In the ol' days, carriers counted on a supply of unique devices to lure customers. Everyone had different, but the same caliber of guns. Then the iPhone arrived. Customers canceled contracts in droves, rushing to AT&T to get the latest and greatest. And to counter, Verizon understood it needed its own brand -- hence, the Droid was born.
Years later, everyone has the iPhone, and AT&T lost its edge. But for Verizon, the Droid series is still going strong. In an age where smartphones look alike, running the same operating systems, loaded with similar megapixels cameras and pixel displays, Droid has given Verizon its own powerful weapon in the smartphone battles.
There's a familiar comfort in seeing a brand -- whether it's the Droid, Incredible or DNA. And if you think the Retina display on the iPhone 5 is good, you ain't seen nothing yet: there's a new screen-king in town and it has the flagship genes to anchor Verizon's line-up.
I'll just say it: the DNA is just a great all-around phone. But it's big, especially if you have small hands. Really, you could mistake it for a phablet -- a portmanteau for more than a phone and not quite a tablet. Despite its ergonomic edges and soft-touch back, I found it hard to hold. Here's a tip: don't try to one-hand the power button. It's in a hard-to-reach location and I nearly dropped the phone trying to one-hand it. At five ounces, it's a bit heavy, too. Still, it looks great. HTC said it drew inspiration from Lamborghini, and red anodized grills that run down the both sides. They look like speakers, but don't be fooled -- it's just for style.
The DNA is the first 5-inch device to sport a 1,920-by-1,080 pixel display -- that's the same resolution as high-definition TVs. Everything is amazingly crisp and vibrant, from all angles. Compared to the iPhone's 326-ppi density, the 440-ppi is on another level. I watched Casino Royale and saw every hair on Daniel Craig's immaculately-coiffed head. What's the point of a big, hulking phone, there's your answer.
The 8-megapixel camera, meanwhile, is even better than before -- on par with the One X and a worthy rival to the iPhone. Part of that is due to the improved f/2.0 lens, which sucks up 40 percent more light than f/2.4 optics, so photos are brighter and more true-to-life, though a touch on the warm side. Quality is exceptional, but suffers slightly in low-light where noise creeps in. The LED flash does a good job to illuminate, but it tends to bleach out color in the face. The usual assortment of filters helps for touch-ups.
A dedicated chip handles the image processing, so load times are super-fast. I whipped out the phone, focused and snapped in under a second. For extra speed, the lock button doubles as the shutter key. You can also record 1080p video. A slow-motion function lets you take action clips, but otherwise, it's the same quality you'd find on the X and X+ -- good, but not great. With the 2-megapixel front-facing lens, you can video chat and take self-portraits. The wider field of view makes it easier for group shots, too.
Chances are, you looked at Samsung's Galaxy Note 2. If you haven't, you should -- they're the best phablets around, with the DNA pulling slightly ahead. Both run on Jelly Bean, but the DNA comes with mildly-annoying Sense software. The Note 2, meanwhile, ships with extremely-annoying TouchWiz UI. The augmented interface doesn't give you much in function -- there are a few animations and design tweaks -- but between HTC and Samsung, Sense is the less intrusive, and better, of the two.
Verizon added some obnoxious bloatware, but luckily, you can remove all of them. In an ideal world, every device would run on stock Android, like on the Nexus 4. It's cleaner, faster and gets updated sooner.
The 16-gigabytes is the biggest drawback. No problem, right? Just pop in a microSD and... Wait -- where's the slot? Bingo. You can offload files to cloud storage, but expect to do a lot of deleting. There's no expandable memory.
The Beats Audio experience is exceptional. Through some digital processing magic, bass sounds deeper and treble crisper, for a fuller sound. You'll either love it or hate it -- there's no middle ground. If you want to share the music, two speakers blast out the songs. Overall, the DNA is a world-class player -- Dr. Dre would be proud.
