HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2

February 20, 2013
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Everyone has their own motives to prefer one Android manufacturer over another, that’s for sure. But independently from your perspective on Android’ s evolution over the time, you will probably eventually reach the conclusion that the two most important manufacturers of the ecosystem are HTC and Samsung.

Much ink has been spilled on Samsung’s role as leader in the Android universe, with some even claiming that the Galaxy brand is eclipsing Android. In the other corner, HTC is not doing nearly as well right now. The Taiwanese manufacturer has reported financial losses for the past few quarters, despite the fact that the One X, the One S, and the Droid DNA have all received great reviews, and have at least aided HTC retain some of its fan base.

In this context, HTC really had the chance to steal the spotlight with the new HTC One. But have they nailed it? Is the HTC One better than the current best mobile device from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 2?

We have set the stage, so let’s begin dissecting our contenders in the usual round: display, design & build quality, software, and hardware.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses a 5.5 inch Super AMOLED display running at 1280 by 720 pixel resolution, and boasting a 267 pixel per inch (PPI) ratio. Although the color accuracy issues that are known to affect SAMOLED displays are present, the Galaxy Note 2 features the best display (quality-wise) on any current Samsung device.

However, full HD is the new standard for flagship Android devices. The HTC One is equipped with a 4.7-inch Super LCD 3 display that uses a 1920 x 1080 resolution (commonly known as 1080p or full HD). This is the display with the largest PPI ratio ever (468). But there’s more – the panel features top-end brightness and contrast levels, as well as accurate color reproduction.

In the context of this section, the conclusion is that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses a larger display, which is better suited for consuming media (as well as S-Pen input, more on that later), but the HTC One comes with a more compact display of noticeably better quality.

Verdict: The HTC One wins this round thanks to its extra crispness and more natural color reproduction.

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Design and build quality

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses a plastic body with heavily rounded asymmetrical corners, a narrow-ish bezel, and a physical home button flanked by two capacitive buttons. Measuring 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm (5.95 x 3.17 x 0.37 in) and weighing 183 g (6.46 oz), the Note 2 is, design-wise a slightly odd device, very similar to a large Samsung Galaxy S3.

Ease of use is decent for such a large device, although many argue that the Galaxy Note 2 is just too large to be used with one hand. Build quality is not much better than the Galaxy S3′s; it still feels a bit too plasticky, especially for such a high-end device.

galaxy note 2 [aa]

In the HTC corner, the One features an aluminum rounded back and slightly rounded corners. There are two capacitive below the screen (which HTC shuffled compared to last year), and dual speaker grills (we’ll get to the stereo speakers in the hardware section).

What you really need to know is that the HTC One is a a premium, well built smartphone.

Verdict: While design is a matter of personal taste, the HTC One is the better built smartphone.

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Hardware

CPU, GPU & RAM

The second generation phablet from Samsung is powered by the in-house Exynos 4 Quad chipset, an overclocked version of the chip that went inside the Samsung Galaxy S3. The 1.6GHz quad-core A9 processor is paired with a Mali 400MP GPU and 2 GB of RAM. The Galaxy Note 2 generally provides high-end performance, which is reflected in benchmark results.

However, the HTC One uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, basically a souped up version of the Snapdragon S4 Pro (the SoC used inside the Google Nexus 4 and the HTC Droid DNA). The quad-core Krait processor runs at 1.7GHz per core, the Adreno 320 GPU has been overclocked as well, and Qualcomm promises results that are up to 40% better than the previous generation.

Early reports have shown that the HTC One smashes previous records in benchmarks. The HTC One should be noticeably faster, especially when performing heavy duty tasks, than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

htc-one-quadrant-benchmark-test-1 Credit: SlashGear

Internal and expandable storage

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. Additionally, Samsung is one of the few Android manufacturers that have opted not to ditch microSD slots for their flagship devices.

The HTC One will be available with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, and lacks the option to expand that storage via a microSD card. This may or may not affect you personally, but the lack of expandable storage matters to a lot of people.

Cameras and speakers

As far as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is concerned, there’s not really much to praise here, as the phablet uses an 8MP primary camera sensor and a 1.9MP secondary sensor, and has a mono speaker.

HTC’s relationship with audio firm Beats has translated into a specially designed audio amplifier for the 3.5mm jack. The addition of dual speakers with BoomSound tech should ensure that the One is a popular option for audiophiles. To complete the multimedia section, the HTC One is the first device to use the proprietary UltraPixel technology, one that features three overlaid sensors that work together to provide the best picture quality. Early sample images have proved inconclusive so far.

Battery

The HTC One uses a 2300 mAh battery, which doesn’t look like much, considering that HTC’s new flagship has to power a full HD panel and an overclocked SoC.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 seems to be better equipped in the battery department, as it houses a 3100 mAh battery.

Verdict: The HTC One is faster, offers superior multimedia options, but it also has a smaller battery and lacks a microSD card slot. You decide which is more important!

GALAXY NOTE 2 BENCHMARK

Android version and software tweaks

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was originally released with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but has since been updated in most parts of the world to Android 4.1.2. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI has been oftenly criticized for its design, although on the other hand, it has also been praised by users for its Smart Functions and S-Pen capabilities.

