Interface, Messaging and Functionality:

We won't be delving into deep comparison between TouchWiz 3.0 and HTC Sense UI, since we've already covered them when they first appeared - in the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Desire Z reviews, respectively. TouchWiz 3.0 is simpler and more app-centric, with great social networking integration in your contacts list. The new HTC Sense, on the other hand, comes with cloud-based services for remote management of your phone, with a central command place at It also includes a joint effort by HTC, TomTom and Route66 to provide offline maps for navigation in more than 90 countries in the new Locations app. Other improvements are the 5 seconds boot time, and numerous options for skinning and customizing.

Our personal preferences lean towards HTC Sense, in its newest iteration, which makes it an all encompassing experience with amazing personalization options, but it's all subjective, of course. We did a detailed overview of the new HTC Sense UI in our Desire Z review, if you want to check those new features we mention in depth.

Our Samsung Galaxy S unit was updated to Android 2.2 (Froyo), which brought on full Adobe Flash support, some eye-candy like transparent homescreen dock and flashy icon backgrounds, and also a self-portrait mode in the camera interface using the front-facing cam. The benchmarks showed performance improvement by about a third as well. While navigating the interface or firing up applications, though, the difference wasn't quite visible – Samsung's finest is already fast enough. The split-second black screen before the phone entered some applications, such as the contacts list, is almost gone now - TouchWiz 3.0 is fluid, and a pleasure to use on the Samsung Galaxy S.

The HTC Desire HD, although it scored 1700+ on the Quadrant test, which is more than we've ever seen on a handset out of the box, actually had noticeable lag in inertial scrolling in the main menu. Despite the next-gen 1GHz Snapdragon chipset, and the 768MB RAM, when we swiped briskly up and down in the menu, it stuttered to a stop. It is definitely not a horse power issue, as confirmed by the benchmark tests, just some optimization needed in the new HTC Sense UI, since anywhere else scrolling is as smooth as it gets. There is a new firmware out now, which probably takes care of the teething issues.

The graphics chip, used in Samsung's Hummingbird, is theoretically better than the one in the HTC Desire HD, but, in a year-old 3D game, we consistently saw 58-60 fps from the Snapdragon, while the Galaxy S meandered between 47 and 58 fps - once again the synthetic limits obviously don't mean much in real life, unless there is software specifically written to take advantage of this or that chipset.

Both phones allow for integrating the contacts from your social networks with your phone buddies, but we like the TouchWiz 3.0 approach slightly better, as it allows a quick glimpse at anybody's Facebook account happenings, for example, via a simple tab in the person's contact details.

Both devices have excellent text messaging and email apps, but we liked the email software on the Samsung Galaxy S more, since its settings are easier to find and more detailed. You can download all your emails for offline viewing (and searching), up to 10MB size, in HTML view, and with the attachments. The email client on the HTC Desire HD allows you to set “maximum size” to download, without HTC specifying what size would that be, plus Sense UI is just now introducing combined inbox, a feature that TouchWiz 3.0 has had for a while.

Typing those emails and messages, on the other hand, is easier on the HTC Desire HD – add the traditionally excellent HTC virtual keyboard to a 4.3” screen, and you'll never need another keyboard. Not that it's much harder on the 4” screen, plus the update to Froyo brought Swype to our Galaxy S, so things got even better in the text input department. Oh, wait, there is some trouble in paradise – when typing in landscape mode, or when editing documents, for example – the input on both phones goes into a text box, so the only thing you see is the keyboard and the text box, instead of a split screen. A crying shame on these large screens, which needs to be addressed in the next iterations of Android - these are the only times we prefer a physical keyboard.

We'd have to say again that, since performance on these latest-gen 1GHz chipsets is not an issue, the choice of interface boils down to personal preferences. TouchWiz 3.0 is simpler, and easier to learn and use, while HTC Sense takes some getting used to, but gives back in integrated functionalities and unsurpassed customization options.

Internet, Connectivity and Software:

Both browsers are performing fantastic – scrolling, panning around, multitouch and double-tap work flawlessly, without a hint of lag. They share similar functionalities, with the main differences between the two being the more flexible text selection ability in the Sense UI browser with two waypoints, and the separate brightness setting in the browser on the Galaxy S, presumably to tone down the power drain from AMOLED displays, when showing white website backgrounds.

The only difference in performance we noticed was when we loaded the Unreal Tournament 3 site, which is Flash-based, and has an embedded video inside to boot. The browser on the Samsung Galaxy S slightly stuttered on the video, while on the HTC Desire HD things were smooth as silk, most likely due to the 256MB of RAM more that the handset possesses, and the hardware acceleration in Sense UI's browser. Also, we mentioned that the PenTile matrix used to produce the Super AMOLED display uses two subpixels for one pixel instead of three, thus making text and images appear smoother on the LCD screen.

Both browsers support text reflow, so the pages are rendered to fit the screens entirely, but the elements on the Desire HD are just bigger than on the 4.3” screen, and thus easier to read. Here we give slight advantage to the browser on the HTC Desire HD, unless you are mesmerized by those gaudy, saturated colors that the Galaxy S produces while browsing, or doing anything else, for that matter.

On the connectivity front, both devices support the full set of radios – 3G, Wi-Fi, A-GPS, Bluetooth, FM Radio and DLNA. The devil is in the details, though – the HTC Desire HD supports 14.4Mbps download speeds, while the Samsung Galaxy S makes do with 7.2Mbps. Given that there are now 29 live HSPA+ networks in Europe, this is a nice short term fix for your need for speed, until LTE is rolled out completely. On the other hand, the Galaxy S has Bluetooth 3.0, which is much faster than the 2.1 variety, but there aren't many devices supporting it as of now, so it is just a futureproof feature for the time being. The golden palm in the connectivity front here goes to the HTC Desire HD.

Moreover, the new HTC Sense UI utilizes fully the GPS chip with the pre-installed Locations app, which we examined thoroughly in our HTC Desire Z review, including its performance on video, if you need more details. It is basically a partnership between HTC, TomTom and Route 66 for offline navigation on HTC devices running Sense UI. Detailed maps and POIs of more than 90 countries, or entire regions, can be downloaded to the app and used for navigation, aided by a digital compass, without having to splurge on data or roaming charges. If you want voice-guided navigation, you can purchase it within the app for additional charge, which is pretty competitive.

The other major software difference is the cloud-based service for phone info backup, remote locking, wiping or locating your handset via, which is a new thing. That's a must have functionality, which we are sure Samsung is working to add to its handsets in some way, but the new Sense UI has these integrated throughout the interface – for example, when personalizing the looks, you can download additional scenes, skins, wallpapers and widgets from the HTC Hub, and that's within the app. HTC Likes takes the guesswork out of your application shopping experience by pre-screening them for you, and is an added-value alternative to Android Market, and so on. We give credit where it is due, and HTC has the upper hand here for seamlessly integrating a wealth of customization options and functionalities in the new Sense UI.

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