Galaxy Note 2 vs. Droid DNA-- which Verizon device deserves our money this holiday season?

Anndrew Vacca

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Let's come to a decision as fellow Verizon Wireless customers-- which of these two devices will earn our money this holiday season? Stay tuned here for my thoughts, complaints, and daily reactions-- ask questions, sound off, and let me know what you think-- which one has the edge?




Day 1-- This is going to be more difficult than I thought....

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 listen to 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? It?s 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 occurance, 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.

Stay tuned.



Day 2-- The Note 2 wins the wow factor

I attended a holiday party last night with a nice mix of colleagues and friends, all in their 20s and 30s and most carrying a smartphone. I had both phones on me and used both occasionally throughout the night to text and make a few phone calls. Every time I busted out the Note 2, it attracted at least once "ooh" or "ahh". An iPhone user stopped me and wanted to chat about "that huge phone", and one person asked to put it in their pocket to get an accurate feel, as he was considering buying one himself.

The Droid DNA, on the other hand, caught nobody's eye. Not due to lack of character, as the DNA is one of the most handsome phones I've ever used, but it does appear a bit more generic than the Note 2, and certainly lacks the "wow" factor.

This isn't enough to sway me either way, as I have phone for myself and not the attention of others, but it's worth the mention.

Looking forward to spending the weekend outside of the office with these two...



Day 3?Let?s go shopping for some accessories

During my first weekend with both devices, I decided to do some shopping, in particular for cases. I know, I know?both devices are gorgeous enough to leave naked for the whole world to enjoy. But I?m a firm believer in cases, not only for the protection, but for the personality they add. I don?t want my phone to look like everybody else?s, and slapping a cool case on it is my way of making the device my own.

I stopped by my local Verizon Wireless store and was faced with a vast sea of nothing. Nada. Zip. There wasn?t one case for the DNA, and the only thing in stock for the Note 2 was Samsung?s Flip Cover, which I?m trying to avoid. Herein lies the problem?even at Amazon, Ebay, and other online retailers, there are few, if any, cases for the DNA. The only remotely attractive option I?ve found are the Otterbox varieties, but I?m looking for something a bit more stylish.

On the other hand, the Note 2 already has plenty of choices, and from the Verizon Wireless store I walked across the street and found a great Speck Candyshell case for the Note 2. This says a lot about this predicament?since the Note 2 is on nearly every carrier right now, your accessory options are multiplied. You?d be hard pressed NOT to find a case in either T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon stores. And open up your search to Amazon or Ebay, and you?ve got a plethora of cases to chose from.

This is a major pro for the Note 2 and con for the DNA, not just in terms of cases, but all accessories. Whenever a device is limited to one carrier, the available accessories lacks dramatically. And if you?re buying into an obscure or unpopular phone, forget it?you?ll be left with nearly nothing. I trust that manufacturers will eventually release more cases, chargers, docks, and car mounts for the DNA, but the device?s options will never reach what?s out there for the Note 2. In a case like this, it helps to own a popular and widely-available device.

I left with my Candyshell case and never looked back. The Note 2 wins another round, has temporarily taken the lead.



Day 4-- Durability

Well this is a fitting follow up to my accessory dilemma. Got to work today and took both devices out of my jacket pockets. Upon closer inspection of my DNA, I noticed a scratch on the soft-touch back. It's not super noticeable, but it's there, and that's enough to really grind my gears. This could have been avoided had I found a case for it this past weekend, but we all know how that turned out.

This leads me to my next question-- which device is more durable? Putting cases aside, which one will age more gracefully? I'm extremely careful with my devices, to the point of obsession, and I was able to scratch the DNA with nothing more than a quarter floating around my pocket. The Note 2, on the other hand, has a finish less attractive than the DNA, yet it's less likely to show blemishes.

Has anybody dinged/scratched/scuffed or otherwise marked up their device yet? If so, how?
 
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nismo591

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I got the dna on release day. Overall very good device and is still definitely in the phone realm while the Galaxy note 2 is a true phablet (hate that name) ultimately I returned the dnaand got the note 2 but only because the internal battery was not replaceable. The battery life was average to good but I use my device constantly and the replaceable battery is required for me. Either device is a great buy. Htc build quality trumps the note and my s3 but in the end needs won out over design and screen. Very happy with my note 2.
 