Note2 multi window

As expected, the HTC One will feature Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box, with HTC’s revamped Sense 5 overlaid on top. The most notable new feature, called BlinkScreen, turns your homescreen into a live stream that mixes social updates with calendar events and more, much like what’s going on with the live tiles of Windows Phone.

htc-sense-5-blinkfeed-1

While the UI itself was redesigned, and is now, subjectively, better looking than the Samsung TouchWiz UI, the Galaxy Note 2 can really do more things than the HTC One, primarily thanks to its Multitasking feature and array of S-Pen enabled apps.

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 wins this round in my book.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a great option. It has a larger display, the S-Pen is quite useful for the creative, can work with SD card slots, and is equipped with a large battery.

However, if you are looking for the best Android smartphone out there, the HTC One is, at this point, my new first choice. It features a sleek and (more) compact design, the fastest SoC around, and an amazingly crisp panel. Flavor that up with its camera and audio capabilities, and it feels like a darn shame that the HTC One doesn’t have a microSD card slot and a larger battery. It would have been the ultimate smartphone.

What do you guys think of this battle? Let us know which way you swing in the comment section below.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/santeri.liukkonen.1 Santeri Liukkonen

    Oh my god… Note 2 is almost the same size with HTC One, even tho’ the N2 has a whole of 0,8 inch bigger screen :o

    • nebsif

      Let me quote myself from the leaked press shot “DAT BEZEL, its huge!”
      9.3mm thick as big one Gnote and for what, an extra pixel, a fancy, sealed aluminium body? meh

      • nebsif

        extra speaker* sorry

        • http://www.facebook.com/santeri.liukkonen.1 Santeri Liukkonen

          That’s for sure.. Somehow i’m not as excited about this phone as I thought I would be. Never had an HTC phone, and I think for now I won’t in the future either. I just don’t like the design, the size and the damn new Sense 5. It’s like HTC brought the old Android looks back :/

    • G2525

      Dont be fooled by the picture!

      Htc One – 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm

      Galaxy note 2 – 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm

      The note 2 is 1.37 cm longer than htc one and 1.23 cm wider

      • http://www.facebook.com/santeri.liukkonen.1 Santeri Liukkonen

        Oh! okay :) The top picture sure looks weird!

    • Ranjith Thiru

      Hey it is not a Note2 its a S3 thats near HTC One.

      Note2: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm

      HTC1: 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

      How can these 2 look in same size?

      • http://www.facebook.com/santeri.liukkonen.1 Santeri Liukkonen

        Nope… It’s a Note 2, thats for sure… The picture is just doing some weird tricks :D

        • WestIndiesKING

          how in the hell is that a note 2 and how do you know for sure? please explain. No way the HTC1 is about the same size

          • http://www.facebook.com/santeri.liukkonen.1 Santeri Liukkonen

            Calm down buddy.. First of all, look at the name of the article, It’s Note2 vs One, second thing is that you can see it easily because of the location of the sensors on top right of the Note 2.. Those little sensors are placed diffirently in SGS 3, just take the pictures of them both side by side and you will see the diffirence pretty easily even from the more rounded bottom side of the Galaxy S3 :)

    • http://www.basatne.com/ Basatne Electronics

      Yeah, those speakers take up a lot of real estate. Hopefully the sound quality is worth it!

  • Vahid

    That’s HTC’s way of doing phones. Stopping just one step away from being perfect and leaving that step to be taken by Samsung and ultimately losing the market to them.

    • Filip Justin

      Choking is what most companies do best..

    • cycad007

      Argh…frustrating, yes. If HTC had listened to their customers regarding replaceable batteries and that microSD slot…I bet they would’ve sold *A LOT* more phones.

  • swtrainer

    Clearly in HTC’s hip pocket. I like the HTC, but it clearly can’t compare to the Note 2. I am a fan of the hard rubber case of the HTC phones, but 7 dollar case on eBay fixes that and the battery life of the Note 2 stands alone at the top.

    • Kenneth Schefer

      Isn’t the RAZR Maxx battery superior? I imagine that is the case.

      • Scorpineo

        Buy a $10 spare battery and charger from Ebay and suddenly the Note 2 has twice the battery power of the RAZR.

        • Kenneth Schefer

          … And then attach an external battery for even more juice! I was obviously referring to the standalone battery size of the device.

  • Beci

    In my opinion YOU should compare the HTC one with the Samsung S4 becouse are similar class and both are 2013. The samsung note Series are different becouse of large screen and S pen features.

  • Ivan Myring

    Why is the one so huge? In the photo it looks the same size as the note 2 but the screen is 0.8 inches smaller

    • Ranjith Thiru

      Hey it is not a Note2, its a S3 thats near HTC One.

      Note2: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm

      HTC1: 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3 mm

      How can these 2 look in same size?

      • Ivan Myring

        It is a note 2, look at the home button. It would be a different shape and in a different shape on an s3

        • montey

          No it’s not it’s the s3 all the buttons on both phones are the same Ilook at both of them everyday.

