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With the announcement of the HTC DROID DNA last week, we have entered a new arena for our cellular devices. Introduced as one the first smartphones with a 1080p display, we’re talking about full-HD content in the palm of your hand. This latest offering from HTC has Sense, powerful internals and boasts Beats audio integration. The specs are top of the line, but so are other competitors’ phones. Will a powerful display be the deciding factor when it comes to purchasing the device or will the Droid branding be all the drive it needs? Here’s our thoughts on the device.

The Good:

  • Specs:  Most phones have been releasing with top end internals and the DNA is right in line with them. It ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, a quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, along with 2GB of RAM. This combination offers a powerful and lag-free experience for the end-user. Let’s not forget that it includes a 4G LTE radio which will take advantage of Verizon’s fast, ever-growing network. The device also offers a 5″ 1080p FHD LCD 3 (1920×1080) 440ppi display, NFC, an 8MP camera, 2.1MP front-facing shooter, wireless charging, and Beats audio software .
  • Look & Feel:  The first thing you’ll notice about this phone is the very slick, bright red micro-grills on the sides of the device. The front display offers glass that curves around the front edge of the phone to give a very comfortable, nice rounded feel. The back is as plain as they come, with a matte black plastic covering. Despite the screen being 5”, they were able to keep the device size down. It’s nowhere near as large as the Note 2 looks or feels in hand. The side profile of the device is quite thin, so you don’t feel like you are holding onto a brick. The large screen size might give someone with small hands some trouble with one-handed operation, but I was able to use the device without issue. Overall, despite the use of plastic, the device feels solid and evenly weighted for long term use.
  • Display:  It’s brilliant. On paper, it’s a 5” FHD 1080p super LCD 3 screen with a pixel density of 440ppi. With so many pixels packed into the space, every image looks clean and text is crisp. The colors have a nice level of contrast, especially when compared to the Nexus 4 which looks slightly de-saturated and dull when placed next to this device. Even with the display brightness turned down, there is not a noticeable decrease in visual performance when it comes to color balance. In terms of other displays, this is definitely one of the top performers available today.

  • Speaker/Beats:  Having used the Galaxy Nexus for most of the past year, the speaker on this device just blows it away. You can turn the music up to full with no distortion and it gets quite loud. The speaker also performs well on phone calls, with no reports of echo from the other side. The Beats integration seems to be more of a gimmick than anything else. Music through headphones sounds great, but I get the same performance when using other devices and tuning the EQ manually. That being said, for people that want something great out of the box, the speaker and included Beats audio work wonderfully.
  • 4G LTE/Radios:  There’s no questioning that Verizon has really put a lot of effort into making their 4G network a fast performing option for those that can afford it. The radio in the device seems to be a bit sensitive when it comes to areas with low reception. I constantly found the device dropping back to 3G, even when other devices were maintaining a 4G connection, albeit a poor one at that. The big surprise in this device is the inclusion of GSM radios, with the potential to use this device as a world phone. The phone actually ships with Global mode turned on and has the option to switch to LTE/CDMA or even GSM only. Time will tell if Verizon patches this ability or leaves it be.
  • Performance:  HTC’s DNA is a powerful device that shows no signs of fatigue through normal or advanced operation. You can be streaming music and playing Angry Birds without a stutter. Scrolling through a G+ feed is as fast as your connection will allow. Despite having the burden of Sense on the device, you will find that multi-tasking and gaming are easily accomplished without hiccups. The DNA is no slouch in benchmark performance either, and given the real world performance I’ve seen firsthand, this device will handle anything you throw at it.

  • Wireless Charging:  While I did not have the ability to test this firsthand, I was able to check out the phone’s charging base accessory at the release event. It’s as easy as placing the device on the base and watch as your battery regains its charge. As someone who has a lot of devices and accompanying cables, I hope that we’ll see more and more devices shipping with this capability. The device utilizes the Qi wireless charging standard, so it should work with any charging base that is built to spec, adding that extra layer of compatibility that is always appreciated.
  • Jelly Bean 4.1:  The phone is shipping with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and that means that all of the feature improvements from that release will come in the box including expandable notifications and Google Now. The performance enhancements of the 4.1 release, coupled with the powerful specs of this device, will give any user a smooth experience. There’s been no word as to when this device will or won’t see any updates, but Jelly Bean is a great start.
  • Battery Life:  Since the day it was made official, the 2020 mAh battery has been the biggest question mark on this device’s spec sheet. With the 5” display and the 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon, is the battery size really enough? For the average consumer, yes it is. I tried to approach the phone a different way each day to simulate various user experiences. One day, I used it sparingly, as one might if they were occupied with other tasks. I spent another day streaming a movie from Google Play and constantly surveying the social network landscape. Even when in LTE, the phone still sips at the battery. I did however find myself in a rough patch at one point, straddling a 3G/4G area. The constant switching of the radio proved to be a drastic drain, and with no ability to disable 4G, I was stuck watching the battery deplete. According to Battery Widget? Reborn! (which I installed on the device when I received it), my average battery charge lasted 21 hours. Coming from a VZW Galaxy Nexus (with extended battery), I’d say this device’s battery manages to handle the screen size and LTE well.

