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HTC DROID DNA Hands-on and First Look

HTC DROID DNA

The HTC DROID DNA is finally official. We were at the event live and had a chance to go hands-on with the device, snap a few pictures, and then follow along while an HTC rep gave us the ultimate overview.

Just from looking at these pictures and video, it’s tough for me to say anything other than, “Wow, nice job, HTC.” The phone is designed incredibly well, with red accent grills on the sides, a soft-finish back, the best screen in the business, and enough high-end specs on the inside to put almost every other phone to shame. I cannot wait to get this in my hands for a review.

And yes, the guy referred to it as the “Frankenstein phone.”

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  • JoshHenry

    At first I thought it was gimmicky but now I love what HTC has done with their Dre Beats partnership. They have a wide range of accessories that work with their products. Thats dope. Who doesnt like accessorising. i love when all of my products match in design, and work well together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.schrauth Andrew ‘Dre’ Schrauth

    Anyone else hear the guy almost say best from Samsung? lol

  • Ibrick

    Ugh.. Why HTC, why?

    I wanted to want this phone so bad.. Removed the SD from the JPN version and didn’t think to increase the internal storage?

    I could have accepted the 2020ma battery instead of the rumored 2500ma, if they increased the storage. Looks like I’ll be waiting to Samsung to bring out their 1080p device. Probably with more storage, and an A15 CPU.

    Its like HTC needs a common sense slap in the face.. Smh..

    • JoshHenry

      I think OEMs are pushing Cloud storage over hardware storage.. Seems to be the trend. Get everything on all of your devices anytime you want. Which would be great if we always had a not teered LTE data connection.

      • Ibrick

        Streaming everything would be fine, but, as you pointed out would increase data usage, as well as eat up battery. OEM’s generally bump up the cost $50 per 16gb of storage while we all know it probably costs them next to nothing. If they’re going to get rid of SD slots, seems an easy way to increase profits, and for those that want the extra storage everyone wins.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zkolev Zack Kolev

    “Latest and greatest from Google, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.” Please. If you think that’s the latest, I wonder what else you might not know about….

  • http://twitter.com/SuperBigBlack Jason James

    LATEST AND GREATEST!

  • James

    Ordered… if the battery life totally sucks she’ll be exchanged for the Note 2. Wish me luck!

  • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

    I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this device … for a host of reasons, but mainly the question (still to be answered) about battery life. With that said, I find myself feeling a little different today. I’ve had my cursor hovering over the pre-order button for about 30 minutes. The16GB storage capacity is not a deal breaker for me. I don’t keep music on my phone or movies on my phone now, and barely make a dent in the 32GB microSD card I have in my Incredible 2; so I don’t see how/why my storage needs would change. I stream music from Rdio, Pandora and Google Music.

    The only thing, as mentioned before, that has caused me to hold back on placing a pre-order is the concern about battery life. A screen that big, with such a high pixel density, has to eat up some power. No matter how efficient the S4 Pro processor may be, I need to see if the device will hold up to normal daily use. I think it may take a week or so to get a more accurate picture of how the battery will perform.

  • sport

    No sd card, mediocre batt on a large screen…no thanks, pass

  • Kkalian311

    I have had the privilege of having the DROID DNA for a few days and here are my few thoughts so far.

    Battery life – For above average use it did not drop below 30% by the end of the day. I didn’t have to worry about mid day charging at all.

    The screen – Amazing picture quality. pure 1080p. and it seems the glass has a laminate which makes it very easy on the eyes. the colors are crisp the images flow smoothly on the screen.

    The build – Very nice to handle and fits nicely into a pocket. its thin enough to not cause any obtrusiveness.

    The hardware – The processor is super quick. Everything runs smoothly on the device. The one thing the device does lack is a SD card slot but its still doable without it. The cameras are awesome. The back is great in HD, and the front widescreen camera is a nice touch for sure. Image Sense helps the camera function a lot with super quick photos, HDR, and stability.

