Samsung Galaxy Note 2 vs HTC One X

August 29, 2012
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Now that Samsung has finally announced almost everything there is to know about the much awaited Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Android fans from all over the world have already started comparing the new Note against the other top-end smartphones in the Android ecosystem. Since we’re all about helping our readers make the best possible buying decisions, we figured it might help some people to publish a few “Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Versus” articles.

I know HTC isn’t doing so well lately (financial-wise at least), but the reality is that the HTC One X is still a kickass smartphone, one that any Android fan on the lookout for a top-end smartphone should consider.

If you’re looking to compare the Galaxy Note 2 with the original Note, you’ll be able to find out if the upgrades are worth the extra moolah Samsung is asking for in the article here. On the other hand, if you’d like to learn a bit about the advantages of owning a Samsung Galaxy S3 vs owning a Note 2, we’ve got you covered on this topic as well.

The Phablet factor

Before we go into the meat of this article (as in: comparing the actual specs of the Galaxy Note 2 to the HTC One X), I’d like you to be aware of the usability differences between using a regularly-sized smartphone (that’s anywhere between 3.5 inches across the diagonal of the display up to around 4.8 inches) and a smartphone with a huge display (referred to as a “phablet” these days). While the latter is much better suited for consuming visual content, it will also be a considerably harder to use with just one hand, especially if you don’t have the grasp of a pro basketball player. A phablet is also harder to pocket than a regular smartphone, and generally requires your entire attention for maximum usability.

Please note (yes, this pun is definitely intended, Einstein!) that this applies when comparing any ‘regular’ smartphone against the Note 2, or the original Note for that matter.

Since we’re on the topic, you should also read about the “optimum” size of a smartphone’s display in this previous article here. What I’m trying to say here is that the form factor should matter quite a bit when deciding whether to go for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 or the HTC One X. The gargantuan size of the display (5.5 inches) is what sets the Note 2 apart. If you find the Note 2’s footprint to be too big for your liking, you’ll have a hard time finding the reasons to purchase one. Similarly, if a large display is what you’re looking for, then the Note 2 is definitely be the best way to go. Just make sure that you weigh down the pros and cons of a 5.5-inch display before jumping head first into a two-year agreement with your carrier.

As there is no way to give an overall verdict to this one, I’m going to call it a draw. Each form factor comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It’s really all up to you to decice!

HTC One X vs Galaxy Note 2: Display

As it was believed months before the Note 2 was actually unveiled, the Galaxy Note 2 features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display, running at a native resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, and showcasing a Pixel Per Inch (PPI) density of 267. Unfortunately, the lack of a “Plus” in the display technology means that the Note 2 is using the PenTile pixel arrangement, although at this density, the differences between a PenTile display and a true RGB display are almost impossible to detect via the naked eye.

The HTC One X uses a 4.7-inch Super IPS LCD2 display running at the same resolution as the Note 2, 1280 x 720 pixels. Given that the display on the One X is smaller but maintains the resolution, the PPI density jumps to 312, meaning images on the One X are as crisp as they get. I’m not going to touch the IPS LCD vs Super AMOLED dispute, as it seems like opinions vary by personal preference, but I feel like I should mention that many experts have pointed out that the display on the HTC One X might just be the best display they’ve ever seen on a mobile device.

Verdict: While the extra 0.8 inches of the Galaxy Note 2 display mean that YouTube videos are a joy to watch, the HTC One X still wins this round thanks to the extra crispness and natural colors of its display.

Galaxy Note 2 vs HTC One X: Internal Hardware

As many of you might already know, the international HTC ONE X version features the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip (1.5GHz quad-core A9 processor and Nvidia ULP GPU), while the U.S. version features the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC (1.5GHz dual-core A15 processor and Adreno 225 GPU). However, it doesn’t really matter which version of the One X we’re comparing against the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, as the overclocked Samsung Exynos 4412 chip (1.6GHz quad-core A9 processor, Mali-400MP) inside the newly announced Galaxy Note 2 is flat-out better than any other chip currently available on a mobile device. In addition, the Galaxy Note 2 features 2 GB of RAM, the new standard for a high-end Android smartphone as we get near the end of Q3, while the HTC One X features 1GB of RAM.

