HTC Droid DNA (Verizon Wireless)
Typical Price: $414.99
CNET Editors' Rating: 4.0 / 5
The good: The beautifully designed HTC Droid DNA features a quad-core processor, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 4G LTE, a sharp 5-inch screen, an excellent camera, and long battery life.
The bad: The Droid DNA's large size makes it tricky to fit in tight pockets, and it lacks both an SD card slot and a removable battery.
The bottom line: With quad-core power, 4G LTE, a lovely 5-inch screen, and a stunning design, the $199.99 HTC Droid DNA is currently Verizon's best Android deal.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
The new Droid DNA is the best phone I've seen from HTC in a long while, especially on Verizon. With its blazingly swift quad-core processor, and a gorgeous and eye-grabbing 5-inch screen, not to mention a great camera and long battery life, the Droid DNA is an excellent deal at any price. And at $199.99, I feel it's a better buy than some worthy smartphone competitors, including the Motorola Droid Razr HD and Samsung Galaxy S3.
There are no two ways about it: the HTC Droid DNA is the sexiest-looking smartphone I've laid my hands on in quite some time. At a glance, the slab-shaped HTC Droid DNA looks like just about every other Android smartphone on the market. Step closer, though, and the signature Verizon red highlights jump out at you. While the handset is clad in stealth-bomber black, it's trimmed with red metallic stripes on either side.
HTC says it was inspired by Lamborghini supercars when crafting the DNA. As for me, I just think the stripes, which are iridescent and perforated by tiny holes, look futuristic and striking.
Measuring 5.6 inches tall by 2.7 inches wide, the device is large, yet thin. At 0.38 inch thick, and a mere 0.16 inch thick at its thinnest point, its profile makes its edges thinner than the Samsung Galaxy S3. Picking up both handsets and placing them side by side, however, they seem to be of equal thickness, or shall I say thinness. This phone is razor-sharp, there's no doubt about that, and its metal buttons and trim give it a much more premium feel than the Galaxy S3's plastic parts.
Above the screen is a 2-megapixel front-facing camera capable of shooting video in 1080p HD. A tiny notification light sits here, too. Below are three capacitive buttons for Android functions. The right side holds a long volume bar, and up top are a headphone jack, power button, and SIM card slot. The bottom edge houses a rubber flap covering the phone's Micro-USB port.
On back, the phone's soft-touch surface, cut from premium polycarbonate, reminds me more of the design language of the HTC One X and One X+. You'll need that soft-touch coating, too, since its rubber feel provides a sure grip. Also placed here are the DNA's 8-megapixel camera and LED flash. There's even an additional notification light, the first device I've seen with one in this location.
What further enhances the Droid DNA's waferlike dimensions is how the display's glass extends to the handset's edges. This helps the phone disguise the fact that it's packing a massive 5-inch Super LCD 3 screen. Not only is the display bright, it boasts a sharp 1080p resolution, which HTC claims translates into 440 pixels per inch. Text and details in photos and video looked crisp and colors vibrant. While it's not as oversaturated as the Samsung Galaxy3's AMOLED screen, colors were more accurate but popped less. Even so, watching the HD YouTube trailer for "World War Z" on the Droid DNA was riveting. I could clearly see the virtual burning cityscape of New York, the fear in Brad Pitt's lined face, and streams of running zombies in terrifying detail. For the record, the undead should never be able to sprint like that. Ever.
Software and UI
Android lovers are in for a treat since the HTC Droid DNA comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean right out of the box. Sure, it's not the most advanced version of the OS that Google has officially announced, but this is as fresh as you'll likely find outside of a true Nexus device.
HTC does layer its own Sense 4+ interface on top of Android, which definitely changes the look and feel of Google's stock OS. The lock screen features a digital clock and the date is spelled out in slim characters on top. At the bottom edge of the screen are a virtual ring and four icons for Phone, Mail, Messages, and Camera. Pulling these icons into the ring whisks you directly to their corresponding phone functions.
