Review: HTC Droid DNA for Verizon Wireless
The DNA runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with HTC Sense 4+. The system software and user interface are similar to those of the other HTC phones released this year. Verizon was sure to add some of its own design flairs.
The lock screen on the DNA offers a handful of customizable shortcuts. The defaults are phone, mail, messages, and camera, but you can adjust these. One useful lock screen feature is that you can have a camera shortcut and a passcode at the same time. You can also set notifications (email, calendar, SMS messages) to appear on the lock screen.
One cool feature? The notification light that's on the front of the phone is duplicated on the back of the phone. In other words, if you put the phone face down on a desk or table, there's a little light on the back next to the camera that blinks when you have new emails, missed calls, and new SMS messages. Very thoughtful.
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The drop-down notification shade collects notifications and you can dismiss individual notifications by swiping them sideways. Access to the full settings menu is available from the notification shade, but access to on/off toggles for the radios has been removed from the notification shade.
Apps in the app menu are laid out in a grid in stock Android fashion. The main app listings can be customized however you wish, and that ranges from alphabetical grids to custom grids to alphabetical lists, and so on.
Sense 4+ means you have plenty of customization options. There are different scenes (user profiles) that can be applied. Each of the profiles can be given a different skin. And event of the skins can be given its own wallpapers, and so on. Trust me when I say the DNA gives you lots of room for personalization.
As for performance, the DNA has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor on board. Each core runs at 1.5GHz. To call the DNA a fast phone is an understatement. Nothing I threw at it slowed it down. It's quick at everything.
HTC uses the same old calling and contact skins it has used forever with its Sense phones. I'm actually disappointed that HTC hasn't done much to update these functions.
The phone app itself offers the basics, including speakerphone, Bluetooth, and access to other apps such as the contact list.
Perhaps the best part of HTC's customizations to the phone software are the gesture-based actions. For example, if the phone rings, you can turn it over to silence the ringer. Or, if you pick it up, the ringer won't silence completely, but will drop significantly in volume. You can also set the DNA to recognize when it is in your pocket (it senses darkness) so that it will automatically vibrate as well as ring. Lastly, the DNA can automatically switch to the speakerphone when flipped over during a call.
As for contacts and calling widgets, they are plentiful. You can set direct dial shortcuts to the home screen, and there are three different styles of widgets for your favorite set of contacts.
The DNA doesn't differ much from other Android phones in the messaging department. The individual messaging tools include Gmail, email, SMS, Google Talk, Google+ and Google+ Messenger. Google Voice is conspicuously absent. These are all fine applications that continue to be useful for composing all sorts of messages. There aren't any other IM apps, so Google Talk is your only option out of the box.
In terms of social networking, the DNA offers integration with Twitter and Facebook within the OS. Sign into your social networking account and you can do things such as share photos, or messages from inside other applications more easily. The separate Facebook app is preloaded on the DNA, but the official Twitter app must be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
If the "phablet" category of super-phones blurs the line between phone and tablet, HTC is now blurring the lines even more with the Droid DNA for Verizon. With a 5-inch screen, the Droid DNA is notably larger than high-end phones with 4.7-inch screens.
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