DNA vs. Note 2

I'm carrying two of Verizon Wireless' best devices to date in my pocket, and sharing my thoughts, complaints, and gut reactions as I try to decide which will earn my money this holiday season. It's day one, and I'm heading to work...

My first day of touting two of Verizon Wireless’ best devices started early at 7 a.m., and the challenge has already begun. Before I jump into the shower I place both devices on the shelf and hit play—I play music to keep myself from falling asleep while getting ready. The winner here was clearly the Note 2—volume is loud and distortion is minimal, with rich tones and deep bass. The DNA, despite its amplified rear speaker, remains just a hair too quiet for comfortable listening.

I’m off. I head to the subway station, which as New Yorkers know (and often regret) is just far enough underground to avoid most cellular reception. This poses a problem for the DNA—without removable storage, my music choices are limited to Rdio and Google Music, as I tend to be stingy with my internal storage. Sure, I could sync a playlist or two, but why not just switch over to the Note 2? Its microSD card has been with me for years, and contains an extensive library of my favorite music. Samsung’s phablet, thanks to its removable storage, wins another round.

Thirty minutes later, I’m back above ground. Before I head into my office, I stop for a coffee at the cart on the corner. As I’m drinking and walking, I notice an email that I want to respond to before it slips my mind. I begin to compose and realize that this is a daily occurrence, and it’s a situation that can only be handled by one of these phones. The Note 2’s 5.5-inch whopper of a screen is simply too big to compose a message single handed. I’m not talking about comfort or convenience here—the task is absolutely impossible, even for a semi-large handed individual like myself. The DNA, on the other hand, strikes a perfect balance of size and usability, and I’m able to type my email comfortably with one hand. The DNA comes from behind.

I spend the next few hours at my desk, where my phone(s) sit idle with the exception of a few text messages. During this downtime, both devices conserved power admirably, yet the DNA outpaced the Note 2 by a few notches; after a few hours of little to no usage, the Note 2 lost about six percent of its battery, while the DNA lost just one. I’ve noticed this stellar performance consistently during my time with the DNA, and I can comfortably say that this phone goes stone cold in standby, a testament to the Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and HTC’s optimizations.

The long day is coming to a close, and I head out on my nightly walk home (I try to keep my time underground to a minimum). This time, thanks to the uninterrupted data connection, the DNA is the better music player, as the built-in Beats audio produced sound that is noticeably more detailed and deep than the Note 2’s. A lot of critics deny the benefits of Beats, and it is admittedly a matter of personal preference, but for me, it outperforms the competition.

And just like that, the day is over and I’m no closer to a decision. All of a sudden, I remember the last time I was in this predicament; it was the HTC Thunderbolt vs. the Droid X, and I was just as torn. But for the first time ever, Verizon Wireless customers like myself will have a hard time deciding where their money will go due to an overabundance of quality devices rather than a shortage. It’s going to be a confusing and conflicted few days.

You can follow my next few days, share your opinions, and come to a decision together in the forums.


Reader comments

Droid DNA vs. Galaxy Note 2-- It's Day 1, and I'm heading to work


I'm a Beats lover but it will never factor into my buying choice for a phone! Tje Note II earned my money on release day.

Ya I've spent a lot of time on the Head-Fi forums and all of the audiophiles on there are unanimous in their disdain for Beats.

But what's the point of having beats if the on board speaker sucks on the HTC DNA. I'm one of those people who hate to use headphones and can't wear earbuds because they fall out. I loved my D1 speaker and still use my D1 as a music player and alarm system because the Gnex speaker sucks for loudness.

Beats audio, from everything I've read, is pretty much an EQ curve without anything really special or great on the hardware side. You could accomplish 90% of what Beats Audio does with an adjustable equalizer in your music player.

But an adjustable equalizer requires, well, adjusting. Besides, Beats applies itself to ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you put through the headphone jack (and presumably Bluetooth as well, but I've never tried it). That includes YouTube videos, Pandora, the AC podcast, Google Play Music, Spotify, etc., you name it. Beats makes all your audio sound good without you having to worry about it.

