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[REVIEW] DROID DNA Review and Opinions - Update 12/1/12
[WARN]These opinions reflect my personal use of this phone and do not represent those of Android Central. These are my opinions and my opinions only based on my experiences with this particular device. Yours may differ and that's what this all about.[/WARN]
[INFO]Welcome to you DROID DNA.
I want to start off my introducing myself, I am an adviser here on Android Central and since I have recently purchased a new DROID DNA you will see me around here often . I also have experience with the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S3 and RAZR MAXX/MAXX HD. I have been a long time Android enthusiast and smart phone junkie. I just wanted to post a little review of what I believe are the most crucial parts of this device and my opinion about them. Yours may differ and that's what this forum is about, intellectual discussions among users for the great good of the Android community both here on Android Central and all over.
So what am I going to be reviewing here? Well like I stated before, I want to get into the most looked at parts of any smartphone now a days... Screen, Radios, Battery and much more. Buying a smartphone isn't so simple now a days since we have a lot of great choices out there and sometimes looking for 5 minutes in the store isn't enough to make a decision. Hopefully this will help because I will be updating this as issues come up or if I find something new and cool that you should be aware of.
That being said, if anyone wants to chime in to add their 2 cents by all means please do. Also, if you want to see something added to the review parts speak up and I will most certainly do my best to provide you with the information you want.
Now... lets get to the juicy stuff!
If your lazy and don't want to read everything (I have done this too so don't feel bad ) there is a sum up at the end of this post.[/INFO]
It is obvious that this would be the first part of the review. It is the flagship feature of this phone and it damn well should be. 5-inch super LCD3, HD 1080p is nothing to take lightly. After owning many phones and playing with much more including the iPhone 5, Galaxy S3 and RAZR MAXX HD in the most recent bunch this screen BLOWS EVERYTHING AWAY.
I really can't say it enough that this screen is simply gorgeous and of all the phones that I have used in the past nothing comes close. I have not had the opportunity to look or play with the Galaxy Note 2 yet, but I don't see how the screen would be able to get much better than this.
There have been reports of people saying they are getting screen distortions when too much pressure is applied to a particular part of the screen but I have not experienced this myself. Some have reported that it is due to a case that Verizon sells so for now I would say stay away from Verizon cases, personally I have never liked them anyway but I would look else where for a case. If you do see certain screen distortions, GO TO VERIZON RIGHT AWAY. This is flagship feature and sell point of the phone and if you are experiencing issues you deserve a working model. Edit:
One of our users reported that this isn't so much a case problem but more a gorilla glass problem. Applying too much pressure on the same parts of the screen could cause distortion to the screen so keep that in mind. Be careful with your device, this is a very expensive piece of hardware so just be careful and think about what you are going to do it with. If you can avoid applying excess pressure, wether it be using it normally or putting it in you pocket just be mindful of this.
Aside from the one issue mentioned which might not (I said might
) be a huge issue if you don't use cases the screen is on the top of the list. This will be the benchmark. Period.
Qualcomm® APQ8064 Quad-core 1.5 GHz CPU. Does there need to be much more said here? Its fast. The only feature that I have notice that slightly laggs the phone is the display and many other reviews have said this as well but the lag is so minimal in almost all the cases I have seen that it isn't even an issue. I have used this now for 3 days and it has been a speed demon. Everything I threw at this phone runs amazingly smooth and haven't experienced a hiccup in speed yet. Like I said before, you might see a little bit of lag on the screen but you have to remember here the CPU is trying to process a 1080p screen, not an easy task. For the basic applications like email, texting, social networking, browsing and the occasional game, this CPU will eat it up and laugh in your face when you think it might slow down.
I personally believe that Quad Core CPUs are going to become the standard for all flagship phones from here on out and if a new one doesn't have one, they are behind the times. This phone is a prime example as to why the new generation of smartphones need a quad core processor. You can't run a 5" 1080p screen on a dual-core CPU and expect it to run smooth. That is just not going to be possible. While this is where I would put benchmarks or speed tests, I don't believe that they are a true representation of real world use. If you want to run, by all means do so and report back here but this bad boy has everything you need and then some for real world uses.
Cell Service and Radios:
This is a catagory that has been under much scrutiny over the past months or so, especially with the expansion of Verizon's 4G LTE network. I know that my area has only had full 4G service for 1-2 months now and its great. When I had my Galaxy Nexus, the radios where horrible. Probably one of the worst features on the phone and the reason that many people hated that phone. Luckily for me, they didn't present any problem but looking back I see now how bad they are. The RAZR MAXX HD had some of the best cell radios I have used in an LTE phone. Never lost data, never had issues between 4G and 3G and rarely had a handoff issue. So how does the DNA stack up?....