When it comes to the battery size, the Note 2 features a 3100 mAh removable battery, while the One X only has a 1800 mAh battery. However, at this point, we are unable to tell if this also translates into a longer battery life, since the Note 2 also has a bigger display (the biggest power drainer of all smartphone components).

So what about internal storage? Well, the HTC One X comes with 32GB of internal storage space, but has no MicroSD card slot (to me its not the worst thing that could happen, but I personally know a few people that are addicted to their SD slot). The Note 2 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions and also accepts microSD cards up to 64GB in size.

When it comes to the cameras, the differences are slim to none: the HTC One X uses a 8MP primary camera and a 1.3MP secondary camera, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 uses a 8MP primary camera and a 1.8MP secondary one, the exact same equipment as the Galaxy S3. To be honest, none of these cameras is actually that good, but should suffice for your basic “take a picture of the Big Foot” needs.

Verdict: The Galaxy Note 2 is the most powerful piece of hardware in the Android ecosystem today, and we don’t see an end to its supremacy until Qualcomm releases its quad-core S4 SoC

OS, UI and Software Tweaks

The HTC One X was released with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on board and the Sense 4.0 UI on top , with an official Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update scheduled to arrive in the following months – however, there are plenty of unofficial ways to get Jelly Bean on your One X. HTC’s Sense 4.1 was recently leaked and should arrive as an official update to all versions of One X by the end of September. While some suggest that HTC’s Sense is in some ways better than Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, the reality is that the One X has basically no unique software tweaks. And this is exactly where the Galaxy Note 2 shines.

Although for a long time it was rumored that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will be launched running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Samsung has pleasantly surprised us by launching the Galaxy Note 2 with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The TouchWiz UX works very much like the Galaxy S3 version, including all the smart features that we’ve talked about in greater detail here.

But no matter how we look at it, it’s the integration of S-Pen optimized apps such as (S Memo, the Adobe Photoshop Touch that comes for free with each Note 2,etc) that make the Galaxy Note 2 a very unique and productive experience. If you liked the S-Pen on the original Note, you’ll be glad to know that the overrated stylus is now wider and longer to offer a better grip. On the software side, the Note 2 comes with a few unique S-Pen tweaks such as a Quick Command function, or a tweak that lets you preview information on a certain folder or file without switching screens (by hovering the S-Pen over it). Those of us with a tendency to lose their pens will surely enjoy the fact that the Note 2 will alert you whenever the S-Pen is not in its holster so that you don’t lose it.

In addition, it seems like Android app developers have started to take notice of the S-Pen, and chances are this trend isn’t going to stop anytime soon as Samsung releases more and more devices that make use of the S-Pen (original Note, Note 10.1, the Galaxy Note 2 will surely be joined by other devices in the Samsung Note line of devices).

Verdict: The Note 2 easily takes this round thanks to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, S-Pen integration and new smart functions.

Hands-on video

Release Date, Price and Availability

By now, you might have noticed that the Galaxy Note 2 is quite a formidable adversary for HTC’s flagship smartphone. However, given that the international version of the HTC One X was released back in May, while the Galaxy Note 2 will start reaching international retailer shelves in October, the performance difference is also translated into a noticeable price difference. At this point it should also be mentioned that HTC is rumored to cut down prices on all smartphones in the One series (some say that future models will also be released at a lower price in order to drive sale numbers).

So while a new Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will draw you back roughly around $600 unlocked, you might be able to get a much better deal on a HTC One X, a smartphone that is priced at $450 unlocked at Amazon. In addition, HTC One X prices may go down further once the Note 2 becomes commercially available.

Conclusion

From where I’m standing, you should purchase the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 if

  1. You can afford it (duh!)
  2. You don’t mind the large footprint
  3. You want a gargantuan display with S-Pen capabilities

On the other hand, you should go for the HTC One X if

  1. You want a regular sized smartphone with a superb display
  2. You’re on a somewhat tighter budget but want the ultimate best in smartphone tech

What do you guys make of these two smartphones? Is the large footprint of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 a bit too much for your pocket? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

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