The Not-so-Good:

  • Notification LED:  The notification LED appears not only on the front of the device, but also on the backside. The downside to this is that you are never able to avoid the blinking of the notification, despite turning your phone over. To add insult to injury, the included LED is not RGB. You are stuck with either green for notifications/fully charged or red for dying/charging.
  • Non-removable Battery:  Despite my positive results with the battery life, there is still no excuse for lack of removable battery. Not only does it deter power users, who may want to carry an extra battery or even an extendable battery, but it’s a consumer unfriendly practice. If your battery decides to fault, you can’t just put in a replacement. The entire device must be shipped out. With our increasing reliance on our personal devices, this is just a risk that some people can’t afford.
  • On-device navigation keys:  With the introduction of Google Now, people have become accustomed to a simple swipe up over the home button to be able to access it. With the inclusion of hardware keys, you lose that ability and are stuck pressing down the home button. Not that this is necessarily a difficult process, but it’s a break from the usage pattern present with on-screen keys. Also, let’s not forget everyone’s favorite menu button that keeps appearing within non-compliant apps.

  • Camera: As impressive as the 88 degree FFC is, there is no excuse for the quality issues with pictures taken by the 8MP camera in the rear of the device. Despite images looking good on the device, this does not translate to other displays. Even in fully lit areas, there is a considerable amount of pixelation and noise present. I’m not expecting a phone to take DSLR equivalent shots, but there are other phones on the market that prove decent pictures can be achieved. FFC camera offers extra perspective you won’t find on other devices, but with the same pixelation and noise present on the back camera. The camera software is not AOSP stock, so it may be a software issue that can be patched in the future.

  • No SD-slot: This seems to be a trend lately among all the manufacturers and I’m not a fan. We recently ran a poll and the results seem pretty divided about whether this matters to you or not. I believe that the lack of expandable storage is not in the best interests of consumers at this time, especially in situations where data caps are prevalent.
  • Sense 4+: I haven’t used Sense since back on the Thunderbolt and to me, it doesn’t feel like it has evolved since then. When the changes made to included software seems to be a step backward from Google’s offerings in AOSP, what is the purpose of the skin other than removing functionality? Skins were definitely necessary back in the Froyo days, but with the advancements to core Android, I’m not such a believer now. Little things are missing like swiping from camera to gallery or even multi-selecting in gallery (yes seriously, you can’t). Also, who forgot to tell them that tabs on the bottom was a blatant disregard of the Android design guidelines? Other gripes include an ever present Wifi notification in your pulldown, whether wifi is on or off. Oh and if you have NFC on, you’re treated to an ever-present icon in the notification bar. I could probably keep going, but you get the point I’m trying to make.

  • Bootloader/bloatware: Since the announcement of the device, it has come to light that the device can be unlocked via HTC’s portal. This does not remove S-ON and at this point, the future of homebrew development is unknown. Since this device is on Verizon’s network, they have made sure to not only include the full suite of Verizon apps, but also Amazon’s suite, NFL Mobile and other apps. Though most of these can be disabled, it’s always disappointing to see them included on a device.




Device Overview:


The Verdict:

With the holiday season upon us, many of you Verizon users are going to be looking at either the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 or the HTC Droid DNA. Both of these devices are powerful and top-of-line units which are a great investment to end 2012 with.

As I touched on earlier, the 5” screen on this device does not increase the form factor and I believe that many of you will find this device easier to manage than the Note 2. The big deciding factor for you will be whether you want to take advantage of Samsung’s S-Pen and all of the software that comes along with it.

The HTC Droid DNA is definitely an exciting phone to use. If you’ve been looking for a 5” screen, and don’t need the use of a pen input device, then this is the phone for you. The screen itself is beautiful and the phone’s performance is top notch. For only $199, with contract, the price is certainly attractive and just in time for the holidays.

  • chapman1969

    I am a htc fan and I had the rezound so after waiting so long for ics I called verizon told them the microphone was bad in it so they sent me gs3 two days later it got the jelly bean update so this phone seems to be ok but now the dna is out I am wondering if it will take a year to update the dna. Because I am htc fan and I would like to get that phone so does anyone know if it will get the 4.2 update

  • RandyWalters

    This device is great — I SO wish it was one of AT&T’s 4G LTe phones. As a graphic designer, the details of this phone’s design really stand out to me. I planned to get this when I first thought it might be on AT&T but, oh well. I live in New York and I’m sure there are lots of other options. C’mon At&T; get your scouting game on track.

  • Uriah Romero

    Great review! Like you mentioned, many people that I ran into were also
    looking at the Galaxy Note 2, which isn’t a bad phone at all. I chose the Droid
    DNA for its screen resolution and features. Also, it was a bit cheaper than the
    Note 2. I’ve had it for a few weeks now, and I am still surprised by the screen
    on my phone. Shows and movies look amazing on the 1080p display, and that’s
    saying it mildly. One way that I take advantage of the screen is I use the DISH
    Remote Access app on my phone so that I can stream live TV through the Sling
    Adapter that I have connected to my receiver at home. The app is really useful
    when I can’t be at home to watch my shows, and having a display like this is
    fantastic. One of my DISH coworkers also bought a DNA and they are in love with
    it just as much as I am.