Extremely well. Handoffs between 3G and 4G have been quick and painless, 4G receptions has been stellar and I have not had one issue of data dropping. *knocks on wood*. If you have been worried about cell phone service because of work, family or whatever it may be you can rest assured that this will work great for you. I can't speak for everyone, but I have not had one issue with cellular or data service in my area (tri-state area).
Edits:This phone does not support simultaneous data and voice. If this is an important feature to you, look else ware... mainly the RAZR HD or MAXX HD. The other thing worth mentioning that I experienced earlier today, in an area where I had very low 4G service the DNA will go back to using the 3G radio. My MAXX HD would get basically 1 bar for 4G service in certain areas but now the DNA reverts back to 3G.
Phone Call/Voice Quality:
Currently I have not experienced one issue with the quality of the phone. Crisp and clear calls with a good amount of volume. Making phone calls via the handset or using my car's bluetooth system and I can't report any glaring issues that would give a huge negative mark here. Calls connect quick, no issues on the other end of the call that anyone has told me. Everything has been up to par here. One issue that I can report is the in call volume on the handset could be a little higher. I have mine all the way up and while its good enough most of the time, I find myself thinking that if I am in an area with a lot of background noise I would wish it would be able to go louder. That could be because I am going def but still an area for concern if you find yourself wanting the ability to have loud in call volume when using the phone itself.
I am sure that this is on the that most people are looking forward too. These parts aren't as easy to review because everyone's use is different and everyone's phone is different depending on when they where manufactured, what apps installed, what accounts are syncing and many more. Because there are so many variables that can determine your battery life it is almost impossible for me to tell you what you can expect. However, I can tell you what my results have been based on what I use my phone for on a daily basis.
I take my phone off the charger around 7am give or take and it is connected to my home WiFi until I leave my house around 7:35-7:45am. Once I am on the road I am connected to my cars bluetooth and usually keep 4G service through most of my drive, maybe hitting one spot that it drops to 3G. Arrive at work around 8:30 and connect to my office WiFi and from there I don't use my phone all that much. Occasionally checking and responding to texts and emails. Basically the time I am at work its light to moderate use. Once I leave work around 5-5:30 the use of my phone is moderate use and connects to WiFi if I can or just leave it on 4G. Texting, checking emails, facebook, twitter, tapatalk, G+ and some GTalk. By the time I get to the point its beeping at me at 14% to plug in its around 11:00pm-12:00am depending on usage through the day.
Based on those figures there, I am very happy with the battery life. Yes its not the best, but what do you expect from a phone with a 5" 1080p Quad Core phone? I have impressed that it lasts as long as it does. I am sure that if you use the screen more than I do you will see less favorable results but again you have to take into account the screen you are using. It will eat your battery and looking at the screen you will be happy you are. If battery life is a huge concern for you, I would invest in a car charger or get a Qi Charger since this has wireless charging built in.
Again, this is all dependent on your usage. I would say that if you use your phone moderately through the day you can make it a full day until you get home but when you do you will need to charge it up. Now I know some say its bad to do, but I leave my phone plugged in overnight while I am sleeping. Just the easiest way for me and by doing this I don't have to worry about charging a phone mid-day unless I use my phone a lot.
Bottom line, I am happy with the battery life especially taking into account the specs and performance of this phone.
Build Quality and Feel:
HTC has always built some of the nicest looking and quality to hold phones, at least to me. Yes, the Thunderbolt was a brick to hold and a monster but there was no denying that it felt like a solid and expensive piece of equipment. Most recently the HTC One series has been some of the nicest looking phones out there and this take a page right out of their books. While the Black/Red color scheme may be getting a little old there is no denying that it is a beautiful phone. Light, thin, sleek and modern looking. Doesn't have too much "dead space" on the front and very simple looking on the back. The buttons on the bottom (back, home and recents) are small so they don't take up too much real estate but they are sizable enough to feel natural to hit.
There are 2 problems here, but one of them is known to you when bought...
The first one is the size. It is a 5" phone so if you have smaller hands then this might feel awkward to hold at first. Myself, I am use to larger phones like the MAXX HD and GS3 so this wasn't much different and came naturally for me to hold. The soft matte finish on the back feels great in the hand and even though its light to hold it still feels expensive and that is a result of the build quality. It doesn't have too much cheap plastic like the GS3 and it doesn't have the gimmicky carbon fiber backing of the MAXX HD. It hits that happy medium between the two, nice to hold because of the external materials but not to heavy to hold.
The second issue that I foresee being an issue is the power button. Being right in the middle it sometimes is pain to click. Myself, I have attempted to click it multiple times but have to adjust my grip to fully click down on the button to wake the phone. While this is something that will take some getting use to, it makes me wonder why HTC put it in the center when they could have easily put it on the side like every other phone out on the market now. I am sure there are reasoning behind it, but a little more thought by HTC on this might have made the build of the phone an out the park home run.