    HTC Sense – it seems a lot lighter, and quicker than my old incredible 4g. This is a huge improvement as it used to lag a bit but now its appears to be gone.

    Built in software – usual verizon stuff – NFL Mobile, audible, amex serve, amazon, zappos and viewdini, oh and slacker radio.

    This is a true super phone. I have loved every minute of it.

    I recommend the DROID DNA to anyone looking for a phone.

    • LionStone

      Awesome…thanks for the mini review!

    • zUFC

      Do you really have one? if so what is “above average” use” And what time is your “end of day”? The only reason i’m asking if you really have one is because no one asked you a question. I would think they wopuld be all over it.

      • Kkalian311

        https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=653842718019&set=a.653842688079.2080629.122802972&type=1&theater

        There it is. Had it since saturday.

        And above average use is a bored/busy college student who is always answering emails, facebooking, running twitter, playing games, listening to music etc.

        I ran the device from 7am to 11pm.

        • zUFC

          good work and thanks. You give us a ray of hope. I don’t want to keep bothering you with questions but those times and uses sound pretty good. You think the batt life is geeat, good or ok. what did you have before?
          Again you don’t have to answer my stupid questions. But thank for earlier.

          • Kkalian311

            The battery life is great. I am looking at my phone right now. Being unplugged 8 hours ago and its over 50% still and thats with facebooking, enjoying the new camera, and everything for long period of time during my college classes.

            I had the incredible 2 and incredible 4g before and they would always die on my around 5-6pm. So far this phone has lasted until i head to bed at 11pm.

          • zUFC

            Thanks alot sir. I like how you describe it with times. thats the way I like it. I need it to last me till 11:00 at night with regular use. So thanks again for giving me hope. Hows it in the hand? feel too big or is it perfect?

          • LionStone

            Pre-order already! lol!

          • zUFC

            I ain’t gettin it. Just asking. He seems to not mind and other people might want to know. His post was here hours ago and no one asked him a thing.
            I found him so leave me alone. Oh, and i’m not getting because of no soft keys. I swore I’d never get another phone without them.

          • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

            I’ve seen several people leave a similar comment about soft keys. Perhaps a rhetorical question to you; but to those of us using phones with capacitive or physical buttons (Incredible 2, wife has a GS3)…is it really that big of a deal? Could you please explain why? Thanks.

          • zUFC

            No it’s not that big of a deal. It’s just because they are the newest thing. Remember when the first ICS video came out and everybody saw the disappearing buttons? and everyone was like “WOW”? it’s just because it’s new technology. No matter how slight, it’s still new! I went from Gnex to S3 and couldn’t stand the hard buttons on the S3. Couldn’t wait to get rid of it. Bought the maxx just for the soft keys (and battery). I refuse to go backwards. When something new and better comes out I don’t want to go back to the old way. just like i don’t want gorrila glass anymore. i want gorilla glass 2… I don’t want ICS anymore, I want JB….. just like i don’t want non-expandable notifications anymore, I want expnadable ones….Just like i don’t want seperate LTE & 3G radios any more, I want combined radios. I don’t want 5 second delay camera button presses anymore, I want instant ones………..Etc, etc, etc

            It’s just new and works nice. They rotate and disappear when needed. did you see the video of the DNA when they turned it sideways? There were the hard button sidways and lite up. Old Tech. I want new tech. Every phone seems to be missing something I want. I don’t know why one company can’t just make one with ALL the bells and whistles. I’m willing to pay for it, just make it. And I know other are like me. Yes we’re the minority but that doesn’t stop other companies from making things with everything new added. Look at cars. Even cheap models have option packages for bluetooth and even wifi now and Aux plugs and jacks. I remember when I couldn’t plug my phone into my cars radio. Now i can no matter what car I buy. So with all that said, it’s just the latest and greatest and why don’t these companies use them. There is no down side to them yet hard keys do have a down side (even if it’s not that big of a deal).