The 1.5-gigahertz chip is as powerful as they come. Paired with 2-gigabytes of RAM and you'll be breezing through Jelly Bean without a hiccup or a stall. The battery is weak, though. On paper, 2,020 mAh sounds like a lot, but that 5-inch power-sucking screen and 4G LTE run it dry faster than you can say, "How do I get Verizon from overcharging my..." I couldn't get through an eight-hour workday. Use that cash you planned to use on a microSD card and buy a charger or two. And if you had the bright idea of buying a second battery -- sorry, you can't remove it. Turning off 4G helped, as well as lowering the brightness of the screen. I should point out you need to remove a flap every time you charge. It's a hassle, but more importantly, it's fragile, so be careful. But there's wireless charging.
Consider the DNA if you love to watch movies, browse the Web, or just love big screens. The display is superb, the design is sleek and the 4G LTE is as fast. Jelly Bean is top-notch, too, making it an all-around device with a few weaknesses in storage and battery life.
Big screens with short battery lives are a common problem. The Motorola Maxx HD packs a 4.7-inch display and 4G LTE with a gaudy 32 hour talk time and two week standby. It's much chunkier, but for power, it's in a league of its own. If you're concerned about the limited storage, there are other big screen options. The 5.5-inch Note 2 is one of the best, but it borders on tablet territory. The advantage, of course, is an unmatched canvas, but your pockets will be put to the test, though.
For a more manageable 4.7-inch size, the Nexus 4 is a fantastic all-around Android device, but it lacks 4G LTE. And if you're on AT&T, give the HTC One X+ a look -- it's one of the best devices around.
The world is full of trade-offs. Do you take the bigger size for the bigger display? Do you turn off 4G to save the power? Do I buy egg rolls or Teriyaki bites? If you're fine with a mediocre battery and limited storage, the DNA is worth a look. And if you like Android and love big screens, it should be on the top of your list. I'm just sad I took the Teriyaki bites. ♦
Other Reviews From Around the Web
Just an awesome phone. From its stunning design to its lightning-fast processor, the DNA is the best smartphone for Verizon. The phone is thin, but slightly longer than average. You'll look a bit funny holding such a large device next to your ear, but don't worry, it's still very easy to pick up and use with one hand. Surprisingly the extra size doesn't mean it's any heavier than most devices -- likely due to the materials. So it'll fit comfortably into any pocket or purse.
The screen is fantastic, colors are bright and clear. And watching videos and browsing the Web is as great as can be. The built-in camera takes excellent photos; the shutter is fast even in low light. The quad-core chip is remarkable -- apps load faster than I've seen on any device -- without any hesitation. What's really cool is the fastboot feature in the battery menu. When it's activated, turning the power off is like hibernate, so it makes booting up a matter of seconds. If you need to do a hard reset you can just reboot the device.
This is actually my second DNA device. The first one crash at times. But after Verizon swapped devices, I haven't experienced it again. Verizon adds some bloatware that will automatically load on start-up. It's not as many as on other devices, but it's still annoying. As for the battery, I get anywhere from 30 hours to a two days -- depending on whether 4G is turned on. LTE is still the biggest drain on the battery and will considerably affect your usage rates depending on how often you go online.
I'm not a big fan of the micro-USB cover flap. I know it keeps out dust particles, but having to remove it every time you want to plug in a cord is rather annoying. It feels like it'll break off any day now. The sealed battery isn't a big deal for me, since I have multiple chargers, but I use the USB to charge it most of the time.Was this review helpful to you?
I've had the DNA for a few days now and here are my initial impressions of the phone.
First, the design and the build quality. When you pick up the DNA, you can't help but notice the exceptional materials. Gorilla Glass covers much of the front, but a "grippy" material is coated on the back to give you a more secure feeling when holding it in the hand. I've used the Galaxy S3, and always felt the device was always one accidental bump from slipping out of my hand. Not with the DNA, though.
The display is just outstanding. It's gigantic at 5-inches, but the extra size comes with a beefy 1,080-by-1,920 pixels -- at 440 pixels per inch -- so everything looks crystal clear, even up close. Watching movies or flipping through photos is very enjoyable. The brightness feature automatically adjusts ambient lighting for the best clarity. Compared to the S3, it's like night and day. The S3 was often too dim and difficult to read. Not the DNA, though.
The 8-megapixel camera is as good as the other top-end devices on the market. HTC's sensors are amazing. Low-light images are a bit improvement over past HTC models, and you can the "best shot" feature helps you pick the best of the series -- then automatically delete images you don't choose. There's also a panorama setting that's great for landscape shots. The DNA is better than the iPhone's camera in quality and ease of use, for sure.
