Back in August, Samsung announced its latest phablet device in the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a device that replaced the original Galaxy Note which did surprisingly well worldwide despite its size. Since August, the Galaxy Note 2 has affirmed itself as one of the premier Android smartphones on the market, something that should stretch into 2013. That of course means that it will be doing battle against 2013 flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and, in addition, HTC’s flagship, currently dubbed the HTC M7.
Right now, the Galaxy Note 2 is one of the best Android phones available on the market. We included it in our best Android phones for the month of January and the device has been widely adopted by consumers around the world with Samsung reporting over five million devices sold since it first launched late in 2012. And while that is no where close to the 30 million Galaxy S3 units that have sold around the world, it’s clear that the Galaxy Note is here to stay.
And stay it will, well into 2013, as the device not only features powerful hardware but also comes equipped with one of the latest versions of Android software right out of the box. That means though that it will have to compete against the many flagship devices that have already been rumored for launch at some point in 2013.
We’ve seen an in-house competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S4, leak to surface several times. We’ve already heard rumors about the upcoming iPhone 6 or iPhone 5S that will almost assuredly replace the iPhone 5. We’ve heard about competitors from LG and Sony. And we’ve also heard a lot about a device that is currently called the HTC M7 which figures to be HTC’s flagship smartphone for at least the first half of 2013.
The HTC M7 is the device that is rumored to be replacing the HTC One X, and HTC One X+, as the Chinese company’s big name device. And fortunately, details about HTC’s next big smartphone have emerged ahead of its official debut. Both will be two of the big name phones of 2013, so how do they stack up against each other?
Here, we take a look at the how the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 matches up versus the rumored HTC M7 in terms of features, launch date, release date, and more.
At IFA 2012 in August, Samsung took the wrapping off of its brand new phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, a device that replaced the original Galaxy Note which debuted all the way back at IFA 2011. Samsung, as it did with the Galaxy S3, made sure that customers in the U.S. wouldn’t be too far behind the rest of the world and released the Galaxy Note 2 on the United States’ five largest service providers.
By the end of November, the Galaxy Note 2 launched on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon. Of those, only AT&T and T-Mobile had carried the original Galaxy Note. In fact, T-Mobile only carried it for a few days before the Galaxy Note 2 replaced it.
The HTC M7, of course, is still an unofficial device and thus, it remains without an official launch date let alone a release date. Recent rumors suggest that CES 2013 could be the place that HTC unveils the HTC M7 to the world but that contradicts previous rumors that pegged Mobile World Congress 2013 as the HTC M7 launch date.
CES 2013 seems less likely than MWC 2013 at this point given that HTC used MWC 2013 last year to launch the HTC One X. However, it certainly remains a possibility as it is one of the world’s largest trade shows.
As for an HTC M7 release date, rumors suggest that it will arrive at some point in the first half of 2013, possibly as soon as March. If that winds up being the case, the HTC M7 could hit the United States at some point in April of this year. Last year, the HTC One X touched down in April and landed on AT&T in the United States in May.
It could be that HTC is moving up the release date in order to better protect the device from the Samsung Galaxy S4 release which is also said to be taking place in the first half of 2013. Though, if Samsung does announce the Galaxy S4 at MWC 2013 as is rumored, it probably wouldn’t give HTC too much of a boost.
That being said, when the HTC M7 arrives, the Galaxy Note 2 will have been out for more than three months at the very least.
When Samsung launched the original Galaxy Note, the device was quickly dubbed a ‘phablet’ due to its size and its capabilities, both of which make it part smartphone and part tablet. Whatever the name, the Galaxy Note 2 is a massive smartphone and one that has a footprint that is bigger than any other smartphone we’ve reviewed.
It measures in at 151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm which is absolutely massive for a smartphone. It weighs like one too checking in with a weight of 180 grams. By comparison, the iPhone 5 weighs a measly 112 grams. Translation: The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a monstrosity and for many, it’s awkward to hold with one hand. To offer an idea of just how big the Galaxy Note 2 is, take a look at it next to the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini in the photo below.
