Until a couple of years ago, the phablet segment was dominated by Samsung's Galaxy Note handsets, but this year the Galaxy Note 3 will have to withstand heavy competition. Besides the massive Sony Xperia Z ultra, the Samsung phablet will also have to cope with HTC's One Max phablet, the biggest smartphone launched by the Taiwanese company so far.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was officially introduced about a month ago during the Unpacked Episode 2 event, and, as you've probably guessed, it's the successor of the popular Galaxy Note 2. Just as everybody anticipated the Galaxy Note 3 brings a slightly larger display, faster processor, and better camera.
After months of leaks and rumors HTC finally revealed the One Max phablet earlier this month, even though all the smartphone enthusiasts and tech publications anticipated that the handset will be officially introduced at IFA Berlin 2013 in September. Well, the HTC One Max looks a lot like the One flagship, but it has a fingerprint scanner and other goodies.
If you were with us when we compared other Android smartphones in one of our previous Versus articles, you would probably know that there will be ten rounds in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs HTC One Max battle. We will compare the two massive devices in terms of Display, Processor, Memory, Dimensions, Design, Connectivity, Operating System, Battery, Price, and Camera.
Each round of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs HTC One Max battle is worth one point and, of course, the smartphone that wins most rounds and scores most points is named the winner of the specs encounter.
The display is, in my opinion, the most important particularity of a phablet. In fact that's what most phablet customers are chasing: a generous display with high resolution and quality.
The Galaxy Note 3 boasts about a 5.7-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 386 ppi, while the HTC One Max packs a 5.9-inch unit, also with full HD resolution, but based on a Super LCD3 panel with a pixel density of 373 grams.
Well, even though the Super AMOLED screen that equips the Galaxy Note 3 has great brightness and contrast, the color reproduction is not what you might want to call accurate, while the outdoor visibility is not satisfactory.
Both types of display bring good viewing angles, but the Super LCD3 unit of the One Max outmatches the Super AMOLED unit when it comes to color reproduction or performance under direct sunlight. That's why the HTC One Max wins the display round.
If you believe that the smartphones are evolving insanely fast in the smartphone world, then you should look inside for their processors. While a couple of years ago we were struggling with single-core processors, the market is now dominated by quad-core or event octa-core devices.
The HTC One Max sports the same Snapdragon 600 chipset of the original One, based on four Krait 300 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU.
As you probably know there are two Galaxy Note 3 variants, each underpinned by a different processor: the N9000 packs an Exynos 5420 SoC (quad-core 1.9 Cortex A15 CPU + quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7 low-power CPU and Mali-T628 MP6 GPU), while the LTE-friendly N9005 features a Snapdragon 800 chipset (quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU).
Well, both processing units fitted on the Galaxy Note 3 outmatch the Snapdragon 600 of the One Max, therefore the Samsung phablet wins its first point. Still wondering why HTC chose the underpowered Snapdragon 600 for its phablet.
As of July 2013 there are over 1 million apps in Google Play, therefore you will need a lot of storage to download and install some of them. Should I also mention about Google Play Music, Movies, and Books? No, I won't.
The HTC One Max comes with either 16 or 32 GB of storage and support for microSD expansion (up to 64 GB supported). The Note 3 has 16/32/64 GB of internal storage, plus microSD cards support (also 64 GB). It's pretty simple: One Max can have a max of 96 GB of storage, while Note 3's storage can reach 128 GB.
Besides outmatching the One Max when it comes to storing capabilities, the Note 3 also comes with 3 GB of RAM while the HTC phablet brings "only" 2 GB, meaning that Sammy's handset will provide a reacher multitasking experience.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 wins the memory round.
Even though we are dealing with two phablets, I like to see that Samsung and HTC tried to make their devices as compact as possible.
Galaxy Note 3 measures 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm and weighs 168 g. While having to accommodate a slightly larger display the HTC One Max is 164.5 mm tall, 82.5 mm wide, 10.3 mm thin, and weighs 217 grams.
The Note 3 is thinner, lighter, and more compact than the HTC One Max, that's why the Korean device wins another round.
So far, everybody mocked Samsung for using plastic for their high-end smartphones, but with the launch of the Galaxy Note 3 the South Koreans wanted to show us that their handsets can be premium too.
While all of us expected the Note 3 to look like a Samsung Galaxy S4 on steroids, Sammy's phablet brings a whole new design, with better-crafted edges, faux-leather back, and stitches for the back lid.
I've said it before, I'm saying it one more time: the HTC One is the best-looking smartphone on the market. And since the HTC One Max phablet is manufactured with the same design lines in mind it's safe to assume that it's the best looking phablet on the market. The curved aluminium case looks magnificent, but its design has one major flaw: the fingerprint sensor placement.
HTC thought it would be nice to place it right below the camera, but, unfortunately, you will touch the shutter with your greasy hands every time you want to slide your finger over the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is indeed a great addition, but it's location is a bit unnatural in my opinion.
Still, there is no chance the Galaxy Note 3 will steal the design round from the HTC One Max. Another point for the Taiwanese phablet.