  • This is a really good phone in this price range with these features not a bad deal

  • Red10056

    1. no battery removal = no quick battery change. 2. Only way to have private conversations is by pulling battery. Won’t see this phone in any spy film.

  • Guitar 01

    Can’t remove the battery = big neg. Only way to prevent CIA from listening is by removing battery when holding conversations – not a big problem. Other situation: quick battery change impossible.

  • Devi8

    I like my worry free life of the Razor Maxx HD – never needing a charger or lugging extra batteries is priceless, the nexus had terrible reception and awful battery life, last HTC device was a thunderbolt and that was even a bigger turd with battery life, guess I’ve become a moto fanboi

  • Rob

    In all the reviews of the DNA nobody has mentioned that the photos are distorted at the edges– particularly horizontally. You can see this in the in
    vertical portrait position. Has anyone else noticed this. One last comment…your when wri can’t scroll. Right now I can’t even say for sure what I have written.picture in your review of the Verizon store. It’s really noticeable in pics takenwhen the camera is h

  • Bob Gladrey

    This spoke to me; the DNA and the Note 2 are exactly what two phones i’m looking at. I’m a hairstylist, and taking notes about the styles I create makes me salivate, but being able to hold the darn thing is critical, too. What I really need, though, is either with AT&T’s 4GLTE.

  • Got this phone for 299$ and i find it much smoother than nexus 4, though i love nexus 4 than this.

  • GABravo2005

    My HTC Evo 3D is on the verge of death so I went to the Verizon store because I calculated I would save a $100 a month by having all three lines on a share plan rather than 2 lines with sprint and 1 line with sprint. So I played with DNA, I must say the screen is absolutely beautiful! I don’t know if they had a bad phone out on display but Sense just kept force closing, and I noticed some stutter when swiping pages. Also I pulled out my Evo and thought to myself “oh look, it is my old phone with new specs….” I was thoroughly disappointed with the DNA so I replaced the 3D with a GSIII and trading in the GNEX for the Note II next week

  • Droidro

    People are nitpicking. I just bought the DNA today and it’s great. I had to charge it once after purchase (as with any phone, I was busy customizing it and the phone obviously didn’t come with full charge). It’s been fine ever since. My wife…with the RAZR MAXX, has plugged her phone in twice tonight to my one. Additionally, it’s bigger than hers in screen size, but hers feels like a brick in comparison. I’ve used .5 gig of the 11 available so far. If you use your phone for texting, emails, Facebook, etc., it’s a great phone.

    Oh….and there aren’t reviews that can do justice to the screen. I’m typing this on my Macbook Pro, and my phone’s screen makes it look like my OG Droid. The resolution wasn’t really a selling point for me, but good goddamn, it’s SHARP. I put it as close to my face to see a pixel, anywhere, in an icon, picture, ANYTHING. Nope.

    • Droidro

      Oh yeah…and I forgot to mention: JELLY BEAN. It is amazing. Something I didn’t know about it was that not only can you disable bloatware from running, but you can also remove them from the app tray, as well as completely remove tabs in the app tray. So… goodbye, Verizon Tab. Tiny feature, HUGE difference.

  • 4n1m4L

    No excuse for a removable battery is a bit harsh. To make the device thin they have to make the materials thin, and part of that is taking credit for the device itself into account for battery support, and giving it a thinner jacket.

  • Terrance Steiner

    This may seem like a little thing but the lack of a RBG notification light is a deal breaker. You loose a lot of functionality with only a two color LED. With a multicolor light I can tell with a glance what type of notification I received. That is something I forgot to check when I bought my Thunderbolt almost two years ago. I have been annoyed with its 2-tone light ever since.

  • wickets

    thanks a million for the review, especially the signal and notification light parts of it. I was so looking forward to buying this tomorrow but that’s not happening. With the gnex i already have iffy signal, but besides that the dna doesn’t have that much more to offer to make buying it worthwhile. Thanks again

  • C-Law

    I wanna see screen on times in the battery section of the review. I know Kellex includes them. I think it should be standard for all dl reviews as screen on time is more or just as important as total time on

  • good luck with support if you buy this phone. i had the thunderbolt. no updates for about 4 months. supposed to get ics in august? i think they just gave up on it. anyways i switched to the razr hd maxx. 17hrs on that phone is about 30% of battery.

  • Jon

    still think the Galaxy SIII or the Note II is a better option than this, especially if you want to root your phone and slap on a custom ROM.

  • Bob002

    Dave, how does the DNA’s battery life compare to the RAZR HD?

  • Yeah, you must not have heard of the droid bionic, i hate motorola because they rip off consumers, next month there will be a razr hd max plus in new colors

  • mcdonsco

    No thanks… Droid maxx hd in hand and couldnt be happier with it. I have yet to come across another manufacturer with motorolas build quality

  • So, who is Mimsy?