It runs on Google's new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software with HTC's Sense 4+ interface. That means it's really really simple to use. Everything is intuitive, and if you're new to smartphones, or coming from iPhone, everything will be where you'd expect it to be. Very nice.
The battery life is a step down from the other features -- not because it's bad, but rather because the other features are so good. With such a large screen, and 4G LTE, you'd expect it to drain a lot of power -- and it does. But the 2,020 mAh battery is plenty powerful and juices up the DNA for a respectable day and a half. Also, the quad-core chip is on par with the S3 in terms of speed, which is excellent, so no issues with stalling or lag.
Overall, the DNA is the best phone I've used yet. When I first saw it, I was shocked at its size. But after using it I've found it easily slides into my pocket. It's far better than the S3, and if you're looking to buy the best phone within the next few months, this is the phone to get.Was this review helpful to you?
Rather than repeat what everyone has said, I'll write this as a supplement, and try to hit on the more obscure topics. The battery is an issue most people are going to have. But it's fine. The DNA easily matches, or surpasses, most Verizon 4G devices. You won't have a problem getting a day out of it. But don't think you'll get several. That's the price for LTE.
HTC's Sense interface is fine. I personally prefer no overlay, but whatever. HTC looks nice and it performs well. It's not buggy or laggy like some other devices. Verizon's added bloatware, but it's tolerable. Google lets you disable annoying apps. It also did a great job updating the Play store.
The display is just gorgeous. Both the size, and the resolution, is fantastic. I'm very picky, and I like to look up close and from afar, and then check out the viewing angles before I buy. The DNA's screen is second to none. I should note that I've had dead pixels -- twice. But both times, Verizon swapped devices without hassle. The third time's the charm, I suppose.
HTC's known for working with Beats audio -- and it's great, I suppose. I say that because I don't play hip-hop or club tunes. I play Top 40 and audio books. For that, it works well; the tones are loud and clear both in speaker mode and with headphones. I can't complain.
As the previous reviewer mentioned, the micro-USB flap is annoying. But I use wireless charging, so I leave the port covered. For me, the biggest problem is the location of the power button -- it's at the top. With such a big phone, you'll need to stretch your hand to hit it. My hands aren't abnormally large, nor are they small, but I have difficultly doing it one-handed. The weight-distribution of the phone leans towards the top, so be careful when you're reaching for a call. You may juggle it and see it hit the ground. Be warned.
To wrap up, I'm extremely happy with my choice. I was considering the DNA or Note 2, but in the end I think I made the right choice. The Note 2 was just too big for me.Was this review helpful to you?
I didn't want to write a review about this phone until I've had it for a few weeks. And now that I have I have to say... man, this bad boy is impressive. Some background. My dad works for Verizon's headquarters, so I've always seen the latest and greatest from Basking Ridge, N.J. I've seen the iPhone before it launched, and I've seen the best Android devices. I like to think I have an objective view, and here are my thoughts on the DNA.
First of all, the design is great -- that's obvious, but this phone not only looks good, I get stopped on the street by strangers asking me where they can get one. The slim design though, and the red accents, make it one of the best-looking phones on the market. If that's not a sign of a well-designed phone, I don't know what is. Some people have had reservations with the size of the device, and well... I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it's big, but it still fits in my pocket. It's not just for men, either. Women appreciate the DNA as well. It's just beautiful from front to back.
I won't say too much about the screen. It's the best. The awesomeness of the screen has been beaten to death. Next...
Smartphones are getting more complicated by the day, and I want something robust but simple to use. The DNA has a great interface. On my home screen I pegged the calendar to show all my meetings, which syncs with my PC, so I can be sure I get all the latest appointments. Google also tells me the weather how long it'll take me to drive to work -- including traffic -- and the scores of sports teams I follow. All on my home screen, without opening apps. I just glance at the screen and I'm ready to go for the day. Awesome.