            P.S. the few people that still are stuck with hard keys and say “they take up screen space” don’t know what their talking about. You can’t even tell and the benefits far out weight the minute screen space they take up (especially on todays huge screens).
            Or i guess I could say “just because”…..haha

          • LionStone

            Haha…ok, just teasin you… No DNA for youuuuu :-)

          • zUFC

            I know. I was also. Yours was actually a good one :)

          • Kkalian311

            reaching to the opposite corner with a thumb may be a little tough but it feels great in my hand. Texting looks gorgeous with the big type and is easy with the decent sized keys on the screen. I look at my old Inc 4g or a friends iphone 4 or even 5 and laugh. it was a struggle to type with those devices after handling my DROID DNA.

          • LionStone

            My Inc4G definitely lasts me all day and sometimes even into the next day, but then again, I don’t use FB on my phones anymore so my DNA should last pretty good too!

        • Tom

          Utah State Hey Aggies All The Way! Go Aggies Go Aggies, Hey Hey Hey! Lol

          • Kkalian311

            This just made my day. Thanks

    • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

      What you’ve reported all seems plausible and helpful. I hope that you understand that some of us might be a touch incredulous about your account or experience with the DNA. It seems that nearly all tech journalists and bloggers just got their hands on the device today; yet a bored college student has access to the device several days prior?

      The one glaring thing about you account that I comes up a little short, or at least leaves me scratching me head, is your comment about battery life. I don’t think that using a device for a couple of days will provide an accurate assessment of real-life use or performance. In my experience, it typically takes about a week to get a sense of how the battery will perform — based on “normal” daily use.

      • Kkalian311

        I am a member of the HTC elevate customer group. A select group of us (20 out of 3000) were chosen to test out the device and answer questions after the announcement and before the release. I am lucky and grateful for the opportunity to do so.

        And i am just posting what i have experienced so far on the device so far. Of course i will update my review as the week goes on.

        • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

          Lucky indeed. Thanks for responding and sharing your impressions. Go Aggies!

          • Kkalian311

            Fellow Aggie?

          • http://www.matthewdlyons.com/ matthewdlyons

            No. I just noticed your shirt on your Facebook post. I worked with some Utah State alums years ago. I’m a Western Michigan University Bronco (undergrad) and a George Washington University Colonial (law school).

        • ezpotato

          so the expandable memory is def not there, right? youre stuck with 16gb? i’ve read mixed reports…

          • Kkalian311

            It does not have expandable memory. There is no SD card slot. Moving everything to the cloud.

            i’ve gotten to like instant upload on google plus the past few days.

          • http://twitter.com/EWizzle78 Ewizzle

            Thanks for your post! The battery being solid if not stealar is a big deal for most. Several articles mention a dedicated camera button, but I haven’t seen any pictures. Is there one? I love this on my WP7 phone, but am looking to switch to android. It is feature i use all the time… Does this phone have one?

          • Kkalian311

            It does NOT have a dedicated camera button. Sorry.

          • TheCheapGamer

            definitely*

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Erickson/563313398 Travis Erickson

    the video may have pulled me away from the note 2 dang it, glad I still have a few weeks to upgrade time

  • Jonathan Bunch

    not going to lie, this is the first htc phone that I think looks damn sexy!

  • Erik Meyers

    but is it the “latest and greatest”?

  • Yoji High

    a faure into how many times someone can say the latest and greatest in five minutes. and it’s not even the latest or the greatest!

  • http://twitter.com/Dominick_7 Dominick S.

    The screen sounds killer. Wished the Note 2 had a 1080p display with that ppi, but the lack of expandable memory, small non removable battery, no sPen/wacom and is HTC kills it for me.

  • cooksta32676

    Speaking of battery life, my brother got the new note 2. He did HD video capture for 55 minutes, and the battery was still at 93 percent.

  • kervation

    If this beast has the chance of having decent battery life, then it is worthy of consideration as my next device. As far as the posters who have negative things to say, I thought Android was about choice. Therefore, if this is not the right phone for you, then there are many devices available. Different strokes for different folks. And this is coming from someone who loves Nexus devices.

