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HTC Droid DNA Review

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HTC’s Droid DNA is the first Android phone on the market to boast a 1080p screen resolution with a pixel density higher than any other phone on the market. You can’t see the pixels on this display if you try. Lately it seems like every new Android smartphone seems to be better than the last. And with HTC’s Droid DNA’s quad-core processor, 5 inch 1080P display, Verizon 4G LTE, Beats Audio, and Android Jelly Bean, the Samsung Galaxy S III is a thing of the past.

Considering it has one of the largest phone screens on the market, the Droid DNA doesn’t look or feel nearly so large. The tapered edges and smoothed out build helps disguise its colossus screen. Like the iPhone, it’s built taller so it’s not too wide for a comfortable grip. The face of the DNA is almost entirely screen from side to side, with room on the top and bottom for buttons, front-facing camera, speaker, and sensor. The back is a soft touch polycarbonate that feels nice and durable. Unfortunately it’s quick to show greasy fingerprints, however it’s very resistant to scratches.

Running around the sides is a mesh red metallic grille that seems to be purely cosmetic, but a sharp touch that reminds us of racing stripes. Verizon has SIM cards now (this is a big deal!) and there’s a SIM card tray on the top that can be popped out, similar to iPhone. The DNA has a micro-USB port with a rubber port covering. Port covers usually feel like a cheap addition and this is no exception. While it does have offer some value, it’s annoying to always pull out and pop back in. There’s no removable battery compartment, which stinks, but it helps keep the DNA so trim. There’s also no expandable storage, and there’s only 16GB onboard.

Buttons aren’t one of the DNA’s better features. The lock/unlock button and volume buttons fall flush with the DNA, so it makes them tricky to press. Adjusting volume with DNA in your pocket is far from easy. There’s no dedicated camera button. On the bottom of DNA’s face is three soft-touch buttons. The buttons themselves are great, they’re illuminated with vibrating feedback, their function isn’t quite ideal. There’s home and back which are pretty regular, but instead of having a menu (…) button there’s a multitasking button. The menu button, which Android apps rely on, is built into the software and shows up somewhere on the screen. This has been a HTC design choice on a few of their devices.

Let’s talk about the best feature of the Droid DNA: the screen! While pixel density stops mattering somewhere in the 300s, this 440ppi 1080P Super LCD3 Gorilla Glass Display is bright, vivid, and beautiful at all angles. The details are extremely crisp, and as you can imagine, individual pixels are impossible to see. 5 inches is a huge screen, but surprisingly it doesn’t feel SO much bigger than any of the 4-point-something-inch phones. If you get the DNA it’s because you want a big phone, so there should be no surprises. I have big hands and quickly adjusted to a phone substantially larger than iPhone. It just takes a little practice.

The device is a bit heavier than the Galaxy S III but it feels less cheap and more like a solid device. The build feels very durable. I accidentally dropped it onto a metal base of table and it remained unscathed.

Here’s a neat little feature: status lights (plural). Status/notification lights always wow an iPhone user, but in addition to DNA’s front facing LED, there’s a discreet LED on the back of the phone. Sure, a side LED could have solved it, but we like it this way!

Battery has been great. It will almost definitely get you that full day you need. With fairly regular usage, it could even get you a day and a half. The non-removable battery is 2020mAh and is rated for 12.8 hours of usage time.

The camera is yet another sold feature. The rear camera is 8.0 MP camera with a single-LED Flash. The front-facing camera is 2.1 MP and wide-angle. The front-facing camera is of noticeably higher quality than most other front-facing cameras, including iPhone. The rear camera takes very quick shots and is complimented by HTC’s polished and intuitive camera app. Right off the bat, the Droid DNA takes beautiful photos, colorful and crisp. It even handles low light shots pretty well. There’s a built-in filtering mode that adds real-time instragram and photo-booth type filters to the camera. One of my favorite is depth of field.

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The DNA rocks a 1.5GHz quad-core processor plus 2GB of DDR2 RAM. It’s anything but slow. Couple that with Verizon’s 4G LTE and you have an all around speed-demon. In New York, Verizon hasn’t been as fast as AT&T LTE, however it’s still been extremely fast often exceeding download speeds of 10mbps per second. Phone call quality  has been good enough, but nothing out-of-the-norm.

For better or for worse, the DNA is running HTC Sense on top of Android 4.1.1. It has a beautiful finish with some nice customizations and widgets. Android enthusiasts will usually gripe about overlays due to bugs and hindered performance. But the DNA is more than capable of keeping the HTC sense interface ultra smooth. Another built-in software feature getting buzz is the Beats audio amplifier which enhances the bass and enriches the audio. Turned on, the Beats feature makes everything sound louder with some extra oomph. But really, if it’s so great why not just keep it always-on?

Verdict

All-in-all, the Droid DNA by HTC should definitely be a contendor this holiday season if you’re in the market for a new phone. The screen is by far one of the best (if not the best for the moment) and the LTE and quad-core processor will keep this phone from getting quickly outdated. If you’re okay with the large size, no expandable storage, and HTC Sense overlay, the DNA will be sure to keep you happy. The HTC Droid DNA is only available for Verizon, and can be purchased for $199.99 with a two-year contract, otherwise it will set you back $599.99

The Good: Truly Amazing Screen, Great form for large phone, Good build quality, phone comes unlocked, excellent battery life and camera, LTE, Quad-Core Processor, Android Jelly Bean,

The Bad: No expandable storage and only 16gb onboard, Lock and volume buttons are tricky to hit, No built-in button for menu, No removable battery

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