The Galaxy Note 2 is made of polycarbonate material, similar to the Galaxy S3, that makes it durable and easy to hold. It’s design is also extremely similar to that of the Galaxy S3 which employs nice curves and a home button at the bottom for easier navigation. Keep in mind, the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 model has a Verizon-branded home button which is different than any of the others.
While exact measurements of the HTC M7 are unknown, it will almost assuredly be much smaller than the Galaxy Note 2. One reason is that the display is rumored to be much smaller than the Galaxy Note 2’s. HTC made is a point to release thin phones last year, at least thinner than its previous models, and we expect that the HTC M7 could be the slimmest HTC device yet.
Currently, the only little tidbit about the HTC M7 design that has surfaced is the possibility of a aluminum unibody design, similar to the HTC One X, which could mean another device with a non-removable battery and without a microSD card slot, two features that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 does have.
The biggest reason why the footprint of the Galaxy Note 2 is so big is due to its monster display. The Galaxy Note 2 sports a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display, a display that dwarfs just about every smartphone on the market.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 display features solid 1280 x 720 HD resolution with 267 pixels per inch (ppi) which translates into quality photos and text. As for video, the 16:9 aspect ratio will allow users to view widescreen content without wide black bars.
The display makes it very easy to be productive on-the-go and it also makes it a content consumers dream as it easily allows more than one person to enjoy a movie or a television show.
This is an area where the HTC M7 should trump the Galaxy Note 2 though. Rumor has it, the HTC M7 will follow in the footsteps of the HTC Droid DNA for Verizon and sport a display with full HD 1080p resolution and a whopping 440 pixels-per-inch. As we told you when we went hands on with the Droid DNA, the resolution makes text, video and more an absolute pleasure to look at.
HTC is said to be putting a 4.7-inch display on the HTC M7 which would be a tad smaller than the Droid DNA and the same size of display found on the HTC One X and the HTC One X+.
The original Samsung Galaxy Note sported good but not great cameras and the Galaxy Note 2 is unfortunately in the same boat as Samsung neglected to make any big changes to the cameras found on the sequel.
It features an 8MP rear camera that can shoot 1080p video and solid photos and it backed by some powerful software features from Samsung, some of which can be seen in the video below.
It’s certainly not the worst camera on the market but the Galaxy Note 2 camera is not going to be winning any awards any time soon. The front-facing camera is good, but again, isn’t the best that money can buy.
HTC on the other hand proved that great quality cameras are part of its smartphone plan as it delivered one of the best rear cameras on any Android phone in the camera found on the HTC One X. The camera was comparable to the cameras on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, two of the best in the business, and it bodes well for the camera on the HTC M7.
Right now, rumors peg the HTC M7 as having a 13MP camera and while mega-pixels alone don’t mean a massive upgrade, it would be a bit surprising to see HTC slack in the camera department given how good the cameras on its 2012 smartphones were.
Speaking of that, the HTC M7 is said to have a 2MP front-facing camera and it will at likely, at least, have the same wide-angle front-facing camera that’s found on Verizon’s Droid DNA. HTC doesn’t mess around when it comes to cameras so look for the HTC M7 cameras to hold their own in 2013.
Beyond the design, display and camera are a bunch of other specifications that will all be vying for the eyes of consumers. Both the HTC M7 and the Galaxy Note 2 will likely offer some different things in terms of specifications and here, we take a look at what we know already and what may happen in terms of the other specifications found on both of these flagship Android devices.
First, the Galaxy Note 2:
- 5.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 1280×720 resolution
- 1.6GHz Quad-core Exynos Processor
- 16GB Storage
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Front-Facing
- 3,100mAh Battery (Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
And, the HTC M7’s rumored specs:
- 4.7-inch 1080p Display
- 1.7GHz Quad-core Snapdragon Processor
- 32GB Storage
- 13MP Camera/2MP Front-Facing
- 2,300 mAh Battery
- 2GB of RAM
Of note, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 comes with a unique S-Pen stylus that takes advantage of applications native to the Galaxy Note 2. The HTC M7 is unlikely to come with a packaged stylus.
