HTC Droid DNA hands on: A 1080p dream come true

htc droid dna hands on olympus digital camera

Check out our full review of the HTC Droid DNA smart phone.

If you thought choosing between the Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2, iPhone 5, HTC 8X, Motorola Droid HD, LG Optimus G, Sony Xperia TL, Nokia Lumia 920, and Google Nexus 4 was tough, brace yourself: Things are only getting worse. (Or better, depending on your outlook.) Today, HTC and Verizon unveiled the Droid DNA, another flagship phone that desperately wants to make friends with your hand, and wallet. After the announcement, we were able to get some hands-on time with the new Droid DNA. Here’s what we think.

Best. Screen. Ever.

This is a bold statement to make, but we cannot recall a phone screen that looks as good as HTC’s new Droid DNA. Like the first time we set our eyes on the ‘Retina,’ high-resolution iPad 3, looking at the Droid DNA’s 5-inch 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixel) Super LCD 3 screen is a jaw-dropping experience. It’s pixel density is 440 pixels per inch, which is significantly denser than even the iPhone 5’s screen. After staring at the DNA’s screen for a while, going back to a 720p screen was not fun.

htc droid dna hands on olympus digital camera

More impressive is the speed and fluidity of the Android operating system on this phone. For the first time, Android’s animation and fluidity appear on par with the iPhone 5. We don’t know if it’s entirely Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or if HTC’s Sense 4.0+ user interface actually speeds up the OS, but everything moves fast on the DNA. Google talked about ‘Project Butter’ when it unveiled Jelly Bean in the summer, but the Droid DNA is the first Android phone we’ve seen where the jump in speed is noticeable. Of course, the quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 2GB of RAM may also contribute to the Droid’s prowess.

There’s nothing quite like watching a 1080p video on a 1080p screen this small. It’s gorgeous. Unfortunately, due to the limited 16GB of internal memory and lack of microSD support, you won’t be able to download many movies to your Droid DNA. 

Stylish design

htc droid dna hands on olympus digital camera
htc droid dna hands on olympus digital camera

HTC has had a rough year. It’s top Android handsets have been handily outsold by Samsung. Things got bad enough that it was posting losses. But instead of wallowing and waiting, HTC continues to push forward, kicking its designs and performance up a notch with every phone unveiling. We recently labeled the HTC 8X as our favorite Windows Phone 8 device, and the Droid DNA may take the top spot for Android. Everything about the look and feel of the DNA, aside from its Verizon black and red color scheme, appears top notch. The device is thin: only 4mm at its edges, and is designed with the hand in mind. HTC has built a gradual hump into the back of the phone, which your hand cradles as you hold it. Though conventional wisdom argues that thinner is better, Having a rounded back is surprisingly comfortable.

On the edges of the phone, HTC has included a grill of sorts, as well. We don’t think this adds a lot to the experience, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Did we mention that it can charge wirelessly?

htc droid dna hands on olympus digital camera

All the conveniences of a modern HTC phone

HTC hasn’t gained much attention this year, but its hardware and Android user interface is more consistent than what a lot of manufacturers are pumping out. The Droid DNA has all of the good features we’ve come to like in phones like the One X. The Music app, for example, still aggregates all of the music on your device, regardless of its source; it’s a single place where you can find music from all your different apps, like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon MP3, etc. Like all HTC devices, the DNA also appears to have an excellent 8-megapixel camera, complete with the fancy ‘ImageSense’ chip that HTC includes in its top phones. The front-facing camera from the 8X is also included, which has a wide-angle lens so you can fit more of your friends in a photo.

Destined for greatness?

We don’t know if the Droid DNA will be a hit phone this holiday season or just another crashing wave on the smartphone shores. It has some hefty competition, and the fact that it’s a Verizon exclusive will work against its potential to compete with the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5. But after using the Droid DNA, we think it would be dumb to count HTC out. The DNA builds on all of the forward strides HTC has made in 2012 and may be its best phone yet. We can’t wait to try it again.

The HTC Droid DNA will be released on November 21 for $200, with a two-year contract. Check out our spec comparisons to learn more: HTC Droid DNA vs. iPhone 5 vs. Galaxy S3 and Droid DNA vs. Galaxy Note 2 vs. LG Intuition.


A subway passenger may have snagged a shot of the upcoming Pixel 3 XL

It hasn't been too long since Google launched the Pixel 2, but it's already gearing up for the next iteration, the Google Pixel 3. Here's everything we know about the upcoming phones so far.

The HTC U12 Plus is now available in color-shifting Flame Red shade

HTC has released some pretty great flagship phones in the past few years, and it's now aiming to follow up with another one. After plenty of rumors and leaks, the company has finally taken the wraps off of the new HTC U12 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Apple iPhone X: Battle of the ultra-premium smartphones

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the company's latest ultra-premium smartphone. The device boasts top-tier specs, an excellent design, and more. But can it take out the Apple iPhone X, Apple's own ultra-premium device?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. BlackBerry Key2: Productivity powerhouse punch-out

If you're after a top-notch business companion and productivity is paramount, then Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 and BlackBerry's Key2 are devices you're going to want to take a closer look at. We put them head to head to see which is best.

The Moto Z3 is now available (but only for Verizon customers)

Buckle up your Moto Mods and get ready -- the Motorola Moto Z3 is finally almost here. Boasting flagship specs and a classic Motorola design, the phone is set to be a serious contender for anyone looking for a flagship-like phone in 2018.

We found out which Sony Xperia phones will get Android 9 Pie in 2019

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Product Review

Sony's underwhelming XZ2 Premium makes a better camera than a phone

Sony’s third flagship phone of 2018 is its first to ever feature a dual-camera lens. The Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium can capture ultra-low-light video far better than the iPhone X or Galaxy Note 9, but is it worth the high cost?

Google may finally create its first flagship store in Chicago

Google is reportedly nearing an agreement on a lease for its first flagship retail store. The store will be located in Chicago, and will presumably be where the company shows off Google Pixel phones and other hardware.

Google confirms it still tracks users who turn Location History off

Google is tracking your location -- even when you tell it not to. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, Google services store location data, regardless of whether privacy settings claim otherwise.

HMD may announce the U.S. release of the Nokia 6.1 Plus next week

It's shaping up to be a big year for HMD. After announcing five phones at MWC earlier this year, the handset manufacturer is reportedly bringing another budget phone, the Nokia 6.1 Plus, to the U.S.

Newly leaked photos show a fully functioning Motorola One Power

Many of us have come to know and love Motorola's extensive lineup of budget phones. But Motorola makes some pretty awesome midrange smartphones as well. And it looks like we're about to see its next phone, the Motorola One Power, very soon.

How to find a lost phone, whether it's Android, iPhone, or any other kind

Need to know how to find a lost phone? Here, we’ll help you locate your lost or stolen phone using both native and third-party apps and services, whether it’s a smartphone or an older variety.

The OnePlus 6T could launch on T-Mobile in October, report says

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. The report notes that the phone could launch on T-Mobile.

Save up to $900 with the best smartphone deals for August 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $900.