With smartphone screens getting bigger by the month, it is no longer surprising to see new phones emerging to rival Samsung’s gargantuan Galaxy Note 2. In this face-off the two main contenders at the moment are the Sony Xperia Z and the HTC One. While the former has already been officially revealed, the latter is still being kept under wraps, which means it is necessary to base the comparison on well documented rumours.
So now the gloves are off and it is time to find out whether the Galaxy Note 2 can beat back the pretenders to its title. We shall see who wins in a fight of Samsung vs Sony vs HTC.
The Galaxy Note 2 is a slab of a phone, taking up even more room than its predecessor and weighing in at 180 grams. It is still under a centimetre thick and its styling echoes that of the smaller Galaxy S3, with rounded corners and a physical homekey beneath the display.
Chrome detailing around the edge and a built-in stylus give the Galaxy Note 2 some personality, with different colours available to suit different tastes.
The Xperia Z from Sony is smaller and lighter, using premium materials and going for a standard glossy black finish throughout. It is also the only one of the three that is waterproof and dustproof, which makes it stylish and surprisingly durable.
Leaked images show that the HTC One (M7) will be a little larger than the One X handset that it replaces, as well as benefitting from a quality unibody chassis and a flatter, thinner design than that which came before.
It is quite difficult to separate the three from an aesthetic point of view, in part because this is a subjective decision and also because they are equally well designed.
If you are looking for sheer size, the Galaxy Note 2 is still the big daddy thanks to its 5.55 inch Super AMOLED display. It packs a 720p native resolution, which gives it a healthy pixel density of 267ppi.
However, size is not everything, as demonstrated by both the Xperia Z and the HTC One. Sony’s smartphone has a five inch display with a full HD 1080p resolution, while the HTC handset is a little smaller at 4.7 inches but still has that 1080p pixel count to work in its favour.
This means that the Xperia Z will have a pixel density of 441ppi, which is a good deal higher than that boasted by the Galaxy Note 2. The HTC One will go higher still, although its vital statistics have yet to be revealed.
All these numbers basically mean that in spite of its extra size, the Galaxy Note 2′s display will look a little less crisp and clear when compared to its rivals.
To make up for this the use of Super AMOLED technology means that the colour saturation and brightness on the Galaxy Note 2 will outpace the LCD panels found on the other handsets.
The Xperia Z uses Sony’s Bravia Mobile Engine to improve display performance, which will make a difference, so its higher resolution might still give it the advantage.
Of course the ultimate determining factor might be which one you can actually fit in your pocket or the palm of your hand. And the HTC One is likely to win in that respect.
All three of these phones run Android Jelly Bean, although only the HTC is likely to land with version 4.2 onboard while Sony and Samsung provide version 4.1 out of the box and promise an update in the future.
It is the manufacturer-concocted interfaces that help to define these handsets. So even if the Android framework is identical, they can provide different experiences.
The Galaxy Note 2 features the latest iteration of Samsung’s TouchWiz and there are of course a number of apps specifically designed for use with the included S-Pen stylus.
Sony’s interface is cleaner and more minimalistic, running as smooth as silk and offering good integration for media playback and social networking.
The HTC One brings with it the promise of Sense 5.0, which is a the firm’s overhauled interface that looks to be a little more grown-up and refined than it has before.
When it comes to raw power, all of the phones are evenly matched in most respects. They all have quad core processors and clock speeds range from 1.5GHz for the Xperia Z up to 1.7GHz for the One, with the Galaxy Note 2 sitting squarely between them.
You also get 2GB of RAM onboard all three, so things like load times and multitasking should be relatively similar, at least in theory.
The thing that really makes the difference is how well each manufacturer has optimised the software to take advantage of all this processing might. Thankfully there is no weak link here, at least when considering the two phones that have actually been revealed in public.
HTC still has a chance to take the performance crown with the One if it manages to make a good marriage of the hardware and the software.
The Galaxy Note 2 has an eight megapixel camera with full HD video capture, along with a front-facing 1.9 megapixel secondary snapper.
Compared to the 13 megapixel cameras bolted onto both the Sony and HTC handsets, it looks a little outdated. Better low light performance is boasted by the Xperia Z, while you can expect the One to offer simultaneous video recording and still image capture.
And the best 5 inch smartphone is…
Buyers will need to pick the phone that best suits their needs and budget, but in this battle of Samsung vs Sony vs HTC, you could argue that it is the Xperia Z that comes out on top.
This 5 inch smartphone hits the sweet spot for display size and processing power, as well as offering a durable design not found elsewhere.
We’ll soon be able to unveil the new HTC One spec.