  • http://twitter.com/ckrtsqrl ckrtsqrl

    Does it do voice and data simultaneous on 3g.

    • LionStone

      Probably since the TB and the Inc4G are, and I think the Rezound too?

  • Ohiwastedmylife

    That battery bar is $75 on Ebay right now! I would rather pay $299 on contract if this came with the larger battery.

  • Zach Armstrong

    Good Specs but the software is ruined by Sense.

  • James

    Droid DNA MAXX launching in 1 month :)

    • sam_evans7

      sold.

    • Chuck Finley

      …..With 32GB internal storage and a 3250mAh battery, on contract for $249.99
      Developer Edition on sale for $650.

    • Tom

      Now that’s not nice…. I’m planning on getting this phone on launch day…. so stop that…lol

  • Tyler Casilio

    They should have called it Droid Latest and Greatest by htc

  • Tyler Casilio

    Kellex, or DroidLife guy people, When will you have your review for this phone? Before or after release?

  • BustNHeadsDaily

    Only 16GB of storage, didnt they learn their lesson

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=75200646 Stephen Cox

    Pass. Someone let me know when the GNote II is released. :-)

    • http://twitter.com/Dominick_7 Dominick S.

      Agree 100%.

  • Ron_Swanson

    You better get those lightning rods they used to bring Frankenstein to life to brings this back to life after the battery dies after a few hours. It’s hilarious at the event, and in this walkthrough….no mention of the battery was made.

    • chris125

      wonder why no mention was made…../s

      • LionStone

        Because not everyone obsesses over a battery, like some people :-)

        • chris125

          Because not everyone sits around all day and can charge the phone multiple times a day;) sorry but I don’t want a phone I’m going to have to not use to make it last.

          • zUFC

            what he said^^^^^^^^

          • LionStone

            Ok buddy…I’ll let you know how many times I have to charge it per day, since you really don’t know :-)

    • Chuck Finley

      They were suckered by the “Project Roadrunner” story too….

  • Josh Oberg

    I like the black and red look and prefer internal memory to sd as long as there is enough 16 is cutting it close.

  • brad

    @kellex:disqus When do you think you’ll have a review posted. You know we are all dying to know about the battery life.

  • Symbiotx

    Very disappointed about storage and battery, but damn, I think I might still get it after seeing it.

  • http://twitter.com/solidunit solidunit

    ….is there a sim tray?

    • zepfloyd

      Yes.

  • http://twitter.com/MatthewLemp Matthew Lemp

    The specs make this phone a beast, but like the others have mentioned, the battery life will be the biggest issue. As a current Rezound owner, I can tell you my next phone better be guaranteed to last me through the day. I’m sick of worrying about keeping my phone charged all the time

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1373340065 Ming Wei Hsu

      extended battery always got me through the day on mine…with the wheatley governer.

      • chris125

        Only thing is no removable battery so no chance to get an extended battery with this

    • Paul

      According to Verizon’s usage times, this will last twice as long as the Rezound.

  • thebosssauce

    the red is BEYOND hideous. if this thing was an all black slab it would like 100000x better. OT FTW

    • no

      v………….

  • Brent Cooper

    I didnt realize 4.1 is currently the latest from Google. Silly non stock devices

    • zepfloyd

      Actually he refers to it as just Jellybean Android Operating System…so technically he is correct as 4.2 is still Jellybean.

  • http://www.lovesicklives.com Curtis Fox

    So I’m gonna go against the flow of most of these comments so far, and say that I’m excited for the phone as of right now. Sure, it’s not the perfect package, but we can’t even get a Nexus that is the perfect package either. So, that being said, I’d like to see HTC regain some ground this next year. I hope to see some more quality devices come from them :)

  • NAM37

    But is it “best in class”????

  • arcwindz

    It’s not a phone!!! Please don’t categorized this as a phone…

    • http://twitter.com/Dominick_7 Dominick S.