Some people say the battery life sucks. And well... they don't know what they're talking about. I use the DNA pretty heavily and I can last through the day without a problem. I'm always connected to Wi-Fi; I browse the Web, check e-mail and use Facebook. I'll usually get home around 6 and recharge it before heading out with friends. When I get back at night, I'll still have half the power. Anyways, if you're worried about the charging, don't be. You'll have more than enough juice.
Lastly, when I buy a phone, I want to know it'll last the two years I'll be under contract. The last thing I want is a phone that's great now and sucks six months in. That means the device needs to have the best tech, and keep with the updates. The DNA, for the most part, satisfies this. The 1080p touch display is top-notch. Considering the iPhone 5 only has a 720p "Retina" display, the DNA is already ahead of the game in this aspect. Like everyone else says, the screen and resolution blows everyone away. If you compare it side-by-side with the iPhone, it's very noticeable.
The position of the unlock button -- on the top -- is a hassle. It annoyed me for the first few days or so, but I quickly got used to it. Muscle memory kicked in, I suppose. And I don't even notice it now. The volume keys are kind of annoying too. The way it's designed, I'll sometimes increase it when I want to decrease.
Also, 16-gigabytes isn't a lot of memory. You can ease the pain by using Backup Assistant, which stores stuff on the cloud. Photos are free, so you'll save space for other things.
The door on the charger port is just stupid, if you ask me. You have to open and close it every time you charge the phone -- which is every day. I can see how it makes the phone look sleeker, and keeps dust out of the port. But it wastes so much effort.
The cons are small gripes, but the pros are leaps and bounds ahead. Overall, buy the DNA -- it'll be the best choice you make.Was this review helpful to you?
You'll be hard pressed to find a better smartphone right now. The touch display is so sharp and vibrant that you simply won't believe your eyes until you see it -- I didn't. My old phone was the Galaxy Nexus, and I thought that display was amazing. Well, I was wrong. Coming from 720p to 1080p is like night and day. The DNA's screen is unmatched.
The camera is stunning. I'd say it's on par with the lenses of the iPhone 4 or 4S. Most impressive is the clarity of the photos and videos. If you're taking scenic shots on vacation, you'll still want to bring the digital camera. But for quick snaps, it'll do just fine.
Again, coming from the Nexus, the DNA far exceeds the battery life of my old phone. I think I tend to be a heavy user -- I stream music, check Facebook constantly and text and browse the Web. I can last through the whole day, whereas with the Nexus, I'd be looking for a charger by lunch. You'll be happy with the battery life for the most part... unless your last phone was a Razr Maxx.
Jelly Bean is fantastic. If anything, simply for the fact that HTC takes forever to update their phones. I've read a few complaints about the Sense interface, but I kind of like it -- it adds a nice something extra. My old Nexus ran vanilla Android and I always thought it was missing something.
Finally, the quad-core processor plus 2-gigabytes of RAM is impressive. Saying the DNA is fast would be an understatement. This thing is on fire. Verizon's 4G network is as good as they come as well.
Overall, I'm thrilled with my new phone. I can't think of a thing to complain about. Buy the DNA, you won't regret it.Was this review helpful to you?
The Droid DNA is one of the best phones out there. The specs are as good as you'll find -- quad-core chip, 2-gigabytes of RAM, a ridiculous 1080p display with 440 ppi, 8-megapixel lens, the list goes on and on. HTC did a fantastic job designing the exterior too -- the grippy textured back makes sure you don't drop it, and the red stripes add a bit of flare. But there are some serious drawbacks -- because as good as this phone is, nothing is perfect.
First, and the biggest, is the storage. Yes, people have said it here, and the non-expandable 16-gigabytes of memory is a huge disappointment. You can only use about 11- to 12-gigabytes -- due to some bloatware -- so that leaves you with some music, photos and videos. I didn't think I'd be a problem at first, but you'd be surprised how quickly you can fill it up. I know storage is moving to the cloud, but I'd still prefer a microSD slot. It's what separates the Android phones from the iPhone.
Next, the non-removable battery and the mediocre battery life. Buying a Droid used to mean you'd be able to buy a second battery to swap out halfway through the day. The DNA lasts me about half a day -- but I use it heavily. I play games, stream videos, browse the Web and run a lot of apps like Facebook and Instagram. That leaves me with no power by the time the workday ends. If I go out with friends after work, I'm drained before we meet. The standby time is awful too. What's the point in having a great phone if it dies so quickly? I don't know. Over the life of my two-year contract, the battery life on the DNA is going to get worse and worse. Ugh.
