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Display Comparison: HTC DROID DNA vs. Galaxy Note 2

(Full version)

After comparing the DROID DNA’s 1080p display to the Nexus 4 and Galaxy S3, we had a number of readers ask that we do the same with the Galaxy Note 2. Well, here you go. Pixels, pixels, and more pixels. In case you were wondering, the Note 2 is no longer considered to be “PenTile,” something we we couldn’t be happier about. Then again, the PenTile arrangement on the Galaxy S3 is not necessarily noticeable except under a macro lens, thanks to the high pixel count. At this point in the game, displays are so good, that you could throw almost any display tech at us and we’d probably be satisfied. Times are good.

Oh, and ignore the white splotch on the icon of the DNA. I thought I had a dead pixel, but it seems to have fixed itself and I cannot reproduce that spot any longer. Could have been dust for all I know.

  • Uriah

    I bought a Droid DNA over the Galaxy Note 2 and I can’t say that I’ve
    ever owned a better phone. I’ve had it for a week and it’s been great. The
    1080p display is perfect for watching shows on. I really like to use the DISH
    Remote Access app which lets me stream live TV through the Sling Adapter that I
    have connected to my receiver at home. It’s a really useful app that I use to
    watch my shows when I’m not at home since it works everywhere I am. One of my
    DISH coworkers also has a Droid DNA, and we both agree that it is the best
    phone to watch TV shows on.

  • socalrailroader

    Yeah, because we all sit around with Macro Lenses and take pictures of screens 😉

  • frankandsimple

    Droid Life will go to any extents to make shamsung look better!.. that picture is a fake!!

    LCD is >>> than amoled and pentile.

    with 440+ ppi 1080p LCD display.. HTC has blown past everyone else including Apple’s iPhone. .. and I am saying this as an iphone lover.

    it’s disgusting that HTC would be made to look bad here. They along with Motorola do some real good stuff with Android.. unlike that hack Samsung.

  • Jeremy Nelson

    Looks like those who prefer the DNA’s display have no idea that eight million unnecessary pixels are throwing away system resources like garbage.

    I’m not quite sure how a 2020mAh battery or 16GB of non-expandable memory makes sense, either.

    Last thing: “Then again, the PenTile arrangement on the Galaxy S3 is not necessarily noticeable except under a macro lens, thanks to the high pixel count.” I can see S3 pixelation fine, not sure why the author can’t.

  • nukeboyt

    Wait a minute! The comparison photo you showed just this week was significantly different. Perhaps your photographic skills are not consistent enough to be making comparison photos. http://www.droid-life.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DNA-VS-N4-VS-S3-smaller.jpg

    • staticx57

      Maybe it was because this is against a galaxy note 2 not the galaxy s 3?

      The note 2 uses a different sub pixel arrangement than both the DNA and the S3

  • Jim

    I’m calling foul on that one. That pic looks nothing like the DNA pic from the other comparison between the Nexus, DNA, GS3. What gives?

  • james dawley

    its a nice phone too bad its not a nexus to me its nexus or nothing I don’t like skinned phones

  • skinja

    Can you talk about which screen feels more responsive?
    The GN2 is supposed to bring the actual display closer to the top of the screen, right?
    Which screen has the faster response time?
    Which one feels more like you are actually touching the icons?

    Thank you

  • THANK YOU. 😀

  • digitalicecream

    It really doesn’t matter to my old eyes. I need reading specs to see the difference. meh. Aging sucks.

  • Bionicman

    there is no doubt that the DNA has a great screen but the Note 2 has a big beautiful screen as well…especially to the naked eye. i would be disappointed if a 1080p screen looked worse than a 720p screen hehe

  • 2001400ex

    Can you spend a few minutes and throw in the razr hd too? Why the S3 but not the razr hd?

    • Bolton Alford


    • zepfloyd

      The Razr is using an unbranded Samsung HD SAMOLED panel (Pentile) too, so really it won’t be different anyway.

  • cooksta32676

    Worst article today.

  • Tony Byatt

    Clash of the Titans…

  • Diablo81588

    Excellent black levels for a LCD display. I was hard pressed to distinguish the two when viewing the full version, even on my Pioneer Elite plasma. Sony has done an amazing job with these LCDs. Big props.

    • zepfloyd


      • Diablo81588

        You are correct.

  • CapnShiner

    Kellen, the consensus here seems to be that these macro shots need to be redone with more attention to white balance and other settings. I am certainly no expert on photography or imaging but I think they have a point. Please redo these comparison macro photos. Thanks.