  • SterlingPhoenix

    I want this phone so bad. Ok, that’s not true. I want this phone’s screen and some of the other specs so bad. I want them on a phone with MORE THAN 16GB of memory. I’d also prefer that they be on a phone that doesn’t waste space on nav buttons, and probably one that will get CyanogenMod for it fairly soon.

    Oh, and be an unlocked GSM model.

  • Tyler

    Everyone seems to bash the non-removable battery as if it’s something new and horrible, yet no one seems to mind the fact that the iPhone has always, ALWAYS had a non-removable battery (and no expandable storage).

    • brando56894

      …and that’s why most of us don’t like it.

  • WWW

    Insert **negative, cynical comment that has been duplicated 1000x*** here.

  • 11gb user accessible………

  • A mostly positive review of an HTC phone available on Verizon?! Impressive, HTC.

  • Turb0wned

    I think the One X+ is still a prettier device for some reason.

  • ddevito

    Rezound 2.0

    That is all

    • Is this a compliment or insult. Rezound still better than phones coming out today, ics was a sad pathetic wait, otherwise this was top of the line

    • brando56894

      AKA Incredible 5 (Inc, Inc 2, Inc 4G, Rezound, DNA)

  • giper54

    Thank you for the review. Of the phones you have reviewed from Verizon with a S4 chip, which one from Berizon has had the best radios for weak LTE signals?

  • kris

    Reviewer is nitpicking, complaining about !a notification light? Ive read at least 10 reviews that were complimentary to the camera also. I am worried about 16 gigs memory, i wouldnt mind non expandable with 32 gigs, but 16 is not hard to fill especially on a phone that prides itself on media capability. My other concern is i will buy this and in 2 months we will have a dna maxxx with more memory and battery.

  • Jedivolfan

    What is the battery like in an area with no LTE service? If it can’t be turned to 3G only does the battery die almost instantly trying to find LTE?

  • adam king

    I’m still not sold on the battery life. Using multiple social networks plus multiple email accounts and news pushes and some gaming and calling/texting all day. It just makes more sense (no pun intended) to have a bigger and or removable battery. But, it does come down to your own personal usage.

  • first shot of your “better half”?

  • joejoe5709

    The form factor is a big relief for me. I’m glad they can make a 5″ screen that’s stil usable with one hand. The specs are awesome. Unfortunately the negatives here are far too major for me to purchase this phone. I hope this phone becomes a blueprint for a future Nexus5. With some on-screen buttons, better software, etc it could be the replacement for my GNex. In a perfect world, I would hope the Nexus5 will have a removable battery and a SD car slot, but not likely. ;-(

  • bananatroll

    navigation softkeys are GROSS!!! Keep trying HTC. Jelly Bean is already a buttery smooth experience. OEM’s just have to keep trying to be “different” at the cost of the end user experience…

    at least motorola’s is the lightest of the bunch.

    Keep burying Android in this crap and keep providing an inconsistent OS.

    such a shame…

  • s9779

    im going to say it. yup hear goes “i like htc sense” so how about that. i have an s3 right now and i miss sence

    • zUFC

      I agree with you both. I use my phone for work and out of all the skins, Sense is the best one for business. I mostly like their widgets though. The note widget is simply the best. Can’t find one that comes close in the market for taking a quick reminder note and being able to scroll through them. The Calander is also the best. Clean,scrollable, perfect. Sense does have some great things about it. But! with all that said I’m still a stock android guy. So maybe if they did thin it out a bit. But i’m sure if they did that they would take out the things I liked about it. To each their own I guess. But like you two I won’t bash it or hate on it.

  • For the love of Pete, what is with Android phones and cameras? I’m no iPhone fan, but their camera has been kicking butt for years. To my knowledge there is no proprietary voodoo going on there so I just don’t get why at least one Android phone maker hasn’t bothered to build a camera that truly competes with it. Apparently the SG3 comes close, but opinions vary. With a sealed 2020 battery and no SD slot I really needed this to have a killer camera for me to buy, but now I’m back to being reluctant. I’m still getting by with my Droid Inc (v1) but am desperate for a “super phone” that is super on all fronts.

    • flosserelli

      I have often wondered the same thing. I have had multiple android phones, and the cameras & battery life have always been the least impressive features. You can get around the battery issue by carrying a spare, but you can’t do anything about a crappy camera

      • Ben Johnson

        I don’t see why one of these camera OEM’s (Canon,Nikon,Fuji,etc) doesn’t get together with one of the phone OEM’s and make a phone with folded optics like the Sony DSC-T7 or just really thin like the Casio EX-S500. Hell some of them even make both types of devices (cough Sony, cough Samsung). And some could really use the cash (cough kodak)

        I find this really annoying, even though I know that the camera people are trying to keep their profits from eroding.

  • Brad

    I’m totally confused. The pictures you posted with the camera look great on my display. Not sure where the issue is. I’ve not seen one review slam the camera like this, are you sure wasn’t the settings?

    • Mimsy1227

      I’m pretty sure the camera settings were default.

  • Matt

    I am on Verizon, and available for an upgrade, but I don’t know what to pick, I am coming from the thunderbolt, I am not interested in the note 2, so I am trying to decide between the DNA and the s3. any suggestions?

