HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus

And there's perhaps the No. 1 question stemming from our HTC One X review: Is it better than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus? It's easy enough to spot the similarities. Both have 4.7-inch displays. Both are running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. They're both pretty thin and not heavy for their size. Neither has a micro-SD card.

I've been using the Samsung Galaxy Nexus since November. I've been using the HTC One X for a week. So which one is "better?" Is the One X enough to get me to put down the phone that launched a new generation of Android?

Click on through the suspense-building link to find out.

The displays

The Galaxy Nexus has a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display at 1280x720 resolution. The One X has a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display at 1280x720 resolution. So the resolution is a wash. Having 720 pixels wide is still the spec to beat. But despite the similarities, this much is clear:

Don't let this picture here fool you: The One X's display makes the Galaxy Nexus look like an old yellowed newspaper. 

It's tough enough hopping back and forth between the two. But put them side by side and it's painfully evident. Maybe it's that there's virtually no air between the glass and the display, making the images on the One X look like they're floating on the surface. Maybe it's the difference between LCD and AMOLED. Maybe it's just tweaks in the color temperature (which can be controlled by software). I don't care which. Fact of the matter is the One X trumps the Galaxy Nexus in the display department by a pretty wide margin.

The buttons

HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

You can't talk about displays without talking about buttons. the Galaxy Nexus has its home-back-multitasking buttons on the screen itself, controlled by software. Sometimes you see 'em, sometimes you don't, depending on what you're doing. The One X has backlit (and stenciled) capacitive buttons below the display, as part of the phone's hardware.

Truth be told, I haven't had to think about this once. Whether they're on the display itself or just below it, so long as they're in a predicable place and behave predictably, either one is just fine. 

The bigger issue (though not really a big deal either) is how legacy menus are handled, which we detailed in our Sense 4 walkthrough

The processors

Admittedly, I'm not a processor nerd. I don't believe Android benchmarks are really indicative of a phone's overall performance, and I don't run Quadrant over and over hoping to eke out 10 more points from a device. 

In normal, everyday use of the Tegra 3 version of the HTC One X, it's performed admirably. If there's any lag in the UI, I've yet to notice it. The Galaxy Nexus "only" has a a dual-core processor. It performs just fine, too. Unless you're really watching frame rates while outputting video, it's largely a wash.

(All that said, I'm also a sucker for things just being "better" on paper. If I have the chance to buy a high-spec'd device, chances are I'll do it.)

Sense 4 vs. stock

HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

This one probably will be the biggest issue for folks. I've already seen comments from people who "hate Sense 4." And so again I ask: What is it you hate?

I was never a huge fan of earlier versions of Sense. I thought there was a little too much design for design's sake, and functionality suffered because of it, particularly with the home screen dock (which Sense basically turned into an oversized phone button) and the app drawer. So I always used a third-party launcher.

I haven't once been tempted to do that with Sense 4. Other than looking slightly different (but not grossly so), the dock looks and acts just like the dock in stock ICS. Folders look slightly different but are now more intuitive, thanks to the addition of an "Add" button. Widgets are done more like previous versions of Android than being put into their own section of the app drawer -- also a good thing.

Sense 4 really is like touching up an already excellent painting, instead of a forced redesign for design's sake. You do lose the dark, robotic effects that are in Ice Cream Sandwich, but that's hardly the end of the world. Sense 4 certainly is a little more friendly looking. And that's a good thing, as it's certainly a more consumer-centric device.

The cameras

HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

This is another no-brainer. Quality of images taken by the One X are vastly superior over the Galaxy Nexus. It's no contest. HTC also has a better camera app, with more features (like built-in HDR and macro modes, as well as filter effects). That's largely because you're less likely to see that sort of thing licensed for a Nexus phone. But if I have the choice between such features built-in, or my having to track down apps to do them, I'm going to go with the former.

HTC One X on the left, Galaxy Nexus on the right

HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Battery life

Good news and bad news here. On one hand, I've had pretty good results with the One X in regards to battery life. The downside is that it's the only battery you've got. You can't swap in a fresh one like you can in the Galaxy Nexus. And that's going to be tough for a lot of people, myself included.

Updates and hacking

To be determined. Presumably HTCDev will offer an unlocked bootloader. But it's tough to beat the Galaxy Nexus when it comes to proper custom ROMs. 

So which one wins?

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm pretty smitten with the HTC One X. For me, the Super LCD 2 display is too good to pass up. It will spoil you for just about everything else. It's that good. The camera is about as good as advertised, and that's with me using it on full-automatic. Start adjusting settings and paying more attention to white balance, and they'll get even better. Hardware and battery life are excellent.

So long, Galaxy Nexus. It's been real.