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HTC One Max vs Galaxy Note 3: 10 Key Differences

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After months of waiting HTC finally has some competition for Samsung’s Galaxy Note lineup, and yesterday announced the new HTC One Max smartphone. With a 5.9-inch full HD display this massive smartphone looks to take on the competition from Samsung, and anyone else that releases a large screen smartphone.

HTC delivered more than just a phablet to take on Samsung, and it has its own unique features to compare against. It doesn’t house a built-in stylus like the Note lineup, but it has tons of other features going for it. Below you’ll see plenty of key differences that makes the Note 3 or the One Max stand out against the other, which should hopefully help you decide which one is right for your hands.

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The HTC One Max is by far the biggest smartphone ever released by HTC, and the Galaxy Note 3 is the same for Samsung. Well, that’s if you don’t count the budget-aimed Galaxy MEGA coming in at 6.3-inches. That aside, both of these phones are their manufacturers respective flagship devices, so lets take a look.

Screen Size

The screen is extremely important, considering you’ll be staring into the device for hours and hours. Samsung offers a 5.7-inch full 1080p HD AMOLED display, while the One Max will get you a 5.9-inch SLCD 3 display, which is also a full 1080p HD resolution. So while images might be more crisp on the Galaxy Note 3, it’s barely noticeable to the human eye. Both smartphones have some of the best screen technology in the industry, although HTC’s historically worked better outdoors, while Samsung has better color reproduction.

Being able to walk into a carrier store and try both would be ideal, but at the moment Samsung has the advantage here as we’re still waiting for all carriers to announce the HTC One Max, which is another key difference we’ll talk about below. In our time with the Galaxy Note 3 we praised the screen, and will update once we get our hands on the HTC One Max.

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TouchWiz vs Sense UI

You’ll luckily be enjoying the absolute latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean software on both smartphones, but unlike Nexus devices they’ve been covered by a custom skin. If you’ve owned an HTC or Samsung product in the recent past, this won’t be anything new, but for newcomers it’s worth pointing out. Samsung has Touchwiz, while HTC offers a flat black and white looking Sense user interface.

Both have their pros and cons, but this is one area that is all about personal preference. So while it’s a key difference, this is a choice that is up to you, the user. HTC Sense UI was terrible in the past, but with the One and One Max it’s getting much better. They still don’t fully handle the on-screen menu button on Android very well, and you’ll have wasted screen space on bottom for a menu button, considering HTC only has a dedicated home and back button on the device. Samsung however, has a dedicated menu button, and this won’t be an issue.

TouchWiz is a user experience full of S-Apps, functions and features, while Sense UI mainly just changes the way the phone looks and feels. Samsung has air gestures where using a finger or stylus you’ll get previews of a gallery, apps, calendar entries and more before you even click or tap. TouchWiz also adds Eye Scroll and Eye Pause features. Letting users scroll down a web page with their eyes, or pause video, instead of touching the screen. These are just a few examples of the many different additions HTC doesn’t offer. Many are gimmicks to end users, but some might find these useful.

 Blinkfeed vs My Magazine

Having a huge 5.7 and 5.9-inch display on both of these phones, getting content front and center is extremely important. In this aspect, HTC wins, if you ask me, and here’s why. HTC has Sense UI, which delivers tons of visual features, enhances menus on the smartphone, and introduced a news aggregator called Blinkfeed. This will share news, Facebook updates, Instagram photos, weather alerts, sports scores and more all on a dedicated homescreen, which is excellent considering you have 5.9-inches on the One Max to use. Blinkfeed is one of the most important features for content consumption, and really makes it stand out vs Samsung.

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However, Samsung has something similar called My Magazine for the Note 3. Which is essentially a blend of Blinkfeed that has a similar look and feel to a popular news app called Flipboard. Samsung’s trying to do the same thing here with My Magazine, which can be customized to your liking, but HTC just has more options and better customization.

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Samsung’s My Magazine doesn’t have the social integration, or the smooth endless scrolling for content that HTC offers. Instead an array of swipes and flips of the magazine pages will bring you more content, which again isn’t as thorough as HTC’s option. Both are nice, but Blinkfeed is a polished and premium feature.

