Tomorrow, Motorola will finally release both the Motorola Droid RAZR HD and the Droid RAZR MAXX HD to the public, after originally announcing both devices at an event in early September. A few days later, on October 24th, Samsung will debut the Galaxy Note 2, it’s new 5.5-inch phablet, for the first time in the United States. Needless to say, these devices are about to go to battle and here, we take a look at how the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD match up against the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
In early September, Motorola took the stage and announced the successors to the popular Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX smartphones. Those successors are, of course, the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD which bring a number of improvements to the table over the originals while keeping the same fantastic design. They also represent Motorola’s biggest smartphone releases of the year.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 represents one of Samsung’s biggest releases this year as well and will stand as the company’s holiday entry into the smartphone arena. The Galaxy Note 2 replaces the original Galaxy Note which took the world by surprise last year and went on to sell more than 10 million units around the world.
Both devices will join a competitive smartphone market that not only features competition from other Android handsets, but from Windows Phone 8 and Apple’s iPhone 5. But how do they compare to each other? Let’s dive in and find out.
When Motorola first announced the Motorola Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD, it did not pin release dates on either device. In the build up to their release, there were rumors of a delay beyond the holiday season. However, a short time ago, Motorola and Verizon revealed that they would be out on October 18. And indeed, both devices will become available online and in-stores tomorrow.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 U.S. release date situation is a little more tricky. The device, which is heading to five different carriers, currently only has one concrete release date.
Sprint confirmed that the Galaxy Note 2 will be released on October 25th, the day after the U.S. launch event takes place in New York City. As for the other four, there are only clues.
AT&T might be planning a November release, T-Mobile says its Galaxy Note 2 is coming soon, U.S. Cellular said that its Galaxy Note 2 would be arriving in October and as for Verizon, we still have nothing.
Still, we’re fairly certain that the Galaxy Note 2 will arrive no later than November on any of these carriers. It’s now just a matter of exactly when.
Samsung’s original Galaxy Note featured a massive 5.3-inch display. However, with the Galaxy Note 2, the company has bumped up the screen size to a whopping 5.5-inches. The size of the Galaxy Note’s display is one of its most unique features and the reason why, along with the S-Pen, the device is dubbed a phablet. The resolution of the Galaxy Note 2 display checks in at 1280 x 720 and features a 265 PPI, down from the original. The aspect ratio though is 16:9 which means that users can watch true widescreen content.
The size of the Galaxy Note 2’s display makes it perfect for watching video content and its viewing angles are good enough to where another person can comfortable share the screen during a movie.
Motorola also boosted the size of the displays in its sequels. The original Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX both possessed 4.3-inch displays with less than HD resolution. The Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD both possess massive 4.7-inch HD displays which feature a fantastic 312ppi which means that they will feature crisp text and images.
While they aren’t 5.5-inches, they too should be great for viewing content.
The new Galaxy Note 2 features a slimmer design than the Galaxy Note and weighs close to the same. The specific measurements are 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm with a weight of 6.35 oz. The design also features the usual plastic from Samsung though the Galaxy Note 2’s design is reminiscent of a large Galaxy S III with its rounded edges. It features a single home button placed in the middle-bottom of the device.
As for the designs of the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD, they borrow heavily from the originals as they too sport splash-proof designs that combine with an industrial design that features Kevlar backing for increased durability.
However, both devices are now slightly bulkier than the originals. While the Droid RAZR HD features a 8.4mm design which is up from 7.1mm on the original Droid RAZR, the Droid RAZR MAXX HD is now 9.3mm, slightly bulkier than the original Droid RAZR MAXX which had a 8.99mm design.
The Galaxy Note 2 makes some significant improvements over the original Galaxy Note and includes including a faster processor, larger battery, more RAM and a new and improved ergonomic S-Pen. The Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD also feature a number of improvements from the original Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX including speedier processors and NFC support.
Starting with the processors, the Galaxy Note 2 features a 1.6GHz Exynos quad-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM. This should mean a smooth experience when navigating through Android and when playing games. The Droid RAZR and Droid RAZR MAXX HD will feature dual-core S4 Plus Snapdragon processors which, while not quad-core, should provide enough power for most users needs. They are also outfitted with 1GB of RAM.
The Galaxy Note 2 will come in three different storage options including 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. It will also feature expandable storage through its microSD card support. The Droid RAZR HD will employ something different. The Droid RAZR HD will come in 16GB form only with microSD card support while the Droid RAZR MAXX HD will only come with 32GB of on-board storage. It too will have expandable storage space.
Both devices feature NFC support which both devices will be able to pair with Android Beam to easily share content. However, while the non-Verizon versions of the Galaxy Note 2 will likely be able to work in conjunction with Google Wallet for mobile payments, the Droids will not and instead will likely have to wait for ISIS, a competing mobile payment solution.