Woodsy

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Honestly, this wasn't even a tough decision for me. I sold my 7 inch galaxy tab and my s3 to get the note 2 and I'd never turn back. Samsung isn't BSing about it being a phone and tablet!

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Android Central Forums
 

anon(394005)

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It was a no brainer for me as the DNA's non-removable battery (in particular) and no SD card are deal breakers. Otherwise, only thing the DNA has going for it is the screen, but even that is questionable to me as I don't think it's all that valuable on a phone. IMHO, Note 2 is all around a better phone, add in the S-Pen capabilities and it's no contest. :) Size wise: the Note 2 isn't a problem; comfortable in hand and for me easy to hold in landscape as well. I can't imagine going back to anything less than a 5.5" screen now.

Edit: I have to add coming from a HTC Thunderbolt, I inintially had build quality concerns with Samsung, but that was completely unfounded as the Note 2 is a very well made device and while light in hand feels very solid, not cheap what-so-ever. :)
 

Bobbman

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Using both also. I think the Note 2 is the clear winner. The DNA is like a real sexy 2 seat sports car. Drives fast, great to look at. Feels great in hand also. Note 2 is like a well refined SUV. Powerful, lots of storage and a big gas tank. And it loks great also...just big!
 

kpageisgreat

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I got the DNA on it's release day and I like it. Sense is stale but most manufacturer UI's are nowadays. I just got the Note II today and I'm impressed. I didn't have a problem with battery life or memory (had an USB OTG cable and 16gb thumbdrive). I think my issue was how the DNA felt and the lack of accessories(I hate that is a factor for me now....smh). The DNA felt awkward at times and even though the Note II is larger, it conforms to my hand better. The S-Pen for added functionality is a plus.
 

varucell

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I have been thinking about returning my DNA. I just can't decide. I hold an IT job and feel the addition of the SPen would be nice for my job.
 

DaRkL3AD3R

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Once you've used the S Pen personally, you'll never want to go back. It adds so much more precision and access to information that it's hard to imagine getting by without it.

That being said, the Note 2 is the clear winner hands down. The S Pen is not a gimmick that you can buy in a store for $20 and expect it to add functionality to a random phone. The Note 2 is built from the ground up with the S Pen in mind and the stock ROM is flawless. Verizon screwed with it a little, not liking how they removed Blocking Mode and took WiFi toggle out from the power bar and put it into the notification area, but other than that it's beautiful. For the first time since I got involved in Android years ago, I can finally say I am 100% satisfied with a OEM ROM and have no intention of ever flashing other ROM's on this device.

This is not to mention the absolutely gorgeous screen which imho is superior to the DNA's. At some point cramming pixels into a dense area hits diminishing returns, you put in more resources and effort to gain very little. I feel we've hit that point with 720p phone screens. Anything beyond that resolution is just wasted battery life and gpu cycles. You really have to strain your eyes to notice the difference in resolution between the two devices. Then there's the battery life. The Note 2 chews up the DNA and spits it out in this field. I've seen people on 3G Note 2's hitting an astounding 11 hours of screen on time using Wifi. That is UNREAL. Granted the most you can expect out of the Verizon Note 2 with LTE on is about 8, but that still downright tears apart the DNA's average of maybe 3 or 4 hours.

It's true that the DNA's processing components are technically faster, but given the current performance of the Note 2, the difference is insignificant. The Note 2 already is pretty much performance capped and the only place you may need the extra (battery intensive) horsepower is in maybe future games. Even then that is not to say the Note 2 is slow by any means. It is still incredibly fast, just not as fast as the DNA.


At the end of the day, if you are comfortable with the size of the Note 2, get the Note 2. It's an all around better phone with the users choice in mind. Removeable battery, SD Card slot, S Pen just amazing. Perfect device imho.
 

Crow1336

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For those of you with a Verizon Note 2, does it have an unlocked sim card slot so you could take it to ATT, for example? I believe the DNA does ...
Thanks!
 

