Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs HTC One: First Look

September 11, 2013
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Last week, Samsung officially launched the Galaxy Note 3, revealing a device that is a substantial upgrade to the Note 2 in just about every way imaginable.

While at IFA 2013, we were able to get quite a bit of hands-on time with the Note 3, and we were even able to compare it directly to several other popular Android flagships, including the HTC One.

So how does the HTC One stack up against the new Galaxy Note 3? Let’s jump in and take a look:

Design and build quality

Right away we are presented with two devices that are clearly night and day from one another, particularly when it comes to design language.

While the HTC One has received tons of praise for its sleek aluminum body, it’s important to note (pun somewhat intended..) that there are folks that really don’t mind the plastic builds that are stereotypical of Samsung.

Even if you are the kind of person that isn’t so crazy about Samsung’s overuse of glossy plastic, the good news is that Samsung has switched things up a little with the Galaxy Note 3. This time around, Samsung utilizes a textured plastic that is designed to look and feel like leather, complete with faux stitching on the sides of the phone.

At its heart, the Note 3 still a plastic phone, which may turn off some folks. If you don’t mind plastic over aluminum however, the Note 3 is a fabulous looking device with rock-solid build quality and a soft feel that is very easy to grip in your hands.

In terms of size, the Note 3 and One are obviously in very different classes. The HTC One measures in at 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm with a weight of 143g. In contrast, the Galaxy Note 3 is 151.2 x 79.1 x 8.3mm with a weight of 168 grams.

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Display

Again, very different size classes here. The Note 3 features a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED Full HD display that’s rated at 386 ppi. As for the HTC One, it packs a much smaller 4.7-inch Full HD display with a rating of 469 ppi.

It’s very much a battle of screen size between the two handsets, as both screens are gorgeous, even if the Note 3 seems to have noticeably more vivid and brighter colors.

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Camera

The Note 3 features a 13MP rear camera that is effectively the same as seen with the Galaxy S4. There’s LED flash, a BSI sensor and Smart Stabilization technology.

Samsung really pushes camera features with the Note 3 and it is packed with cool stuff like sound & shoot, HDR, drama shot and more.

As for the HTC One? At first glance its camera might seem lacking, thanks to its paltry 4MP shooter. In reality, HTC touts its new camera as 4 ‘ultrapixel’ shooter, claiming that the megapixel isn’t so important, but instead suggesting it is the pixel size that really matters.

The end result is a camera that allows for better pictures in low-light. On top of its ultrapixel cam, the HTC One also packs is impressive HTC Zoe camera software.

Which camera is really better? Honestly depends on what you are looking for.

For those that are looking for the bigger ‘beast’ in terms of megapixels, the Note 3 blows the HTC One out of the water, just remember that the situation might be a little more complicated than that.

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Battery

If were were looking solely at the mAh rating, the Note 3 would obviously stomp all over the HTC One, thanks to a massive 3,200 mAh battery versus a much smaller 2,300 mAh battery in the One. It’s important to look at more than this, however.

The Note 3 might have a bigger battery, but it also has a much larger display and beefier specs. This certainly adds to the battery drain game. Until we get a better look at how long the Note 3 actually lasts, let’s just say that both should be more than enough to get you through a typical day’s usage.

For what it’s worth, we should also mention that the Note 3 has an edge in the battery department simply because it actually has a removable battery.

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Other specs

The Galaxy Note 3 will launch with two different possible processor choices, one for LTE markets and the other for 3G. For the former, we are talking about a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3GHz quad-core CPU. The later markets will get a 1.9GHz Exynos octa-core CPU.

The Note 3’s other specs will be the same for both versions of the device, such as 3GB of RAM, 32/64GB storage and microSD support. There’s also Samsung’s popular S-Pen.

The HTC One might not have a Snapdragon 800 or 3GB of RAM, but it is far from a lightweight. The HTC One offers a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 CPU, 2GB RAM and 32 or 64GB of storage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer microSD support.

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Software

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which until KitKat arrives, is the most current version of Android. In comparison, the HTC One currently has Android 4.2.2, but a update to 4.3 is expected later this month for users in the United States.

Beyond the Android version, the HTC and Samsung flagships run completely different, highly customized UIs. We’re not going to directly compare TouchWiz to Sense, because in many ways it is a matter of preference.

When it comes to special features and software? Both phones are loaded. With the HTC One we have features like HTC Blinkfeed and HTC Zoe. For the Note 3 we get My Magazine, S-Finder, Pen Window and a bunch of newly updated S-Pen apps.

Hands-on video

Wrap-up

In terms of hardware, the Note 3 is an absolute beast that has few (if any) equals in the smartphone world. It gets even better when you start using the S-Pen. Of course, not everyone likes big displays, or even styluses. For folks looking for a smaller display, the HTC One is certainly a great handset, and one of the best Android flagships available.

In the end, it all comes down to what type of handset works best for you. Which do you prefer: massive handsets above the 5-inch mark, or something a bit on the smaller side?

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