No comparison, take the Note. Fast as lightening, tons of storage, removable 3100 battery, and the innovation in that software is just killer. IMO Samsung is the only manufacturer that is listening to the customers. They listen and give us what we have asked for. Finally if you are into hacking your phone, the Samsung is the most hacker friendly phone and you have plenty of dev support. To me it is a no brainer, the only thing going for the HTC is the screen, that is not nearly enough to sacrifice all the great features of the Note 2 for just a superior screen. The software in the Note 2 is just sick, I was always a Nexus purist, after spending some time with the software in the Note 2 and SGS3 I keep finding something new every day I never new was there. Innovation, innovation and did I say innovation. The software is just over the top. Just my Opinion.

Too bad it's ugly. I really do like some of the customizations of TouchWiz but it's so hard on my eyes.

i actually like the look of touchqiz. but i got the dna anyways. ya i wanted the note 2 features and the battery and memory, but i couldnt fit it in my slim pants (im in style, not gay) pockets. i thought about it and said im buying a phone and i need to be able to just throw it in my pocket.

+1, Like, and Bravo! Methinks one doth protest too much...call me.

This fag is rocking a Note 2. Loves it.

Agreed, but I found ULTIMA Rom to improve that,plus I have ALL the TW additions,and the ROM just has a plethora of customization options

think of it as TW but with a very similar look to stock android

That is easily fixed by using a different launcher (Apex, Nova, etc.). Then you get the look of stock but still have all of the customizations/settings of Touchwiz.

Why do people think skins like TouchWiz are only launcher deep? The whole damn phone is TouchWiz themed. Everything.

The look of the lockscreen, notification shade, menus, built in apps, etc. are all affected by TouchWiz. Changing the launcher only makes the launcher look better. The rest of the UI is still really ugly IMO.

vinny jr says:

No comparison, take the Note. Fast as lightening, tons of storage, removable 3100 battery, and the innovation in that software is just killer....

Can you explain "...innovation in that software is just killer.."? I am not trying to downplay the value of the Note 2 to the fans but can you quantify what you can do on the Note 2 software that you can't on the DNA?

Both phones "for me" will do the job, unless someone can tell me how the Note 2 "software" will make my day!

As a long standing HTC user, I was a bit surprised when I bought my Galaxy S3. Touchwiz is IMO a much more extensive customization than Sense is, at least in their latest iterations. It ranges from things like the multi-window feature to kies and allshare. There are things here that some people really may find useful and not necessarily available on other Android variants.

Ibfelt like I was reading my own words...ive been preaching this since the Gs3 ...now on to the note2 it gets better ...Samsung hands down #1 in innovation at this time

Did the DNA battery fare so well because the WiFi shut off completely while it was just sitting there on your desk?

I thought I'd read that that was a known bug. No?

I think the bug to which you refer is that the radios can switch off during the night, not when it's idling during the day. So no, that probably isn't the reason the Droid DNA only lost 1% battery.

If the WiFi had shut off the DNA would have consumed more battery, not less, unless cellular data had also been disabled for some very weird reason.

Yeah, exactly. It makes it so you can type comfortably with one hand, as well as make phone calls and a few other things (operating the calculator being one of them)

I can type normally and by swiping with one hand on the full size keyboard. I'm only 5'9" maybe I just have freak long thumbs

I use Swype one handed with ease. I'm 6'2, but the tip of my thumb isn't straining to reach the far side of the Note or anything. I know bringing the notification shade down may be tough for some, but I don't understand why typing is such an issue if you're swiping on stock / using Swype.

Both great devices. But, the DNA is my daily driver for the pocketability. HTC really nails the details, too. Strong radios, auto text reflow, etc. 1080P really looks great, as well as HTC's auto brightness actually works. This feels like a 4.5 inch phone with a 5-inch screen. Looks fantastic, too! Great phone to show off.

terrible review. the phones aren't that different. The Note easily can be typed on with one hand. it has a setting for it. the Droid is bad for music at the beginning because of the SD card then it's good because of the data stream, yet the both are on the same network and perform almost identically in tests. Beats audio doesn't change the sound that much if you're not using a beats audio headset. I am not impressed with the quality of this blog post.

hater. regardless beats does have an effect, and he clearly stated he likes the audio quality better.

