HTC DROID DNA Review
For all those Verizon customers disappointed that the carrier would be missing out on a variant of the HTC One X, their patience has been rewarded in the form of a spectacular smartphone bleeding cutting-edge hardware. Strange to say, especially considering the banner year filled with exceptional smartphones, Big Red’s sole HTC offering came in the form of the forgettable HTC DROID Incredible LTE – a device that didn’t do justice over the previously available HTC Rezound. Well people, HTC is going back to its roots with its upcoming offering.
Rather than concocting something that seemingly would fit into the upper echelon of Big Red’s lineup, the Taiwanese company is breaking new ground that no other manufacturer has been able to establish. Galvanizing to say the least, the HTC DROID DNA is a meticulous work of technology, as its 5-inch 1920x1080-pixel Super LCD 3 display is a monumental feat in itself that’s unmatched at the moment. Throw in the fact that it’s complemented with other beefy hardware specs, such as a quad-core Snapdragon processor, 4G LTE connectivity, 2GB of RAM, and an 8-megapixel camera with an f2.0 lens, it’s undoubtedly busting at the seams with enough drool worthy elements to raise it over other highly esteemed smartphones. At $200 on-contract, it’s lovable in oh so many ways, but of course, let’s hope all of that spiffy hardware can deliver the goods with its performance.
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall charger
- Start Here Guide
- Product Safety & Warranty Information
- Important Consumer Information
- Global Support information & Calling Card Guide
One would think that this would borrow some of the design cues of its siblings, but the HTC DROID DNA is flaunting a totally different design scheme to give it a distinct appearance of its own. Right away, we’re impressed most with its deceptively skinny figure, which is achieved by its tapered sides similar to what’s found on the HTC 8X – thus, giving us the illusion of it being skinnier than what it really is, though technically, it’s at 0.38-inches thin. At the same time, however, we’re taken by surprise by its lightweight feel (4.87 oz) in the hand, which interestingly enough, is lighter than its main rivals in the 5-inch and over category.
Beyond the skinny frame and light feel, HTC does a fantastic job at looking over every design detail with the handset, and overall, we admit that it’s one solid thing – both in construction and build quality. With its soft touch casing, it exudes a clean finish at all times, but even better, we appreciate the red accents littered all around its body to give it some spicy character. Even with the minimal amount of bezel around its display, the handset is still an unwieldy thing to attempt using it with a single hand. It might not have the stylish appeal of the HTC 8X, or the tank-like build quality of the Motorola DROID RAZR HD, but nevertheless, the HTC DROID DNA is still one head turning smartphone.
You can compare the HTC DROID DNA with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
Sure it’s Jelly Bean device out of the box, but that doesn’t stop the veteran smartphone maker from opting to employ a trio of Android capacitive buttons beneath its display. Although they’re spaced away from one another, they’re too close to the bottom edge – resulting in some accidental presses. Above the display, the narrow earpiece stands out prominent due to its red accent. Nearby, we find its 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera, which is similar to the one used by the HTC 8X, since it features a wide- angle 88-degree f2.0 lens with 1080p video recording.
Power key and 3.5mm jack (top)
The sides of the HTC DROID DNA
Shiver me timbers Batman! HTC isn’t messing around in gaining attention with this handset, oh no, seeing that it sets the benchmark with its mind-blowing detail. At 5-inches in size, it doesn’t have a thunderous appeal over the Samsung Galaxy Note II’s larger 5.5” display, but nevertheless, it’s still one of the biggest found on a smartphone. However, what’s certain is that it shatters the mold with its 1080p (1080 x 1920 pixels) resolution Super LCD 3 display. Needless to say, we would’ve been content with a 720p one, but regardless of that, it leaps over the competition with its ridiculously detailed pixel density of 440 ppi (720p HD dispalys have average of 330 ppi). Although it requires a microscopic eye to really show the difference in detail between this and a display with 720p resolution, we can’t argue the fact that it’s superbly detailed and sharp, so fine text is very life-like and pleasant to read. Heck, it’s so detailed that it rivals the micro printing seen on paper money.
color production, wide viewing angles, and strong brightness output. Essentially, all of those ingredients help to keep its display extremely visible in outdoor conditions with the sun present. Of course, we also take notice of Gorilla Glass 2 layered over it, which so happens to curve around the edges to have a seamless look with the handset’s body. Indeed, there’s a lot of chatter about its resilience to scratching, but after dropping it by accident to a tile floor, its impervious nature is debunked as a visible tiny crack is seen at the location of impact. Regardless of that, it’s unbelievable to know that our eyes are actually feasting on a 5-inch 1080p display. Crazy, people! Crazy!