The Galaxy Note 2 has a massive battery, but it needs that to power the massive screen. The HTC M7 has a bigger battery than both the HTC One X and HTC One X+ so it should provide adequate battery life. Battery life was one of the biggest complaints about those two devices so it would be odd to see HTC not try and tackle this hurdle with its new flagship.
HTC learned its lesson with storage when it offered the HTC One X with only 16GB of storage space and no microSD card support. With the HTC One X+, it boosted that to 64GB and it looks like it may just offer one storage option with the HTC M7 in 32GB. The Galaxy Note 2 comes standard with 16GB but it does feature expandable storage with a microSD card slot which means that users can get up to 48GB of space.
Lastly, the Galaxy Note 2 comes with a removable battery which means that users can install larger ones and replace it easily should it wear out. The HTC M7, if it indeed has a unibody design, may not have that luxury leaving users with the 2,300 mAh battery and the 2,300 mAh battery only.
One of the fortunate things about the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is that it arrived with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean right out of the box. Many smartphones from 2012 are still waiting for their upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean so the Galaxy Note 2 and its owners are quite lucky. Our favorite features from Android 4.1 Jelly Bean can be seen in the video below.
It also should mean that it will be one of the first to receive Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest Android update from Google that emerged back in November. Android 4.2 is an incremental update and it improves on the original Jelly Bean in a number of ways including the addition of more Google Now features, lock screen notifications and more.
Samsung also outfitted the Galaxy Note 2 with some unique software that takes advantage of the device’s S-Pen stylus. The apps include an S-Note app for easy note taking and another that allows users to simply use the pen to hover over calendar events and emails to get a preview before opening them.
Additionally, Samsung’s TouchWiz brings even more powerful features to the table including one called Multi-Window View which is multitasking feature that takes advantage of the Galaxy Note 2’s screen real estate.
Multi-Window View allows Galaxy Note 2 owners to split the massive display up into two parts with each running a different application. For instance, users can check email on one side while checking Facebook on the other.
The HTC M7 is currently rumored to have Android Jelly Bean on board though the version of Jelly Bean is currently unknown. We imagine that it will likely be Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, which can be seen in the video below, given that it’s the latest update from Google.
It’s also rumored to have HTC Sense 5, HTC’s own user interface, though as of right now, the software remains in the shadows. HTC Sense 5 should bring some welcomed upgrades and potentially some tweaks as well.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is currently available on the five largest carriers in the United States. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon all play host to the Galaxy Note 2 with AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and Verizon all offering it on their 4G LTE networks.
T-Mobile’s Galaxy Note 2 currently runs on the carrier’s HSPA+ 42 network, which while fast, is more often than not slower than 4G LTE. The carrier has said though that the Galaxy Note 2 has dormant 4G LTE capabilities that will be unearthed with a software update once the carrier launches its 4G LTE network, expected to arrive at some point this year.
Last year, the HTC One X only launched on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. A variant of the device, the HTC EVO 4G LTE, launched on Sprint, but those looking for it on the three other carriers were out of luck.
This time around, HTC may be looking to do something different. Rumors say that Sprint and Verizon are, at the very least, in line to get the HTC M7 and AT&T and T-Mobile are distinct possibilities as well. The latter two carriers hosted devices from HTC’s One Series line of device so it would be surprising to see them left out in the cold as far as the HTC M7 is concerned.
Look for T-Mobile, if it gets it, to offer it on its 4G LTE network with the others following suite as well.
When the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 launched, it launched for $299.99 on-contract across the board, except at T-Mobile where it landed for a much more expensive $370 on-contract. Those prices have stayed the same through carriers but now that the device has been out for a bit, third party retailers like Amazon are offering it for far less.
The price of the HTC M7 has yet to be rumored but look for it to launch with a price that’s extremely competitive across the board. The iPhone and Galaxy S3 have set the bar with their $199.99 starting prices and it could be that that’s where HTC puts the HTC M7.
If true, look for the device to become available on Amazon almost immediately for far less than that.