Fingerprint Sensor

One major key difference between both of these phablets is on the back. Rumors and reports suggested Samsung wanted to release the Note 3 with a fingerprint reader to take on the iPhone 5S, but quality control had them cancel the entire feature. HTC however managed to continue their efforts and have delivered on that front. The HTC One Max has a fingerprint sensor on the back for added security and locking your smartphone. As well as options to have your fingerprint quick launch 3 favorite apps, which are customizable. It’s little things like this that will make the user experience better, and this is something Samsung’s Note 3 will sorely miss.

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S-Pen Stylus and S-Apps

While HTC has the fingerprint sensor, Samsung has its S-Pen stylus that’s built into the device. HTC will offer a capacitive stylus, but it won’t work the same way as Samsung’s does. One key selling point for Samsung is the many uses and features dedicated to the S-Pen stylus. From drawing on the screen, cropping people from images all with the stylus, taking notes and much more, the S-Pen does plenty of things HTC simply can’t match. You might be able to quick launch apps with your fingerprint, but with Samsung you can quick launch plenty by pulling out that stylus.  Here’s a video of a few must-see S-Pen features.

The Airview features and previews alone are enough to make any smartphone owner want the Galaxy Note 3, and this is one area where HTC simply can’t compete with the Galaxy Note 3. Oh, and we can’t forget all those apps will work and sync with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. And we doubt HTC will be releasing a smartwatch anytime soon as it is focusing primarily on phones to hopefully make a profit next year.

13 vs 4 MP Camera

With the HTC One the company announced a new direction with the camera. Instead of fighting the megapixel race they opted for setup with 4 “Ultrapixels” instead. Which is essentially a much bigger sensor allowing for more light in photos. Which should help with overall photo quality, not to mention low light performance. HTC’s received a lot of praise for the quality of photography it produces, but the One Max loses the image stabilization features the One enjoys.

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Samsung on the other hand, has continued to deliver some of the best camera experiences on Android. The Galaxy Note 3 comes with a 13 megapixel camera. In the end though, 13 megapixels only makes images bigger, not necessarily better. So for those simply uploading some images to Instagram or Facebook, 4 Ultrapixels are more than enough. If this is super important Samsung might be your best bet, but both have their pros and cons.

Both however offer full 1080p video capture, panorama and HDR modes, and much more. So the race here is pretty much a tie, unless you want extra megapixels of course.

Aluminum vs Plastic

A huge debate has been going on with smartphone buyers for years over Samsung’s use of cheap plastic on its smartphones. They are still durable with a ring of metal surrounding the chassis and screen, not to mention lightweight, but many users complain of the device feeling cheap. Our Note 3 Review left us enjoying the Note 3, and that it is a premium feeling device, but it’s still no match for the unibody aluminum shell of HTC.

Wrapped in aluminum the HTC One Max will look premium, feel premium, and give you that heft and assuring feel in the hand. It also means it’s a lot heavier. If you’re using the device with one hand it could almost be tiresome, but likely most will be holding these phones with both hands safely attached. After owning the Galaxy S4 I have zero complaints about the plastic from Samsung, and love the lightweight yet still durable feel to its devices. This takes us to our next topic, because that unibody aluminum shell means we can’t access the battery on the HTC One Max.

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Removable Battery and Storage

Both smartphones come with a large battery for all-day usage, as well as the option to add a micro-SD card for additional storage. You’ll want to fill up a 64GB card full of movies, Breaking Bad episodes and more before a trip, so this feature is extremely useful. However, Samsung will also allow users to swap and replace the battery in their smartphone should they choose, while HTC does not. Those hardcore and heavy users will opt for Samsung simply because they can buy a spare battery and swap it out should the situation present itself on a busy day. HTC won’t allow that luxury to its owners.

Boomsound Front Facing Speakers

When your smartphone has a large 5.9-inch screen, it’s likely that you’ll be watching the occasional video with Google Play Movies, Netflix, Hulu+ and more, and a big part of that is enjoying quality sound. HTC is the first Android manufacturer to put the speakers on the front of the phone, instead of the bottom or back. Why have sound facing the wrong way that gets muffled once set on a table, or aiming away from the viewer? This has always been a complaint of mine for as long as I can remember, and HTC solved it.

