HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2: spec comparison

The HTC One and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 stand out as two of the most important mobile products in recent memory. When the former launched in late February 2013, it quickly established itself as more than just another premium handset - it staked an immediate and compelling claim to the title of best smartphone in the world. Similarly, the Note 2 single-handedly redefined the large-display handset segment when it arrived at IFA 2012. In terms of headline grabbing impact, there is scarcely a better matched pair of gadgets, but how do the influential duo match up in terms of their specifications? Let's take a look.

Size and weight

The slender but sturdy HTC One has a thickness of 9.3mm and weighs 143g. Samsung's Galaxy Note 2 has a similar girth (9.4mm) but is considerably heavier at 182.5g. The disruptive "phablet" is also a fair whack taller (151mm vs the HTC One's 137.4mm) and wider (80.5mm vs 68.2mm).

Display

The HTC One looks like it's really going to seduce the retinas, offering a Full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels on its 4.7in LCD screen - a relatively modest size that packs a stunning pixel density of 468ppi. The 5.5in Galaxy Note 2 is a more run-of-the-mill HD proposition, featuring a 720p display at a comparatively meagre 267ppi.

Software

In the Galaxy Note 2 and the HTC One, the Android platform has one of its biggest ever sellers and one of its brightest new stars, respectively. The One features Sense 5.0, the latest version of HTC's heavily customised Android skin, which is based on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean but offers a number of neat features including Zoe Highlights, which transforms your otherwise static image gallery into flowing cinematic media. The Samsung handset ships with Jelly Bean 4.1, with an upgrade to the newer Android 4.2 thought to be on the cards in the near future.

Camera

The HTC One boasts one of the very best cameras on the market, serving up a 4-megapixel CMOS sensor consisting of what the company refers to as 'UltraPixels' - a marketing term to describe the sensor's 2 micron pixels. These are larger than the photosites typically found on cameraphone sensors and should improve low-light shooting (bigger is better when gathering light). The Galaxy Note 2's 8-megapixel shooter might sound more impressive, but the One's snapper promises more when it comes to noise and low-light photography.

Processor and battery

Under the hood, the HTC One packs Qualcomm's latest high-end SoC, the Snapdragon 600, comprised of Krait 300 CPUs clocked at 1.7GHz and an Adreno 320 GPU - a slick quad-core processor setup. Samsung's aging flagship sports a quad-core Exynos 4412 configuration with a processor speed of 1.6GHz. The HTC One features a 2,300mAh battery, while the Note 2 sports a mammoth 3,100mAh battery with a claimed maximum 3G talk-time of an impressive 16 hours.

Storage and memory

The HTC One will be available in 32GB and 64GB models, though content hoarders won't be pleased that there's no option of expanding the device's capacity. The Galaxy Note 2 is available in 16GB and has been seen in 32GB and 64GB versions, although in reality only the least capacious model is readily available. However, the large form factor Samsung handset does offer a microSD card slot for cheap and easy augmentation. Both devices come with 2GB of RAM.

Connectivity and wireless

Both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 support the LTE standard, with the latter already featuring on EE's UK 4G network. They also come with NFC technology, though neither can charge up wirelessly. Each has a micro-USB port that supports the Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard for HDMI connection.

Extras

The HTC One offers some real points of differentiation courtesy of Sense 5.0. Along with Zoe Highlights, there's also Sense TV, which sees your handset double as a remote control via an integrated infrared technology. More of an obvious "extra," however, is the amusingly named BoomSound - HTC's audio setup includes two built-in amplifiers based on Beats Audio technology and a pair of front-facing speaker grills. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with the S Pen, of course - the snazzy stylus offers digitised note-taking, annotating, drawing, and is an all-round productivity boon.

Price, availability and opinion

The HTC One will start shipping from 14 March and is currently available for pre-order via Phones 4u - the handset can be had for naught on contracts starting from £36 a month. You can't officially buy the One outright just yet, but established online retailer Clove Technology lists the HTC One at £510 SIM-free, if that's the route you want to take. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 joined us in September 2012 and is now widely available - an EE contract will cost from £31 per month plus an upfront cost. If it's a SIM-free Galaxy Note 2 you're after, get your sleuth hat on as the official 4G LTE version for the UK isn't the easiest iteration to come by off-contract (many are 3G-only grey imports). Where it can be had, it will typically set you back around £550 - Handtec is a good place to start.

For our money, we'd take the HTC One for its full suite of new-generation features and the £40-odd saving. We want to love the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as much as we did when we reviewed it and fully appreciate its many strengths, not least the productivity boosting S Pen stylus and behemoth of a battery. But the fact is that the HTC One may well be the "best phone ever made," as the Taiwanese company claims. If not, it's certainly seems like it's king of the smartphone pile for now. The Jelly Bean-based Sense 5.0 UI looks like offering one of the slickest custom user experiences around, while the handset's full aluminium build feels sturdy but slender at the same time.

While the 'UltraPixel' term will only serve to confuse, we thoroughly approve of the way HTC is moving away from the 'bigger is better' megapixel race in the camera department, and it's difficult to find better than the 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 SoC featured under the hood. Ultimately, it just feels great to hold, and while definitive judgement can't be passed until we've put it through its paces in full - stay tuned for our HTC One review in the near future - we're fairly confident that it will hold up admirably to more acute investigations.

HTC One

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE

Display

Screen size

4.7in

5.55in

Resolution

1,920 x 1,080 pixels

1,280 x 720 pixels

Pixel density

468ppi

267ppi

Type

TFT LCD

Super AMOLED

Processor and battery

Family

Snapdragon 600

Samsung Exynos 4412

CPU

Krait 300

Cortex-A9

Cores

Quad-core

Quad-core

Clock speed

1.7GHz

1.6GHz

GPU

Adreno 320

Mali-400MP

Battery

2,300mAh

3,100 mAh

Claimed 3G talk time

TBC

Up to 16 hours

Storage and memory

RAM

2GB

2GB

Internal storage

32GB / 64GB

16GB / 32GB / 64GB

microSD

No

Yes

Camera

Rear

4-megapixel

8-megapixel

Video

1080p @ 30fps

1080p @ 30fps

Front

2.1-megapixel

1.9-megapixel

Wireless

Standard

4G LTE

4G LTE

Wi-Fi

802.11 a / b / g / n

802.11 a / b / g / n

NFC

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth

v4.0

v4.0

Integrated wireless charging

No

No

Dimensions

Size

137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm

151 x 80.5 x 9.4mm

Weight

143g

182.5g

Operating System

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean w/Sense 5.0

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean w/TouchWiz

Price (SIM-free)

£510

£550