Exynos which was used in the Galaxy S II.
In addition, the Galaxy S III one upped the One X in battery size with a 2100 mAh unit, versus the 1800 mAh unit in One X. We will have to wait for GSM Arena's battery life tests, but it seems pretty certain that the Galaxy S III should do pretty well.

Storage. The HTC One X comes with 32 GB of non expandable internal storage. The Samsung Galaxy S III comes in three variants with 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB of storage expandable via a MicroSD card. Ultimately, you can get more storage on the Galaxy S III.

HTC also bundled its One phones with 25 GB of cloud storage for two years from Dropbox. Samsung Galaxy S III comes with 50 GB of cloud storage for two years from Dropbox.

Camera. Samsung has retained an 8 MP camera with autofocus, LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus functionality, face/smile detection, image stabilisation and 1080p video capture for the Samsung Galaxy S III. Some will be disappointed it is not a 12 MP unit. Personally, I do not buy into the mega pixel hype. Image quality is more important.

Like all the new Android 4.0 phones, you now have a fast focusing camera which can take up to 6 shots in one second on burst mode. Like the One X, you can take stills while recording video.

Best to wait till we have sample images to compare, but the One X camera really just did a good job of catching up with the 8 MP camera on the Galaxy S II. So unless the new camera on the Galaxy S III is actually inferior to the old one, the Galaxy S III and One X should be pretty equal in this regard.

Verdict? It is too early to tell for sure as reviewers are still getting their review units now, but it does look like Samsung put enough into the new Galaxy S III to one up the HTC One X. 

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