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It’s called Boomsound, which are their extremely impressive front facing stereo speakers. Ones that promise smartphone audio fidelity like never before. Using the HTC One, I can confirm it indeed is the best sound quality and experience from any smartphone available today, and we’re expecting the One Max to offer something extremely similar, if not the exact same experience. Samsung took this approach on the Galaxy Tab series, but didn’t transfer the genius idea over to smartphones. We’re not sure why.

Carriers and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available on almost all carriers, or at least will be shortly. They’ve done an excellent job releasing smartphones across nearly all regions at a fast pace, available to everyone. We have AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and more all offering the Galaxy Note 3, while HTC’s new device is just getting on the radar.

We’ve heard from Sprint and Verizon regarding a One Max coming soon, but there’s absolutely zero launch dates available at the moment. It could be later this month, or it could be end of November. Especially on Verizon who takes its sweet time to launch devices. Its Galaxy S4 was a month later than all other carriers, so the same could apply here.

Adding fuel to the fire we’ve heard a few reports of HTC One mini supply issues, and the same could potentially plague the One Max if they don’t have enough aluminum to go around. Not to mention the fingerprint scanner might cause additional delays if the supply doesn’t meet quality control, which is why Samsung scrapped that feature on its phone. While we’ve heard no such reports of HTC having issues, we’ll have to wait and see how the company holds up as this impressive phone reaches US carrier shelves.

 Which Should You Buy?

A $299 smartphone purchase (on contract) isn’t something many take lightly, and the choice between these two phones is a tough one. While many have already enjoyed a Samsung Galaxy Note in the past and will automatically jump for the Note 3, the HTC One Max may be worth taking a quick look at. It offers a similar experience in terms of size, and has plenty of awesome features outlined above. As we’ve said in the past with any device of this size though, trying it out in a store nearest you is always a good idea. Not everyone has hands the size of LeBron James, and holding something of this magnitude isn’t for everyone.

Read: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available as we speak at retailers nationwide, and at the moment there’s no definitive date as to when the HTC One Max will actually arrive. For those who need something now the Galaxy Note 3 is Samsung’s most powerful phone and the clear choice for many, but it also might be worth the wait to see just how well the HTC One Max holds up in our review.

35 Comments

  1. richard

    10/15/2013 at 2:41 pm

    Note 3 all the way for me, this device is impressive. I love everything about and would not want anything larger. I’m not a fan of aluminum , I don’t like the looks of the HTC one max. I’m glad we have choices to choose from. Everyone is different. I mean thrilled with my choice! Go samsung!!

    • John Eztogive

      10/15/2013 at 6:43 pm

      I have the Note 3 and I am saying goodbye to my audiobook. The sound really annoying.
      It has 3 gigs of memory but I have to clear it every day.
      After 2 weeks of use, the battery is no longer lasting all day.
      The initial joy of having it is fading fast.

      • Jon T.

        10/15/2013 at 8:28 pm

        you do not make much sense… what’s fading fast? what?

        • Tom K

          10/17/2013 at 3:25 pm

          you sir need to learn to read…. “The initial joy of having it is fading fast.”

  2. richard

    10/15/2013 at 2:44 pm

    Excuse the writing, I meant, I am thrilled with my choice!

  3. Adam

    10/15/2013 at 3:19 pm

    Looks like I can safely say now that I’m getting the Note 3.

  4. Tony Lee

    10/15/2013 at 3:41 pm

    A non removable battery is a deal breaker for me. Im sure a company such as zerolemon may produce a juicer case for the one max but it still wouldnt match the 10000ma battery they do for the note3. Premium feel and look to the device is a definate plus for the one max despite the extra weight that it would bring, but I value my phone so cover it with a case, have to infact because of the extra size the bigger battery adds so the premium look and feel is lost. I dont use the spen on my current note 2 so thats no loss if I had a max and the boomsound is a winner feature. Overall though the note3 wins simply because of the ability to swap the battery for a bigger one, after all, all of these wonderfull features are useless when the battery runs out…

  5. Ray Gonser

    10/15/2013 at 4:00 pm

    is this richard yardell.. the Samsung troll?

