Today, I’m going to compare the HTC One X with the Galaxy Note. I’ve already done reviews and user experience for both those phones.
This is going to be an out-of-the box comparison for these two phones. Both are running the latest version of Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich. I’m using the stock user interface, Touchwiz for the Note, and Sense for the One X. This is the phones, as you would buy them, and with only the latest operating system updates done. I should also mention that I’m comparing the international versions of both phones here, but most of the things discussed will be relevant for all versions. Now, the Galaxy Note was launched in 2011, so it’s not a new phone. But mainly because of it’s large 5.3 inch screen and smooth performance, it’s been holding it’s own against all new comers so far. The HTC One X is the first of the next generation of quad core super phones, and with it’s 4.7 inch screen it’s also setting the trend towards larger screen phones that are stepping closer into the Note’s territory. So basically, we have here two powerhouses. The Note, with its brilliant 5.3 inch screen and s-pen, and the One X with its picture-like LCD screen and quad core power. So which one would you prefer? Let’s find out! Both phones are big. The Note has a 5.3 inch screen, and the One X has a 4.7 inch screen. Now, both do a good job of disguising their size to an extent. But with the Note, especially, there’s a limit to how compact it can become, and most people, unless they have large hands, would struggle to use it one-handed. And fitting it into your pocket is another problem if you don’t have baggy pockets. You’ll probably need a bag to carry it around in, especially if you’re a woman. The One X is no small phone either. But it’s slender, curved design means that the 4.7 inch screen is framed in a more manageable form-factor. It’s not ‘unwieldy’ as the Note can be. Its curved back means it sits in the hand quite nicely, and it’s not too wide. You can see the size difference when both phones are placed together. The One X is 1.3 cm narrower than the Note. So you can use it one-handed for most things, and it will fit into your pocket. Now, despite it’s size, the Note’s not a chunky phone. It’s less than a mm thicker than the One X. The Note’s 9.7 mm thick, and the One X is 8.9 mm. But despite having this slim profile, the Note’s not as easy to hold as the One X. Obviously, it’s larger size is the main reason. But it also has a more rectangular shape, with a flat back, and that doesn’t sit in the hand as well as the curved One X. And a metallic strip around the sides also that tends to be too smooth and slippery to get a proper grip on. This is an issue especially when you’re holding the Note up to take camera shots. Both phones have a plastic body. The One X feels quite solid with it’s unibody design that’s made from polycarbonate, which is a more expensive type of plastic. It gives it a matte feel, so it’s less likely to slip in the hand. But this matte surface means the white phone picks up scuff marks rather easily. It’s nothing a wipe with a damp cloth can’t cure, but don’t go putting it in your blue jeans pocket for long periods of time. The Note has a smooth and shiny back, again making it more slippery to hold. The back casing is removable, and when you take it off you feel how flimsy the plastic is. But this is misleading, because when the back is in place the Note feels very sturdy overall. In fact, because of it’s 178g weight, it feels sturdier in the hand than the One X which is only 130g. The One X’s unibody construction means that it doesn’t have a removable battery or a microSD card slot in the back. Both things that the Note has. So with the One X, you’re stuck with the 1800 mAh battery and the 32GB of internal storage. You do get an additional 25GB of cloud storage for two years with Dropbox, so that might make up somewhat for the missing microSD card. The Note, on the other hand, gives you a swappable 2500 mAh battery, and an expandable microSD card slot. So, lots of flexibility. So, let’s look at the buttons and ports on both phones. On the top, both have a 3.5 mm headphone jack and noise-cancelling secondary microphone. The One X has it’s power button here, and some right-handers might find that awkward to reach on such a large screen phone. It also has its microSIM slot tucked in here. The Note uses a standard sized SIM, which is fitted inside, near the battery compartment. On the right side, the One X has its volume rocker, while the Note has its power button here. And, in my opinion, this is a more convenient place for the power button on a large phone. On the left of the Note is its volume rocker. And on the One X is it’s data and charging microUSB port. On the Note, this is at the bottom along with the primary microphone that both phones have. The Note has it’s s-pen housed at the bottom as well. It’s a slim pen, and it fits quite snugly into its housing, So you don’t have to worry about it falling out. At the front, both phones have their earpiece grilles, LED notification lights, proximity sensors, and front cameras at the top. Below the screen are the capacitive buttons. The One X has back, home, and multitasking buttons, While the Note has menu and back capacitive buttons, and a physical home button. Here the One X’s design really stands out, with the curving glass, mm thin bezel, and no physical buttons. Again, both phones have their loudspeaker grille at the back. The One X’s grille is neatly drilled into the chassis. It also has its dock connectors here. Then at the top is the rear camera with LED flash. The Note’s camera sits flush with its back panel, While the One X’s camera juts out somewhat like a metallic blob. Now, this might not appeal to some people. However, you don’t have to worry about the camera glass getting scratched when you put the phone down on a flat surface. Because the One X has a slight curve to its body, the camera part is lifted up out of the way when the phone is placed down. So overall, summing up in terms of design, the One X stands out as a beautiful phone. While the Note resembles a tablet more, And it may not be as comfortable to use as a phone if you don’t have large hands and pockets. Both have 720p HD resolution. So when you hold the phones at normal reading distance, the icons and text on both look clear and sharp. But hold them much closer and you’ll start to see some pixels at the edge of the Note’s icons and large