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Droid Life Q&A Sessions: Volume 7 Answers

Welcome to the Answers section of the seventh installment of the Droid Life Q&A Sessions. Much like every other week, we had some great questions come in from the community, so we took our time to go through them and pull some of the good ones. It seems that many are curious about the DROID DNA, Verizon’s data plans, and why on Earth Samsung and HTC won’t get it together with those on-screen buttons. See what all we had to say down below. 

Reminder: K is Kellex, T is Tim, R is Ron, and E is Eric.

What’s your opinion on big players like Samsung & HTC not using on-screen buttons and ruining a consistent experience?

K:  While I’m a big fan of on-screen buttons, but I’m glad that we have choices. As you can see from the poll we ran last week, people haven’t fully bought into on-screen and still love hardware buttons. The beauty of Android is that you can find a phone that meets your needs and you aren’t stuck with one phone, one button, one build, and one skin.

R:  For me it isn’t a big deal. There are pros and cons to both designs. The reality of the situation is that companies like HTC and Samsung design phones a year or two in advance, so even though Google implemented the new on screen button design a year ago, companies like HTC weren’t privy to the change and even if they were (like Samsung) they wouldn’t be able to alter that kind of design that late into the game. I imagine we’ll begin to see more phones with on-screen keys in the coming months.

T:  It’s frustrating! I am hoping we won’t have to deal with it too much longer. These older designs are finally out of Samsung and HTC’s books and we can move on to hopefully a more uniformed design across OEMs. Although, I could see them pull some bs about how they want to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers. Either way, I want them gone!

E:  As much as I’d like everyone to hop on that bandwagon, it’s really up to the OEMs to decide if they want them or not. Google provides a platform with the Nexus devices and says “this is what you can do,” but doesn’t hold them to actually mimicking every design choice. HTC and Samsung’s capacitive buttons are iconic in their own right, and they are just keeping a consistent experience on their own brand.

Do you think Verizon will take away the unlimited data from those grandfathered users who aren’t on contract anytime soon?

R:  I think they’ll continue to push users into tiered plans, although they’ve already made it extremely difficult for users to keep unlimited plans. It wouldn’t surprise me if they forced users off of them in a few years.

T: There is no doubt that will come down sooner or later. The only question I think people should be asking, is “When?”

K:  Yes. I don’t know when, but at some point they are going to force us to change. Whether it be the next time you activate a phone or they set a date for it to happen, it’ll likely happen. Their new money-making scheme is all centered around shared data plans, so they’ll figure out a way to end our fun. The good news about that idea is, that you will then be free to join whichever carrier you want. Unlocked GSM phones for the win!

Galaxy Note 2 or Droid DNA?

K:  Ooh, tough choice there. I’d say Galaxy Note 2 because the software experience crushes everything that HTC is doing with Sense. While HTC may have incredible hardware, Samsung has both great hardware and the best software suite in the business. With Android, it’s about more than just specs, in my opinion. Until HTC innovates on the software front as well, it’ll be tough for them to top Samsung on any level.

R:  Need battery? Galaxy Note 2. Want the best screen ever? DNA.

E:  Depends on what you want it for. If you’re gonna use the stylus and dual-screen features then Note 2, but if you want just a phone with amazing specs then the DNA is going to be better.

T:  If you follow my opinions on anything it is that I care deeply for the One series devices from HTC. The Galaxy Note 2 is just too big for me and I think the DNA will offer just the right amount of space. Although, that battery size is seriously lame sauce on HTC’s part. Come on, HTC!

You probably get lots of tips from readers, some great and others not. What’s the most ridiculous or out-there “tip” you’ve ever gotten from someone?

T:  Well, we appreciate all of the tips and suggestions from readers. I think the most silly thing we get is hate mail. People take the time out of their busy lives to tell us how much they hate us or we suck. I think it’s great that our work has such a massive effect on these people’s live. It’s a great feeling.

K:  At least once a day, we get emails from people who think we are Verizon or Google or Motorola. They want to know why we haven’t refunded the expensive Play store app that their kid just bought or why their phone is now garbage because of a recent update and that we should fix the situation. It’s comical.

