User Interface:

As flagships, the Galaxy S III and EVO 4G LTE are both running Android 4.0 at their base (Samsung has the slightly newer 4.0.4 to 4.0.3 on the HTC.) It is a fantastic base to work from, but both manufacturers feel the need to slap a custom skin on top of it in order to differentiate themselves in the market. They don’t, but let’s compare the two skins.

Nature UX is the latest attempt from Samsung at their TouchWiz interface, and there are definite improvements. Things are more customizable, such as the ability to hide applications in the app drawer. The interface is deeply integrated to the point that you don’t see any stock Android on this device, which means a unified design language is found throughout the device. There are motion gestures galore that let you do anything from panning around on a webpage to taking a screenshot. S Voice is a fairly decent stab at the automated assistant (read: Siri) market. Smart Stay watches the users eyes to determine if the screen should go to sleep or not. A lot of the included S apps are cool, but there is a lot going on and that’s a problem.

HTC has admitted that they overreached with Sense, and have scaled it back in Sense 4. While keeping the same basic design language, it has been refined and is much more grown-up than the cartoony TouchWiz. The clock and weather widget, a mainstay on homescreens everywhere, is a perfect example in the difference between the two. HTC’s main widget offers the familiar flip clock, but has gone with a naked background and uses high contrast for easy readability of the time, date and weather. Samsung uses a very pretty picture of the current weather condition on the background of their widget, but text readability suffers as a result and in general the layout is poor and cramped.

Both devices use the standard 4x4 grid for the homescreen, but Samsung uses nearly the bottom quarter of the screen for the launcher, making the rest of the interface more cramped than necessary. This is apparent when slowly flipping between homescreen pages and seeing how much remains stationary. These are just two of many examples where Sense is a better thought out, better implemented UI than TouchWiz.

It would seem that Samsung is getting too cute with TouchWiz- a hole HTC admittedly went down- and it is negatively affecting the Galaxy S III’s performance. Things like the toggle widgets sliding into place when you pull down the notification bar remind us of the spinning Sense homescreen; those animations are nothing but eye candy that take up resources, and frankly they get annoying by the third time you’ve seen them. Sense has also updated some things to stay in line with the ICS design language, such as larger contact pictures in the People app or deleting items from the homescreen by dragging up and not down, something Samsung has not changed.

We realize that a lot of it comes down to personal preference with these skins, but where we take issue with them is that they take up resources which slow down even these incredibly fast phones. If we had a choice we’d run pure Android on both of them, but outside of that Sense offers better performance with a more professional look.

Processor and Memory:

Thanks to LTE connectivity, neither of these variants run the quad-core processors found on non-LTE versions of the phones. That’s OK, because Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 SOC seems to perform just as well while offering impressive battery life and LTE connectivity to boot. The Galaxy S III and EVO 4G LTE are both using this dual-core chip clocked at 1.5GHz, though the Galaxy is backed by 2GB of RAM whereas the EVO only has 1GB. So, these two devise should perform about the same, right? Surprisingly the EVO had its way with the Galaxy S III, beating it convincingly in all three tests we ran it through.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Samsung Galaxy S III 4733574059.6
HTC EVO 4G LTE 5459715162.1

We really expected the Galaxy S III to come out on top here due to the increased RAM, but that was not the case. Given that the devices run such similar hardware, the only logical conclusion we can come to is that HTC has done better with the software on the phone. These differences were slightly noticeable in real world usage too; while both of the phones fly in general there were things here and there that the Galaxy momentarily stumbled on and in general the HTC was more responsive.

The EVO 4G LTE comes with 16GB of internal memory, 25GB of Dropbox storage for 2 years and microSD expansion. The Galaxy S III does the EVO one better by offering a 32GB version (for $50 more) and giving 50GB of Dropbox storage, and also offers a microSD slot.

Connectivity and Internet:

You will not be hurting for connectivity options on either of these devices. The highlights include LTE, EVDO Rev. A, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and Wi-Fi Direct (which Samsung dubs S-Beam.) Right now there are no Sprint LTE cities, but the first ones should go live in about two weeks and the rest of the country will be upgraded over the next year and a half. Still, that means many people are stuck with a 3G phone and right now Sprint’s 3G network is hurting.

The stock browsers are as you’d expect on the phones. They are are plenty capable, but each had their issues. The HTC has the blink issue we’ve talked about in the past, where it re-renders the page for optimal viewing after you double tap in certain areas. The Samsung browser doesn’t zoom in nearly far enough on a double tap. This is a relatively moot point however, because if you have an ICS device you should be running Chrome, and if not that something like Dolphin or Firefox, all of which offer more features and better performance than stock browsers.

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