For much of 2013, the most talked about Android smartphone battle will be the one between the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4, the two most prolific Android devices of the time. However, as we move deeper into the year, consumers will start comparing the HTC One to another Samsung device, the rumored Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phablet, a match up that is certain to cause consumers a few headaches.
Last year, HTC took on the Samsung Galaxy S3 with the HTC One X and the HTC One X+. And while the device was arguably on par with the Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S3 soundly defeated it in sales with Samsung’s device putting the Galaxy S series on the same pedestal and conversation as Apple’s iconic smartphone, the iPhone.
Read: HTC One Review.
HTC of course went back to the drawing board and came up with a device that launched earlier this year. That device is the HTC One, a 4.7-inch, full metal, Sense 5 rocking smartphone that has become one of the main attractions of the smartphone industry since its arrival a few short weeks ago.
Of course, the HTC One shares the spotlight with a couple of other phones including the Samsung Galaxy S4, its bitter Android rival. However, the Galaxy S4 won’t be the only Galaxy flagship that the HTC One matches up with in 2013. No, Samsung has another Galaxy smartphone up its sleeve for later in the year, a device that’s currently know as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
The Galaxy Note series, while not a bitter rival to HTC’s One series, still is in competition with HTC’s devices. Consumers will and should have both devices on their shopping lists when the time arrives.
There are still several months to go before the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 takes on the HTC One but we want to run down what consumers should expect from the match up when it does arrive.
Notable Design Differences
When the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 arrives to compete with the HTC One, expect it to have some notable design differences, starting with the build materials used in its design.
The HTC One uses a ZeroGap metal design that is on par with phones like the iPhone 5, phones that feel like they are $200 pieces of hardware. The HTC One design is metal, thin and sleek, but those aren’t the only characteristics.
It also features a non-removable back which means that consumers who own it are stuck with with its stock battery. That means that the battery, should it malfunction, won’t be easily replaceable. It also means that users won’t be able to install an extended battery should the stock battery life not be sufficient. For average users this won’t be an issue, but for those who are glued to their smartphone, it may be a nuisance.
In addition, it comes with a microSD card slot. This means that users are stuck with the internal storage and the cloud. The HTC One fortunately comes in 32GB and 64GB forms but the 64GB is only available at AT&T at the moment.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s design is rumored to be coming in one of three different incarnations. The first, a new design that may be based on metal. This probably has the worst odds of any as we expect the Galaxy S series, not the Galaxy Note series, to usher in a major design change.
The second design is one with a flexible display, though signs are increasingly pointing to Samsung not having its flexible Youm technology ready by the time the Galaxy S4 comes out. That leaves the third design as the most plausible at this point. The third design is said to be based on the new Galaxy S4 design which is thin, lightweight, sleek and made of better polycarbonate plastic.
We expect Samsung to opt for this design option and that should mean more of the same from Samsung. That means that it should have a removable back plate for wireless charging and the ability to swap in an extended battery. It should also mean that it will have expandable memory.
Of course, those would come at the cost of a plastic design which obviously feels cheaper than a metal design like the HTC One’s.
Similar But Different Displays
The HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 have ushered in a new generation of smartphone displays at HTC and Samsung. Both feature large displays with 1080p resolution with high pixel-per-inch counts. This amounts to fantastic looking content like movies, photos and text. Rumors suggest that the Galaxy Note 3 will come with a 1080p display at the very least, but that’s where the similarities between the two displays will stop.
While the HTC One comes with a 4.7-inch display, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 may be more than an inch larger with whispers pointing to a display that is either 5.9-inches or a full 6-inches in size. If that’s true, it should mean that the Galaxy Note 3 is going to be a much larger smartphone than the HTC One.
So, consumers should expect to have a big choice to make. Choose the HTC One and get the smaller display with 1080p resolution or select the larger display which should offer the same type of quality.
More Expensive Galaxy Note 3
Those thinking about buying the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 should know that they won’t be on par when it comes to how much they cost. Specifically, the Galaxy Note 3 is going to be a much more expensive endeavor than the HTC One.
The HTC One is currently $199.99 through AT&T and Sprint and $99 down through T-Mobile. AT&T charges $299.99 for its exclusive 64GB model. That’s likely going to be less than what they charge for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 when it arrives.
Odds are, carriers will charge $299.99 on-contract for the 16GB Galaxy Note 3 and its bundled S Pen stylus, just as they did with the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Note 2.
That’s $100 more than the price of the HTC One right now. Later in the year, the HTC One may drop in price in carriers and at the very least, it should be extremely inexpensive at other retailers like Walmart and Sam’s Club where the device is already deeply discounted.
Those looking for a deal should not set their sights on the Galaxy Note 3, but instead, should be cognizant of the cheap pricing of the HTC One.
The HTC One, for whatever reason, has only launched on three of the nation’s five largest carriers despite it being one of the premier smartphones on the market. Even worse, its 64GB model is only available on AT&T, a big deal as the device does not feature a microSD card slot. The device is also available on Cincinnati Bell but its network is extremely limited.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will almost definitely arrive on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, but should also add U.S. Cellular and Verizon right from the start. It’s also possible that we could finally see the device arrive on pre-paid carriers like Cricket Wireless and other regional carriers like C Spire.
At the very least, we expect the Galaxy Note 3 to have more options than the HTC One.
Similar Android Software
While there will obviously be some notable differences, we expect the device’s to share similar Android software when their battle ignites. At the moment, the HTC One is on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, an older version of Android that arrived back in July of last year. In the next few weeks though, it should get upgraded to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean where it should remain for a few months.
At that point, we expect HTC to upgrade it with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, a piece of software that is expected to debut tomorrow at Google I/O 2013. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is the software that we also expect to see running on the Galaxy Note 3 out of the box.
Originally, Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie was thought to be coming at I/O but now, it seems Google will announce another incremental Jelly Bean update instead. That means that Android 5.0 will likely come with the Nexus 5 which means an arrival in October is likely.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is expected to launch in September, far too early for an Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie debut which means that these devices should be on par, Android software wise.
Vastly Different UIs
That of course doesn’t mean that they will feature identical software. On the contrary, actually. The HTC One is running HTC’s Sense 5 software which is a skin that the company places over Android to differentiate it from the other Android devices out there.
Sense 5 brings not only a different look from other Android phones but different features as well, powerful features like HTC BlinkFeed and HTC Zoe for the device’s Ultrapixel camera.
By the time the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 arrives, HTC will have likely updated the Galaxy Note 3 with Sense 5.1 or higher.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on the other hand will be arriving with its own unique software, software that will not only offer a different look from the One’s Sense 5, but different features as well.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note series is known for its S Pen stylus that not only allows for owners to write and draw on the screen, but also take advantage of some powerful applications that are aimed at increasing productivity. Obviously, the HTC One does not have a stylus on board so it won’t have access to the same type of applications.
Further, the Galaxy Note 3 should not only come with software features from the Galaxy S4 but it should also arrive with some other new software features, outside of the S Pen.
Moral of the story, consumers should expect these two devices to different completely when it comes to their UIs but not when it comes to the overall operating system.