      ? Uh it has a phone radio, and acts as a phone, what kind of comment is that?

      • Arcwindz

        So you are saying that a tablet is a phone? They are all mobile devices and this thing has a great spec befitting a flagship, but if people start to call this humongous “phone” a phone, there won’t be a flagship phone that fits in my hand anymore

        • http://twitter.com/Dominick_7 Dominick S.

          I’m saying device with a phone radio is a phone. It may or may not be the size you prefer but it is by definition a phone yes. It might also not be a practical sized phone for a person with one finger on both hands, a Smurf or people with hands that are the size of gerbils, but yes it would qualify as a phone. This is why the Note 2 is referred to as a Phablet, because it’s a phone tablet.

  • Morris

    How can you only have 16GB with no way to expand? 32GB should be the min especially on a phone you might be more prone to watch movies on.

  • jofficus44

    I can’t understand why this phone has no sd card access with only 16GB of storage AND a non-removable battery at only 2020 mah. Is the display really worth all of the compromises???

    • ToddAwesome

      mo data, mo money!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

      or they just following google

    • zepfloyd

      Everyone wants to kill this phone over 16GB but the Nexus 4 gets a pass…and the base model only has 8. Come on. Is it ideal, no..but it’s certainly sufficient. The battery is the only key issue/unknown.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

        thank you, couldnt agree with you more

      • jofficus44

        Yes, but a Nexus phone has the advantage of running stock Android, and always getting the newest software/fastest updates (unless it’s on VZW).

        From my previous HTC experiences, having to deal with Sense on this phone makes those other issues even MORE annoying. Beyond Verizon’s obvious reticence to put out updates without extensive testing, HTC will also hold up updates so that Sense can be incorporated …

        • zepfloyd

          “Yes but..” ?? Your post is a complete non sequitur from the capacity discussion here…

      • cdick133

        Nexus 4 gets a pass because everyone was too busy complaining about its lack of LTE. I did notice several comments about the 16 GB in the 4 when it was first announced, it just seemed to die out quickly.

        • Paul

          Yeah I too didn’t ever consider the Nexus 4 due to it not being on Verizon. I’d be worried about 11GB of usable space being big enough for 2 years.

      • steve0617

        The N4 is also only $349. This is $599. They could add the extra storage even if it’s nonremovable.

      • no

        V …….

      • Ibrick

        But I’m not getting the N4 either.. Partially due to no LTE, and partially due to storage. Google seemed to have learned that 16 wasn’t enough with the N7.

        I just don’t get it.. With as cheap as storage is, and they way they mark up devices for additional storage, make it 32gb and charge an extra $50. They’d make a killing..

        • zepfloyd

          Keep in mind (I agree with you first off) I’m just saying 16 shouldn’t be a complete deal breaker. (8 def is) And to answer your question, because we are the minority. Most people 16 is more than enough and price is a factor. Look for years the 16GB iPhone way outsells the other sizes. By last check the 16GB GS3 outsells the 32 there too. (though that does external storage) The GSM Galaxy Nexus was only 16 as well.

          • Ibrick

            The main point there is that at least Sammy and Apple make it an option. Hell, Apple will sell you a 64gb model if you want it.

        • Yupper

          They will add extra storage and a bigger battery with the droid dna x, and it’ll come out in may

    • http://twitter.com/Dominick_7 Dominick S.

      Exactly. Would have paid $299 for it if it had all that. But they skimped out where it really matters BESIDES the screen. Was looking forward to hearing about this device, inspite of it being HTC which I really don’t like, but going with the Note 2.

  • Jeremy

    Never liked the red/black look, but the specs and the screen look great. Wish it had more of a high-end design look and they’d remove sense.

  • zepfloyd

    Chris seems like a really nice guy beyond the usual sales guy for some reason.

  • ToddAwesome

    I can haz phone, yes?

  • http://twitter.com/ITGuy11 Shawn Villaire

    This thing is going to need a car battery to make it through an entire day.