A year or so ago, Motorola said they were basically going to calm down and pump out only one or two solid phones per year. I think some other manufacturers fell in line with that. With all the phones released in the last/next two months, do you think things will be idle until this time next year now? In other words, is it finally safe to pull the trigger on a new phone?

R:  The best time on Verizon is usually around the holidays. For off-contract buyers I’d say get something now or wait for Mobile World Congress.

E:  Unfortunately you’re never safe in the Android market. I feel like there will be some decent phones announced at the tech conferences coming up early next year. But with the Nexus 4, DNA and Galaxy Note 2 out there right now you could do a lot worse.

K:  It’s probably safe to pull the trigger. I’d guess that January through March will be slow and that we’ll be waiting for HTC to drop the new One Series line. Samsung won’t have anything until the Spring, and Motorola is still trying to figure out what it’s doing. You also have to remember that buying phones is a lot different today than it was even a year ago. Specs are sooooo good, that even if a new phone comes out in a month, you won’t be disappointed with what you just bought.

T:  Being an Android fan is hard. There’s something new every couple of months, so my suggestion is if you see a phone you’re happy with, just go for it.

What is your most important feature on a phone? Is it the manufacturer, OS, battery life, screen resolution, etc?

K:  Battery life, display and camera for me. I’m not sure which one comes first, but if any of those three aren’t top notch, I usually need to find a new phone quickly. I can deal with skins because Android lets you block most of them out with 3rd party apps. But a crappy camera is always going to be a crappy camera. Same with a display and battery life.

R:  For me I want stock Android, an excellent camera, good battery life, and an incredible display. If I had to pick one feature it would be stock Android.

E:  I love me a nice screen. Ever since I upgraded from the Droid 3 to the Galaxy Nexus I’ll never go back to a bad display. However, I can’t live with a bad skin on top of Android so whatever the device is, I need to be able to root and hack it.

T:  To me, I think stock Android and a good camera take the cake. And out of those too, a really good camera could lean me towards any device. The One X has Sense, but I still loved it very much thanks to that ridiculous camera.

Even with it’s shortcomings and the fact that it’s a year old, would you still recommend the Galaxy Nexus on VZW?

R:  No. The screen and camera are really bad. I’d wait for something else or get off of Verizon.

K:  At this point, no. The display tech is a year old and way behind new phones. The battery life is still atrocious. And Verizon has proven that they do not care about this phone for a second, so it’ll never be up to date with the rest of the Nexus family. It’s a stepchild phone. There are also way too many good phones out to look at a phone that’s a year old any longer.

E:  Only if the person is alright with unlocking it and flashing a ROM. I did that day 1 of my Nexus and haven’t had half the problems that other people have reported. It will probably get 4.2 before a good number of phones if you have it unlocked.

T:  Sure, if you love rooting and hacking. But if you’re looking for a work phone that won’t let you down, you might want to stay away. Go grab a new phone instead!

*The rest of our Q & A sessions are all available at this link.

  • catatoniccube

    the lose of unlimited is overrated and the reaction is mostly unfounded. Unless you stream video constantly tiered data isn’t an issue. If you want unlimited maybe you should invest in a home isp and some wi-fi

  • Gary Graf

    I don’t see how Verizon can make you switch plans once you’re on a 4G phone. I upgraded from a Galaxy Nexus to a Galaxy S3 because I was sick of the camera and lack of storage space. All I had to do swap the SIM card like how GSM carriers work.

  • I bought my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon for just that. It was a Nexus phone. Sure Verizon had failed on the update front but that is why android reigns supreme. I have android 4.2 on my phone and VZW hasn’t even begun to care about that update.

  • kcmanuel

    I’d really like to pick up the Droid DNA, but the only thing stopping me is the 16GB internal storage. I understand the push for utilizing cloud storage, but there are situations where that isn’t convenient or possible.

    Is there any news from the pipleli e that a larger capacity version of the DNA or Nexus 4 is in the works?

  • Thanks for picking and answering my question guys (i.e. pulling the trigger). Great feedback from all! Love this Q&A stuff!

