Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – Whatphone’s in depth comparison

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – Introduction.

Putting the biggest device on the market ( the Samsung Galaxy Note ) against the smallest ( the HTC One S ) highlights the options available. These devices are for those prepared to consider the Android alternative to Apple’s iPhone dynasty.

2012 is a time of enormous choice for Smartphone buyers with seemingly a significant new device release every month or so. Ever increasing competition between the major manufacturers ( HTC make the One range including the One S, Samsung make the Galaxy range including the Note ) means that those singing up for the latest postpaid mobile deals have never had it so good.

Still, as we know, too much choice can be a bad thing. To help our site visitors navigate the plethora of device options available to them, Whatphone has put together a comparative review of the Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S.

Let’s see what phone is right for you.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – Overview

The most striking difference between the two products is their size. Obviously. The HTC One S is the smallest Android device on the market at the moment. It’s only 116 grams ( the same weight as the super light Samsung Galaxy S2 ) to the Note’s 178 grams. Both products feel high quality to hold.

For the Note, part of this sense comes from the heft of the product with its shiny side casing. It’s mostly plastic and glass. For the HTC One S, the aluminum two tone chassis lends it an association with durability. Your money goes a long way these days when you’re buying a mobile.

Of the two, the One S feels better – simply because it’s made of aluminum rather than plastic.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S  – What’s different

  • Screen.
    Specification wise, let’s start with the screen ! The Note has a 5.3 inch Super AMOLED screen with 800 x 1280 resolution. It’s gigantic, especially when sat next to the currently relatively tiny 4.3 inch screen of the HTC One S. A year ago, 4.3 inches would have seemed massive but the smartphone range seems to have accepted that all devices ( except iPhones ) are going to be using much more real estate to entertain peoples’ eyes. The One S’s screen is also Super AMOLED although the resolution is only 540 x 960 which leaves some aspects of the screen slightly pixelated when a trained observer sees them up close. In fact, because of the difference of the size of the displays on the 2 units, the pixel density is not that difference. Watching films on both offers similar, highly saturated colors due to the commonality of the Super AMOLED screen type between the two units. But that’s where the overlap in the experience ends. The Note is an iMax of a mobile phone. Prop it up on a plane and you can get the best out of Ben Hur. In comparison the lower resolution, smaller One S must be embarrassed. Browsing is so much more enjoyable on a larger screen. Just checking your emails gives you a buzz. If you’ve never tried a device with such a strong display then give the Note a go.
  • Physically :
    It’s hard to express the size difference. The Note is over 1.5 cm taller than the One S, nearly 2 cm less wide and the One S is the thinnest HTC ever made at 8mm thick. Operating the Note with one hand is asking to drop it. Not so the HTC One S which lends itself well to this requirement. Personally, I feel like you’ve got to live with a larger device like this in order to make an informed choice about it. If you just saw, or picked up a Galaxy Note, it’s so far out of your previous experience that you might dismiss it as simply too large. It’s only when you spend a lot of time with it and come to accept it that you realise it’s not that big a deal to carry around. And in exchange, you get the gorgeous screen I’ve described.
  • Memory :
    The HTC One S has only 16GB of memory on board. And it’s sealed back means that users can’t add more. The Note has the best of both worlds with a low end crowd pleaser of 16 GB at purchase plus an additional slot for extra micro SD cards should they be required. This on board memory limitation is a defining quality of the One S which means that people choosing it need to be really clear when they buy. If they’re a low end user, that’s fine. But if they are now or can ever see themselves using their Smartphone for video and music, they’re probably going to find 16 GB insufficient.
  • Battery :
    The battery on the Note is outstanding and among best in class ( up there with the HTC 1X. ) On the 1S, the battery life is just about adequate, again, for lower end users who won’t be pushing their emails to themselves, hitting Google every 20 minutes and generally using their device more than they scratch their noses.
  • Camera :
    Both have a 8 MP camera. Results were better on the 1S’s with clearer images coming through. The Note also took longer to focus than the One S and than I would have liked. Both products have 1080p High Definition video recording capabilities of comparable quality. The One S has far more features and bells and whistles in its camera support software, burst mode and the like. The camera prize goes to the One S by some way.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – What’s the same ?

  • Dual core processors :
    Both devices have dual core processors. The bigger screen means the Note ( even with it’s dual core 1.4GHz processors ) ‘struggles’ ( it’s not every time bit there are occasions where it hesitates ) to keep pace with quickly swiping fingers here and there but not in a way which would annoy users. The 1S on the other hand is more than proficient at any of the things you ask it to do, with dual 1.7 GHz processors, executing requests  with lightning speed.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – other influences

Both the Galaxy Note and 1S run Android’s ICS ( 4.0 ) platform. The major differences to the software experience visitors will get, are those introduced by the manufacturer’s software.

The Note runs Samsung’s TouchWiz. The One S runs HTC Sense. Each has it’s strong and weak points. The HTC Sense 4.0 release ( on the 1S when you pick it up ) comes with more installed software when you turn it on.

Any apps that are missing can usually be downloaded for free from the Play store.

But, talking to most users, this is a step too far. They don’t know what apps they need. HTC’s out of the box build is better for that reason. The keyboard on the Galaxy Note is better – for 2 reasons.

First because the screen is so big it’s hard to hit another key and second because Samsung’s keyboard is just better. There are larger gaps between the letters which mean you avoid accidentally hitting other keys. And, again, you can download alternatives to the HTC keyboard from the Google Play store. Generally, I prefer the HTC Sense platform.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – summing up

Like his and hers watches or a motor cruiser vs a yacht, your decision here is far more likely to be motivated by the way these products look and how big they are than what exactly it is they help you do. I prefer the Note.

The stupendous screen is engrossing when doing anything from browsing to watching videos. The One S is too diminutive among much larger devices. With the lower screen resolution, I feel like I’m missing out on having the best. I’m prepared to forgo the better camera on the One S for the improved daily browsing experience and general strength of the display and battery on the Note.

Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC One S – price alerts

As I’ve said before, I’d go the extra few bucks and get in to the 1X before I moved on to the 1S with its extremely limited memory and lack of ability to add to it. As well as being focused on different marketing segments, both products are offered at very different price points. If you’re in the market, you might be tracking those.

You’re welcome to sign up to the Whatphone price alerts and let us track those for you if you’d like.

Every week, for the next 4 weeks, we will send you the latest news on the best price plans deals ( and the rationale for why we chose them to recommend .) After 31 days, we will remove you from our database. It’s as simple as that !


Nov ’12

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.