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Drag the picture or use the keyboard arrows to rotate the phone. Double click or press keyboard Space to zoom in/out
1. jubbing (Posts: 149; Member since: 20 Aug 2008)
Good score, but didn't expect anything less for a phone that looked this good and has good specs. Interesting to note it's got the same score as the Lumia 920.. so I don't know whether to wait for this or just go ahead with the 920.
7. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3394; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Wow this is what I wanted to hear. The HTC Dorid DNA has DECENT battery life so when I root & get rid of the power hungry HTC Sense it will get GREAT battery life with a TRUE AOSP ROM & custom Kernel.
Also by going custom ROM with root the HTC Droid DNA should get 1 to 2 more GBs of memory so this indeed makes the 16GB internal memory more bearable.
I can't WAIT to get this phone. I am preordering this BEAST right now. YES!!!!!
+1 Get this phone! lol
9. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)
im totally interested in this phone. PA rarely gives 9s to HTC.
No offense to LG, i think they did great but if the Nexus had this hardware... sweet jesus...
htc hasn't been good with software updates either... i really hope they made a Nexus 5.
and also, it's a US phone,i can't get one from where I come from.
11. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2953; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
You know, as i went from page 1 to 2 to 3...i was so curious about the battery performance that i couldn't concentrate on what i was reading.
2,020 mAh battery for a display with 1080p that has an average result is not that bad i should say!! ...and the benchmarks...not for kids!! :D
HTC has a job well done with this monster!! Impressed!!
19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3394; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
I have to agree with you guys. I am VERY impressed with the HTC Droid DNA. On the section where “Joooooohn V. from phonearena.com” had the live wall paper on he said he noticed some slight lag, that is because of the POWER HUNGRY HTC Sense. Once you remove the HTC Sense UI and add a true AOSP Android 4.2 ROM the phone will be flawless even with a live wall paper. Please root your phone if you get this BEAST!
**bobfreking55** the HTC Droid DNA is a world phone. It should work on GSM so check out what frequencies you have & just buy the phone out right.
**Nathan_ingx** I am like you totally impressed. If you root the HTC Droid DNA you will certainly get WAY better battery life as opposed to a STOCK HTC Droid DNA with HTC Sense, plus it will free up 1 to 2 more GBs of memory that the hoggish HTC Sense takes up.
I already preordered it & I am SO happy. Good job HTC, finally something worth being excited about.
+1 to both of you.
23. androiddownsouth (Posts: 598; Member since: 02 May 2012)
I haven't rooted a phone yet, but I think this will be the first one I do Evo. This thing is a monster, and I'll just have to manage with the cloud storage for my music etc. Either AOSP or Cyanogen should provide great choices for roms for the DNA, but likely AOSP first what with the problems Cyanogen has been facing lately.
I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on this phone on the 21st!
26. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3394; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
androiddownsouth, xda-developers.com ALREADY has the HTC Droid DNA rooted. That is incredible. They already have CWM recovery for the phone. Whatever you do, when you get the phone if it ask you to do an update DON'T just keep it stock out of the box. Don't let the Verizon rep setup your phone for you. Tell them you want to run any updates at home.
It should help with the root process.
Damn I am stoked! lol
28. androiddownsouth (Posts: 598; Member since: 02 May 2012)
I am a Verizon agent bro lol. I actually manage a large agent location. Don't worry, I'm setting up this bad boy myself!
108. thelegend6657 (unregistered)
But sense is so beautiful
128. Vaanres (Posts: 5; Member since: 02 Feb 2011)
but sense is beautiful and a lot of fetures
27. theoak (Posts: 311; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)
16GB is what really turns me away from this.
I have a new iPad 32GB. I recently went on vacation and rented 4 HD movies via iTunes. Each movie was around 4GB. Now, take away apps and games, that left me about 10GB for pictures and movies. A 4 minute 1080P movie on my iPad takes around .75GB.
I think you can do the math. Even at 32GB, things fill up REAL FAST.
(Folks this is not an Apple versus Android thing.)
At 16GB, with the ability to take 8MP pictures, 1080P video, and then throw on your apps and games ... there is not a lot of room there.
WIth today's tech being able to punch out 8MP pictures and 1080P video, and apps getting bigger and bigger ... I would not consider anything less than 32GB ... or the option of expandable storage.
With this phone locked at 16GB ... you will be transferring stuff around ... A LOT.