  • ToddAwesome

    Is it possible to label this as a “hands on” and not actually put your hands on it?

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Did you look at the pictures? :P

  • Kyle Miller

    This guy is a horrible presenter!

    • ToddAwesome

      It’s a terribly dumbed down presentation, for those of us who frequent this site especially.

  • Beranimus

    So is it only built in memory or does it have an sd slot?

    • ToddAwesome

      no sd

  • Kevin Olson

    I don;t like the overall look of the phone but I do like the looks of that 1080p screen. Retina what?

  • ToddAwesome

    It’s a “Frankenstein” phone. Allllllrighty then.

    • Ryan Frankenstein

      So do I get paid royalties?

      • zepfloyd

        that joke only works on reddit. ;)

        • Ryan Frankenstein

          thing is…its not a joke

  • Captain_Doug

    I wanna touch it…

  • http://twitter.com/jkc120 Josh Carroll

    Ugh, red capacitive buttons again? I hope they don’t come out pink like the rezound.

    • James

      They’ve got to kick this red accent look, it cheapens the look terribly. Could be an amazing phone, especially if we can take off sense UI, but just awful looking.

  • Anonymous Coward

    “Latest and greatest from Google”… Not unless it’s running 4.2! LOL

  • chris125

    I think it will all come down to how the battery performs. HTC looks to have a real winner on their hands with this, just going to wait and see what reviews say and then decide

    • sam_evans7

      60% smaller battery than the new Note… Man, I want that screen, but I’m so sick of worrying about battery life…

      • http://twitter.com/davidbavin David Bavin

        How the hell did you get 60%? Your calculations are way off. Its 35%.

        3100-2020=1080
        1080÷3100=.3483
        So 35%.

        • sam_evans7

          My bad… I was using the MAXX’s 3300… I should have said: the Note 2′s battery is 53% larger than the DNA’s… (3100-2020)/2020 = 53%

          Now, does the 1080p SLCD3 require more power than samsung’s 720p samoled? Samsung’s screens are super power hungry, so maybe not… Now comparing the DNA to the Nexus 4 (2100mah), it has the same cpu+RAM, but bigger display (backlight) and more pixels, AND it has LTE (and it’s running Sense stuff.) I can’t imagine battery life will be great. Prove me wrong HTC!

          • http://Twitter.com/ContestsAccount bigrob60

            To, much, math. Brain, shutting, doowwwnnnnnnnn

          • yarrellray

            Gotta hand it to you Htc won’t be able to prove anything on the battery life other than poor.

          • michael arazan

            We’re going to need hands on reviews stat

      • Uneedhelp

        Get a razr maxx hd if ur worried about battery life

        • sam_evans7

          I’m one of the few that really wants a giant screen… “A tablet that fits in my pocket.” I so hoped this would be the Nexus 5…

    • Nosey Nate

      Agreed. Sticking with my Maxx until a phone of this caliber lasts as long.

    • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

      I’m surprised it lasted the entire video.

      • zUFC

        haha I think thats the funniest thing I’ve ever read. good one!!!!!

      • Tyler Casilio

        :)

      • RedSoftKeys

        I would have rather seen the red touch keys (i.e. back, home, menu) as were on the Rezound.

    • michael

      yeah i’m looking forward to the results of the battery tests Droid Life and other websites will run on this phone. I hope they surprise us

    • Tyler Casilio

      I agree

    • Kkalian311

      If you see my small review below. I’ve been privileged to have the device for a few days. The battery has lasted me every day so far all day without a mid day recharge. The way the OS and sense are now i wouldn’t worry too much. Im loving the DROID DNA.

    • https://www.facebook.com/aaron.williams.125 Champion1229

      Exactly! If the battery performs well enough I see no issues with fully converting to the cloud considering the main reason I use mSD cards i my Razr is because the battery simply won’t hold up to running the 4G LTE radio AND the display at the same time. Once my music and movies are on the cloud, the 16GB of onboard storage should be PLENTY for game data and a few pictures /videos.