  • Jim McClain

    Well i think its safe to say that no one hated the nexus more than me, ive had 8 of them,trying to get one that was good,mic always cut off,verizon kept saying i was on a fringe area between to towers, had no reply when i said that no one else had that problem when they are in my house, i gave up getting a good stock phone, rooted and running paradigm now and now its the best phone ever,never a problem,no mic cut off,camera is great too

    • xyz1111

      You went through 8 GNex’s? You didn’t decide to stop after the 3rd one failed you?

      • Jim McClain

        well they paid shipping for all, I had 2 brand new and 6 refurbished, they tell you that all refurbished go through an 80 point inspection , but most were just junk, I love the look and feel of it, they tried to give me a razr ,didn’t want it, I would have at one time taken a GS3, but they wouldn’t give it to me. everyone here kept giving me hell, telling me to root it, but I wanted what I paid for, a good phone, but I gave in and now its perfect , its just sad that I paid 300 bucks for a phone that I had to make work, running paradigm now, with the Verizon leaked radios, my wife likes my camera pics better than her GS3, this phone is now perfect

  • Jason Purp

    I’m shocked that you guys are all against the Nexus on VZW now. The battery sucks, but this is still the best phone I’ve ever owned. And I’ve owned more than 6 different top-tier Droid phones (for their time). No regrets about getting another one a few months ago.

    • Mack

      I was a bit too, I actually just bought a brand new 32 GB off of Ebay to replace my Droid X2. I wanted a Nexus 4 but the main reason I picked it up over the Galaxy S III (only other phone I was interested in) was the much lower off-contract price. I only plan on keeping it for the next year but I’m looking forward to it, should be at my door tomorrow actually.

    • xyz1111

      Battery life is terrible; enough said. The battery life is the single most limiting factor for a mobile device, so how can we not bash it for that reason? I mean I love my GNex, but I can’t ever forget its terrible battery life.. or I will end up carrying around a shiny piece of plastic in my pocket. And yes, I have spare batteries, and no, I shouldn’t have to carry them around or be constantly charging my phone, as I constantly do.

      • Jon

        As long as you are prepared to flash a ROM/kernel going into purchasing a Galaxy Nexus, then it’s a great device. I recently got one and did just that right out of the box. I can get through a whole day on the standard battery and honestly knowing battery life was an issue a full day is good enough for me. This phone will definitely hold me over for the next year and it was much less off-contract than the Galaxy S III I was thinking of getting,

        • xyz1111

          Flashing a custom rom and kernel definitely does help, but it doesn’t necessarily fix the issue every time, nor always to a great extent. Plus, I think stock Android is great, especially 4.2, so the benefits of a custom rom keep diminishing.

          • Jon

            The main purpose behind a custom ROM is changing but I don’t see them diminishing much. Stock android is leaps and bounds ahead of what it used to be but I still see uses for ROM’s like Cyanogenmod. For example in 4.2 there will more than likely be a way to turn on or off lockscreen widgets and profiles as well as options for customizing or disabling quick settings, among other things. It’s those options that draw me to ROM’s like CM and AOKP. At the same time it should never be necessary to flash a ROM or kernel on a device to make it perform properly. That said I’m still happy with my G-Nex despite the shortcomings it has even with a custom ROM and kernel.

          • xyz1111

            I agree with much of what you say. As of 4.2, stock Android will incorporate so many of the things about custom roms we like, such as quick settings or lockscreen gadgets.

            I’m currently running CM10, the only real functionality it provides
            that I care about is the battery % mod. I no longer consider the
            drop-down notification menu toggles as a feature worth highlighting,
            since it’s in 4.2. It’s very likely that for 4.2, I’ll just get a nearly
            stock AOSP rom, like Pete’s Bugless Beast and maybe just flash a custom
            kernel for hopefully improved battery life.

          • michael arazan

            Some blogs are saying the Moto nexus may be out by next april-july, now that Moto is finished with all the old phones that were in motion already when Google bought them, and the HD was the last on the list. The average time is six months from conception to market. Any rumors in the rumor-mill?

    • zepfloyd

      Look not only is the battery life less than average, the camera is sub par, the cellular radios are awful, the GPU was already old a year ago when it was released, and there are a myriad of issues people have with the screen. Look at it this way. if it was the same phone but called Galaxy S II Plus for Verizon, we both know it would have been long forgotten by February. At some point the fact that, well it’s a Nexus, excuses the device for what it is on its own has to stop. Google will give it KLP in the summer but after that it will go on the archive shelf, and who knows if Verizon will even update it that far.