  • droidbeat

    DNA trounces everything. Not even close.

    • Jeremy Nelson


    • Mco

      You have lost your mind, sir. All there is to it.

      • droidbeat

        Can’t lose something you never had. 🙂 Drlighted with my DNA, though.

        • Mco

          Haha..fair enough 🙂

  • Bewara2009

    So how much is HTC giving ya for editing this to make the DNA look better than the note 2? lol.

    • KleenDroid

      It may look better to those that really like the color yellow.

      • milanyc

        I’d take yellow over blue any day.

  • BSweetness

    What setting do you have the Note 2’s screen at? Dynamic, Standard, Natural, or Movie? That’s going to play a big role in how shots like this turn out.

  • Soofdawg

    And again, do you guys know how to set the white balance manually? This comparison is flawed, just like the previous comparison.

  • John Mozelewski

    Note 2 screen looks beautiful to me

  • bananatroll

    south korea vs south korea

    • Japan vs South Korea

    • droidbeat

      You mean Taiwan vs South Korea.

    • Diablo81588


  • landshark535

    Does the DNA have a dead pixel, in the bottom middle of the envelope?

  • Tim242

    I had the DNA and Note 2 to clmpare displays. I prefer the Note 2’s dispplay…especially on the Natural setting.

    • Ibrick

      I dont know, I kinda like the color gray so DNA for me. AMOLED screens just cant seem to produce grays accurately.

      • Tim242

        Yes they can. There are four display settings to choose from. I set mine to natural. Grays look great.

        • Ibrick

          I played with a Note 2 for a while yesterday, comparing it to my DNA and couldn’t find a good balance. Yes, natural produces a passable gray, defintely not ‘great’ IMO, but made the whites look a tinge on the yellow side. I forget which setting cleaned up the whites, but then the grays had a blue/purple tint.

          Just seems like there’s always a tradeoff with AMOLED at this point in the game.

          • Tim242

            The tradeoff with the DNA for me was antiquated Sense, and of course the battery and storage situation.

          • Ibrick

            Eh, it’ll be de-Sensed soon enough, and after de-bloating and flashing Nova, it’s not any worse than TouchWiz by any means. Battery has been great and storage is a non issue for me.
            Good thing there’s more than one option out there as I would never trade my DNA for a Note, as I’m sure you wouldn’t do the opposite.

          • Tim242

            I actually traded both for both lol. I am always indecisive with new phones. I bought one of each. One cross upgrade, and one full retail. We had two phones to replace, a Thunderbolt, and my Nexus. I originally chose the Note, but liked the form factor and screen of the DNA as well. He was the HTC guy, but fell in love with the Note. In the end, the Note won me over. So, I returned the DNA, paid the $100 difference, and the restock fee haha. As you said, both are great choices and choice is great!

          • disastrousrainbow

            I’ve been in this boat for a while now. I’m very close to going with the Note II, but I’m just unsure of its size. I had one with me all day, but I’m still not convinced I can make that my regular phone. I was all ready to dive into the DNA, but the more I used that one, the more I realized Sense isn’t as fast or smooth as what Samsung has done with Jellybean. In particular animations and transitions.

            I love the new animations Jellybean brought to Android. On the Razr M and my rooted Galaxy S3, it’s so noticeably fast and smooth that it’s pretty damn impressive every time I navigate through the interface, particularly the transitions where the screen shifts up or down. It’s a lame thing to fault the DNA over, but the modernity it adds to the overall user experience is really what’s pushing me more towards the Note II, plus that massive battery I know will get me Razr Maxx levels of use. I think I need to mull it over a few more days, but all signs point to the Note II…unless if someone knows of a way to enable those cool JB transitions on the DNA…

          • Mco

            “..wouks never trade my DNA for a Note..”

            Anyone saying this has never used a Note for more than five minutes. Just in totally different worlds. Take away the DNA’s screen and there is nothing special or unique about it at all. You could never say that about the Note 2..it is innovation incarnate. Oh, and its screen looks great too.

          • droidbeat

            For me, Sense is nice. Battery is fine. Storage is fine.

          • Tim242

            Sense looks like Gingerbread, and doesn’t have many customization options with the look. Each to their own.

          • Ibrick

            Next step will be flashing a mod to change over all the status bar icons, but even with just installing Nova, some custom icons and Lustre theme it removes the ugly parts of Sense pretty easily.

