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printed September 21, 2014
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Review: HTC Droid DNA for Verizon Wireless

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Media

With respect to music, the DNA offers a pretty wide range of options. Amazon MP3, Slacker, Google Play Music, and the bare-bones music app are all pre-installed. These apps each have their pros and cons. Amazon and Google Play can be used for purchasing music, as well as streaming purchased tracks to the DNA. Slacker offers free and for-pay streaming services. It’s a bummer that there's no FM radio, but TuneIn Radio is included.

 

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On the video front, the DNA includes the stock YouTube app, a simple video player, Google Play Movies, and Verizon's Viewdini app. Viewdini is a video search app. Punch in the content you want to watch, and Viewdini will show you where you can watch it, including YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and other services. You can download (purchase or rent) video content (TV shows and movies) from the Google Play Movies store.

 

Viewdini

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Thanks to the Beats Audio integration, music and video sound great through the DNA. I used several different sets of earbuds/headphones and was impressed with the quality. What I really like is that the Beats software has been integrated deeper into the OS, so it works with all media apps on the device.

Camera

The quad-core processor and HTC’s dedicated ImageChip have a huge impact on the DNA's camera. It is by far the fastest camera app I've used in recent memory. It opens in a blink and is ready to shoot in about one second. There's no physical camera/shutter button, so you have to take care of everything from the display.

I like that the entire 5” display is used as the viewfinder. It provides a nice big canvas for composing images. The software controls are kept to a minimum on the screen and are lined up along the left edge of the viewfinder. Each uses drop-down menus and is a snap to figure out.

The options are endless. The DNA provides tons of tools to make picture (and video) taking a finely-tuned experience. Some of the stand-out features include continuous shooting, auto smile capture, easy HDR and panorama modes, and slow-motion capture in the video app. As with One-series phones, you can shoot still images while recording video.

 

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Photos

The DNA produces some of the sharpest images I've seen from a smartphone. Not only are the images sharp, but they are accurate to the scene and reproduce the lighting conditions exactly as they are in real life. White balance is spot on, and colors aren't oversaturated or overblown. I am impressed with the results I achieved and am sure you will be, too.

 

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Video

The 1080p HD video I shot with the DNA looked excellent. It, too, shows razor-like focus and proper exposure. The video looked smoother than 1080p HD video I've seen from most other phones, thanks to stabilization in the video camera's software. Videos captured with the DNA are absolutely worth sharing.



Gallery

The DNA makes few changes to the stock Android 4.x gallery app. The gallery collects photos based on where they are stored, such a your Picasa or Facebook account, as well as those on the phone itself. The tools make it easy to sort through and organize photos, see them on a map, as well as share them to various social networks.

I am most disappointed by the editing features. You can crop and rotate images, and apply effects/filters. You can fix red eye or alter exposure, contrast, and brightness. There are a lot of filters, but that makes the gallery app feel more like Instagram than anything else.

 

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Apps

As usual, most of the Verizon-branded services are on board, such as VZ Navigator, Verizon Viewdini, My Verizon, V CAST Tones, etc. Most of these cannot be deleted, but some can be "deactivated." Deactivated apps no longer appear in the main app menu, but still reside in the phone's storage. Speaking of which, the DNA only has 16GB on board -- of which users have access to only 11GB.

Bluetooth

The DNA's Bluetooth radio works perfectly. It paired with every device I could find. Phone calls, in particular, sounded excellent when sent through my car's hands-free system. Music sounded very good when sent to stereo Bluetooth headphones. I had no issues pushing files to/from the DNA.

Browser

The DNA runs the stock Android browser. There are plenty of alternative browsers available in the Google Play Store if you want to use something else. No matter which browser you use, web sites load in an instant thanks to the solid LTE 4G performance and quick processing powers of the DNA.

 

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Clock

The DNA is a virtual cornucopia of clocks. There are more than a dozen clock widgets, in addition to other widgets that also happen to include a clock (such as the weather). What's even better is that you can use these same clock widgets to serve as the clock for the lock screen. The selection is great, and can be set to match just about any wallpaper you might use.

GPS

The GPS worked well. The DNA's GPS radio was able to lock on my position in less than 10 seconds, and was accurate to within about 10 feet. Paired with Google Maps, the location capabilities are excellent. Thanks to the speedy network access, fast application processor, and accurate GPS radio, real-time directions were spot on. Verizon's VZ Navigator software is just as capable at point-to-point directions, but doesn't work offline (Google Maps does) and it also costs $10 per month, while Google Maps is free.

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