Lastly, the placement of the buttons. It's not as big of a gripe as the other two, but why would you put a power key on top of a phone with a 5-inch display? It makes it nearly impossible to hit with one hand. Also it's flush to the phone so you can't really feel it if you have a case on it.
Anyways, it's a great phone, when there's enough storage and battery life. But overall, I'm a bit disappointed with the flaws.Was this review helpful to you?
Vibrant and stunning display. It's simply one of the best screens on the market. Unlike other phones, you can't tell the individual pixels with the eye, even when you get up close -- it's that clear. It's the best part of the phone.
The chip is one of the fastest I've seen. There are no hiccups or delays. From the benchmark tests, it beats out all the other models. From using it, I can tell you speed won't be an issue.
The camera sensor is very good. Photos are accurate, and videos are just as good.
Beats Audio is awesome. The DNA can pump out sound louder than my notebook. It's great with headphones, but it's also pretty good without.
How can you make a great phone even better? Simple. It runs on Verizon's great network. 4G is speedy and reliable. Doesn't get any better.
Android Jelly Bean is pretty good. I'm not a software geek, so I'm fine with any version. But 4.2 should be out shortly.
The size was a bit of a concern when I was considering buying it. The huge 4.8-inch screen has something to do with it -- since it extends from edge-to-edge. But after using it for a week, you get used to it.
I thought the weight was going to be a problem too -- but the DNA is so thin that it's as heavy as normal smartphones.
These are minor concerns, really. And not at all a dealbreaker. But if you're on the fence, the size should be really the only thing stopping you, if you have tiny hands. Overall, I couldn't be happier and you'd be a fool to buy another phone.Was this review helpful to you?
After using the DNA for two months, I can say with confidence that this is a great phone. It's a powerhouse when it comes to multimedia -- music sounds great, photos look great, apps run quickly. I've owned a lot of Android phones -- the Droid X, Bionic and Razr Maxx -- and the DNA blows them all away. It's nearly perfect.
I've read that some people think it's a bit big. And if you have small hands, get the iPhone. But if you have normal-sized hands, the DNA shouldn't be a problem. The 5-inch 1080p screen is amazing. I use it to watch Netflix and NFL games via Slingbox, and the resolution is fantastic -- it's built for video.
The speed is blazing. Saying this phone is fast would be an understatement. My past experience with Android phones is that they'd start to bog down after a few months, but not the DNA. When you swap through home screens, surf the Web or load apps, it doesn't even blink. I've never had it freeze, reset or slow down on me once. All the issues I've had with past Android phones are gone.
The 8-megapixel camera is seriously one of the best. Coming from Motorola, I've always had subpar lenses, but HTC did a phenomenal job on the DNA. Photos are vibrant and sharp, and videos are pretty good too. Beats Audio makes your music sound better too. Use headphones to hear the difference, but if you blast it through the speakers, it sounds great too.
The memory is a problem. I was thinking about passing over the phone until I realized I'd never gone over 16-gigabytes on my old phones. I love music, but I never store more than 10 albums on my phone. Most of my stuff is in the cloud. The biggest headache I had was uploading the music to Google Music -- it took three days... even with high-speed Internet.
Also, coming from the Razr Maxx, I got used to an extra-long battery life. The power reserve on the DNA isn't great, but it's not awful either. I can last about a day on one charge -- and I use the Web a lot.
Lastly, the flap on the charging port is annoying -- I removed it on my phone.
Overall, the DNA is far from perfect, but it's a solid phone.Was this review helpful to you?
I've had the DNA for over two weeks now. First off, I don't take many pictures, I suppose, nor do I upload a library of music, so I don't have a problem with the 16-gigabytes of memory. I've read a lot of comments bashing the low storage space, but if you're a casual user like me, you shouldn't have problems, despite what you read from others.
It's a great device. Everyone raves about the pros, so I'll jump ahead and mention the cons.
