By June 13, 2012

Clash of the Titans Part 5: Samsung Galaxy SIII vs HTC One X–Performance and Battery life

IMG_0252When the next generation of superphones loaded with quad core processors and expansive screens, squeezed into svelte ultrathin bodies, naturally, battery life and power consumption became a concern. Surely faster hardware and smaller bodies means more power draw from smaller batteries? Or would the hardware have to be speed limited in order to get respectable battery lives? Luckily, neither of those fears have been realised, at least with the two turbocharged devices we focus on today – the Samsung Galaxy SIII and the HTC One X.

Which one manages to last the longest? Which one is the fastest? Read on to see the answers to both those questions.



Reader response:

  • Tim Platton asks “Having never owned or used an android device how easy is it to sync contacts, calendars, music etc. with a Mac?”

    That’s a good question. It depends on what applications you want to sync, and what services you use already. For example, do you use iCal for your calendar? Contacts in Address Book? And what email service do you use? If it’s Gmail, it is pretty simple. If not, you would need to create a Google account for Gmail for use on your Android phone, (it’s virtually required to make use of the phone, like downloading apps) set it up in Mail or Address Book or iCal, set it to sync with Gmail, and once you have your stuff in Gmail, then that will sync automatically with the data on your Android phone. So any change you make on your Mac will sync wirelessly in real time with your Android via your Google account. If you only use MobileMe/iCloud it’s still possible, just not as simply as plugging it in like an iPhone. If you’d like more info on how to do that, PM me using the forums or via twitter @ecniv_



The SIII packs the fastest hardware in Samsung’s smartphone line up, with a quad core Samsung Exynos processor (the 4412 if you’re into that) at 1.4GHz and a Mali 400 GPU, alongside 1GB of RAM. And that makes it pretty damn fast. The One X in comparison has Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip which is also quad core, but at 1.5GHz, again with 1GB of RAM. It also has a fifth ‘companion’ core where the main four cores are switched off to save power during standby. The graphics with Tegra 3 is part of the package with the processor, a ULP GeForce GPU.

So both phones have pretty impressive hardware. Here’s the results for Smartbench 2012. The SIII is on the left, and the One X on the right.

Screenshot_2012-06-08-12-53-00one x smartbench

Firstly, it’s important to mention the significance of benchmarks – it gives us a way to compare devices more easily as they are standard tests that produce a numeric score. But it’s even more important to consider why it may not be representative – they may not represent real world use, and some benchmarks perform better on particular chipsets or are not optimised for new hardware or threaded to use all four processing cores available. That said, it’s not difficult to see that both phones fall at the top end of the pile. The One X though comes out not only ahead of the SIII, but ahead of any other Android device that can be seen through Smartbench’s results page, including the Asus Transformer Prime. The SIII comes out in second place, also beating all other Android devices, but still behind the One X – that is mighty impressive.

The second benchmark I used was Antutu v2.8.2:

Screenshot_2012-06-08-12-54-24one x smartbench

As you can see, the SIII did come out on top this time. The One X fell short in all the categories except the IO and data read/write speeds where the One X clocked much faster speeds.

While benchmarks help to give us a rough idea of raw power, I’ve already mentioned that you should take the results with a grain of salt. In fact the two phones here are a great example of why you should. The benchmarks suggest that the One X should be at least on par if not ‘better’ than the SIII, but in real world use, the SIII has been consistently faster and smoother in every department. Whether you’re loading Fruit Ninja, browsing through the Gallery, or even just fiddling with the menus, the SIII is always the fastest to load, and works the smoothest. We know that it may not be that Samsung’s Exynos is any faster than Tegra 3; I suspect it comes down to TouchWiz vs Sense again. There are two reasons why – TouchWiz on the SIII feels significantly quicker than Sense on the One X, and Sense has to be reloaded for one reason or another when returning to the homescreens after exiting an app or changing settings, at least a couple of times per day, which takes around 5 – 10 seconds.

Where the real difference in speed can be seen is in boot times. When on, and told to restart, the SIII took 31 seconds to cycle restart back to the lock screen again. The One X, with Fastboot mode enabled, took 1 minute 5 seconds, over twice the amount of time. Then Sense needs to load after unlocking, which took it to 1 minute and 19 seconds. TouchWiz on the other hand is ready to use almost instantly after unlocking. Why there is such a huge difference between the two is not proven, but I’m willing to bet that it’s a combination of Samsung’s optimisations of Android and the burden that Sense puts on the One X.

Battery life

The SIII may be faster phone in practical use, but you won’t be able to take advantage of it if it has a measly battery life. The SIII has a huge 2100mAh battery pack, while the One X has a smaller-but-still-quite-big 1800mAh battery. When it came to actually using the phones, I was actually impressed by the longevity of both phones. They fared better than many single and dual core phones, and that’s a testament to both the more efficient power use of the newest processors, but also the fact that quad core processors should theoretically require less power anyway.

My usage patterns are probably slightly less than the average user; some texting, calling and browsing with a bit of fiddling with the camera and other settings. Doing this with the SIII would easily get me through a full day, from 7:30am all the way past 10pm before I drop below 5%. You’ll still be recharging every day, but that’s on par with what smaller and slower phones achieve. The One X felt exactly the same to me – the phone could last me easily through the entire day; it may have a lower battery capacity, but it does have features designed to help reduce power consumption. Running a battery benchmark confirmed my findings – the Battery Benchmark app cycles through what it thinks is an example of real world usage, including cycling the screen on and off, the GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Running it on a full bench, from 100% battery to lights out, the SIII gave me 9 hours and 24 minutes, and the One X lasted for another 7 minutes. This is a tiny difference; the main point to take away here is that both phones will get you through a day of quite normal use. For power users though, the SIII is the clear option, as the removable battery lets you swap out for a new one, or buy an even higher capacity extended battery.

So, considering just the performance and battery life, which would I take? The battery life on both are the same (give or take a little) and they’re both pretty decent. But for me, the SIII wins here as the flexibility of a removable battery is more appealing to me than the sleeker design on the One X. It’s a much easier choice performance-wise though. The benchmarks may not present it as quite so clear cut, but the SIII is just faster in every way. The One X is by no means a slowcoach, but when I’m spending such a large sum of money, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a completely lag free experience which only the SIII provides.

Got any questions about either phone? Just leave a comment below and it’ll be answered in the next section – the verdict; all things considered, which is the one you should choose? Find out soon.

Review by: Vince


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