    • cocamoxb

      I’m coming from the TB as well. I will make note that I did pre-order the DNA. My 2 cents is that I went from the OG to the TB and they were both positive experiences for me with the exception of the battery life on the TB. I’m not a social network user but I’m a heavy corporate email user. I rarely *need* LTE so I leave the normal email on 3G with the network toggle.

      That all being said, I’ve tried to like the Razr Maxx, & HD versions but the UI just wasn’t very preferable to me for some reason. I actually preferred sense. I love the idea of the Maxx battery but what good is a phone that lasts all day if I don’t ever want to use it?!

      I’ve tried Samsung but can’t get past the build quality and the poor experience I’ve had with radios.

      That leaves me with LG, HTC, and various others.

      HTC DNA is full of win.

      Storage for me…..well lets just say I got the Nexus 7 8Gb on clearance for $150 and have yet to fill up the 8Gb…so….

  • Steven02

    I don’t know how you can’t see a difference between Sense in Froyo and Sense in JB. It is strikingly different.

    And skins don’t remove functionality. They often add to it. (T9 dialer anyone) In the case of Sense, it gives a common flow to the HTC apps as well. Also, it is there to differentiate products. If HTC, Samsung, LG, and Moto all ran stock Android, why buy one over the other? It would be hardware alone. If you want stock Android, get a Nexus.

    I get that a lot of reviewers don’t like Sense on this site. But honestly, I think it is still ahead of stock android in many respects. Contacts integration, linking, common look to applications, impressive widgets, image sense chip, HTC link device (I can’t remember its name), etc. Small things like color icons in settings.

    Now, Samsung is doing a lot of this too. With its S Beam, and other sharing protocols when everyone has a Samsung device. How about watching a video why while doing other things?

    Now, I like Nexus devices. I will say the widgets that come installed from Samsung and HTC (sorry, I haven’t owned an LG or Moto device) are better than the stock widgets and better than what is in the market.

    My point is that if you don’t like a particular skin, don’t knock it for being that skin when other people do like it. I would also say that saying it hasn’t changed much since the Thunderbolt is probably just flat wrong, but it shouldn’t be changing to much if it is a good UI.

  • Zach Jacobs

    What happened with the camera? Doesn’t this use the same camera, sensors, and ImageSense chip as the One X ?

    • Brad

      I wonder the same

  • chris125

    If moto would make a maxx like phone with quad core, 1080p and a better camera it would sell like hot cakes. Sadly moto always leaves something out of their phones

  • 5h1f7

    So I’m asking myself exactly the question in the last paragraph. The lack of expandable storage kind of hurts and I’m coming from a Thunderbolt so I know the pain of the short battery. But, I also have no real need for the S-pen or the extra .5 inches of the Note II. Anyone want to push me one way or the other because as of Saturday I have an upgrade burning a hole in my pocket.

    • Korey Page

      I do too thanks to getting the Thunderbolt the first day like you. I was thinking about getting the S3 today and test it out. I know what I’m getting with the DNA so I can hold out a few days longer with that.

    • Neal

      To be quite honest, I’d go with the Droid DNA hands-down. I was at the event that HTC and Verizon held in NYC last week (sadly, it was the event for us normal consumers and not for the media, so I didn’t get a free device to keep), and I did get the chance to play around with a DNA. It’s surprisingly light and manageable, and its size is not a problem at all. It almost feels like they managed to fit a larger screen on a device whose size is comparable to that of standard devices today. The build quality is extremely solid, and is infinitely better than that of Samsung devices. While Samsung devices feel like a cheap plastic toy, the DNA is solid and sturdy, while still being light and manageable.

      Currently I have a Rezound (which I will agree is on the heavy side), and my brother has an SGS3, so I do have experience with both manufacturers. I got the chance to talk to people at the event that have had the DNA for about a week, and everyone had nothing but good things to say about the battery life. The battery life was a major concern for me too, as my battery on my Rezound isn’t exactly stellar (it can be pretty terrible at times). However, the general consensus seems to be that the battery can go an entire day without charging, unless you put it through a ridiculous amount of usage. I was hearing people say that with moderate-heavy usage, they had around 30% of battery left when they went to bed. For me, that’s perfectly fine; for others, it may not be.

      tl;dr: Get the DNA, as it’s better in every aspect, unless you like the S-Pen.

      • 5h1f7

        Thanks for the info, I guess I’ll have to go and check out the DNA tomorrow and see how I feel about it once it’s in hand. I’m still leery about the lack of the expandable storage, if it had 32 gigs I’d feel a lot better about it but 16 just seems light. I use cloud services but in order for me to make this switch I’d be giving up my unlimited data plan to move to a tiered plan AND have to rely more on the cloud. I guess I’ll just have to see.

        • Neal

          Yeah, I understand where you’re coming from on that. That’s the only thing that I’m wary of as well. However, I checked my phone and it seems I don’t even use that much storage anyway. I am likely to be upgrading to the DNA (if not, I’ll just be waiting for the next HTC device), but I’d be doing it at full retail. I’m also currently on an unlimited data plan, which I obviously don’t want to lose 🙂 I talked to one of the VZW reps, and he told me that once my contract is over, I can still keep my unlimited data plan so long as I don’t renew my contract.. so it looks like I’m going to be buying phones at full upgrade price from now on lol. So yeah, if you don’t mind spending the extra few hundred $, that’s always an option for you.

