HTC Droid DNA Review (Part 1)

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Guanine, adenine, thymine, cytosine Android? The Droid DNA – the latest version of Verizon's Droid series - may not actually contain any real nucleic acid, but that does not make this flagship manufactured by HTC weak.


The company has a knack for thinking outside the rectangular box and making phones with smart design – the Sensation series and the Touch Diamond but it seems to have taken up the focus to another notch. The One series is beautifully crafted and each model acts as an indicator of intelligence of HTC's devotion and innovation; without missing the beat, it is connected to the colorful and impressive Windows Phone 8X, which has been confirmed by Microsoft. This bit of background information is added to emphasize one important thing: HTC does not throw away enthusiasm for the Droid DNA. Everything about the phone – even the edges inspired by Ferrari – ensures luxury and comfortable experience. We were impressed by its beauty like when you first watched the One X with your own eyes. It is a pretty incredible device and is stably built which will not cause us to worry about durability, because it has aluminum on the sides and soft polycarbonate at the back which is the similar material used on the 8X. (Unfortunately, it is also a magnet for fingerprint smudges). Gorilla Glass 2 adds charm to the screen with the promise of preventing this beautiful screen from scratches.

Currently, the DNA only has one color choice: black with red accents.

Currently, the DNA only has one color choice: black with red accents.

Currently, the DNA only has one color choice: black with red accents. The two colors have become HTC’s main decorations for years, so it is not a big shock as this will be the default selection for the Big Red. It also correlates with Beats Audio color scheme, so it is the perfect combination for all stakeholders. The red is not arbitrary and goes quite well with the black, emphasizing the power button, earpiece, camera and the edges (as we mentioned earlier, the same grid edge design clearly inspired by Ferrari, and we fully support that decision). Those who worry about the huge size of the Galaxy Note II will have the same hesitation for the initial 5-inch DNA, but this special device is not trying to compete in the same category with its rivals. HTC has gone astray when it stressed that DNA is "a smartphone, not a phablet", and obviously we can confirm that statement. Keep it at your ear during a call will not give the same uncomfortable feeling about the inconvenience as the Note II does, and it's much easier to use one-handed tasks without special keyboard or dialpad special. In fact, the DNA’s shape parameters remind us of what you will find on the One X and Samsung Galaxy S III: with a width of 70.5mm (2.78 inches), it is only 0.6mm wider than the One X and 0.1mm narrower than the GS3. The height of 141mm (5.55 inches) is higher than that of the two other phones. At its thickest point, the DNA’s size is about 9.73mm (0.38 inch), which is slightly thicker than the One X (8.9mm) and the GS (8.6mm), but the back tilts slightly to meet the 4mm thick tapered edge. We waited until the phone required a certain initial adjustment, but we found that the DNA fit perfectly in the palm of your hand and it felt just great.

The DNA fits perfectly in the palm of your hand – and it felt just great.

The DNA fits perfectly in the palm of your hand and it felt just great.

On the back is an indicator of DNA about HTC's recent change in design strategy. If you recall, the Windows Phone 8X offers light curve (think of "the smiling face" when looking at the phone from the side) without making the phone become too thick, thanks to the pyramid-shape for which the designers stacked the components inside the body, HTC has confirmed to us that the same methodology can also be used for the Droid DNA. And as we waited from the high-end devices manufactured by HTC, the back is completely seamless, so the 2020mAh battery cannot be swapped. Near the top, you'll find the 8MP autofocus ImageSense camera strengthened by a LED flash on the right and a notification LED on the left. The light on the back is somewhat unpopular with smartphones – we cannot remember any device that had been decorated with two lights like that but whoever often puts the phone face-down will actually see a lot of use from this additional supplement. Close to the bottom are Verizon's recent LTE and Beats Audio logo, although fortunately they do not take much space. At first, you'll see the standard 3 buttons below the screen of HTC (back, home and recent apps), with a front camera, earpiece and the proximity sensor above. An LED light is hidden under the speaker grid. Gorilla Glass covers almost the entire front panel, but there is a U-shaped space at the top for the earpiece; this particular section of the phone seems to be poorly designed, because the earpiece and the small area underneath it seems totally inept and corrupts the cohesiveness of the overall design.

On the back is an indicator of DNA about HTC's recent change in design strategy

On the back is an indicator of DNA about HTC's recent change in design strategy

However, in an effort to make the phone look nice, HTC has made a volume rocker almost completely flush with the phone’s body itself, making it somewhat difficult to press. The power button, unfortunately placed at the center top, is designed in a similar way. The two buttons are made of anodized aluminum and their equal position to help them blend better, making the edges more aesthetically interesting, so you'll just need to decide whether it is worth paying a little bit about being useful. Surrounding the top of the DNA, the power button is strengthened by a micro-SIM tray on the right side and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left. We found a small glitch after taking the phone out of the box: the micro-USB/MHL port below is covered with a plastic lid, which takes more effort to close than usual. According to HTC, this is done to keep the phone waterproof, in a similar fashion as the J Butterfly. As we have seen on most Japanese phones before, the network in that country has very high standards when it comes to protecting your phone from water, so HTC and Verizon have chosen to accept such standards for the DNA. If you buy the phone, it is important to remember that it is compatible with the Qi, so it can be worth investing in a certified wireless charging pad instead of removing the lid often. (We used the Energizer pad and Nokia Fatboy pillow to charge the DNA, and they both work great).

While focusing on the “wireless” topic, we should note that the Droid DNA also has dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n, NFC and compatibility with HTC Media Link HD to HDMI capable Wireless mirroring. If you do not mind the wired route, an MHL adapter will easily work here in its place. Unfortunately, the USB OTG is not officially supported.

Last but not least, the storage is limited to 16GB with no option for storage expansion, a bad decision from HTC. Obviously the idea of ​​avoiding microSD slot is not new, and HTC has done this many times before – the One X + worth being blamed for the same thing but we felt that choosing this special was offered by Verizon, because the J Butterfly (the Japanese copy of the DNA) allows storage can expansion.

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