  • Carlos carrasquillo


  • Mack

    Thanks for answering my question guy!

    • Mack


  • I love seeing the preference for stock Android in some of these answers.

  • Liquidretro

    What I want to see is DNA or S3 comparisons. I am due for an upgrade anytime. I like to mod my phone, I want a good camera, and it needs to last a day. I can live with the no SD slot on the DNA, The screen would be great and it sounds like it has a great camera. My hangup is the the S3 is that it launched in June. I hate to have a contract device for 2 years and at the end the phone will be 2.5 years old. Note 2 is likely bigger than I want (I need to go play with one) Thoughts?

    • JoshGroff

      If you have a need for speed and a brilliant screen, get the DNA. Otherwise, the S3 is a solid choice. (Especially if storage and replaceable batteries mean a lot to you.)

    • FAL_Fan

      I would personally recommend the Note 2. It really feels good in hand and I can easily use it one handed, if you have trouble you can turn on the “one handed operation” mode and the keyboard becomes the size of the S3. The screen of the Note 2 is brilliant and, like Kellen said, is better than that of the S3. I played with it in store for literally 45 mins and I can say that I cannot wait to leave my Droid lineage of phone (I have had the OG, D2G, D3G, and now the D4), it is the only phone I feel comfortable leaving my physical keyboards for.

  • zepfloyd

    In regards to unlimited, it was strongly hinted to me earlier this week the cutoff is going to be VoLTE next year. If you want to activate VoLTE on a new device, you will need need to switch plans.

    • michael arazan

      What’s your source?

  • S_T_R

    I find it difficult to understand people who say their biggest requirement for a phone is having a good camera. Phone cameras are universally godawful. Sure, the iPhone 5, and a couple of Android sets, pull even with the cheapest of the cheap point and shoots these days, but that’s not “good” by any real sense of the term. Then again, modern P&S aren’t as good as the models from a few years back, courtesy of the megapixel war taking low-light performance and dynamic range as casualties.

    • Ravi Rao

      For me, I have a nice camera, but I still want good quality on my phone camera. If I need to take a quick picture of my kid, I don’t have time to grab my camera. Kids move too quickly for that. I have my phone on me always, and it’s easier to grab the quick shot.

      I’m constantly getting complaints from my family when I take pictures with my Galaxy Nexus.

      • My GNex doesn’t have camera issues. Of course I’m using the 4.2 camera app and before that I was using Camera Zoom FX. Maybe try using a different program.

    • Symbiotx

      They aren’t all awful, and they’re getting better all the time because people want them. It’s not DSLR quality, but it is pretty good for something that fits in your pocket that you’re already carrying around. It’s extremely convenient and awesome to be able to take cool pictures or video and immediately upload them to your friends/family etc. It may not be important to you, but it is to some.

    • I am always trying to take pictures of the dogs, my new niece, and other crap that having a good camera is just crucial for me. I love taking pictures.

      • S_T_R

        Yeah, I get that. My point is that phone cameras are so godawful, that saying you need a good one is like asking for the best kind of cancer….or wanting to marry the world’s tallest dwarf, or something self-contradicting like that. Saying you’re looking for a good cellphone cam is asking for an oxymoron.

        I guess my point is that life is too short to document it with crappy photos. A standalone is still necessary, at least until they get serious and start adding Galaxy Camera-class sensors (which are really low-mid-end P&S sensors) without bumping the pixel count up into ILC or DSLR territory (given two equally sized sensors, the one with more pixels crammed in will have worse low-light performance and dullest color range).

    • xyz1111

      It’s “good enough” for the majority of people. There is nothing like being able to capture a moment on the fly, using your phone. Therefore, at the end of the day, having the best possible camera in your phone is a good objective.

    • CapnShiner

      Having a phone with a camera that is not as good as a cheap point-and-shoot is still better than having no camera at all. I don’t know anyone other than professional photographers who carry a camera with them everywhere they go. I know plenty of people who carry their phone everywhere they go. When the unexpected happens, the quality of the camera in your phone matters.