    • richard

      10/15/2013 at 4:04 pm

      Richard Trujillo santa fe nm

    • richard

      10/15/2013 at 6:02 pm

      This is Richard Trujillo , who the he’ll is Richard yardell. Whatever , you think he’s the only one who loves this phone?

  6. Steve

    10/15/2013 at 6:07 pm

    The only flaw in the Note 3 is it’s mediocre speaker. One Max has the right idea.

    • Tony Lee

      10/17/2013 at 5:33 am

      Lets really hope samsung take that on board. For me, that the only area letting the notes down (and to be fair it isnt rubbish at that, my htc desire hd had the worst speaker that ive witnessed yet)

  7. Tamarules

    10/15/2013 at 6:38 pm

    Well at last it has been unveiled. I know now that I will not get a htc one max. Substandard processor in this phone. I’ll pass.

  8. Gregg Gause

    10/15/2013 at 8:27 pm

    Seems like the reviewer is trying to sell the HTC. Kinda weak, but thats probably actually his job, if he wants HTC to send him more gear. The phones don’t really seem to be in the same catagory. But props to all you HTC’ers out there.

    • Cory Gunther

      10/16/2013 at 9:26 am

      Not trying to sell anything. I mentioned plenty of flaws with the One Max and Sense. I do think it’s a great phone from a great company. And would rather them be successful than fading away as a company.

  9. jinetina

    10/16/2013 at 2:07 am

    Note 3 is better! I prepare some wonderful movies to watch on Note 3 with aneesoft dvd ripper. I have to say the effect is great!

  10. Twin Ghost

    10/17/2013 at 3:08 am

    The HTC One Max is getting bashed from these brand hoes. Samsung sells crap phones bloated with gimmicks. Cheap plastic and sugar candy glass…lol Most features the average person doesn’t use. The only advantage is the stylus. HTC should have used the same style stylus as the HTC Flyer. That would have been a great addition. I hope they add the software later on. But the specs everyone seems to talk about are just numbers. They aren’t really noticeable. Ram only is noticeable if you start maxing it out. No one really runs that high of ram on the phone. Same with the processor these are such a minute difference. Hands on I am going with HTC One Max. HTC makes the best android phones hands down.

    • jack

      10/17/2013 at 5:06 am

      Calm down dude, get yourself an htc! I don’t think anyone is trying to stop you.. Some people just prefer the note 3 for there own reasons. Knock yourself out, lol.

    • ben

      10/17/2013 at 5:16 am

      I’ve had owned several crappy htc’s myself.. that’s why I choose Samsung note 3.. it’s amazing. A phone wrapped in aluminum does not make it a better phone.

      • Tony Lee

        10/17/2013 at 5:23 am

        Wrapped in aluminium or whatever makes it better because of the premium feel. But if you actually care about the phones wellbeing (which you really will do with a top of the range phone) you will be getting some sort of protection on it covering all the premium feel up. So all it achieves in the end is extra weight. Thats just my opinion. Htc arnt crappy, thats why theyre the ones being compared here instead of apple who used to be the ones compared to. (Remember those days?) I had a htc desire hd which was most excellent (apart from apauling battery life)

    • steve

      10/17/2013 at 5:27 am

      Htc is garbage, I too have had problems with these over-rated phone. Ya htc may have a better speaker, but I use headphones.. it’s not like most people are using there phone as a boom box, lol.. maybe twin ghost is. Lol

      • Twin Ghost

        10/17/2013 at 5:39 am

        I only buy HTC android phones. I will be getting the One Max. Samsung has convinced people they are something special when it’s gimmicks that most users forget about after the first month. If you like over price cheap stuff that’s on you. The HTC one was the smartphone of the year in several reviews. No HTC doesn’t have the budget of Samsung or apple to make stupid commercials to sell people with bright flashing lights but if you buy it based off that you are the suckers they want. The note is overrated. The software lags after about a month or so…also prone to restarting loops. If you had a low end HTC your budget was the problem you get what you pay for. Granted the speakers are better but I also listen to it thru my limited edition Dre Detox beats. So no I am not sold just on speakers but the whole overall experience.