As for their batteries, the Galaxy Note 2 sports a 3,100mAh battery which should be able to handle the device’s large screen and 4G LTE data speeds. The Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD also feature large batteries as well with the Droid RAZR HD featuring a 2530mAh battery and the Droid RAZR MAXX HD featuring a massive 3,300mAh battery capable of pulling down 8 hours of web browsing over 4G LTE and 21 hours of continuous talk time.
The Galaxy Note 2 also features an S-Pen stylus that lets users draw and write directly on the device’s display. In addition, it also has some unique features including one where users can program custom S-Pen swipes to handle a number of tasks.
The Droid RAZR, Droid RAZR MAXX and the original Samsung Galaxy Note all had serviceable cameras but nothing special. Unfortunately, that applies to the newer models as well as Motorola and Samsung have not outfitted the Droid RAZR HD, Droid RAZR HD MAXX or Galaxy Note 2 with anything special.
All three will come with 8MP rear cameras that are capable of shooting 1080p video.
Here are two samples shot with the Droid RAZR HD camera.
And here is a sample taken with the Galaxy Note 2.
Both devices will be running Android however, while one will be running the latest version out of the box, the other will lag behind.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will be coming with the latest version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, right out of the box. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean features a fast user interface, improved notifications, an improved browser, and more. The best features from Android 4.1 Jelly Bean can be seen in the video below.
The Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD will unfortunately be running an older version of Android in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That’s not to say it’s a bad operating system, it isn’t. In fact, before the arrival of Jelly Bean, it was by far Google’s best offering to date.
Motorola has said that the two devices will get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean soon but it hasn’t yet said exactly when which means a release date is wide open.
Over the top of Android, the Galaxy Note 2 will feature TouchWiz while the Motorola Droid RAZR HD will feature MotoBlur. Neither are spectacular and come down to personal preference.
In addition to TouchWiz, the Galaxy Note 2 will feature some unique features including split-screen multitasking and several applications that work in conjunction with the device’s S-Pen stylus.
Another area where the phones will likely differ is their bootloaders. An unlocked bootloader allows owners to fully customize their device with items like custom ROMs. A locked bootloader prevents this type of customization.
Verizon is notoriously strict when it comes to bootloaders and there is no indication that the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD will ever get their bootloaders unlocked. Instead, it looks like Motorola will offer a Droid RAZR HD Developer Edition, much like Samsung did with the Verizon Galaxy S III Developer Edition, that will arrive with an unlocked bootloader at the cost of a hefty price tag.
With the Galaxy S III, the only bootloader amongst the same five U.S. carriers to be locked was the Verizon model. We expect the same thing to happen with the Galaxy Note 2 but at this point we aren’t 100 percent certain.
Sadly, the Motorola Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD will be attached to one carrier and one carrier alone. Verizon will be the sole carrier of both devices though it should be noted that it has the largest 4G LTE network out of all of the major carriers in the United States. With 400 4G LTE markets, Verizon dwarfs the networks of both AT&T and Sprint.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 provides more options, carrier-wise, than the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD. It will be available on the five largest carriers in the U.S. a list that includes AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular.
We expect the device to work with 4G LTE networks on all five but thus far, T-Mobile has not confirmed whether it will work on its upcoming 4G LTE network, set to debut in 2013.
So while the Droid RAZR HD offers the best 4G LTE network at the moment in terms of market share, the Galaxy Note 2 offers the most options.
Along with the release dates, Motorola and Verizon revealed the pricing of both the Droid RAZR HD and the Droid RAZR MAXX HD. The Droid RAZR HD will check in for $199.99 with the signing of a new two year contract while the Droid RAZR MAXX HD will retail for $100 more and will cost $299.99 on-contract.
Something to keep in mind, for those that are already on Verizon with unlimited data plans, these prices will not apply if you wish to keep that plan. Instead, you’ll have to purchase the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR MAXX HD at full price.
We expect the prices to be $650 and $700 at Verizon respectively.
As for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, only two carriers have revealed pricing, but we expect the other carriers to fall in line when they announce their details. Sprint and U.S. Cellular will sell the Galaxy Note 2 for $299.99 on-contract respectively. For U.S. Cellular, this price applies to the 16GB model and we imagine it’s the same for Sprint as well.
If the carriers do offer Galaxy Note 2’s with more storage space, there are 32GB and 64GB models, expect the price to jump up by $100.
Again, those on Verizon with unlimited data who wish to keep their unlimited data plans will likely have to pay quite a bit of money if they want to pair the Galaxy Note 2 with unlimited data.