Verizon customers looking for the best Android phones will narrow their choice down to a few phones, including the Galaxy Note II and the Droid RAZR MAXX HD.
Both of these smartphones command a hefty $299 price, but offer large screens, long battery life and a multitude of features to users looking to settle in to a 2-year contract.
The Galaxy Note II delivers a large 5.5-inch display and a S-Pen stylus, bringing the Samsung Phablet craze to Verizon for the first time.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD, and Droid RAZR HD, arrive as skillfully honed updates to the popular Droid RAZR smartphones from 2010, delivering better battery life on the entry-level model, upgrading to a larger 4.7-inch display and relying on new internals to deliver better performance.
Galaxy Note 2 vs. Droid RAZR MAXX HD
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD is already available on Verizon, though it is still waiting for an update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Because the Droid RAZR MAXX HD has been out for a month, users can save $100 upgrading at Amazon Wireless.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is available on a variety of carriers, several of which already offer the Note II for sale. The Verizon Galaxy Note II is already available for pre-order, but won’t deliver until late November, likely November 29th.
Users comparing the Droid RAZR MAXX HD to the Galaxy Note II are likely already set on Verizon, so there may be a slow month of waiting on hand.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD and the Galaxy Note II emerge from two different schools of thought on design and materials.
The Galaxy Note II is designed with a plastic body that looks thinner than it is on the Marble White model. The Note II is also larger than the Droid RAZR MAXX HD, something that’s impossible to avoid thanks to the larger 5.5-inch display. Users can remove the back of the Note II to get to the removable battery, something absent on the RAZR MAXX HD. The Note II borrows from the design language found on the Galaxy S III, which is more flowing than the Droid RAZR MAXX HD, with curves and rounded edges.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD hails from an industrial design school that focuses on metal, Kevlar and visible screws. The Droid RAZR MAXX HD is decidedly more brash in the looks department with a carbon fiber design on the Kevlar rear, a metal band that circles the edge of the phone and two visible torx screws on the bottom edge of the device. The construction feels solid, as if it is made from a single piece of material. The smaller 4.7-inch display allows for a smaller overall size and more pocketable form factor.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD is available in black, while the Galaxy Note II is available in white and grey.
Users looking for the most screen real estate on a phone will gravitate towards the Galaxy Note II with a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display, but the Droid RAZR MAXX HD offers a smaller overall size without cutting much from the screen department, offering a 4.7-inch display.
The Galaxy Note II’s 5.5-inch display uses a 1280 x 720 resolution with a widescreen ratio, a change from the original Galaxy Note. Our Galaxy Note II review found the display is bright and delivers sharp text and images. In short, this is a nice looking large display. Users who want to watch movies on the go will love that the full 5.5-inch display shows a movie instead of cutting much of it off to letterbox HD content.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD uses a smaller 4.7-inch display, but offers the same 1280 x 720 HD resolution as the Note II and a widescreen ratio. The RAZR MAXX HD is a Pentile display, but the display performs better than the older Pentile matrix displays, so it’s worth stopping in to see this display in person before writing the RAZR MAXX HD off. The display delivers good-looking blacks and bright colors while watching HD videos.
Galaxy Note 2 vs. Droid RAZR MAXX HD Specs
On the spec sheet, the Galaxy Note II is at an advantage with a quad-core processor, double the RAM and offering the S-Pen, but don’t write the Droid RAZR MAXX HD off based on specs alone.
Galaxy Note 2 specs and features:
- 5.5-inch display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.6GHz Quad-core Exynos Processor
- 16GB/32GB/64GB Storage
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP front-facing
- 3100mAh battery
- 2GB of RAM
Droid RAZR MAXX HD specs and features:
- 4.7-inch display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.5GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor
- 32GB Storage
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP front-facing
- 3300mAh battery
- 1GB of RAM
Galaxy Note 2 vs. Droid RAZR MAXX HD Camera
Both phones offer an 8MP camera that is capable of capturing nice looking photographs. Motorola adds features to the camera app from past versions of the RAZR, but Samsung shines with more photo taking options and sharing options. The video below, of the Galaxy S III shows many of the Note II camera options.
The image below is taken with the Galaxy Note II on an overcast afternoon.
The image below is taken with the Droid RAZR HD, which uses the same camera as the RAZR MAXX HD.
The video below shows a sample of HD video taken on the RAZR HD.
Software & Features
The Galaxy Note II has an advantage in terms of software and features, but the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is no slouch.
On the software side, the Note II is running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box, while the Droid RAZR MAXX HD must wait for an update. This means access to Google Now and the speed improvements of Project Butter are on the Note II, but not yet on the MAXX HD.
The Note II uses TouchWiz, a Samsung skin that gives a new look to Android and with it a bunch of Samsung specific apps that work with the S Pen. The skin doesn’t slow down the Note II. In addition to these apps and the S Pen, the Galaxy Note II is able to place two apps on-screen at once with multitasking mode, or pop video up to play on top of other apps.
The S Pen, a small pressure sensitive stylus is the biggest feature the Note II has over the Droid RAZR MAXX HD. This stylus interacts with a collection of Samsung apps and si smart enough to open a notepad or app launcher when removed. Users can also use it to view more information about items by hovering the point over a line in apps like email.
The Droid RAZR MAXX HD uses MotoBlur, a skin that covers up the stock Android experience and adds a quick settings menu to the left of the main home screen for fast access to commonly used settings. There is also a Circles widget that shows a clock and the weather as well as alerts on missed calls, texts and battery life information.
Motorola also includes Smart Actions, an app that can use time and location to automatically toggle settings to help the battery last longer and quiet the phone.
While the Note II can last a full day of use in our testing, the Droid RAZR MAXX’s claim to fame is the ability to last a day and a half under moderate use. Even heavy use leaves power left when placing the RAZR MAXX HD on the charger at night. Some users may be able to stretch the battery life out a full two days.
The Galaxy Note II is available on all four major U.S. carriers and regional carrier U.S. Cellular offering users more choice in plan pricing and coverage. Users looking at the Droid RAZR MAXX HD can only use the device on Verizon Wireless. Both phones connect to 4G LTE on carriers with coverage, and Verizon currently offers the largest 4G LTE coverage, which may be the deciding factor.
Galaxy Note 2 vs. Droid RAZR MAXX HD Video Reviews
For an overview of the Droid RAZR MAXX HD< check out the video review of the slightly thinner Droid RAZR HD, where we show off the design, features and talk about battery life.
The video below offers an in-depth look at the Galaxy Note II and offers size and feature comparisons.
The Galaxy Note II commands a hefty $299 price tag on most carriers, including Verizon. We’ve yet to find a deal on the Note II for less than a $300 two-year contract price.
Because the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is not as new, by a few weeks, users can purchase it on Amazon for $199 as an upgrade or $179 as a new customer, a savings off the $299 price at Verizon Wireless online and in stores.