29. androiddownsouth (Posts: 598; Member since: 02 May 2012)
I've come to peace with that oak. I'll make it work. I do understand what you are saying though. Between internal storage and my 32GB microSD card in my Rezound, I've got 48GB of storage and manage to use most of it. I'll just pick up a 32GB Nexus 7 tablet to pair with my DNA.=)
31. tomn1ce (Posts: 92; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)
16GB! you mean 11GB of storage, that is all you have access to. Even if the device is rooted and you get rid of sense that's still not enough space for a high device. That and the puny battery that this phone has....well for me its a no go....HTC loves to shoot themself on the foot with the battery capacity issue every time they put out a new device....
36. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3394; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
I have 3GB of apps on my rooted Samsung Galaxy Nexus. So if you root the HTC Droid DNA & get rid of all the Verizon & HTC bloat you could easily turn 11GBs of memory into 12, even 13.5GB or more.
Sure the days of game playing on my HTC Droid DNA are going to be over, so I will just have to turn to my tablet for gaming. Problem solved.
On my GNex right now I have 796MB of pictures & videos. SO subtracting 3.8GBs from 12 or 13.5GBs still leaves at best case scenario 9 to 10GB (depending on what I install) for music or movies even though Google music/movies streams all that from the cloud. Also there is enough to install 2, 1.5GB games. So if you can micromanage you should be fine.
As you can see it's not that bad when you consider all things. YES I would love if it had 32GB but so far it's not that big of a deal to me atleast.
116. Kratos93 (Posts: 4; Member since: 17 Sep 2012)
Seriously, wtf is so hard about making a snapdragon proset phone with:
1. Micro SD
2. removable battery
3. at least 2500 mAh
118. Dr.Android (Posts: 18; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)
making a removable back cover and a 2500 mah battery would have increased the thickness of the phone.
122. Birds (Posts: 853; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)
Sure then...you'll have a $299 that a lot of people don't want to buy....People don't look at the extra $100 as a half a full cup...they look at it as half empty...in other words....they see 100$ as 10,000 pennies of you get get my jives...
49. OHaZZaR (Posts: 131; Member since: 19 Aug 2011)
I agree. This is an incredible phone, but I do have a problem with 16GB of storage. My music alone would take half the space, and my photos would take a lot more than that. In the end, no room for apps. I could keep my photos on my PC, but I'm used to having them with me all the time.
53. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3394; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
I am the same way. I love having all my pictures with me 24/7 but it will be a small inconvenience to just put the pictures in my 1TB external drive, along with all my other pictures.
YES I have thousands & thousands of pictures & videos. I would go bankrupt if I were to develop all those pictures. BUT that is the ultimate plan, we are doing it little by little.
The people at my local Walgreens think we are crazy! lol
59. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)
its called "the cloud"
or if you are really smart just change the partition sizes with another hboot
89. davin8r (Posts: 42; Member since: 28 Apr 2011)
for extra storage, all you need is the little adaptor that allows you to plug in a thumb drive to the mini-USB port then you essentially have unlimited storage. Not as good as a microSD card slot, but it works great for me!
126. RubeDog64 (Posts: 2; Member since: 26 Nov 2012)
Well here's something to think about. The DNA is supposed to be for Verizon but i'm sure, since it's a global phone, there is a way to connect to a different carrier, but the 920 is only for ATT. I had the HTC 8X, which is also a Windows phone that came out about 1 week ago and I love the OS and the 342 PPI that it had. as soon as i saw the specs for the DNA i knew i had to change phones. 441PPI is insane and i know the 920 also has an amazing screen but it's not only close to what the DNA has to offer. IN short, you can't loose either way, but i would lean towards the DNA for sure.
2. schinnak (Posts: 75; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
Give us Droid DNA Vs Note 2 comparison fast please! :-))
Good review btw!
35. John.V (Posts: 88; Member since: 27 May 2011)
Thanks man. It's on tap, so keep an eye out for it.
43. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)
nice review John. it would be interesting to see it against Note II.
66. i_hate_my_life (banned) (Posts: 24; Member since: 17 Dec 2010)
Give us Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 comparison..... SERIOUS
3. miladkhahil (Posts: 26; Member since: 08 Dec 2008)
Very nice for only LTE Verizon customers
4. testman22 (Posts: 336; Member since: 03 Nov 2009)
Throw in the 3,300 mAh battery and id get this hands down. But ive had awful battery life for 3 years and enough is enough, i gotta get the maxx HD. All the pixels and speed in the world wont make up for the fact that the phone dies in 6-8 hours with heavy use.
12. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
A great screen means more battery consumption. a powerful processor eats battery more.
I would get a phone with dual core 1.2 Ghz S4 processor and a 4 inch screen with 800x480 res.
70. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
Ah... the dislikes i expected from samsung fanboys...
You see? those devoted sammy fans are just like apple's iiiiiisheeeeeaaaaeeeeeps. They should be friends.
P.S. Samsung fans are good..but those very devoted ones.. are..just ugh.
127. RubeDog64 (Posts: 2; Member since: 26 Nov 2012)
I have the DNA and as of right now, i've used the phone for 12hrs and 8minutes and i have 21% battery. I am a moderate to heavy user and also, this phone's 3rd generation LCD screen pulls less power than the iPhone 5's screen. (true story)
10. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
Well im using a 2.65gb smartphone and im okay with it :) say, 16 gig is big enough for average users..
but if ur on the geeky side, its somewhat average... or less, depending on ur preference.
42. tomn1ce (Posts: 92; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)
Funny I said the same thing last year when I was comparing the Droid Razr, G-Nexus and the Rezound since it was time for an upgrade and my OG Droid was on its last leg. I myself was only using 3.5GB out 8GB on my microSD card. I got the G-Nexus with 32GB and I currently have about 5GB of free space left.
93. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
That is because you put in a lot of apps that you may not be using often.. and u don't clear ur caches regularly...and also.. remove all the 1080P or 720P videos u store in and replace it with 480P videos.....
Clearing caches may save up to 12MB or more of storage- depending on how much cache u have.
HD Videos occupy more space than Standard Definition Videos. 480P is good enough.. but 320 and 240P are bad.
Remove all the apps you don't use on a regular basis or rarely use it (like 1use/mth) Thats what i did- and my Phone has only used 0.9 GB of internal memory out of 2.65 GB.
92. jroc74 (Posts: 3462; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
I have no e books, not many videos, some pics, havent installed all my games from previous phones, use Spotify, have 3 mp3 folders with 150 songs.
And currently have used 11GB of space.
Thats not geeky usage. Let me add more songs, more videos, some e books, more games, apps, download more playlist with Spotify and I will be hitting 16GB quick. For the average user....I feel 16GB is now the bare minimum. Blame manufactures and companies for giving us more stuff to play with, do.
6. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 2953; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)
Mama Mia... HTC rising from the death bed?? Cool!!
Cool, compact and sexy!!
8. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
When this monster HTC vs Note 2, HTC Droid DNA wins handsdown..
Higher screen res, higher dpi, faster and more powerful processor.....but screen's smaller...
94. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
Again! Samsheeeeeaaps strikes again!
Benchmark is higher on the DNA. ADMIT DEFEAT!!!!
95. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
HATE HTC? HATE US? DONT READ THIS REVIEW!
13. McLTE (Posts: 592; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
judging by the comments in this review in comparison to the Note II.. I can't see how both phones got a 9.
No SD slot? That's a ding for me, though I can see others not caring so much.
Crackly speaker? That's not a good thing
Battery life average at best? Seriously HTC.. I'd think by now more companies would pay attention to the batteries. Is Moto the only one that cares? Makes NO sense to me why HTC couldn't put a 2500mah batt in there.
I love the line in the review that talks about design and how this is a departure from other HTC phones.. LOL. Seriously?? It looks like EVERY OTHER HTC phone for the most part!
I'd score it an 8.5.
Having said that, it does look pretty awesome if you don't care about the smaller battery or lack of SD card. The price is nice too!
I really hope Verizon and HTC sell a TON of these.. we need HTC in the phone game to keep Sammy on their toes.
21. darkskoliro (Posts: 742; Member since: 07 May 2012)
"Certainly, it’s very strong and powerful at the loudest volume setting, but it emits a slight crackle." Does not mean that its got a crackly speaker.
If they were going to put a larger battery inside it would come at the cost of size, then everyone would complain that it was too thick. IMO they did a good job of keeping it under 10mm and having a battery that lasts a day. I dont need it to last "one and a half days" because I change my phone every night anyway. Who doesnt?
Looks like every other HTC phone? If you think they look the same you obviously havent met the galaxy line. No, HTC phones have the best design in the market, and build quality.
And for $200, you are getting plenty. Lack of storage just means you cant put any videos on it and not installing two or three massive HD games on there. Aside from that its plenty for music and normal everyday apps. You forget that you are getting a quad core krait here, with a freaking 1080p display and a pretty decent camera.
