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Review: HTC Droid DNA for Verizon Wireless

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Nov 16, 2012, 2:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

HTC's new superphone is the first to ship in the U.S. with a 1080p HD display. The Droid DNA for Verizon Wireless has more to offer than a good-looking screen, though. Phone Scoop's full review dives deep into all the DNA's features.

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Is It Your Type

The HTC Droid DNA is the logical phone for those who want the latest and greatest, with the bestest and mostest stuff. It shoots for the moon in terms of specs, design, and of course that dazzling 1080p HD display.


The HTC Droid DNA is aptly named. The design is the ultimate cross-breeding of all the devices HTC has released this year. It has HTC in its blood.

Unlike HTC's colorful Windows Phone designs, the DNA is an inky black slab. The all-glass front face is glossy pitch black. The back is a matte-black surface. In between are red metal bands that run down the side edges, sort of like the paint designs seen on sports cars from the 80s. Since the DNA is being sold by Verizon, it can't help but pick up some additional red accents here and there, including a circle around the camera lens, the screen lock button, and the earpiece grill. Yes, the Droid DNA even has some Verizon blood in it.

The most impressive feature of the Droid DNA is probably its size. For a device that packs a 5-inch display, it's deceptively small. HTC did a great job keeping the footprint as small as possible. In fact, it is about the same size as the HTC One X, which has a smaller display. If you're worried about it pushing Galaxy Note II dimensions, don't. It is significantly smaller than the Samsung's Note or Note II, and far more comfortable to hold and use.


The back surface has a soft-touch finish which gives it some grip in the hand. Rich didn't care for the feel of the side edges, and neither did I. When you try to grab the phone tightly, they feel hard and pointy, and are angled slightly. That said, the quality of the materials and fit-and-finish are solid. All the seams fit together snugly, and the weight (which is just right) gives the phone a solid feel that says "I'm not cheap."

Three capacitive buttons are positioned below the display, very close to the bottom edge of the phone. They are the now-familiar three buttons for Android 4.x: Back, Home, Multi-task. The buttons are easy to see even when they're not lit.

The rest of the controls are a bit fussy for my tastes. The lock screen button - which is on the top of the phone - is too flush with the surface. I didn't care for the travel and feedback very much. The same goes for the volume toggle, which is on the right edge. It is too flush with the surface and offers too little travel and feedback. There's a little hatch covering the microUSB port on the bottom edge. Why HTC bothered with a hatch at all is beyond me. Worse, it is an annoying and finicky hatch that I'd just as soon cut off the phone than deal with every single day. The tray for the SIM card is buried in the top edge of the phone and requires a tool to eject. There's no dedicated camera button.

Sadly, you cannot access nor remove the battery. It is buried inside the DNA. The DNA also doesn't offer expandable storage. You're stuck with the measly 16 GB built into the device, which may not be enough to fit a single 1080p HD movie.

Overall, the Droid DNA is just what I expect HTC to design for Verizon Wireless.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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Nov 16, 2012, 2:54 PM

battery life

Hi, The Verge does not agree at all with your battery life assessment. What sort of usage or tests did you run to decide that the battery would last 24 hours?
i wouldn't worry so much about that one review. The Verge doesn't seem to be very consistent with their reviews. For example, they gave the DNA a rating of 4 on battery life for getting about 4.5 hours on their battery test, yet they gave the Galaxy S...
I used the phone a lot for three days. Constant email and RSS, both of which use the screen and radio intensively. Same with checking twitter, browsing their web, all while under LTE coverage.

I see the TuneIn radio to stream music over the network...
I carry a spare battery for my cell phone every where I go... it's saved me many times, since I am often out in the woods, walking around urban/suburban areas, etc. The DNA sounds like a great phone and HTC is my brand of choice, but the non-removab...
Mikey C

Nov 17, 2012, 1:10 AM

16 GB non-expandable storage

Kills it for me. I can give up a removable battery, but I personally dont want to give up my SD card.

Otherwise, looks pretty cool. I want to look up all the specs now.
It wouldn't be so bad if there was 32 GB...The 16 gigs are ridculous.

Wow the spec driven DNA! Its like getting a Cadillac with an AM radio......

Nov 19, 2012, 1:51 PM

I'd be so there if it was "sense-less".

We gotta find a way to get great hardware like this, without the manufacturer customization. It's not even so much my hatred of Sense (though I do hate it), as my hatred of how it prevents updates.

I predict in the near future, phones will be as big a target for hackers as computers, if not more. When that happens, there will be a need for timely OS updates for ALL phones, whether new or old. Things like Sense get in the way and prevent fast updates, and it's going to be a big problem.

It's better for the hardware mfg's to differentiate themselves through cool hardware design, and leave the OS alone so the software folks can take care of that part.
I seriously think we should get the phones stock, and have the option to change the firmware to something more sense later on if the consumer wants to. I personally have no problems with sense, but stock is best.

Nov 18, 2012, 8:07 AM

Scratching head...

Why, oh why, put so many impressive features into this phone, only to miss out on the most basic ones?? 1080p display with a fixed storage of 16gb?? What's the point of baking in the features if you can't truly take advantage of it? It's like getting a new Lamborghini with snow tires.

My excitement for this phone has been quelled by what I feel are 2 MAJOR flaws:

1 - Non-Removable Battery.

2 - No External Storage (c'mon, I have a 64gb in my Rezound.)

Must admit I'm tempted, but I think I'll wait for the next train...
Those two omissions place this device in Blackbury "innovation" land. Specifically, watch for the new BlackBury 10-10=0 to be released in 2016 with native email following 60 days after that.....

Nov 16, 2012, 3:18 PM


I wish I had this screen on my phone. Can wait till a windows phone gets this screen hopefully with the same pure black led type screen... I love the dark black and great contrast on the 920...
I wish I had this screen on *insert device name here*

Literally. Computer, TV, Phone, Tablet, any of them.
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