-Adam Royal

 

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The first question asked when a new phone is released usually has something to do with how it stacks up against the competition. The HTC One managed to walk an entire crowd of people through a smartphone unveiling without once mentioning details about the components, numerical specifications, or even what version of the Android operating system the phone runs.

Samsung’s approach to the Galaxy S3 user interface, the TouchWiz overlay, focuses on organic elements. Their whole “inspired by nature” theme is represented in water droplet notification tones, the use of bright natural colors, and a soft, flowing approach to animations. TouchWiz is also packed with features that are dormant the first time you turn the phone on, but allow the user to create a compelling and unique experience. You can move apps across desktops be moving your phone through the air, or allow the camera to keep the screen on as long as it can detect your eyes.

The TouchWiz Nature UX has grown since its launch to allow for multitasking and an enhanced sharing tool through Multi-Window support and Smart Share Direct with NFC control. The longer you use the phone, the more it becomes your own personalized experience.

The new HTC Sense user interface, one of the key points to the release of the HTC One, focuses heavily on delivering an experience to the users. The “BlinkFeed” — basically a full-page content feed filled with social media, images, and blog posts — grabs content and organizes it in a way that HTC has determined through intense research into what users will want. This feed consumes one whole page of the desktop, and HTC expects that most users will treat this as their home page.

The One’s new camera features HTC Zoe, a software tool designed to grab a handful of frames around a photo you want to take and use it to create a short video clip. HTC is the editor and producer in Zoe, with the user as the cameraman and the customer at the same time.

If you’re looking to personalize your HTC One, Sense offers a handful of helpful themes for both the homescreen and lockscreen that will allow you to completely re-skin the UI to fit your needs. The whole experience is very pleasing to the eye, and allows users of any skill level to appreciate the phone.

 

Hardware

If you were to compare the specs of these two phones on paper, the Galaxy S3 would lose hands down. This isn’t surprising because the Galaxy S3 was released right around a year ago. The One’s Snapdragon 600 offers a 40% bump in performance over the S4 Pro, which is one full generation ahead of the Snapdragon S4 in the Galaxy S3. In other words, the HTC One is faster and is able to do more with less battery drain. The 2300mAh battery in the HTC One is likely to last longer than the 3300mAh expansion battery that is available for the Galaxy S3.

If you’re not all that concerned by what’s under the hood, the design decisions between Samsung and HTC offer a considerable choice. Samsung’s design is one of flexible, removable plastics. The battery and microSD card slot on the Galaxy S3 serve as a constant reminder that you can expand this phone at will. If a users wants to add wireless charging to their Galaxy S3, they can simply replace the battery plate with one that supports the technology. It’s a flexible design that many users appreciate knowing exists even if they never use it.

The HTC One continues the line of completely sealed phones with its aluminum unibody design. This has two major implications — no expandable storage and no replaceable battery. There are only two storage options and no microSD, but in return you get a phone that feels remarkably solid and absolutely smooth from edge to edge. The The 1080p screen on the HTC One feels like it could outshine the sun, while the Super Amoled display on the Galaxy S3 shows incredibly color richness with very deep blacks.

The two phones offer very different hardware choices, but neither one is necessarily better than the other.

It all comes down to you

Samsung and HTC have very different approached to the smartphone right now, in both hardware and software. Samsung is looking for the the best way to grab as many users as possible and let them figure things out for themselves. HTC has made a very targeted approach for users who are interested in consuming and creating media for themselves.

If your smartphone is a constant source of entertainment, whether its music, movies, or games, the HTC One is your phone. If you’re not really sure what you want from your phone, but you’re really interested in everything, the Galaxy S3 will keep you busy for a long time, even if you decide you’d like to root the phone and explore the ROM community.

There’s also price to consider. The One is going to be available for $199 on a new contract, while the now year old Galaxy S3 is headed out the door as soon as its successor — like the Galaxy S4 — arrives some time this spring. The Galaxy S3 will be available on deals and specials that the HTC One won’t be on for a long time.