  • Are those indoor shots for real?

    HTC had something good going with their cameras for a while, that was the big improvement I was hoping to find in my next phone.

    • I did not doctor the photos at all, they really are that terrible.

      • jeesung

        they look great compared to my Moto Razr Maxx camera.

        just sayin’ 😉

        • Dain Laguna

          To be fair, alot of smartphone cameras do. 😉

          • Looks better than the Galaxy Nexus : . I miss my Thunderbolt’s camera, too, but the Gnex is way better over all.

  • duke69111

    What was your screen on time with each of the various uses?

    • michael c

      i’d like to know this as well

      • Unfortunately, the HTC Sense overlay made finding the actual screen time impossible.

  • Terrance Steiner

    I am a HTC Thunderbolt user and I get to upgrade in two weeks. The Thunderbolt is a power hungry, random re-booting, no ICS update getting, Sense having beast. I wish HTC the best, but after my Thunderbolt experience I am buying my next handset from someone else. Right now I am leaning toward the Razr HD or S3.

  • On the camera quality – did you turn the Sharpness to minimum and disable Auto enhance? These two tweaks greatly improved the quality of shots coming out of my Incredible 4G LTE.

    • LionStone

      I hear ya, if the DNA camera is bad, that will be a first. I know for a fact that the Inc, TB, and Inc4G ALL have great cameras…the DNA I’m confident is no different.

  • tu3218

    notification light not being RGB is hugeee con for me. I never thought I’d utilize a notification light as much as I do. Definitely a must for me on all phones.

    • socalwrxx

      Was waiting for someone to mention this. no RGB is kind of a deal breaker. Im too spoiled knowing if I have a text, missed call, email, fb notification and discerning them. To just see a green light will make me paranoid

  • Liquidretro

    It seems like about 1/2 the reviews say the battery life is good, and the other half say its terrible. I know there are a lot of factors involved here but I really wish most of the reviewers would come to decision.

    • Tell me about it. It’s easily the most important factor when considering this phone given it’s long list of pros and cons.

      From what I’ve gathered it’s meh. I’m waiting a week or two to get some more data before I commit.

      • Damir Franc

        I will wait for the first real users to tell me more about battery life ,all the results of the reviewers are worth shi.. to be honest

    • I tried to use the phone as my regular phone and battery life was better for me than I was getting on my Galaxy Nexus (LTE) as of late.

      • dandar

        That doesn’t really say much because the Gnex together with Thunderbolt are the worst battery hogs on VZW.

  • michael c

    i’m so happy the battery life isn’t as bad as everyone thought it would be. i’ll probably get this phone later this week

  • Guest

    Oh look, there I am.

  • skinja99

    Can you post some photos of the bezel sizes around the screens in comparison to the Note 2 and Nexus 4?
    I’d like to see how the bezel thicknesses compare.



    Hello, Thanks for the review. A few questions:

    1) Can we see the un-cropped/resized pictures? The size of these is inconsistent with what the DNA camera has available.

    2)I believe the lack of SD card is not as big a deal as you think. It does make you rethink what you really need on your phone, but I think a lot of people got use to have copious space, and just filled it. Do you need to carry every picture you have ever taken? Do you need 1,000 songs (@3.5 minutes/song, that’s 58 hours of music, @2 min/song, it’s 33 hours) all the time? Do you need more than 6 hours of video?

    3) I completely agree about battery life, it is how you use the phone that will determine how long the battery lasts. I have been getting over 20 hours on a charge.

    • BigRed4X15

      Do you wireless tether with your phone? I often tether my Nexus 7 to my Razr Maxx so my kid can stream Netflix during dinner not having to worry about my battery is nice. I am just wondering how the phone handles this?

      • DROIDDNAer

        No, I do not. From what I have seen, it should certainly last through dinner.

    • Lorne Serpa

      I’m not being a smart ass, but…
      2) Yes, I do need 4gb of music. 6 hours of video? This phone cannot hold more than 2 hours! If the phone has a HD display, then I’ll load my HD 1080P movies. They are typically 7-8gb each. So, with no apps, no pictures, no videos, etc, I could NOT put 1 HD movie and 4gb of music on the phone.
      This could have been the phone of the year with a proper storage option and battery.

  • skinja99

    Seems like the Big drawback is the memory. Only 11.5GB available to the user is a BIG DEAL.

  • Tyler Casilio

    Well the Battery Life was the determining factor and DL has spoken. Others have also said Battery life on this phone isn’t really the problem that we all thought. Well, thanks DL. This is my next buddy

  • Any chance something like this comes to Sprint ever?

    • Paul

      The Optimus G… unless you want sense for some reason. Or resolution I guess, not that it makes a huge enough difference to pass on the Optimus.

  • Jerry13

    No mention of the 16gb memory. That is actually 11.5. Kind of an important spec to not include in a review. Plus it is not enough memory.