        • Tony Lee

          10/17/2013 at 5:44 am

          You say your sold on the experience but also say ypu *only* buy htc. What experience do you have with a note? I have a years experience with a note 2 and 3 year experience with a htc desire hd. The note2 never lags or reboots. The hd did but that is an older phone. If you dont have any experience with the samsung then how can you bash it?

      • Twin Ghost

        10/17/2013 at 5:44 am

        Samsung really doesn’t make premium phones. They make gimmicky ones. The screen breaks easy. The plastic housing breaks easy. The software is buggy. I like HTC. I had the galaxy 2 and 3 and the note 2 just so I wasn’t being bias and give them a shot. It wasn’t worth the hype so I switched back to my HTC and my IPhones.

        • Chris Strife

          10/18/2013 at 12:37 am

          Come on now, the only HTC device worth praising is the One (not the One Max). Last HTC I had was the HTC One X, and those “Beats Audio” speakers were just awful. By far worst gimmick ever on Android IMO. Plus Sense UI was so bloated that swiping between screens and pressing the app drawer button would stutter every time. This applies to every HTC device older than the One X. It’s hard to see that you are bashing Samsung while you are fully aware of the history of HTC.
          I’ve owned -HTC Desire Z, HTC Sensation, HTC Evo 3D, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S2, Note2, S4, and back to Note2. I’ve waited for a bigger HTC One to try to give HTC another chance, but I’m not sold for the One Max over the Note 3. Useless (currently) fingerprint scanner, no updated hardware, no OIS in the small 4MP camera as the One had. Samsung won me over with the stylus functionality alone. It’s one of those phones that you know you can depend on.

          • rob

            10/19/2013 at 6:49 am

            Amen! Well said!. Twin ghost is talking crap!

  11. leonard

    10/17/2013 at 5:37 am

    Premium feel does not make it a premium phone! A worker at t-mobile was telling me about his experience with the htc one, he wasn’t impressed. He did say the sound was great. He actually sold me the note 3 and showed me how awesome the phone actually is. So don’t bash Samsung for their premium phone, if you like htc , go buy one!

  12. jeremih duran

    10/17/2013 at 5:50 am

    Get what you want people! No two people are going to feel the same in what they find appealing in a phone. If you like htc, then get one. , if you like samsung, get one. Everyone’s personal experience will be different. I’m getting the note 3, no biggie. This is what I want , because I love everything it has to offer.. go for what you like, other people can’t make that decision for you!

  13. ray

    10/17/2013 at 5:57 am

    Funny how twin ghost says he only buys htc, then he goes in to say he has had the the 2 and the 3, and the note 2. Come on ding bat, get your story straight,

    • Twin Ghost

      10/17/2013 at 6:01 am

      I only buy as in purchase with my own money HTC. I had the samsungs a promotions I get the phones as part of my job. So I only buy HTC douche. So which part of my story doesn’t make sense? Right all of it makes sense.

    • Twin Ghost

      10/17/2013 at 6:08 am

      I would love to go back and forth with tough people behind a screen but I have better things to do. Estevan you get a life. My opinion is mine. Enjoy you phone. If it’s for you. To me they suck. To each it’s only.

  14. estevan

    10/17/2013 at 6:05 am

    Twin ghost, get a life! Zip it already. No one cares what you have to say. Samsung is the winner here, deal .

  15. bo

    10/17/2013 at 6:12 am

    Hey twin ghost, stop smacking your gums and go play with your phone, funk dude shut up already!

  16. blake

    10/17/2013 at 6:30 pm

    Wow, sounds like twin ” retard” ghost is getting all riled up, he sounds like a punk to me. I have had several HTC phones and several samsung, Samsung wins!

  17. derrick

    10/18/2013 at 11:16 am

    Who is this clown, twin ghost? Sounds like he’s talking through his ass! The note 3 is a great phone that obviously appeals to many people. I love mine!

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