Droid DNA and Galaxy Note 2

Like a lot of Verizon Wireless customers this holiday season, I’m facing one of the hardest choices in my entire 12-year history with the carrier. Big Red’s got one of the most robust portfolios ever this year, complete with arguably the two best Android devices on the market today: the Droid DNA by HTC and the Galaxy Note 2 by Samsung. I’ll be using an upgrade, so I’m in the market for a device that can get me through the next two years, or at least will remain relevant in 2013.

I’ve been using the DNA for the past two weeks, and I’ll be using the Note 2 along with it for the next few. I’ll be looking for those subtleties that often don't make it into reviews, but can be mean the difference between love and hate.  Both devices are as top of the line as you’ll find, so this race is really going to come down to the wire.

If you’re a fellow Big Red customer and are facing the same choice, join me in the forums as I decide which device will earn my upgrade. Shoot me some questions, share your opinions, and help Android Central make our endorsement in time for the holidays!

 

Reader comments

Droid DNA or Galaxy Note 2 - let's come to a decision!

95 Comments

LOL at the Nexus 4. putting out a nexus device without LTE capability is akin to putting in a four cylinder motor in a Corvette. I mean really? what's the point?

Or even having a Aston Martin V12 for travelling around a city with 30 mph speed restrictions. Some want the maximum speed at all times, but do you really NEED it?
Nexus 4 seems a good choice lol

I hear it on mine, it's hardly noticeable. I've heard a buzz or hiss or static from every phone I've owned in some way or another, it's not at all unique to the N4.

No LTE is not an issue here in the UK.

I don't know what you mean with the hissing noise comment... I've never experienced any hissing noises from mine.

Note 2. I've had mine for a few days now and it's productivity tools have already changed the way I conduct business. I'm impressed and delighted by the features I've found and the usability, versatility, and quality of the device.

Galaxy Note 2! Longer battery, nice big screen. Expandable storage and removeable battery. I hate how my Gnexus doesnt have an sd slot.

I'm still an HTC fan at heart. id get a DNA if I was up for renewal. Maybe I'll get lucky and find one for trade on craigslist :)

agree, the note 2 is a better overall device. also agree on the DNA's display, it's a thing of beauty.

I'm also an HTC fan and own the HTC REZOUND. I would love to upgrade to the DNA but how can I when it doesn't offer expandable storage. I have a 64gb memory card and that's 75% used, so what would I do with only 16gb of storage when I can only use 11 of that??

This is the only reason I would go with the Note 2 over the DNA. I have 32gb on my Gnex, and there is no way I could have any less than that on my next phone.

You had a Rezound? and because of your experience with it, your a fan of HTC... that is a terrible slow, chunky phone.

Traded my gs3 for the DNA. Loved the screen but couldn't get past the dollhouse-toy plastic, expected more of the same with the note 2.

I would say note 2 just in battery life alone. But add in Samsung's better software and use of a stylus and u would def say note 2. The only thing the DNA has in the screen everything else the note 2 wins by a long shot. Unless size of the note 2 is to big for you.

Lol. ROFLMAO!!! Except that the note is better in every way possible. Removable battery, check, removable and upgradeable storage, check, more memory, check, multiple carriers, check. The software for the note is better, the features are amazing. The only real question is did he mistype? Did he mean samsung s3 instead of dna. I mean Verizon doesnt even push this phone, the dna is trash, garbage. I still can't believe this is still an article. Compare the note to an iphone 5, or the s3 or a flip phone from 1998, just not the awful dna. Wow.

Your opinion.

I've grown tired of Samsung and its use of flimsy plastic. Better is subjective. I don't need expandable storage. The battery life is fine on the DNA. I like how I can see my screen in daylight as opossed to how AMOLEDs have trouble doing the same.

So...depending on the person, some of your points are irrelevant.

As I said, the S-Pen could be the only thing that determines your decision. And from what I hear, the pen works great with the bundled software.

Dna for me, beautiful screen, and i have always liked sense over samsungs skin, but it was still a very hard choice

If you want the basic device/smartphone with a great screen then you get the HTC DNA. If your looking for the ultimate productivity/all purpose device that handles gaming/entertainment emensely then you purchase the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The battery life alone warrants this purchase even if you view the device as being too big. Go into the store try the device out because I can promise you that when you get this device after two days you will never want a normal smartphone again. On the Htc Dna's best day it couldn't touch the Galaxy Note 2 with a ten foot pole.