  • Bewara2009

    Holy cow did ya see that bad boy boot up under 5 seconds..

    • Lactose_the_Intolerant

      Coming from HTC Rezound with 5 minute boot… wow!

      • My Rezound boots in about the same amount of time as this phone. Do none of you Rezound users use Fast Boot?

        • Santa

          I have an HTC Incredible 2 and with fast boot it still takes about 4 minutes to start up.

        • rezoundhater

          the rezound is a pathetic, slow, overpriced hunk of junk.

  • How does the camera compare the razr maxx hd?

    • uzo ufondu

      I don’t know


  • MichaelFranz

    No SD slot is still a huge turn off, i feel like i will piss thorugh 16GB quick, on my nexus i did 16GB out of my 32GB before i got rid of it. Grnated thats alot of rooting tools, backups, titanium backups.

    Wish the battery would of been a 2500+ size and i might have considered it. Love HTC’s form factor and sense is tollerable to some extent

    • porkoff

      “would have been”, not “would of been”

      • WWW

        Very good call-out. Good to know that grammar isn’t dead.

  • Getting this, slapping an AOSP ROM on it as soon as its available, flashing LeanKernel, and riding off into the sunset. The beautifully detailed 1080p sunset

    • Mah nigga. I’m doing the same thing. I see no reason why AOSP/Stock on this won’t make this the phone to beat.

      -I don’t see myself using 11GB of storage as I use the cloud for many services.
      -Battery is a sore spot because I’m quite undecided, but if more user reviews attest to it’s quality, I’ll get this phone no doubt.

    • AlexKCMO

      Assuming someone develops an AOSP ROM. Don’t make the same mistake that I made with the Rezound.

      • zepfloyd

        This is another tired argument. The Rezound launched along side a NEXUS. Where did you THINK Dev’s were going to go……

        • AlexKCMO

          Because Devs are going to all jump on a device with S-On.

        • ddevito

          Devs will still choose Nexus 4 over this phone.

          • Fattie McDoogles

            But they develop for lots of different phones. Most cross carriers and manufacturers. Besides most of the devs that have Verizon aren’t going to just jump ship and move their families from Verizon just for one phone. I would assume most of which are grandfathered into unlimited LTE and the Nexus 4 doesn’t have it.

        • And the DNA launched alongside the Nexus 4, so the argument still stands. I’m truly hoping a non-sensed ROM comes out soon. I know the Devs have their own lives and it’s the holiday season so I’ll try to be patient as much as I can and will donate to them as soon as possible.

          • zepfloyd

            the difference here is there’s no Nexus 4 on Verizon. And considering there are a few committed devs already in XDA, along with root, recovery, and unsecure kernel before it’s even released is promising. Still would be better to get S-OFF but that’s being worked on.

      • Sobr0801

        Rezound was great, but yeah, it sucked falling farther and farther behind in os.

        • brando56894

          It was great for about the first three months, then I kind of wished I had gotten the Nexus. After a year with the Rezound, I switched over to the Nexus (got it off of ebay for $200) and I’m not looking back, although I have been having problems with OCing it and it lagging at times :-/

      • brando56894

        Yea, same here. I got the Rezound the day after launch day, had to wait a month for even a sense rom to come out (and a month for permanent root) and then a few more months for an ICS rom to come out and then a few more for S-Off. Development is damn near at a stand-still (AOSP wise) so I switched to the Nexus.

      • There’s AOSP roms on the rezound… they have a mostly fully working and stable CM9 / AOSP / AOKP… and are working on CM10 right now. Admittedly it took a while lol

        • AlexKCMO

          Mostly fully working isn’t fully working. CM10 is fully working on my G-Nex.

    • Tim242

      Good luck with that. S-on cripples development.

      • michael arazan

        Once Vzw actually figures out what S-on S-off even means, I’m guessing 1-2 months, they’ll work faster than any other update to patch it, because we all know that unlocked phones destroy the Verizon network, Verizon is as paranoid and ignorant of tech and science as republicans

        • brando56894

          It still makes me laugh how Verizon employees don’t know a damn thing about the phones that they sell, especially their “techs” (which, yes I know, no longer really exist). When I got the OG Droid one of the techs was like “Dude, come look at this! He changed the boot animation!” and when the radio on my Rezound went goofy I told the manager of the store I was at that the data radio kept dropping out and his immediate response was “the what?!”

        • sidney547

          Wow, what an ignorant, bigoted statement. I would expect no less from one of you “tolerant” liberals. I’ve probably forgotten more about tech and science than you’ll ever learn.

    • C-Law

      I want to do this too but please be smart and wait for it to happen before you buy the phone so you aren’t disappointed if it never happens

      • You and everyone else make very good points. But the phone is solid on it’s own merit. So even if I have to wait I’m willing to stay stock for a while. And cmon look at these specs. That’s the definition of future proof lol

    • firebird69

      Got my Fed Ex tracking # yesterday, hoping it arrives tomorrow, but it is schedule for the 21st. Going to be rocking a ROM too, AOSP would be great. I want all the bloat off my phone..