text, while the One X screen remains sharp. And this is because of the difference between the Note’s Super AMOLED screen and the One X’s LCD screen. On the LCD screen, each pixel has all three, red, blue, and green subpixels. while pixels on the Super AMOLED actually share one or two subpixels between them to make up colours. So this can cause some blurring along the edges of text and images. But generally, Super AMOLED screens overcome this to some extent with a HD 720p resolution, like that on the Note. Now, I’m going to show you some comparisons with both screens side by side. These tests were done at maximum brightness. First is a colour comparison. Looking at the RGB colours, they tend to be a bit more saturated on the Note screen. White appears warmer on the One X, and has a grey-blue tint on the Note. Actually, in real life it’s a bit brighter on both than what you see on the video. Black is absolute black on the Note, as expected, since AMOLED screens show black by switching the pixels off to save on power consumption. You can see that the One X is actually rendering black as a colour. Now we’ll take a look at app icons on both screens. I took this close-up of the facebook app icon with the video camera actually touching the screen. You can see the sharper RGB stripe subpixel matrix on the One X, and the larger PenTile subpixel matrix on the Note. But these are unnoticeable at normal reading distance. Next is different types of live wallpaper on both screens. The Note’s tendency to show deeper colours tends to suit images with vibrant colours. But this live wallpaper that uses more softer and blended colours looks better on the One X. Again, with this third wallpaper, the Note screen looks slightly more vibrant. I’m going to compare some photos that I took using a different camera. The One X is showing the leaf colours closest to the original, while on the Note the colours are a little too deep. The yellow leaves look more orangey on the Note screen. Again, same for the yellow flowers. Greens are quite similar on both, just slightly darker on the Note screen. Also, you may notice that the One X is picking up more detail in the dark background. Now I want to compare text for reading on both phones. I’m using the Kindle app, on same settings for both, and these shots were taken indoors. Again, the white screen background was a bit brighter on both phones in real life. But both give clear and sharp text. Side viewing angles were similar and pretty good for both phones. If you’re reading outdoors, you get less glare on the One X screen. And this is because of the LCD screen being brighter compared to the AMOLED. So the One X screen is clearer and more readable. Even in very bright sunlight, the One X remained more or less readable, while the Note reflects light too much. With movie playback, The One X tends to pick out more of the colours in the scene, While on the Note, things are a bit darker, so you don’t notice as many individual colours like the greens and the purples. So, a quick conclusion, Both screens show images and text crisp and sharp in normal use, but the One X is sharper. In fact, looking at images on the One X screen, you’ll feel like you’re looking at a picture or a painting most of the time. The Note screen tends to show colours a little darker, which is really good for things like gaming. But if you like to look at a lot of nature photography, or softer colours, then the One X does the better job of showing near true-to-life colours. Both phones are running Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. And while the One X has the HTC Sense 4 user interface, the Note has the Touchwiz 4 user interface. Both user interfaces have been optimised to work with Ice Cream Sandwich. So if we start with the lockscreen, both have the ICS features like face unlock, of course. But just sticking to the swipe to unlock, you can see that it’s a simple function on the Note, just swipe to the side. On the One X, it’s a lot more beautiful. Drag the ring up to unlock, and it’s a very smooth action. You can also open individual applications straight from the lockscreen by dragging the icon onto the ring. I find that really convenient. When you get to the homescreens on the One X, you can pinch in to see all the homescreens together and then click on a specific one to jump to it. You can do the same thing with the Note. Tap on the homescreen to access widgets, apps, folders, and wallpapers. This function is same on the Note, but looks a little different. The app drawer on the One X has search, link to the playstore, and menu options conveniently located at the top. You don’t get this on the Note. You have to tap the menu button to access options. Both phones have the ICS multitasking manager. The Note’s version is closest to the ICS original. Long-press the home button and you get a vertically scrolling list of all your open applications, and you can close the ones you don’t want by flicking them sideways off the screen. That’s the ICS version of course. If you’re running Gingerbread on the Note then you’ll get the task manager pop-up when you long-press the home button. On the One X, there is a dedicated multitask capacitive button. This brings up the open app list, and this time it’s a 3D display that scrolls horizontally. Swipe up to close any applications. Visually, the One X’s version of task manager is my preference. Settings is now accessed from the Notification bar in the One X. The settings screen has a HTC Sense overlay, but I quite like this look. You also get this rubber band effect when you scroll up or down and reach the end. Settings on the Note can be accessed either at the top in the notification bar, or from the capacitive menu button at the bottom. The settings screen looks a lot different from the One X, even though all the functions shown are the same. And also you don’t get the rubber band effect when you scroll up or down. Live Wallpaper on the One X showed some lag while scrolling from one homescreen to the next. But when I switched to Apex launcher, there was no wallpaper lag on scrolling. So I’m assuming that this is an issue with HTC sense, rather than the phone. To sum up then. With the Note’s recent upgrade to Android 4.0, ice Cream Sandwich, most interface functions are the same on both phones. But personally, I like the look of the HTC Sense overlay better then the Touchwiz. In Part 2 I’ll be looking at the PDA capabilities, performance, camera, and battery for both these phones.