      • FAL_Fan

        I personally know plenty of professional photographers that do not carry a camera everywhere they go, but regardless your point of more people constantly having a phone with them is made.

    • angermeans

      It sounds like you are plagued by the same things I am and that is using a DSLR for a long period of time. Now when I think of taking a picture on a mobile phone (outside of my iPhone 5) I kind of panic as I know it just wont be of the quality I am always looking for. This is the same reason I can’t stand owning a poor display on a phone (after owning the Galaxy Nexus, GS3, HTC Incredible, GS1, and Nexus One I’m done with the Super AMOLED displays as they are just way too oversaturated and feel off). I’m just OCD about high pixel density especially on my tech and pictures I take, but hey the future looks bright with the DNA and all and thanks to Verizon having an employee appreciation limited edition DNA (with a free charging pad) for just $99 I’ll be almost forced to pick one up hell, I’ll probably grab me an HTC 8x as it is the same deal.

  • For some reason, these answers seem to carry a different value now that we’ve sort of “met” all of you in the DL Live sessions 🙂

    Thanks again for continuing to be the greatest No-BS Android site in existence!

    • zepfloyd

      Not sure about that, but I can weirdly hear their answers in their own voices and style in my head…

      • Mack

        Same here. Didn’t even realize it at first haha.

      • Diablo81588

        Lol me too! Weird huh?

  • Ravi Rao

    If battery life, display and camera are the 3 most important things in a phone (they are for me as well), what Verizon phone exists with good marks in those 3 categories?

    Droid DNA is getting mixed reviews on battery life, but has a good display and camera.

    Razr Maxx HD has a terrible camera but good battery and display

    Are my options Note 2 or GS3 if I want to stay on Verizon?

    • cdick133

      Yeah, I’m really split between the DNA and the Razr Maxx HD. I can live with decent battery life, but after a year and a half with the Thunderbolt, I’m really worried about the battery life on the DNA just being terrible. But goddamn that screen, I want that display. Up for renewal on Sunday, hopefully I can make up my mind.

      Maybe I should go iPhone so I don’t have a choice.

      • Ravi Rao

        I’m in a similar boat, except I bought the Galaxy Nexus full price because I was sick of my Thunderbolt. Got an upgrade available this weekend.

        • cdick133

          I was so close to buying the GNex many a time, but never pulled the trigger because I just couldn’t afford it.

      • Symbiotx

        I’m in the exact same predicament. My Droid x is practically tethered to a charger all the time, so I told myself that the next phone I get would have to be one with a great battery life. So obviously, I was looking at the Droid Razr Maxx HD. I saw the pictures that the Maxx HD takes, and it looked just about as bad as my old Droid x, and then I saw how awesome the DNA is, and I was thinking I should just get the DNA, but I’m worried about the battery life.

        • cdick133

          Yeah, the one redeeming factor on the battery life is the inclusion of wireless charging. I can pick up a couple pads with the $100 saved from not buying a Maxx and keep one at home and one at work for convenient charging at those locations. Only real problem would be long days/nights away from home.

          • Symbiotx

            Those are great points, I forgot that DNA was $100 cheaper

      • Mack

        Hey now, lets not take a step backwards.

        In the long run you will be much happier with either of those than an iPhone IMO. From what I’m hearing so far, the DNA can last a full day. The battery life won’t be as good as the RAZR but the DNA wins in the screen department as long as you don’t mind how massive the phone is. Personally I would go with the RAZR MAXX HD though, to me the size just right and it has more storage. I thing 300 on contract for the RAZR is a bit much though but I believe there are places that have it for less than Verizon does.


      I know a phone that has all three…

    • angermeans

      The Razr MAXX HD does not have even slightly a “good” display. It is awful, has poor color reproduction, looks very washed out, and even ghosts at times. I guess thats expected though as it is a Motorola display after all. I’ve spent some time with the DNA and MAXX HD and there is no comparison. Hell, the One X and the MAXX HD is no comparison. It really is bad as I prefer my Galaxy Nexus SUPER AMOLED pentile over the MAXX HD and the Galaxy Nexus has an awful HD display (at least in my opinion)