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Samsung Galaxy S2 vs HTC One X

Samsung Galaxy S2 vs HTC One X

As the company behind the T-Mobile G1 and the huge-selling Desire, HTC is synonymous with Android. But it lost its crown to as the go-to brand for Google’s OS when Samsung hit paydirt with the standard-setting Galaxy S2.

If any HTC smartphone has got what it takes to unseat the S2, it’s surely the Taiwanese gadget-maker’s flagship phone for 2012, the One X.

So how does the One X measure up? Knowing we’d get a good scrap out of it, we put both kits in a room, locked the door and let them fight it out. Which emerged victorious? Read on to find out.

Design and build quality

galaxy s2 largo

For a phone that’s sold a whopping 20 million-plus units, it’s surprising how the Samsung Galaxy S2’s look and feel polarises opinion.

We like the fact that its super-slim plastic frame means it’s incredibly light. But there are others who feel that Sammy’s decision to shun metallic materials has resulted in a phone that feels a bit cheap.

htc one x official

The HTC One X is a very different beast. Fashioned from a single hunk of polycarbonate and with some reassuring heft in your hand, it feels like a premium phone by anyone’s standards.

Verdict:

It’s close. But we prefer the like gossamer-thinness and POPPY feel of the S2.

Although the One X is better looking than most HTC phones, it sticks too closely to the played-out industrial design of the indistinguishable Desire and Sensation kits to curry favour with us.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S2

Screen

samsung galaxy s2 screen

The Galaxy S2’s 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen is pin-sharp. And some 12 months after it dropped remains one of the best displays on an Android smartphone. Sammy’s decision to opt for Gorilla Glass means it’s pretty robust too.

htc one x angled

If your take on screen real estate is that more really is more, then the HTC One X’s 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display will float your boat.

Verdict:

The One X’s display, which almost nudges it into tablet territory, might be too big for many people. But we prefer a whole lot of screen to play with. The One X also shades it in the res stakes, with 1,280x720-pixel HD resolution to the S2’s 480x800 pixels.

Winner: HTC One X

Processor

exynos processor

At the time of its release, the Galaxy S2’s brawny dual core 1.5GHz processor made it among the most powerful phones on the market. But much has changed since then.

The HTC One X, like many market-leading kits, rocks a 1.5GHz Tegra 3 quad core chipset.

Or to be more precise, technically it’s got five cores. A lesser-spotted, so-called 'companion core' helps to extend battery life by handling minor tasks to boost battery life.

Verdict:

Both phones tick along impressively speedily and offer a feeling of real ‘snap’ when you’re using them. There really is little to choose between them.

The HTC One X wins the day, though. Purely because its sheer beef means better placed to support future Android updates, which in turn means it’s got years and years of life in it yet.

Winner: HTC One X

Camera

samsung galaxy s2 camera

Both phones rock eight-megapixel cameras and feature proprietary photo apps rather than the stock Gingerbread snapping application.

The S2 adds some handy shooting modes (think: Outdoor Visibility, Action and Panorama) and effects and focus options that mark it out as a camera phone to be reckoned with.

HTC’s camera is perhaps its key feature, though. And underscoring is that it comes with a dedicated imaging processor, which we found made for some glorious photos.

The option to bypass the lockscreen to fire up the camera instantly is also very welcome when you’re looking to grab a photo in a rush. And just as handy is the ability to take a photo while shooting still video and transmute a still from a video into a photograph.

Verdict:

There’s not much in it. But it’s another win for HTC.

Winner: HTC One X

Software

Android Ice Cream Sandwich

The One X rocks the up-to-the-minute Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) edition out of the box. At the time of writing, UK networks are slowly rolling out ICS to the S2, which shipped with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).

In the meantime, there are some notable features that the One X offers that the S2 does not include. Not least Android Beam, which enables you to swap content with other phone owners just by touching the handsets together.

And there’s Face Unlock too, which uses face detection technology to add a new layer of security to your handset. In theory, anyway.

The difference in the phones comes in the custom skins they use. Samsung’s TouchWiz is unobtrusive and doesn’t mess with the if-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it Android experience. But it still lets you set up hubs quickly and easily.

HTC has skinned the One X with a new version of Sense. In acknowledgment that the earlier edition had become too complicated, this is a stripped down take on its proprietary skin. One that does away with some of those needless animations and adopts a cleaner, simpler look, while retaining UI fixtures such as the homescreen weather widget that's become a hallmark of HTC devices.

Verdict:

The new version of Sense is a massive improvement over previous iterations. But for sheer smoothness and the amazing Samsung Social Hub, TouchWiz remains the best Android skin for our money.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S2

Value for money

Android money

Don’t expect to pick up the HTC One X for less £35 per month on free phone contracts. It’s a premium phone, sure. But at a premium price. It's also hot off the assembly line, meaning it's likely to remain fairly expensive for the foreseeable future.

Currently available free from £20 per month, the Galaxy S2 is a relative snip. That’s in part thanks to networks slashing prices ahead of the anticipated release of the S3 in June or July.

Boosting Sammy’s credentials in the V.F.M stakes further are the frankly incredible array of apps that get given away via the Samsung Apps store. Not least the likes of Modern Combat 3 and Samurai 2.

Verdict:

The S2 is going for a song right now and wins out for that reason. Expect it to be even more reasonable as we get closer to the S3’s launch.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S2

Overall

samsung galaxy s2 vs htc one x

HTC’s new effort is the undeniable winner in the specs stakes – something that’s to be expected given that it lands the best part of a year later.

But as other phone-makers have found to their cost, choosing a phone is as much about the software as it is hardware. And it’s here that Sammy wins the day.

We’re saying:

If you absolutely, positively have to have a phone that can outbeef anything for hardware and don’t mind paying for the privilege, the One X has got your number.

If you want one of the best experiences Android can offer but are keen to watch the pennies, it’s all about the Galaxy S2.

Find out more about the HTC One X here: HTC One X

Find out more about the Samsung Galaxy S2 here: Samsung Galaxy S2

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