Sooks

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I have had the Droid DNA since day one and have absolutely fallen in love with the device. For those who say the Note 2 screen is better.... You clearly need glasses. The DNA is faster hands down, and is over all better performance in literally every category other than battery life, which let me mention i'm fine with the 35 hour average per charge. Then pen while seems nice, will stay tucked away most of the time. Droid DNA all day.
 

Ry

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Anything over 300 ppi is a waste, IMO.

The Note 2 is an innovative device and the S-Pen will change how you work. I'd go with Galaxy Note 2.
 

Hector709

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I had the DNA and returned it for the Note2. The Battery life was okay I couldn't get as much out of the battery as other people were stating. The Fact that the Note 2 has expandable memory was a plus. I like the way the Note feels in hand. I also was worried about the lack of accessories for the DNA, that was another reason for me.
 

varucell

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I had the DNA and returned it for the Note2. The Battery life was okay I couldn't get as much out of the battery as other people were stating. The Fact that the Note 2 has expandable memory was a plus. I like the way the Note feels in hand. I also was worried about the lack of accessories for the DNA, that was another reason for me.

So what kind of battery life are you getting then?
 

cj100570

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The DNA wasn't even in the running. My Galaxy Nexus was retired and replaced with the Galaxy Note II. It may not be an issue for some, but for me, 16GB of storage with no SD card slot is a non starter.
 

Zottig

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I had the VZW Nexus and wouldn't have switched from it to the DNA... it's the Note II's features and the OEM crap is at a level that's still acceptable coming from a Google Experience device. I bought the Note II outright to keep unlimited plan and am going to sell the GNex.


Ben
 

yankeesusa

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Using both also. I think the Note 2 is the clear winner. The DNA is like a real sexy 2 seat sports car. Drives fast, great to look at. Feels great in hand also. Note 2 is like a well refined SUV. Powerful, lots of storage and a big gas tank. And it loks great also...just big!

I would add big gas tank with great gas mileage.

Sent from the Beast that is Galaxy Note 2
 

anon(469638)

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DNA or Note 2.

Depends on what you need the phone for. If you plan on taking notes with the S-Pen, then of course the Note 2 is the better device.

Battery and SD card are also factors.

I have the DNA and do not regret it. I've grown tired of Samsung's dinky GPS and their weak radios. Also tired of their unwillingness to stop using flimsy, cheap feeling plastic.

HTC has created a phone, not a phablet. These two devices aren't comparable. The better comparison is the LG Vu. And no one wants that piece of crap.

The DNA is comparable to the S3. Its simply a large screened phone.

Again, use case will be the big factor. And if you simply want a relatively pocketable device, get the DNA. If you want to replace a tablet, get the Note.
 

JobiWan144

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OK, sure, the Droid DNA's 1080p resolution is overkill. But the Note 2's display is (non-PenTile, admittedly) Super AMOLED @ 267 ppi, while the DNA's screen is Super LCD 3 @ more than 300 ppi (it doesn't matter past that on a phone). Also, I feel like the Note is just too big (for me, anyway). Personally, I think 4.7 inches is the sweet spot, but 5 inches is probably easier to handle than 5.5 inches.

Basically, it comes to a set a questions. Add 1 to your score for each yes.
1. Do you need more than 11 GB of usable storage?
2. Do you need a removable battery?
3. Do you prefer a 5.5-inch display over a 5-inch one?
4. Do you prefer SAMOLED over LCD?
5. Can you tolerate a less-than-300 ppi display?
6. Do you prefer TouchWiz over Sense?
7. Do you like using Kies for updates?
8. Do you need to use Wacom stylus features?
9. Can you tolerate Samsung's build quality?
10. Do you need your battery life to be really long (i.e. more than a full day)?
11. Can you tolerate Samsung's crappy CDMA radios?

If your score is 6 or greater, get the Galaxy Note 2. If your score is 5 or less, get the Droid DNA.

Ultimately, it's personal preference.
 

drum747

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In addition to all of the great innovations on the N2 (multi window/ Spen, etc.) I have 70gb of storage on board with my 64gb sd card and the battery life is fantastic. I am averaging 7-8 hrs of screen on time. This is the best phone I have ever owned hands down.

Sent from my rooted SGH-1605
 

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