  • Good review. While the screen quality, size, form factor and positive aspecs of the smartphone are attractive, I agree with you on the Sense skin and the other inexcusable cons. For me the SPen and larger screen of the Note 2, besides all the other features missing from the DNA that are on the Note 2 are a must for me.

  • As someone that doesn’t need/want a 5 inch screen and uses a lot of battery… what’s my best option on Verizon? The GS3? Razr hd? Waiting?

    • Personally, my current VZW phone is the Razr M. It’s got a 4.3in screen packed into a small device form and has kickass battery life (I often forget when I last charged it). It’s also running Jelly Bean 4.1, which is a delight.

    • Lactose_the_Intolerant

      RAZR MAXX HD — 3300 mAh battery — non replaceble.
      4.7″ screen AMOLED, 1280 x 720, ~312 ppi

      Samsung S3 — 2100 mAh battery — replaceable.
      4.8″ Super AMOLED screen, 1280 x 720, ~306 ppi

      Replaceable battery is always better.

      • Diablo81588

        You will add major bulk if you put a maxx size battery in the s3. The maxx battery lasts for two days, even with heavy use. I think it’s large enough to be acceptable as non removable.

      • Droidzilla

        I’ve never used a spare battery in my devices that had the option, so it’s an advantage to me when there’s a built in battery (makes for a better device; thinner, better seal, less “creaky,” etc.). Different strokes, and all that.

    • Mrwest45

      Razr HD Maxx.. Hands Down

  • lemonhead127

    I still want the Razr Maxx HD over this.

    • Christopher Moore


    • I’ll back you on this, but it kills me that they want $300 for it. It really is absurd.

      • If Verizon is your carrier, Amazon has it for 149 right now

        • I was aware of the various deals on Amazon, WireFly, etc., but they all make you lose your unlimited data. From what I understand I can do a little arm bending to keep it if it I order direct from VZW. (A side thought though, maybe I could upgrade from Amazon on my second “basic” service line and then switch the phone to my line? I think this falls into ETF territory though, right?)

  • zepfloyd

    Battery life under good!

    Can we put it to rest now, please. Haters take it somewhere else.

    • seems the battery life is better than the nexus 4,

    • Diablo81588

      The problem is the battery is not removable. Having such a small battery, even though normal use is acceptable, is a major drawback if you find yourself without a charger for an extended period.

      • zepfloyd

        Problem is you either carry a spare battery like the GS3, or a sleek power pack for this, not much difference. Can’t chage the argument anyway. Point is for a week all we heard was how bad this battery would be in not lasting a day. It’s just not true.

        • Lorne Serpa

          Complete difference! The sleekest power pack is way bigger and cumbersom than a very small and thin battery. If you stack them side by side, a power pack is probably 6x at minimum larger than a spare battery. Power packs are in a case, have usb plugs, charge managing circutry, etc. No comparison. Shove a power pack and the phone it’s attached to in the same pocket and see the difference between it and a spare battery.
          Next, compare cost between the two.
          Third, your phone is tethered to the power pack the entire time it’s charging. Try making a call with a power pack attached, playing a game, navigating with a car dock, etc.
          A battery can be swapped as fast a you can power down and up a phone.

    • Tim242

      I work in a cell phone store. The most common phone issue is swollen batteries from using cheap car chargers. This causes batteries to drain very fast. Non-removable batteries are horrible ideas.

    • C-Law

      I need to see screen on times first

  • paul_cus

    Not the phone for me, but I’m rooting for HTC on this. Hope it does well, I know Verizon is going to push it.

  • Notification LED on the back is definitely cool, but, I don’t like it. I often turn my phone over so I’m not constantly looking to see if I have notifications.

    Also.. redesign Sense, HTC! It’s seriously the ugliest skin I’ve seen. I’ll take LG’s skin (Opitumus) over this. We shouldn’t have to throw on Nova Launcher to get rid of that hideous skin.

    Now, give this a bigger battery and it’d be all mine even though I am a bigger fan of on-screen buttons.

    Oh, and good review, DL!

  • htowngtr

    Mimsy? lol

    • CivilDroid

      Haha! at first i was like “Dave who?” but then I recognized Mimsy from his twitter feed and then I was all, “Oh, Dave Kover, duh!”

    • Mimsy!!! lol She’s now famous

      • I think she was already if people are commenting about her just from one picture alone.

      • Mimsy1227

        Heck Yeah!!!

        • As Dave mentioned, you must have already been pretty popular, seeing as how they already knew your name. Creepers! 😛

          • Mimsy1227

            hahaha I love it. I just wish I wasn’t making such a freaking goofy face! Awkward Turtle!

      • Tim242

        You are so sexy : ) Just saying!

        • Don’t know if that was meant for Mimsy or me….

          • Tim242

            haha it was meant for you.

          • TylerChappell

            I agree 😀

          • Tim242

            You are more sexy than him though : )

          • TylerChappell

            Oh my, flattery will get you everywhere. You can play with my DNA rainbow Tim…

  • brianyu8

    Oh, now that the battery life isn’t complete crap, I might just buy it! As always, thanks for the great review

  • prestone1