22. darkskoliro (Posts: 742; Member since: 07 May 2012)
Not to mention the wide angle ff with HD recording, and also the build in amps for the speaker and headphone jack!!
38. Aeires (unregistered)
Have you checked out the battery on the Note II?
45. tomn1ce (Posts: 92; Member since: 12 Mar 2012)
My thought exactly and the phone is still thin.
47. ngo2dd (Posts: 731; Member since: 08 Jul 2011)
it is also wider and has an amoled screen which is thinner then a LCD. It is easy to have a big battery when the phone is so wide.
55. Aeires (unregistered)
DNA: 141 x 70.5 x 9.73 mm
Note II: 151 x 80 x 9 mm
It is wider and longer, but it's also thinner. If this truly does get 8+ hours of time, think of how awesome it would have been with a mere 2500mAh improvement. There are also much smaller phones with bigger batteries so I'm not buying your argument.
This was supposed to be a flagship phone but they gave it an average battery at best.
78. darkskoliro (Posts: 742; Member since: 07 May 2012)
For someone like me, I care more about performance than stats.
Take the Nissan GTR for example. A V6 twin turbo is able to beat most v8's out there, while only maintaining a 3.7l engine.
I dont care how much the note 2 has, it needs a bigger battery to suit its larger screen anyway. Give me real life performance and ill take it as is.
Right now, they say this phone can last 10 hours. Well damn, thats good enough for just about anyone, taking into consideration that this thing is also using 4G lte the whole time as well!!
Yes it would have been nice if it had a larger battery, but if it lasts you the day what more can you ask for.
50. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3279; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
Setting the speaker on its loudest setting and hearing a little crackle isn't too uncommon...
"we’re able to fly by the 10 hour mark before it’s completely depleted" Over 10 hours is enough for any average user.
You forget, HTC isn't making their phones for power users or the memory hogs. They're making them for the average consumer. And for the average consumer, the DNA is MORE than sufficient in all categories.
Average consumers > special needs consumers, in terms of numbers. Though HTC is still lending out a hand to the spec whores a bit with the S4 Pro CPU and 1080p display.
119. PiccoloKu (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Nov 2012)
yeah, cause the "average user" would never want ONE movie on their phone. DNA usable storage - 11GB 1080p average size - 10-12GB. This phone is a pass all the way
121. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3279; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
Where are you getting your numbers from? There are a lot of variables when it comes to size of a movie, not just resolution.
I never said that the average consumer doesn't want movies on their phone, but everyone I know who wants to watch movies on the go either has a separate device for it or just streams it from Netflix.
There are a lot of easy fixes to all of these cons and "deal-breakers" people are complaining about. There is no perfect phone, so stop crying, deal with what you have, and try to accommodate for what is left out.
72. Raymond_htc (Posts: 430; Member since: 06 Apr 2012)
No SD slot is due to cost cutting or the manufacturer is thinknig that its internal mem is big enough for use.....
Strangely enough why didn't you complain about the iPhone4S? it has 8GB, which is lesser, and NO SD CARD SLOT.
Also HTC Phones must look the same.. strangely you didn't say samsung phones look the same too.. so is LG LSeries phones.. (im using L5 fyi)
One conclusion on you, mah boy.. your a samsheeeeaaeep.
120. PiccoloKu (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Nov 2012)
HTC sells the same phone in Japan under the name J-Butterfly, which has an MicroSD slot, so it has nothing to do with the manufacturer, it's Verizon. And the reason no one complains about a 16GB iPhone with no SD slot is because you can buy a 32GB version OR a 64GB version. EVERY SINGLE DNA is forever stuck at 16GB.
14. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Wishing you all the very best Htc.... And please listen to you'r customers..
58. b1acktiger (Posts: 174; Member since: 19 May 2012)
Maybe for us, HTC is cooking something special. 2500mAh battery+MicroSD= Game Changer !!
17. _Bone_ (Posts: 1753; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
Wow, review already? That was quick!
As fantastic as the DNA is - gorgeous screen, awesome design - I don't think it tops the Note II as the best smartphone on the market, because with bigger size comes bigger responsibility (lol), and Sammy packed it's monster with all kinds of goodies. Would I like to have the Droid DNA? Oh, I'd love to! But with battery concerns and not all that great usage of the epic 5" (would be great for multi-view), if I had the opportunity to buy a flagship, which I don't currently, it would go with Samsung's phablet.
Nonetheless, good luck HTC, hope this will sell well!