I have both, Note 2 for personal and the DNA for work. I do much more on the Note 2 and the battery lasts all day, whereas the DNA was under 30% by 4 pm. I'd go Note 2 every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Note 2. The DNA is just like an iphone but better screen. I rather have a removable battery and removable micro sd. I still love my Note 2's screen even though it's not 1080p like the DNA. And BETTER battery life than the DNA. :D

Both too big for me, but I would do the Droid DNA. Like HTC Sense! When Apple reinvented the mobile phone industry the stylus was to go away and now its back again with the Note. HTC is having financial trouble support the DNA! Who cares about removable battery and expanded storage.....if your using more than 16GB something is wrong and the same for a removable battery. If you have to remove the battery to reset the phone or loosing charge too quickly again something is wrong.

@cashxx ... nothing is "wrong" what are you trying to prove really? I always had a spare battery when I had my gnex because I used gps often and was on the phone all day with no outlet handy. It was immensly convenient to be able to have 100% battery life in the minute it takes to swap out the battery and power back on. Having said that, I now have the note 2 and have ZERO need for a second battery. Battery life rules on this device.

Next... how on earth does needing more then 16 (or really 11) GB of memory indicate "something is wrong" in that brain of yours. Maybe YOU dont need that space, which none of us really care about, but there are a vast majority of those who can use up a 32GB card in no time. People have different needs .. doesnt mean there is anything "wrong" with it

FWIW: all my colleagues have iphones and their battery drains much faster then the note 2 .. and because of the non-removable battery, they are stuck on the charger while im on the go. Granted they do seem to charge relatively fast, it's still pretty nice having the option to not have to wait for the phone to charge.

Nice try with your argument though. A for effort

Lol really? Are you an infant? I mean either that or a dwarf, neither one of these 2 phones are that big. And if both are to big for you I can only assume you have some physical disability. And idk what you're trying to prove here, maybe you work for verizon but 16g of storage isnt enough for anyone I know personaly. We like to have room for things like music, movies, pictures and data. Things like consumer apps, you know things that take up space. So as for your statement i rather believe something is "wrong" with your brain, since you can't seem to understand why someone would want things like storage, longer battery life and a regular sized screen.

Its the DNA. Got mine the first day they were available and haven't look back. To be fair I was looking to get the Note 2 but after must soul searching I realized I really only wanted the S Pen feature and must likely I wouldn't use it that much. It really comes down to how you are going to use the device...and then again maybe not!

Maybe not... maybe I bought the note 2 because the dna is trash and didnt even get considered. It was note or galaxy s3. And the s pen didn't even enter in as a factor. The notes features, processor, removable battery, larger and upgradeable storage, larger screen, better sound kind of sold me on it. And the fact that no one has any idea what they are talking about, like you, when it comes to the note. It's totally operable one handed, weather texting or web browsing and fits fine in my pocket. So dont assume people who bought it did it for some silly stylus, apparently we're just smarter and can recognize a better phone when we see one.

I've had the HTC EVO 4G and the EVO LTE, i jumped on Verizon for the Note 2... This is the best phone I've ever had. i know the 1080 p screen is tempting. But as I write this, I've been using my Note 2, heavily, since I took it off the charger at 0800 this morning and nine hours later i have a 30% charge left. i also have a 64 gig micro sd card in it as well. The phone is amazing.

I've been fortunate enough to have tried many phones this year. I have bought and sold 3 Note 2's. I always come back to it. I was so excited to try a phone with a 1080p screen. Given the fact that its GSM unlocked, I could use it on AT&T. Well, I have reverted back to the Note 2. While I cant sell my Nexus 4, the Note 2 is my primary device. Its 720p screen is vibrant and much better, to my eyes, for watching movies. My Avatar bluray, ripped to 1080p .m4v, is a whopping 8.51 GB! I was able to cram that movie and the Amazing Spiderman on my DNA.........and that's it. In the end, the 12.1 useable GB is just not enough to make this phone useful as an every day driver for me. YMMV, IMHO.

The DNA is a dream! Thin, light, smooth, beautiful! Battery life is good and getting better each day. Having no issue with storage space. 5 inch screen AND pocketable.

While I'll be the first to admin that the Note 2 is a big phone (a huge phone) it is, surprisingly, very "pocketable".

DNA by far. Reception is great!!! Especially after having 2 samsung phones previously!! Battery is very good, I have corporate email, gmail, twitter, etc. all syncing constantly and still get 16 hours+ with about 20% left when it goes on wireless charger. This phone is way better than any of the reviews from most all experts, especially those sammyfanboys and ifanboys. All i hear from the Note 2 group is how great the battery is and s-pen rocks, nothing about reception and really using the device as a smartphone! Well if that is all that you need and being able to get a signal is not what matters then maybe the brick 2 is for you.

