Droid DNA from HTC, Verizon Raises the Android Bar

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Droid DNA by HTC

Verizon Wireless will begin selling the Droid DNA Nov. 21 for $199.99 with a two-year contract. The DNA runs Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean), HTC's Sense 4+ user interface and boasts a number of firsts.

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The DNA measures 141 by 70.5 by 9.73mm. At its edges, though, it thins to less than 4mm, a trick designers pulled off by stacking the device's internals pyramid-style. HTC's design team is said to have been inspired by the stylings of supercars, and the sides of the DNA, with its "micro-grill pattern," were reportedly inspired by detailing on a Lamborghini engine.

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From Behind

The back of the DNA is covered in a soft-touch paint that feels good in the hand but does attract lint. There's also a dedicated rear speaker amplifier that offers music loud enough, and actually clear enough, to share in a room with a few friends. For an even better listening experience, though, Verizon will also offer the Beats Pill, a small, pill-shaped speaker that pairs with the DNA.

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Power Button

Less great is the DNA's power button, which is flush with the phone and hard, making it a little more awkward to use than the more obvious—and even, relatively speaking, more pillowy—protruding buttons on other devices. Alongside the power button is the headphone jack and the SIM slot.

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Also unlovable is the MicroUSB slot, which is covered by a little door. The door likely does some thankless job, like keeping out dust or adding to the device's aesthetic. Without fingernails, though, it's difficult (or at least annoying) to open, and then it takes some fiddling to close properly.

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HD Video

The power button and USB door are niggling details, but there's plenty the DNA gets right, from the tactile sensation offered by the keyboard and the three navigational buttons on the front display, to its speedy processor and incredible display. HD video? No problem.

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The DNA features an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 28mm wide-angle lens. The front camera is 2.1MP and can capture video in 1080p while the rear camera can shoot video in 1080p HD.

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Low Light

The DNA's camera impresses even in very low light. This photo is exactly as it came off the camera. It was taken without flash in a bar lit by little more than candles. Most phones, in that light, would return a fully dark image.

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HTC also added features to its Gallery. Photos—very, very easily—can be sorted into albums, but the phone will also automatically sort photos into Events, understanding the difference between sequences of shots taken even an hour apart. Both features help control the glut of photos that can compile on a phone and eliminate that moment of scrolling and scrolling to find a picture one's looking for.

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Side View

Like the power button, the volume button is flush and metallic-feeling. I found myself hurrying for the power button most often when the DNA was in what HTC calls "Sightseeing Mode." A tap of the power button brings a user straight into the camera's viewfinder, which is several seconds faster than unlocking the phone through the camera icon.

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Droid DNA

In summary, the Droid DNA by HTC is a great phone. It's fast, has a gorgeous display, feels smaller in the hand than even devices with smaller displays, and includes smart, new features like near-field communication (NFC) technology and the ability to charge when set down on a wireless-charging pillow. HTC has got its mojo back.

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