[Gadgets] HTC Droid DNA Review: Verizon’s Big, Beautiful Beast

Posted: November 16, 2012 in gadgets, opinion, TECH
Tags: , , , , ,

AT&T has the One X. Sprint has the EVO 4G LTE. But it’s been a long while since Verizon customers had an HTC flagship to call their own.

The Droid DNA would very much like to grab that mantel, please. And it’s got about every spec a geek could ask for. As we know, specs don’t always add up to a great device, but then again, sometimes they do.
What Is It?
A big, beautiful phone that runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with HTC’s Sense UI on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Who’s It For?
People who want a device that really performs—and looks good doing it.

Design
The Droid DNA has a whopping 5-inch 1080p screen, but it’s slender enough that it doesn’t feel nearly that big (it’s basically the same width as the Galaxy S III, just a little bit taller). The Gorilla Glass screen curves around to the sides, making the display seem bigger than a phone with this footprint should allow. The back is a curved polycarbonate that’s smooth but grippy. The 8PM camera is flush with the back, as are the buttons with the sides. And the DNA opts for three capacitive navigational buttons (Back, Home, and App Switcher) rather than sticking with stock Android’s onscreen nav buttons.

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Using It
The user experience is quick and smooth, thanks to the zippy quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM inside. HTC’s Sense overlay isn’t quite as fast as stock Android on the similarly spec-filled Nexus 4, but it’s close enough that you won’t notice or care. Even with seven HD games open simultaneously, it was still able to handle Dead Trigger—with the graphic details set to High—without skipping a beat. Text looks terrific on the 440 ppi screen, phone calls sound good, and the camera software is powerful and intuitive.

The Best Part
Hardware design. It looks good, but it feels great. It’s light, but strong. The curved edges of the screen give you more usable space. The convex back gives a thins the Droid DNA out nicely; it sits comfortably in the palm of your hand, and it slides right into your pocket. You approach the same screen real-estate as the Galaxy Note II (5.5-inch screen), but it’s in a much smaller package.

Tragic Flaw
For all of HTC Sense’s strengths, its keyboard is terrible. Terr-ible. The predictive text and autocorrect are unintelligent, the layout is unintuitive, and it’s just generally inaccurate. Blech. The very first thing you’re going to want to do with the Droid DNA is download and install a competent third-party keyboard like Swiftkey. You’re welcome.

This Is Weird…
The most-hyped feature of this phone is its 5-inch 1080p screen, which gives it an unheard of pixel density of 440 ppi. But an exhaustive screen comparison of the DNA and the competition found that it’s really one step forward, one step back. The almost imperceptible gains you get in sharpness aren’t worth the hit the phone takes on brightness and color accuracy.

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Should You Buy It?
Yes. It’s a really nice piece of hardware with tremendous guts and some pretty good software. It’s not the best display ever, but it’s certainly the best screen on a Verizon phone. It’s also handily the fastest phone on Verizon. We would have liked a better camera and longer battery life, but in general, we really like this phone a lot.

You could make a case for the Droid RAZR MAXX HD based on battery life alone, but in terms of performance, the Droid DNA is Verizon’s best phone.

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