Not defending the sammyfanboys and ifanboys but probably they do not have any issues in that department and feel no need to emphasise this.

It's funny, but this time last year that statement would have left me laughing at you through my computer screen. Samsung does seem to have stepped up with their software updates, thankfully.

The note 2 is amazing. The software is very smooth and usable. The battery lasts all day with heavy use! I looked at both phones at Verizon but when the sales person tried to push the dna with a portable battery charger I chose the note. Best decision I made all year! Today I had a conference call, used the bluetooth for the 90 minute call while taking notes with s note. Perfect! And barely dented the battery.

Note 2. This device has completely changed the way I use my phone. It will vary person to person, but it really is a all in one device for me. I've hardly had the need to use my desktop since getting the note 2. And the battery life is phenomenal. It just keeps going and going......

I keep my nexus 7 close, if I need a tablet. DNA has awesome performance, build quality, wireless charging, and most of what I do is streamed over the cloud.

This is a no brainer!!!
One of these smartphones has a USER-accessible battery & memory card, one doesn't.

Galaxy Note II!!! Easy decision.

HTC isn't even able to be considered.

^^^This! I have the Razr MAXX HD and love it.

My previous devices were HTCs (T-Bolt & Rezound); I went with the MAXX HD because I was tired of even the extended battery not lasting thru the day. I thought I'd miss Sense, but honestly I haven't. I realized it was all bells & whistles. And running close to stock ICS (very soon to be JB) does the trick - better than Sense or Touch Wiz.

I'm not a fan of the materials on Samsung devices - they always feel cheap to me (like you can easily snap the back cover). The MAXX HD just feels solid all the way around. The display also looks great - even though it's pentile you have to really look closely at the screen to see the pixels. On medium brightness the colors look rich and HD video looks incredible.

The battery is of course the best aspect. After a typical full day (16-18 hours) of steady use (including email, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, some surfing, streaming some audio and video) I've still got at laest 30-40% if I don't touch a charger all day.

Personally, I'd include this beast of a device in the conversation.

i went with the note 2 and switched to tmobile, better service and cheaper per month. i just hope i start seeing aosp soon.

I'd go with the one with the 3100 mah removable battery, a microSDHC slot, stylus pen, better multi-tasking experience, and the bigger screen.

Unless the screen quality or Sense is a high priority feature for you, the Note 2 is the better choice hands down, IMO.

DNA if you want a kickass phone with a great screen
Note 2 if you want a bigger phablet and don't mind talking with it next to your head

Note 2 by far, I have everything I need in one device. DNA's screen is nice but not enough to trade in the extra features the Note offers.

Note 2 has far more features and can do so much more than the DNA.
On top of that you get longer battery life and expandability so whats to think about?
Note II is the greatest phone on Earth!

DNA. Better radios is first reason. You can use it one handed is the second. Using two hands every time you use your device would be odd. To me it would come down to will you use a stylus or phone more often. DNA is a better phone the Note 2 is a better tablet. S voice, s beam, eye tracking etc are just gimmicky marketing which I call bloat. The Touchwiz Rom is now bigger than Sense. Having S Voice on a device with Google Now is pointless.

If you are honestly going to keep it two years them there is not really a choice. The note 2 has a removable battery so after a year of use you can buy another battery and get great battery life again. Not having a removable battery or micro sd card is a deal breaker.

i love both phones but i dont like it when people say the note 2 trumps the dna. the dna has specs that wont be coming from other companies until mid nest year or later next year. so ya it doesnt have features like the note 2 or the battery, but the battery is good enough for me, its a better size than the note, its faster, and the screen is crazyyyyy! i love both phones. both are better in their own respects, it just ddepends whats mor eimportant to u.

I had the Note II for several days. I loved it. However, there were three things that I couldn't live with. I tried to be ok with the size, but it got hard to hold after a few minutes. It would barely fit in my pocket. It was just cumbersome. I don't like to use cases. That glossy back is slippery. I would have had to get a case. I returned it, and got the DNA. Couldn't be happier. It fits in my hand and pocket so much better. The display looks much better. Happily paid the restock fee!

Loves my DNA but really this is a pretty shoddy question. Different devices for different users and uses. Why does one have to be better than the other? Why can't they just be two great devices that cater to different people. I'm just happy we, as Android users, have so many high quality options that cater to such a wide ranging audience. Buy what you want and enjoy it!