I moved from a one x with beats audio to a iPhone 5 to a note 2 and am moving to verizon and trying to decide between these 2 phones. Regardless. HTC phones suck for playing music through the built in. You can't tell the difference. If you want to play music through your phone get an iPhone it's loud or 2nd place, a note 2. However I use Bluetooth for running, and driving in my car and the one x had much better sound quality compared to above said devices. Calls were clearer and my car speakers sounded better and yes I used +1 on the note 2 I googled best settings to make it sound better. The dna will make a significant difference for people listening to headphones or using Bluetooth. The note 2 is time consuming but oh the battery is sweet and the task manager is much more accurate. Came in late on this one.

You can do one gand typing with the note 2 by changing the keyboard. There is a simple option to switch it to the left or right side of the screen.

Is there anyway to make the note 2 use less battery while it's on standby? If somehow I can do that this phone will be even more awesome.

I've been off the plug since 8am and at 8pm I was down to 55% with heavy use all day. About 8 hours on wifi, 4 on LTE. On screen time of nearly 5 hours. Pretty impressive in my opinion. (Note 2)

A little confused here. First the Note 2 had deeper bass and less distortion, then suddenly the DNA sounded better because of Beats. So which was better for music?

Note 2 has better sound from the speaker... DNA has better output from the headphone jack. Not hard to comprehend.

He means the note2 has better sound using its external speakers but the dna sounds better using headphones due to Beats.

Ummm, I had to go back and read, then re-read this part of the article again and no where did I see anything about using earbuds. I'm confused now too as to how the Note2 crushed the DNA while in the shower earlier and some 8 hours later the tables were reversed. Maybe he had gotten some water in the ear canal or something? Guess I didn't read between the lines.......

Well I have the Note 2, but only because I'm on Sprint, and I found it preferable over the new LG Optimus G (Which has the exact same CPU and amount of Ram as the DNA) because of the camera. I have owned The Evo 4G, Evo 3D and Evo LTE. This is my first Samsung Android Phone. So, I have a lot of experience with HTC made phones.

I must admit that if the DNA had come out on Sprint, I would have gotten that over the Note 2 simply because of the Note 2's intimidating size. I really wanted to get the Optimus G over the Note 2, but the camera functionality is a really important feature for me, and LG, while not bad, is not up to par with Samsung and HTC.

I got to play with a friend's Droid DNA the other day, and I gotta say, I was impressed. The UI was as smooth and quick as the Note 2. Plus, I actually miss the Sense UI. While Touchwiz has a TRUCKLOAD of features, they are all jumbled and scrambled. You have to do research to find some of them. HTC Sense is more intuitive and just... makes sense. Also, the poster is correct in that music through head phones does sound better on HTC with Beats audio than the GN2, though music on the GN2 is very good.

That being said. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE GN2. I have never been this proud of a device since the HTC Evo 4G. Samsung has changed the game and reinvented the stylus in my opinion. To my surprise, I have gotten used to its size. Its a beautiful piece of hardware with a lot of software power. When I got rid of my HTC Touch Diamond (Windows Mobile 6.1 with HTC Touchflo), I thought I'd never use a stylus again in my life!! Samsung has changed that and I love it. Also, the multitasking capabilities are the hands-down, the best!!! Not just talking about the traditional Android Multitasking (WHICH SUCKED ON THE EVO LTE, BTW. NOt sure if they improved it on the DNA), but I'm talking about the split screen functionality that lets you run two apps simultaneously. It works great! I just wish they'd include more apps.

So, while I probably would have gotten the Droid DNA as my first choice because of my devotion, loyalty and familiarity with HTC devices, knowing what I know now, It's the Galaxy Note 2 all the way.

Both are great phones. The Note still reminds me of my palm pilot days though, just a lot bigger. Granted these phones can do far more now than even 2 years ago.....