Of course you can also swipe your finger anywhere across the screen to jump to the home screen. You have five home screens to choose from; you can personalize each with apps and widgets. By default the main screen features HTC's iconic weather clock widget along with shortcuts for Verizon Voice Mail, Google Play store, and browser. As with Android handsets running 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and later, you can also drop app icons on top of each other to create custom folders. I find it a handy way to cut down on home screen clutter.
Features and apps
As an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device, the HTC Droid DNA can tackle all the usual smartphone tasks such as GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 (the most recent profile supporting low-power devices), Wi-Fi, and a mobile hot-spot app to share the phone's 4G LTE connection with other mobile gadgets. Remember, though, that the feature will cost you extra -- about $20 on top of your data and voice plans.
The HTC Droid DNA connects to popular Google services, too, such as Gmail, Google Plus, Maps, and Navigation. HTC has placed some of its own software on the DNA. A Music app combines the Amazon MP3 player and music storefront, Slacker Internet radio app, and phone-based tracks in one location.
Other apps on the handset include an assortment of free and paid software, services, and games, such as Amazon Kindle, Reign of Amira, Zappos, and the Amex Serve mobile payment solution. Sadly, Verizon flooded the Droid DNA with a helping of its bloatware, too, like My Verizon Mobile, NFL Mobile, Verizon Tones, and VZ Navigator.
I'm happy to say that the HTC Droid DNA's 8-megapixel camera does justice to the legacy of its One-class handsets such as the One X, One S, and One V. Like those devices, the DNA uses special electronics designed to power through the demands of image processing, which HTC calls the HTC ImageChip.
Because of this, the Droid DNA does all the slick camera tricks that the One phones do, such as Continuous Capture (burst mode), HDR mode, and Panorama. You can also snap pictures while rolling the video camera. I found the Droid DNA camera to be fast on its feet as well, capturing shots almost instantly and its autofocus locking on almost just as fast.
On my tests, indoor still-life shots were clear and with rich, some would say oversaturated, colors. Details were sharp, too, even under low-light conditions, which is a skill many phone cameras lack. Outside in the fading fall sunlight, I enjoyed vivid colors in flowers, trees, and grass. The DNA's backlit sensor was also able to pull out details that would have otherwise been hidden by shadow but does paint everything in a ghostly glow. I found the Panorama mode fun and easy to use as well, as long as you don't pan across the scene you want to capture too quickly.
Android Jelly Bean brings to the table many tasty improvements, but the most important is speed. In fact, Google made it a priority to speed up Android performance in Jelly Bean, calling the initiative "Project Butter." Also helping the HTC Droid DNA achieve buttery smoothness is its powerful 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM.
The handset felt very fast, tearing through menus and launching apps with no hesitation. Synthetic benchmark tests backed up the impression of speed I experienced. The Droid DNA notched a stratospherically high Linpack showing of 401.6 MFLOPs (multithread). Its performance on the Quadrant benchmark was just as impressive, with the device turning in a score of 8,165.
Data speeds over Verizon's 4G LTE network were solid, too, though not the fastest I've seen. I clocked average download speeds of 9Mbps and uploads at a slower 5.3Mbps.
Call quality on Verizon's CDMA network in New York was acceptable, though not outstanding. While making standard calls through the Droid DNA's earpiece and microphone, callers reported that my voice sounded clear and free of background noise but could easily tell I spoke from a cellular connection. They even noticed occasional clipping and crackles and the end and beginning of words. On my end though, voices sounded loud and free of distortion plus the earpiece packs plenty of volume. The some goes for my experience with the speakerphone and callers couldn't discern when I switched between the speaker and regular handset mode saying that I sounded the same either way.HTC Droid DNA call quality sample Listen now:
I was surprised by the HTC Droid DNA's battery performance, as well. Despite the phone's large screen and swift performance, the handset's embedded 2,020mAh battery lasted for a long 8 hours and 43 minutes in the CNET Labs video battery drain test. By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S3 offered an even longer 9 hours and 24 minutes on the same benchmark, whereas the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD kept going for an unbelievable 14 hours and 53 minutes.