My biggest problem, though, is the battery life. I need to charge the phone every night or else it'll die the next day. People tell me all smartphones are like this, and I guess I'm coming from a feature phone, so I'm used to recharging every three days or so. I guess it's all perspective, but I haven't gotten used to this yet.
Another issue is the voice recognition software. I'm surprised others haven't mentioned this yet, but it's just awful. I try to use my voice to dial, and it never gets it right. For example, I'll ask it to call someone in my contact's list, it'll start searching online. My old phone didn't have this problem, so I'm pretty sure it's not the sound of my voice.
It's still a great big phone -- it's pretty large -- and I recommend it to anyone who asks.Was this review helpful to you?
The DNA is a really solid device. The 1080p display is gorgeous -- bright, clear and responsive -- and of course, you can't beat a 5-inch real estate. In short, it's a powerful little PC in your pocket.
As for the operating system, Android Jelly Bean and Sense UI is one of the better combos out there. The interface doesn't feel bogged down, and HTC did a great job adding features like gesture control to add a bit of flair to the device.
Overall, though, it's a good, solid phone. I've been recommending it to friends looking for an Android device, and I don't think you can find a better one out there right now.
The biggest negative is the meager 16-gigabytes of storage. There's no microSD slot so you'll have to make do with what you have -- around 11-gigabytes of user memory. There's also no HDMI output, so you can't play movies on a big screen TV. Shame.
Google Now, on the other hand, is a big annoying. I'm used to swiping across the screen to activate it, but now you'll have to press a button. It's one of those minor inconveniences that really annoy you.Was this review helpful to you?
After seeing initial specs, I decided to pre-order the DNA. I couldn't sleep the night before it arrived, and boy was it worth the wait. After having it for a few months now, here are my opinions:
- Of course, the 1080p display. Everyone talks about it, and for good reason -- it's so clear and crisp, simply one of the best. The DNA is a large phone, but the size is that big because the screen goes from edge to edge. It's pretty awesome.
- The camera is superb as well. The main lens is as great as any flagship phone on the market -- the photos you'll get are amazing. The wide-angle front-facing lens is great for video chat. It really captures the whole scene in case you have bad aim. In makes a big difference when you're using Skype or Google Hangout.
- The size is big, yes. But I actually don't think it's uncomfortable to hold at all. Maybe it's my hands, but the phone feels great in the hand. Also, the build material is superb -- polycarbonate, I believe -- that gives it a subtle grip and texture so you won't worry about accidentally dropping it.
- HTC's Sense interface is not bad -- definitely better than most overlays. It's not that intrusive and somewhat useful.
- I get around a full day's worth of power with a single charge -- around 20 to 24 hours of usage. I sort of wish the battery was removable, but it's not a big deal.
- The 16-gigabytes of storage is far from enough. You'll only get around 11-gigabytes of available memory due to the preloaded Verizon bloatware -- thanks.
- If you like to customize your software like I do, you'll be disappointed. HTC locked the OS pretty securely. You won't be able to unlock it through HTC's website -- sometimes they'll let you. You can thank Verizon again.Was this review helpful to you?
I bought the DNA after my upgrade kicked in -- and I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. This phone is brilliant. The features are top-tier and it's just fantastic all-around. Rather than tell you how great the display is, or the audio, or the design -- like everyone else already did. I'll just get straight to my gripes.
I wish it came with a removable battery. An extra memory slot would have been nice too because even though it says you get 16-gigabytes, only about 11-gigabytes is usable.
Another thing that bothers me is the charger. HTC gives you a charger to use, and it's not compatible with other chargers. I thought I could recharge my DNA using a friend's Razr Maxx charger. After 10 minutes, the DNA started to get really hot and then shut down. It wouldn't reboot. I went home and tried my HTC charger, but nothing. After taking it back to Verizon, they told me I fried it. Luckily, Verizon is going to replace it for me. But a warning: just because the plug on the charger fits, doesn't mean you should use it.Was this review helpful to you?
gorgeous screen high quality build with wifi on it would make an amazing 7 inch tablet
it has some of the worst reception sim card problems of any device ever made in the history of phones Verizon knows it HTC is aware of it and subsequently the phone has been retired after less than a year introduction while you can still get the Droid Incredible 4G interesting.
stay away from this phone I went through two most people go up in excess of four and five should never have been made