It may matter to some that the dna is half the price (149.99) of the note II (299.99)

(depending on timing and where one shops, of course)

I love my Note II but Anndrew is right that it's extremely difficult to use one-handed when walking. If you're someone who typically one-handed texts while doing something else, even something simple like walking it can be a chore. It's obviously doable but you have to pay a bit more attention to make sure you aren't dropping your phone while stretching your thumb to different keys.

There is no question its an issue, it just depends on how big of an issue it is for you. I think the many benefits of the Note 2 outweigh the few costs so to me it's the best device out right now.

Amazes me how people dont take the time to look over every feature in the phone ...when i get a phone I look at evvvvvvery option ....do that and you will clearly see Samsung is leaps and bounds ahead of HTC...I love HTC ...but its the truth

Ummm... I see that a lot of people commented on this, but I agree: The Note 2's one-handed option DOES help. A LOT. I usually prefer typing with both hands but when I've needed to reply to an e-mail with one hand occupied, I just turn the one-handed option on (you can do that quickly by pinching the keyboard in... and I do see the irony of having to use two hands to turn one-handed operation on)and since SwiftKey Flow is included, I just Swype, I mean, swipe away. But still I prefer two-handed writing, even on a regular phone.

I haven't used a DNA 'cause it's not available in my country yet, but I'm totally in love with my Note 2. The size does take some getting used to but after a few hours you don't notice it (even in slim pants it fits, get real, it's not a book). My friends teased me over it until they started using it. After 15 minutes, they couldn't look at their tiny iPhones in the same way, their screen just got so minuscule all of a sudden.

I also have a VERY HARD TIME killing the battery on this one. It just won't die. Heavy e-mail use, heavy IM, moderate social networking, moderate browsing, moderate video watching, about an hour of e-book reading, and most of it on HSPA+. From 6AM to 11PM the most I've been able to drain this thing is to 20%, and that was on a day I left the device playing a movie in purpose just to see how long it could last.

There is one complaint I have though: I can't use a proper case. Adding a case just adds size and this device, naked, is already at the edge of being uncomfortable. Sure, the flip cover is slim and all, but I dare you to get that in and out of a pocket multiple times and see how the seams of that cover hold up after a couple of months (plus the fact that those geniuses at Samsung forgot to add a pinhole for the LED notification is just stupid).

"you can do that quickly by pinching the keyboard in"
MINDBLOWN, dude i had no idea you could do that. Thanks!

get the OEM flip case, its a little protection for the screen, they come in 6 colors (i got orange) and add no bulk.

Can someone explain why the text re-flow on HTC products is so much better and non-existent on the Samsung

Text re-flow is part of stock Android. Samsung just removed it from their builds of Android because they are tards. You even have the option to disable it on stock Android, so I don't know why Samsung would remove it instead of just disabling it and leaving the option there.

BS you can one hand a message on the note2 unless you have little girl hands (dont eat at BK) and the one (stock) victory about the beats .... Noozxoide EIZO-rewire makes my note2 the best sounding handset ive ever had.

Until some guy on the street bumps into you and the phone flies out of your hand because your fingers can't wrap around it very well while texting.

I'm about to pull the trigger on the Note 2 from my SG3, one big point which is actually selling me on the large screen of the note 2 is that when typing with 2 hands (or thumbs) my accuracy and speed is just leaps and bounds better than typing on my SG3 or even the DNA which I tried. The big keyboard makes writing longer emails much less frustrating. I admit th esize seems like I might get some stares, but I seem to see more women with this than men in the street.

I'm a purist audiophile with a minimalist approach. No tone controls for me, thanks.

I would go with The Note 2 for the simple fact of life of the device here is no device like it out there. There are a few that come close but the functionality, the rooting and roms it has the spen, svoice, the memory card slot and not to mention being able to remove your battery. I used a HTC One S and the beats audio is a plus and regardless if you have beats headphones or not you can hear the difference. But i ws just turned off from the fact that i could not expand memory or remove the battery for a extended battery. But to each its own they both are incredible devices and you cant loose either way. Im using a Note2 on AT&T

Wouldn't the reasoning behind the note2 having less battery at the end of the day go to the fact that in the subway he was listening to music on the note2 and not on the DNA? Just call me Sherlock, mystery solved. Its all about the details Watson.