|Performance: HTC Droid DNA|
|Average LTE download speed||9 Mpbs|
|Average LTE upload speed||5.3 Mbps|
|App download||646KB in 9.9 seconds|
|CNET mobile site load||5.7 seconds|
|CNET desktop site load||8.2 seconds|
|Boot time||11.2 seconds|
|Camera boot time||0.8 second|
HTC has tried to make a serious A-list smartphone for quite some time but hasn't caught a break. The thunder of the One series -- HTC One X and HTC One S -- was rudely stolen by Samsung's Galaxy S3 and even the Galaxy Note 2. And the HTC Evo 4G LTE shipped without a robust Sprint LTE network to support it. Well, it's payback time as they say, and the $199.99 HTC Droid DNA has a winning combination of stylish design, devilish good looks, blazing performance, and a lovely screen, all for a good price. Its great camera is icing on the cake but enough to edge out the Motorola Droid Razr HD. Frankly, the DNA is HTC's best smartphone -- and Verizon's best Droid -- yet.
|Cellular technology||CDMA2000 1X / GSM / WCDMA (UMTS)|
|Band / mode||WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900 / CDMA2000 1X 1900/800|
|OS provided||Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)|
|Included accessories||Power adapter|
Average User Rating: 4.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 22
4 Star: 5
3 Star: 3
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 1
No better smartphone out there right now
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on January 15, 2013
19 out of 19 users found this review helpful
Pros: + Camera on this device is fantastic
+ DROID DNA's display is absolutely stunning
+ Device feels exceptional. The material covering the back is slightly grippy
+ Runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with HTC's Sense 4+ UI
+ Signal is excellent
Cons: - Still need sometime to get used to the keyboard
- Verizon bloatware
The camera on this device is fantastic--if you're used to the HTC One X you'll know a lot of the features, but coming from the Rezound it's a massive improvement. It's still 8MP, but HTC's new sensors are amazing. The low-light photos are a huge improvement over my Rezound, and the S3 as well. You can take snapshots midway through recording video, and the continuous shooting mode works exceptionally well, offering a "best shot" option to automatically delete all the other pictures in the series if you only like one of them. The panorama feature works exceptionally well, and I wowed an iPhone carrying friend with its ease and quality.
Simply put, the DROID DNA's display is absolutely stunning. At five inches, 1080p and 440 pixels per inch, you'll be hard pressed to find anything that even begins to come close to this. Watching videos or looking at photos on your favorite photography site/app is an absolute treat.
The Auto Brightness setting works absolutely flawlessly, adjusting to the level of ambient lighting before the display is even turned on. This is a stark contrast from my Galaxy S3, which is often too dim, and frequently changes it's brightness long after I've turned the screen on and began using the device.
The device feels exceptional. The material covering the back is slightly grippy, which adds a feeling of security when you hold the device in your hand. The Galaxy S3's smooth finish is almost too slippery, and makes the device feel delicate and prone to dropping, though I am quite a fan of its curved shape. There isn't a creak or groan to be found anywhere around the device, which is something I've become accustomed to with HTC devices in general.
EASE OF USE
The DROID DNA runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with HTC's Sense 4+ UI. What this means is it's EXCEPTIONALLY EASY to use. Everything is where it should be, and everything works the way you expect it to, which makes for an enjoyable experience.
The DNA retains the three primary softkeys (that have become the standard since ICS) instead of on-screen buttons, though unlike the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Menu button is not included. That is somewhat annoying, as apps' inclusion of the on-screen Menu button is inconsistent, and navigating to the phone's setting menu requires a swipe of the top pulldown. This is pretty nit-picky, but it's my only gripe about the ease of using the device.
I struggled when trying to decide whether to select "Good" or "Excellent" under Battery Life in the Product Rating above. At 2020 mAh, the battery seems a bit lacking for a 5" 1080p monster like the DROID DNA. Initially I was worried about its performance, but I've found it to be pretty respectable. I'm getting pretty close to what I had with my Galaxy S3, and for a quad core 5" 1080p monster like this, I think that's pretty excellent.
Upon opening the Navigation app, the GPS locks on instantaneously. This is a huge advantage over my Galaxy S3, which often takes literally minutes to acquire GPS signal and begin directing me on the road. Again, I'm used to good radios/GPS from HTC, my Rezound and Incredible were both flawless in this department as well.