It was a hard decision as they both are great devices but in my opinion neither will take the place of a tablet so why not go with the one that is the better phone - HTC DNA. LOVE the screen, battery life is actually pretty good, and with cloud storage the built in storage is enough. The kicker for me is WIRELESS CHARGING - I hate wires. It's great when I need to pick up my DNA during the night or early morning and not have to deal with a tethered charger!

As far as not having a rechargable battery, I don't keep my phones longer than 2 years so I am not worried about replacing the battery down the road.

To each their own...

I don't think you can go wrong with either. I actually struggled for a few days and held both and played with both, and ultimately went with the DNA. I liked the feel in the hand. I don't value the S-Pen. And I don't store video/music locally and therefore don't have concerns with the 16G storage. If any of those were important to me I would have gone with the Note2. Both awesome devices.

How are we debating this? Minus the screen, the DNA has literally no other major selling point. The Note's screen looks amazing too (720P or not), and it has about a 1000 unique and innovative features. I truly don't see why these two devices are talked about as if they are equals.

Doesn't the DNA have an S4? I think that's better than the Exynos. Also, the DNA has a better build feel (Note 2 has plastic), and IMO looks nicer.

The S4 is faster when benchmarked. That said, you would never see a difference in real world use..it's disgusting how fast the Note 2 is. Crazy, crazy fast. In fact, numerous reviews how pointed out that the DNA actually shows noticeable lag when launching certain apps, flipping through home screens, etc. So while it may benchmark better, the DNA won't perform better during daily use, and very well may perform worse.

So far as asthetics..I disagree there too. The appearance of the DNA is one of the things that ultimately made me move away from it; I personally think that it is one of the gaudiest and tackiest phones I've seen. It does absolutely nothing for me. Maybe I'm just more about things I think are classy, and less about things that are supposed to be "hip." I don't know..ugly phone.

Do agree that HTC makes very solid phones though. Great build quality. I usually care less for Samsung's stuff, but the Note 2 is an exception: it feels extremely solid, and very well designed. The extra heft gives it a much more substantial quality..it certainly does not feel cheap like other Sammie products.

Not one single complaint about the note 2. Fantastic phone on all points, plus the insane screen, s pen, and amazing battery life. People that complain of cheap materials haven't actually touched it. Haven't played with the dna, but the smaller screen with higher rez seems like an iphone gimmick. Average battery and limited memory kill it for me. Shouldn't the dna really be compared to the s3? Seems much more fair. Then I might choose the dna, but having owned the sensation and amaze, and s2/3 and note 2, I feel like samsung has better overall design and engineering. Too often htc focuses on one aspect and leaves others neglected.

To me the best device out there now has to be the Note 2. Of course there is the whole size issue, which is the only thing I find as a possible issue. Regardless the Note 2 covers every feature I ever see people talking about wanting. As a bonus Samsung seems to be somewhat better about updates compared to my days with a Galaxy S.

The DNA is also a great device arguably one of the best. I personally like the One X+ better but that's not on Verizon. If you have no need for more than 16GB and don't believe you can use the S-Pen for anything worthwhile the DNA might be the better choice.

I'm guessing the Razr Maxx HD is not what your in the market for but it's also a great device that's getting overlooked by many. I'm guessing you want the absolute latest gen processor which I can't say I blame you since we get stuck with these for 2 years.

Anyone sayings this is a hard choice obviously hasnt spent a good hour or so with the note2...the dna is nothing but a HOX....not that thats a bad thing ...butt the comparison is better suited for DNA vs GS3 on Verizon. ...I own a GS3 and the note2 blows both devices away...sorry...I dont understand so calles techy people who cant appreciate the tech Samsung has brought to this device. ..and compare it to the reat of the rin of the mill android devices. ...if you think you would like the DNA more ....I challenge you to spend a couple days with the note2 ...ypu can pay the lil $35 and return. .it ...when it comes to a contract $35 is well worth knowing you got the better phone

I spent several days with the Note II. It is just too big for my tastes. Not to mention the slippery glossy build. Battery was great, but the hand cramps, not so much. Paid my $35 restock and got the DNA.

It's not a difficult decision.

If the Note is too big a device for you, pick the DNA.
If you want a device that's more then just a really big smartphone, pick the Note.
If you use the cloud and streaming for media, DNA.
If you want to carry it all on you, Note.
If your the creative type, Note.
If you want a high build quality, DNA.
If your a gamer, Note.
If you love the color red, DNA.