There was no mention about battery life at the end of the day. The only time the batteries were compared was during idle time at his desk. It's all about the reading comprehension, Sherlock...

both are great phones depending on your needs, i went for the Dna simply because verizon finally has put out a great phone that works in other places around the world, mainly Greece for me since i travel there alot. Note 2 doesnt.

Please change NOTE2 picture.

This is NOT FAIR that NOTE2 not only looking ugly, It also looks beaten up. No body can choose NOTE 2 looking at this picture unless they are not looking or blind.

It's true -- the Note 2 automatically looks ugly and shoddy next to HTC's phones. I don't think anyone will argue that the Note 2 is actually a better looking device. It's the one I would buy, but not before drooling over the DNA.

I believe in each blog post Andrew will try to find advantages and disadvantages of each device to try to be fair and prolong the series.
Some of these may be very debatable to those that have either device.

Stop. Calling. It. A. Phablet.

It's a phone. It answers phone calls. It has a pretty screen that is larger than most for playing with apps and the internets. Leave it at that. As other devices also get larger screens your designation of what is a hybrid device loses credibility. The best option is to let the device be what it is and describe it as such without trying to confuse the issue. It's a fancy smartphone and nothing more.

So, this is your opinion, right? Why are you so sure you're right? It's clear that the Note 2 is a crossover device, Phablet is a perfectly good way to communicate this efficiently.

A USB OTG cable and flash drive would take care of your music on the train issue. I got a cable for 1.50 from mono price and a 32 gig tiny drive on black friday for 12 bucks. Loaded it with music and videos and it works great for the rare occasion I can't stream.

Seems folks here do not understand what voodoo sound does to Note2. Absolutely no other phone and possibly any other portable device can beat it in terms of performance or quality. Its an utterly laughable issue in comparing it with silly beats audio. Siyah's implementation is now available in custom kernels in international versions and US carriers should follow very shortly if not already available.

Looks like Andrew needs to come out of stock ROM blues and explore the possibilities where DNA can not even come close. Talk about sound quality or volume or S pen or the RGB matrix SAMOLED screen..Or the possibilities through custom ROMs.. or simply the lack of MicroSD slot (OTG and any pen drive can not suffice that in terms of flexibility ot offers in backing up or restoring data or simply switching cards having 5 years warranty on each and keeping all important backups there). Absolutely no comparison.

they are comparing these fresh out of the box. dont talk about custom roms, OTG usb cables, etc, etc. pointless.

I understand but then this article is just another marketing stunt instead of a more useful discussion as I purchase Sammy phones for the superior hardware potential and what custom roms or kernel does to these beasts.

Also talking about out of the box, stock ROMs on Samsung bring significant upgrades these days so just a revision can change the experience significantly. And,
obviously the stock headset from Sammy or even the beats audio headsets on DNA can not match a decent headset.

I thought most of us use android for the possible mods and open source architecture.

I apologise if this is against the rules here as am new but I felt its important to discuss unofficial possibilities.

Since I have AT&T, I'll likely get the Note 2 with 4GLTE whenever my contract runs out. I have a graphics design firm and think it would be great for viewing large images of my work before sending it to my Atlanta clients. I now seem to require 4GLTE.

I've had my Galaxy Note II for about a month now, and yes the speaker quality is beautiful. I'm actually listening to Xandria right now over the speaker as i type this and it's clear and rich even at a mid volume. I sure don't regret the nearly 400$ I've spent on this phone.
As far as battery longevity, I can honestly say that I run most apps on it all day long, surf hardily on the web, watch videos, play games, listen to music on it, and even when it's on stand by, I still get home after a full day with about 75% battery life left Granted that I do keep it on a combo of wifi/airplane mode throughout my day,only using my 4g when I'm out, helps out too. I bought a 32 gb sd card to keep my entire music library on it, and rely less on google play, so that extra storage capacity is such a bonus.
Over all, even with quality phones like Moto Razr, Htc Dna, SGSIII, I'm thrilled with my GNII! Nothing comes close to it!

Too bad you didn't know about the "one handed mode" feature on the Note 2. Would have helped you write that email!!