In tough service areas (like basements or large buildings), the DNA outperformed my S3 every time. I held 3G signal in my gym (in a university basement) where the S3 dropped to 1x consistently.
The DROID DNA's signal is excellent, and it's call quality is as well. Callers sounded crisp and clear on my end of the phone, and they reported good quality sound on their end as well.
*Note, I suggest check for best deal of Droid DNA at: vw-androidphones.blogspot.com/p/htc-droid-dna.html
Overall, this device is simply magnificent. I was shocked when I first held it, and even more shocked when I slid it easily into my pocket. It felt fantastic, far better than my Rezound, and about the same as my Galaxy S3. If you buy any device in the next six months, it ought to be the HTC DROID DNA.
There is no better phone out there. Period.
Rating: 5 / 5
on November 15, 2012
12 out of 16 users found this review helpful
Pros: Reception: HTC's radios are the best.
Screen: 5" 1080p 440ppi. It's INSANE to look at.
Processor: Quad core 1.5GHz S4 Pro = CRAZY fast.
Build Quality: Feels great in your hand, sturdy, slight grippy texture on the back, gorgeous design all around.
Cons: No expandable memory will be a problem for some hardcore users.
Summary: This phone is sensational. To have a 5" 1080p screen fit in your pocket and feel like it's not even there is amazing. The radios are strong, and GPS lock is instantaneous. Everything works the way it ought to, right out of the box. The processor is so fast, it handles whatever you throw at it, no questions asked.
People will undoubtedly complain about the lack of expandable memory, but honestly, this day in age it's just not a big deal for most users. Periodically clearing off your unused apps, old photos and old videos will give the majority of users ample space.
People might also complain about the 2020mAh battery, and I understand...I was skeptical at first. But this gets me through the day easily, clocking in with only slightly less longevity than the Galaxy S3.
The sound this phone produces is phenomenal. Whether it be in your headphones or over Bluetooth, the DROID DNA will not shortchange you on audio quality.
With top of the line hardware, a slick Sense 4+ interface, and the (almost)latest Android OS, Jelly Bean 4.1, this is absolutely a must have phone.
Best smart phone in the world!
Rating: 5 / 5
on November 14, 2012
9 out of 14 users found this review helpful
Pros: The fastest mobile processor in the world: (APQ8064)Krait S4 Quad Core with APQ8064
Cons: no removable battery
non removable micro SD card
Summary: a true iPhone 5 and Gallaxy S3 killer
Amazing Device and OS!
Rating: 5 / 5
on January 5, 2013
5 out of 5 users found this review helpful
Pros: - Big screen, slim body.
- Very fast.
- Intuative user interface.
- Great camera.
Cons: - No expandable memory.
- "Door" over charging port annoying.
- With a case the on/off button is extremely recessed.
Summary: The longer I own this phone and the more I use the Verizon 4G LTE network the happier I am. I find Jelly Bean simple to use and impressively fast.
Best Phone out There! DROID DOES!
Rating: 5 / 5
on December 11, 2012
5 out of 5 users found this review helpful
Pros: Quad Core SnapDragon CPU
Gorgeous 5" 1920x1080p Super LCD3 Display
2 GB RAM
16 GB Internal Storage
4G LTE Connectivity on Verizon Network (Largest in America)
Android Jelly Bean (Buttery Smooth)
Quality Build and Design
Cons: Lack of SD Card and 16 GB Storage Only (Must Use Cloud)
Summary: I have owned plenty of Android Phones and even an iPhone or two, and this is by far the best phone I have owned to date. And I use multiple phones on a daily basis. The screen is gorgeous, you can not appreciate the phone until you physically see it and hold it in your hands. The phone is super fast, no lag what so ever, it is buttery smooth thanks to Jelly Been, and HTC Sense is very minimal and useful. And with Verizon's 4G LTE Network I am seeing 20-30mbps download speeds from my office and at home. Android is leading the way in Innovation these days, if you are looking for a new phone I highly recommend you giving this phone a good luck and test drive and you will be undoubtedly impressed.