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.

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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.