HTC Sensation XL vs Samsung Galaxy Note vs HTC Titan

Three massive mobiles fight it out: the 4.7-inch HTC Titan and Sensation XL, and the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note.

It wasn't until the posters for 1998 Broderick-em-up Godzilla came out that we, as a people, realised that size does matter. Skip forward to 2011 and we're facing a tidal wave of supersized smart phones that reckon understated is over-rated, and hold portability in high contempt.

Step forward the 4.7-inch HTC Titan and HTC Sensation XL , and the 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note. Despite being roughly the size of a campsite, each of these mobiles want to live in your pocket. But which big blower should you blow your bread on? Let's pit them against each other to find out.

Design

The HTC Titan is as massive as its ancient namesake, straddling the world with an enormous aluminium chassis, and eating baby Poseidon with some serious industrial styling. This epic phone is as heavy as it is huge, tipping the scales at a wrist-straining 160g.

That punishing weight makes the Titan feel very sturdy, but obviously means it's less portable -- a definite downside when you're dealing with a mobile this massive. It's reasonably thin at 9.9mm, but it's seriously bulky -- this isn't a phone you're likely to forget you're holding.

The look isn't particularly fresh either. HTC has been churning out phones with the same robust, industrial look for years now, and this one doesn't have much flair.

The Sensation XL scores slightly better on the design front because it's available in white, but otherwise it's got exactly the same design as the Titan. Because it's part of HTC's partnership with Beats by Dre audio, there's a red Beats logo branded on the Sensation XL's rump too. Whether or not you like a spot of sponsorship on your mobile is up to you.

The Sensation is a shade heavier than the Titan for some reason, weighing an imperceptibly weightier 162.5g. It's still 9.9mm thick though.

The Galaxy Note is a smidge heavier at 178g, with its much bigger 5.3-inch screen -- but impressively it's thinner than its smaller HTC rivals at 9.65mm. We were satisfied with how slender the Note felt in our greasy mitts.

Unlike HTC, Samsung creates mobiles that are terrifyingly slim and light. The Galaxy S2 , for instance, is one of the most portable mobiles we've ever reviewed, despite having a 4.3-inch screen.

The Note is quite a looker too, with a rounded, textured back. It's not doing anything new, but it feels like a luxurious gadget, and you can't put a price on that.

Design winner: Samsung Galaxy Note

Hardware

The Galaxy Note packs some decent hardware into its paper-thin frame. The 800x1,280-pixel screen is of the HD Super AMOLED variety, and will set your eyebrows on fire with its burning brightness. There's an 8-megapixel camera with flash around the back that's capable of 1080p recording, and a 2-megapixel snapper on the front.

On the inside there's a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, which should ensure that apps start up at a fair lick, and that the Note handles your hi-res video without stuttering. There's 16GB of on-board storage, though pop a microSD card in and you'll expand that. Oh, and there's a 2,500mAh battery too.

Pretty good stuff, but the Galaxy Note has a dirty little secret, hidden in its underbelly. Yes, Samsung has seen fit to squeeze a stylus into the Note's chassis, in a move that makes us feel as though we've travelled back through time. But not in a fun Back To The Future way, in an oh-no-it's-the-90s-combat-trousers-and-Spice-World kind of way.

To be fair, the stylus could have some interesting applications if you like making tiny sketches on your phone. But it's totally losable, and once you lose it you'll be left with a gaping hole in the bottom of your device that spiders could lay eggs in, and then you'll be on the phone when suddenly they crawl out and up your nose and into your brain.

Spiders in the brain isn't a concern with the HTC Titan. It packs an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing snapper, though the Titan is only capable of 720p video recording, as opposed to the Note's 1080p effort.

There's a 1.5GHz processor on board the Titan, and 16GB of storage, though sadly that's not expandable. The battery is smaller than the Note's at 1,600mAh, though we'll need to perform more thorough tests before we can say whether that leads to notably worse battery life.

The Sensation XL is -- again -- identical to the Titan in terms of hardware, but scores an easy point because it comes with a set of Beats by Dre headphones in the box. Does that count? Probably not, but it's still good stuff.

Despite the shame of having a stylus, the Note's spec sheet is a little more impressive than the Titan's and Sensation XL's. 1080p video recording and expandable memory mean we're throwing this one the Note's way.

Hardware winner: Samsung Galaxy Note

Software

But who cares about hardware these days? Losers, that's who. Are you a loser? No.

The HTC Titan runs Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, while the HTC Sensation XL and the Galaxy Note use Google's Android OS.

The Titan will come packing Windows Phone 7.5 , aka Mango, the latest version of Windows Phone. It brings a few juicy treats to the fruit bowl, notably the ability to handle multi-tasking, so you can have lots of apps running at the same time and switch between them. You can now also sort your contacts into groups, and pin those groups to the phone's Start Screen. Nifty.

Windows Phone is much younger than Android, and as such it doesn't have as many cool apps, and you're unlikely to find many of your mates using phones that run this operating system. But if you dare to be different, there's plenty to love about Windows Phone, from its swooping menu transitions to colourful tiled interface.

It's much easier to use than Android, and there's less chance you'll find yourself lost in a labyrinthine menu system, but it's hard to get over the lack of enticing apps.

Android, on the other hand, is well established, and offers more apps than you can shake a little green robot at. It's occasionally confusing to use, but homescreen widgets, the freedom to tinker with your phone and other treats such as Wi-Fi tethering and Flash support make Android excellent.

To differentiate themselves, manufacturers tend to put their own skin on Android to make it look unique.

While still Android at its core, the Galaxy Note has Samsung's TouchWiz interface layered over the top. TouchWiz is fine, but the Note will probably come with a load of rather useless Samsung-installed apps that clutter things up. It's something we didn't like about the Galaxy S2.

The Sensation XL, meanwhile, comes with the latest version of HTC's Sense interface, which we reckon is the best Android skin in the business. Colourful and simple, it makes Android much easier on the eye, and we can't say no to HTC's signature weather widget that fills the screen with weather effects like fog or rain. Charming is what it is.

Software winner: HTC Sensation XL

Conclusion

Design, hardware and software. These are the three elements that go into constructing a great piece of gadgetry. And while both the HTC Titan and Sensation XL are shaping up to be very good mobiles, the Samsung Galaxy Note comes out on top when it comes to both design and hardware. The software is looking sharp too, so even though it's got a janky old stylus, we reckon the best big phone on the horizon is the Note.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Note

Now get off the Internet, and start doing the hand stretches you'll need to master in order to actually hold the darn thing. If the idea of getting off the Internet strikes you as frightening, then check out our in-depth previews of all three of these mobiles.

Did we make a mistake in our calculations? Is there another giant phone that holds your heart? Join the massive in the comments section below or on our Facebook wall.

Tags:
Phones
About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

MacBook Pro running slow?

Speed up your MacBook by adding more RAM with these quick and easy steps.