Personally, I have a Note and it's the greatest device I've ever owned. Though that screen on the DNA is killer.

To be honest the only problem you'll have with either is your stuck on VZW. For such amazing devices that are made for media and web browsing that data cap is a cruel punishment.

I have a DNA for work and a Note 2 for personal. I can say from experience with BOTH devices that if I could only have one... it would be the Note 2 HANDS DOWN. The DNA is nice and yes the screen is amazing, but the Note 2 has much, much more going on. IMO the software is just better. The battery lasts longer period! And to those that say 16GB on the DNA with no expandable memory is ok and they'll make it work... they're forcing themselves to settle. 16GB (11 usable) is ridiculous PERIOD! Both devices are nice, but if you can only have one for 2 years... get yourself a Note 2.

regarding the note: Arent you afraid that after some time the pen is not going to fit as snugly and maybe fall out every time the phone is turned 'upside down'? I like the look/features of the note better than the dna (plus i suspect a dna+ around the corner)but the pen issue keeps nagging.

thanks in advance for any opinions about this

DNA build quality is WAY better. And Samsung's software modifications (TouchWiz) are horrid.

I still don't know how Samsung has garnered such a loyal fan-base with such bad build quality and materials. I know that some people with notes can put a little bit of twisting pressure on them to make the screen wake up.

"Some people" most certainly do not have this issue. The editor of Android Police is about the only person to ever mention it (which is where you heard it), and he is an infamous anti-Samsung zealot. His complete contempt for all things built with plastic is so extreme that, frankly, it brings a lot of credibility issues into question. Promise you this much: no Note is turning on from being twisted one way or another. It is an extremely solid device.

Not buying it? I Here's an idea: don't sit there twisting your $700 phone to see if you can find a problem with it.

Bottom line: you've never picked a Note 2 up, dude. You'd know build quality wasn't an issue if you had.

You confuse build quality with premium materials.

The Note has an excellent build quality.
It is a solid well made and engineered device that performs as designed.
It is designed and built with light weight plastic to keep weight out of such a large device.

The DNA is a fine phone built with premium materials that give it a high end feel. The iPhone5 and RAZR MAXX HD also are made with premium materials and provide the high end feel.

As for twisting the Note 2...
It's plastic, plastic is pliable...
There are people that report light leaks from the DNA...
There are anecdotal issues with any phone but both phones are generally well made.

I would agree if you said the DNA is made with more premium materials but I think the build quality of both phones is similar.

^^This!!^^ The note 2's build quality is tremendous. I would agree that the materials could have been more premium ... That's a mighty slippery glossy back! However I have a case on mine so I will get by just fine.

Go with the Note 2, for sure. As a loooong time user of that "fruit" brand phone, I too took a long look at both before making the jump. Under the hood, they're both top of their class. But being able to expand the memory up to an additional 64gb, the available accessories and believe or not, the S-pen. Dont knock the S-pen until you truly use it to its potential. The Note 2 is a BEAST!!!

HTC "fanboy" here across 2 carriers (Incredible, EVO, Thunderbolt, Rezound) -- I would get the Note 2.

I *use* my phone like it is going out of style... consequently, my phone eats batteries like a fat kid eats cake.

Any phone without a replaceable battery is dead to me.

I've been a HTC guy for a couple of years, but I jumped ship for the Note 2 about a month ago. I *love* it.

But I am a little surprised to see just how *many* people feel the same way. I guess the idea that the Note's screen was too big really is starting to wear off and it's gaining acceptance. Of course the feature set and how fast it is helps too, I'm sure :)

I know quite a few people who bought the Note 2 and like it a lot, but I chose the Droid DNA for its screen resolution and many other features. Also, it was a cheaper than the Note 2. I’ve had the phone for a few weeks now, and I am still surprised by the screen on it. Shows and movies look amazing on the 1080p display, and that’s saying it mildly. One way that I take advantage of the screen is I use the DISH Remote Access app on my phone so that I can stream live TV and recorded shows through the Sling Adapter that I have connected to my receiver at home. The app really comes in handy when I’m unable to be at home to watch my shows, and having a display like this only helps. One of my DISH coworkers also bought a DNA and they are in love with it just as much as I am.

I just got my Note 2 about 5 days ago and I still cannot belive how great of a phone it is. The screen is amazing, I love the battery life and charge time is only about 2 to 3 hours. The Note 2 is the winner all the way around.