The 4G LTE support is one of the major selling points for the modern smartphones and the manufacturers are now including it on all their high-end terminals.
When it comes to connectivity, the HTC One Max brings LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, IR blaster, and microUSB 2.0.
On the other hand the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, IR blaster, and microUSB 3.0.
Did you spot the difference? No? The Note 3 has microUSB 3.0, while One Max only has microUSB 2.0. Well, this is not enough to break the tie so this round has no winner.
Since both handsets were released one and two months, after the Android 4.3 launch they both run the latest Android firmware out of the box. So what's the difference between them?
One Max is customize with Sense 5.5 UI, which brings a couple of changes to the Sense 5 interface that debuted on the original One. The new interface developed by the Taiwanese company brings the HTC Scribble function that allows you to draw on your pics, and Photo Editor featurethat lets you create GIFs. It also comes with HTC Zoe, HTC Scribble, HTC BlinkFeed, and Video Highlights feature that combines your photo and video footage for mini movies complete with the themes and music you select.
Moreover, besides using the fingerprint scanner to unlock the device, you can also set it up to automatically open an app when you swipe your finger on it.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has the TouchWiz Nature UX interface applied over Android 4.3. The interface created by Samsung brings a ton of features, some of them useful some of them not. Inside TouchWiz you will be able to use Smart Stay, Smart Scroll, Air Gesture/View, Smart Pause, S Voice, Multi Window, S Translator, or S Health.
You will also get lots of S Pen-optimized features like Air Command, Action Memo, Scrapbook, S Finder, Pen Window, Screen Write, or Easy Clip.
Whether you like it or not, TouchWiz is by far the most innovative interface in the Android environment, which helps the Galaxy Note 3 score another point in the battle against One Max.
The phablets have a reputation for bringing long battery life, but are the Galaxy Note 3 and the HTC One Max the exception that confirm the rule?
When we got our hands on the Galaxy Note 3 we managed to squeeze about two-days of moderate usage out of the Li-Ion 3,200 mAh battery battery. Well, that's pretty decent considering that its predecessor had a battery stamina of about a day and a half.
Even though we weren't lucky enough to test One Max's battery life we know that the handset comes with a 3,300 mAh battery. Well the extra 100 mAh shouldn't make any difference since the display is bigger and the processor is less battery friendly than Note 3's. so expect around two days of battery life for HTC's phablet. I'm calling a tie here.
Since most smartphones are sold on contract, that's what we'll be talking today.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is already available for purchase at the major US carrier and all have one thing in common: if agree to sign a two-year contract with any of them you will be able to buy the Note 3 16 GB for "only" $299.
Even though we don't have an official US price for the One Max, all the repots are indicating that the HTC phablet will also cost $299 on contract. So, another tie? Yes, it is.
I've never met a smartphone user who doesn't use his device to take photos. Whether you like to use the camera to capture important or funny moments or you are just a hipster that takes photos of its food, a smartphone's camera is a pretty important aspect.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes with a feature-packed 13 MP primary camera that brings autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, panorama, and HDR. It also shoots 4K@30fps videos and 1080p@60fps slow-motions.
Not enough? You can use the front-facing and rear-facing in the same time thanks to Dual Shot and Dual Video, then you can choose from one of the interesting camera modes created by Samsung: Sound & Shot, Drama Shot, Eraser, Cinema Photo, etc.
On the other hand, the One Max brings a 4 MP UltraPixel camera with autofocus, LED flash, 1/3'' sensor size, 2µm pixel size, simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, face and smile detection, and use Dual capture mode which frames personal reactions with picture-in-picture results. One Max's camera records 1080p@30 and 72p@60fps videos.
With the One Max you can share the photos via Zoe, or do other photo-related stuff using Scribble or Photo Editor.
When the original One was officially introduced, HTC made a real fuss about the UltraPixel camera mounted on its back. The real-life tests have shown otherwise and the One Max sports the same camera unit minus the image stabilization. This round has to go to the Galaxy Note 3.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs HTC One Max battle is now over and our duty is to see which of the two phablets scored most points. Was it the Galaxy Note 3 or the One Max?
We've had three undecided rounds because the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the HTC One Max were equally matched when it came to Connectivity (both have all the features worthy of a modern smartphone), Battery Life (about 48 hours), and Price (they both have the same price point).
The phablet launched by the Taiwanese company has dominated Samsung's device in two rounds, Display and Design, because it has a higher quality display that's slightly larger than Note 3's and because HTC did a great job with the construction of its 5.9-inch smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has won not less than five rounds: Processor, Memory, Dimensions, Operating System, and Camera. When compared to One Max, Sammy's handset has faster CPU, higher amounts of storage and RAM, is thinner and lighter, has a better camera, and runs TouchWiz which is one of the most popular UIs.
The Galaxy Note 3 scores 5 points in the battle against One Max, while the latter one only managed to score two. I guess we have a winner? But was the battle fair? Maybe the One Max is the better smartphone in your opinion. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.