          • Ivan Myring

            No, it has a (near) rectangular home button in the photo. The S3 has a less rectangular home button, which is also located further down the bezel

      • http://www.facebook.com/mxgv2 Mubashir Adham

        I think he is holding HTC One very close to the camera than N2….
        That’s why it’s looks smaller

        • MarkMyWordz

          Finally a smart comment aboht which ohone it is. It is the Note 2. You are right about how he is holding the phones. He even has his hand hokding the Note 2 tilted slightly, which can make a huge difference when it cones to photography. Just go to your nearest store that carry both. Big difference.

  • ojchurch

    I don’t think the Note 2 is available in 64Gb is it? At least not for most markets. I still think I’ll prefer the Note.

  • gregosor78

    Don’t be fooled by the photo:

    HTC one : 137.4 x 68.2 mm
    Galaxy Note 2 :151.1 x 80.5 mm

    1cm larger and 1.5cm higher for Note2

    • Ranjith Thiru

      haha haa.. AA’s mistake has lead to confusion among its readers

  • G2525

    HTC ONE ALL THE WAY!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.woolstencroft Tony Woolstencroft

    The HTC One hasn’t shown anything to make me cancel my Xperia Z order. Having played with the demo unit in our local Phones4U at the weekend (including dunking it in a bowl of water) the Xperia Z is still the best of the upcoming phones.

  • http://twitter.com/JangoBear Sonya A. Willis

    The build quality means nothing if the overall experience is poor and you’re ready to throw the phone out the window. I’m done with HTC. I have been having too many problems with the battery not charging properly, Sense constantly reloading, the phone shutting itself off. Granted I have a mid-level HTC phone but the problems I have been having, also have been affecting the high end HTC phones as well.

    I will be switching over to the Samsung Note II soon. At this point, there’s nothing HTC can do to get me back.

  • http://twitter.com/KrRay03 Kaushik Ray

    How can HTC even make such silly mistakes like giving just 2300 mAh battery to power such a powerhouse….What are there engineers designing and thinking..common..I am usin Note2 and trust me i LOVE its battery back up…and it can make me decide smartphone that I will use…

    #SadHTC

    • Riskos

      CNET Battery Drain Test = Over 9 hours of battery life……

  • Quryous

    .
    Audiophiles.

    No true AUDIOPHILE will praise EITHER handset’s output. They are both DISMAL. In particular, the BOOMY nature of previous HTC BoomBoxes is particularly offensive to audiophiles. This goes for earbuds, earphones, or the included speakers on ALL current handsets.

    The idea of stereo is also a bit odd. I like stereo, but to really use it (hear it properly) you need a much bigger distance between the speakers than is practical for ANY handset.

    Once you get to about 9 inch handipads, stereo begins to make sense from speakers. Not before.
    .

  • Scorpineo

    “The HTC One will be available with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, and lacks the option to expand that storage via a microSD card. This may or may not affect you personally, but the lack of expandable storage matters to a lot of people.”

    “The HTC One uses a *NON-REMOVABLE* 2300 mAh battery, which doesn’t look like much, considering that HTC’s new flagship has to power a full HD panel and an overclocked SoC.

    The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 seems to be better equipped in the battery department, as it houses a 3100 mAh battery that is also REMOVABLE!”

    And HTC wonders why they are losing the phone war?

    When we’re traveling, we use our phones a lot! Looking up restaurant reviews on Yelp, using Google Navigation to keep our cab driver honest. Bought a couple $10 spare batteries & chargers from ebay and we had no worries all day!

    Can’t say the same for non-removable battery phones.

    Samsung isn’t all that revolutionary, they just know what people want and they build it!

    • montey

      Lmao I’m a cab driver and yes that keeps us honest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kunatiabhi Abhishek Reddy Kunati

    G2 Rocks

  • http://www.facebook.com/ichuck7 Charles Chambers

    Battery life is huge for me, the multiscreen function on the Note 2 is nice, and I like my 64 gb micro sd card. I have to give the Note 2 the win IMHO but that’s just my preference.

    I don’t care about having more pixels if I can’t notice them. That dense a screen just uses more battery juice.

  • interstellarmind

    Tiny batteries are what keep killing HTC phones. The HTC camera and chipset may be superior, but what’s the point of that superiority when you can’t even use it because the battery died hours ago (compared to the Note 2).

  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.merfalen.9 Frank Duenas Merfalen

    I can’t wait to get my hands on the new HTC ONE!!!!! I have the Note 2 and I love it. Nothing wrong with having 2 phones.

  • Marlon Milligan

    It cant wait to get the htc one!!

  • Cal Jolliffe

    i was super excited about the HTC one. i went to see it today and its rapid and beautifully made but i just love the screen size on the note and the features it has is amazing. its still super quick so i think i will choose the note.

    WOW these phones are getting so good now its hard to pick one. i have owned iPhones in the past and they really have been left behind.

  • montey

    Whoever think thats the note 2 beside the htc one is just crazy that is the gs3 all samsung phones just look alike.

  • montey

    I was going to get the HTC one but they are on back order with t mobile so now 2 it is.