          • dsignori

            The DNA is my first Sense phone. I like it very much. a bit more than Touchwiz. Honestly I like them both more than stock (had the GNEX). I know it’s not politically correct to say, but to me these skins add value. Y M M V.

        • Ibrick

          I should add, the Note is miles ahead of the GNex however.
          Even with all the tweaking in the world, i can’t believe I was ever amazed by that screen..

  • Surge

    You can not even tell the difference when you view them from a normal reading distance. Besides who the heck views their phone that close.

  • Shaun Hardey

    These tests, or whatever you want to call them, are pathetic. My friends GS3 looks whiter than anything and the last test showed it green. Get some real tools if you are going to try and praise a screen.

    • They need to fix the camera white-balance settings.

    • Bring it down a notch!
      Its just a minor settings issue that can (and will be) easily fixed!

      • Shaun Hardey

        It’s put the GS3 on blast and made it look like the worst display made since color LCD’s existed.

  • KleenDroid

    Note is better

    • Jeremy Nelson

      I agree. DNA and J Butterfly have nothing over the Note II, except the GPU.

  • staticx57

    WTB: 1920×1080 AMOLED

    • Jeremy Nelson

      Still an unnecessary resolution.

  • Really guys?

    • i’m calling fackwors on these macro pics

    • BSweetness

      To me it seems like the auto white balance is throwing the shots off. It’s seemed pretty evident when comparing different displays, and it seems glaringly evident when looking at this shot of the DNA versus the previous one.

    • Captain_Doug

      Where’d you find this?

    • termiNader

      It looks like they cropped the Nexus 4 macro shot instead of the DNA’s…

  • Captain_Doug

    I stopped by a Verizon store yesterday to check the DNA out and it didn’t seem very bright. Has anybody else noticed this or was the display unit messing with me? And yes, i set the brightness to max.

    • TylerChappell

      Sadly, I dont think its too bright either, HTC doesn’t seem to pay much attention to ramping up the brightness of their screens.

      • Diablo81588

        It probably has more to do with the pixel density. A 1080p 5″ display calls for a very bright backlight, which would probably hurt battery life.

    • droidbeat

      I just turned mine on full bright, and it’s simply stunning. Anything brighter would be over the top.

      • BSweetness

        Inside, sure. But not if you’re trying to use the phone outside during the day.

      • Captain_Doug

        Good to know. Thanks.

    • thedanks

      i thought the same thing… its not that bright AT ALL. especially when compared to the note 2.

  • All the screens are absolutely beautiful to the naked eye at this point in the game. It was the battery/SD Card slot that made me go with the Note 2

    • GABravo2005

      Agreed. I am loving my Note 2. I am a small guy, 5′ 8″, 130, and it fits great in my hand and jean pockets without being noticeable.

      • bananatroll

        i bet that phone looks like a damn cutting board nailed to the side of your noggin when you’re on your mobile

        • TheFirstUniverseKing

          Those who regularly make calls with their phone are becoming the minority, so that (for most people) is a moot case.

        • r0lct

          Some of use aren’t that insecure that we choose phones based on what others think.

    • cooksta32676

      Ditto. Just customizing mine right now.

  • Trey Mitchell

    It’s interesting next to the other two the dna looks like a brighter white but next to the note it looks yellow

  • Holy crappy white balance batman! You guys need to redo these pics. The DNA looks pink, when in the previous article it was white. And you probably made the GSIII look 20x worse than what it actually does.

  • QQpayne

    DNA for me, but both are excellent phones.

  • DNA wins!

  • i like the way the DNA one looks better

  • note2 wins!

    • Note may win in color, but DNA blows it away with pixels (look at the jaggies on the diagonals)

      • Diablo81588

        You couldn’t tell the difference from a normal viewing distance.

      • Jeremy Nelson

        Humans can’t see pixels past 300ppi or so. DNA has 440. That means system resources are just being thrown away like garbage.

        • DaRkL3AD3R

          This. Totally this.

          People forget that past a certain PPI you cannot tell the difference without viewing the screen through extreme and unnatural magnification. Thus all that extra PPI is wasted battery and gpu performance. But hey bro they can slap a “HAS 1080P DISPLAY” marketing tag on the phone to sell to gullible number-hungry people lol

          • Jeremy Nelson

            Agreed! I only hope 1080p displays die off and don’t become mainstream. Even a 5.5″ device like the Note II really only needs a max display resolution of 1440×900, and anything below 5″ only needs 720p for pixels to vanish.