As is right now, its an upper deck home run.
This is probably one of the best manufactured built in keyboards. I has tracing, decent predictions and pretty good response. I hated the GS3 stock keyboard and the MAXX HD stock keyboard was just a basic ICS one which isn't bad but nothing special. Overall this is a great keyboard for veteran smartphone users or new timers alike. It will take a little getting use to for the size of the phone and differences between different keyboards but I have found myself continually using this keyboard instead of switching to my standard, Swiftkey 3. I am waiting for Swiftkey Flow, but until then I am perfectly happy with the HTC Keyboard, I would say it is one best if not the best stock keyboards. One issue that I find with this keyboard that I wish they added is a way to change the vibrate intensity. I would increase it slightly, doesn't seem to vibrate enough but this could be personal preference.
That being said, I am not including the stock 4.2 Jelly Bean keyboard which is my overall favorite right now. I do plan to install it once I get bored with the stock keyboard if I ever do but the HTC Keyboard is a quality typing experience.
I will be the first one to tell you that I am stock AOSP fan boy. I love the stock look of Android, especially ICS/Jelly Bean. That being said I will try to remove my bias from this. Sense isn't all that bad when you get down to it. I really do like the tweaks that HTC has done and the widgets they offer are some of the best you will find on a stock launcher. The launcher itself doesn't lag like the MAXX HD Blur launcher does which is a HUGE plus for me. The menus are all tweaked to make them look different the stock AOSP but they are nicely laid out and color schemes are very easy to get use to. Obviously this will all come down to personal preference, but I would say that out of the big names in stock layouts HTC has one of the best. This is how I would lay it out right now, excluding stock AOSP...
HTC Sense > TouchWiz > Blur
That being said, if you are like me and AOSP fan boy this will take some getting use to but I found myself liking Sense quicker than TouchWiz and Blur. Even though Blur is pretty close to AOSP it lags which is a huge negative. I have not experienced one hiccup with Sense and it looks the best out of all of them. Features all seem to be the in that you would expect and its very easy to navigate the menus. Also, HTC was thoughtful to include personalization options to change the theme and lockscreens. They offer a good amount of options so that you can make it your own. You can also personalize the SMS app to change color schemes, font sizes and backgrounds. It is just a nice touch added to the phone that wouldn't be considered necessary.
[TIP]Some have found the font size in the SMS app to be rather large when in a thread. Even if you set the text to small in both the SMS app and general settings it still is relatively large. It has been found that if you pinch-to-zoom you can change the size as if you where zooming in and out of a webpage it works the same way in the SMS app threads. Works great to make the font smaller and much nicer to view. Do it in one thread and it stays for all text message threads.[/TIP]
I am coming from the MAXX HD camera so this is a clear cut review. Its damn amazing. While it may not have as many features as the GS3 camera, the quality of photos are stunning. I have not used the video recorder yet but I don't see how it could be bad based on the camera. Pictures are not fuzzy at all unless you zoom in, camera snaps picture very quick and the auto-focus is quick as well. I have a feeling that I will be using my phone camera a lot more than I did in the past.
Here is one of my biggest cons... no SD card and only 16gb internal memory which only comes out to around 11-12gb once it is formatted. Granted, that can hold a good amount of stuff but you would think that flagship phones now a days would either have an SD card slot or AT LEAST 32gb internal memory. If you use a lot of storage on you phone for music, pics or videos this may become a problem.
Verdict and Sum Up:
So whats my verdict? Well if it isn't obvious by now, I would easily recommend this phone to someone looking for the next generation of not just smartphones but what could be considered superphones. While the phone has some negative marks against it, the DROID DNA is possibly one of the best phones out on the market right now. Needless to say it is the best model of the Verizon DROID line and may be on the top phone Verizon offers. With the price tag of $199 its pretty hard to beat. Pros:
- Amazingly Epic Screen
- Great Performance
- Solid Build Quality
- Great Camera
- Good Radios/Call Quality
- HTC Sense Personalizations
- Stock HTC Keyboard
- Battery Life
- Call Sound Could be Higher
- Power Button Placement
- Color Scheme Getting Stale
- Size Could Be Awkward to Hold
- Verizon Bloat
- No SD Card and Only 16gb Internal Memory
[INFO]Review Parts to Come:
- Speaker Quality
- Headphone Music Quality
- HTC Sense Stock Applications
[NOTE]If you want to see something added to this review, please let me know and I will be more than happy to do some testing. Also, if you disagree with me about something speak up. This is all about personal preference and if you don't agree with what I am saying then someone else might not and it could help influence what someone will buy. Again, I am doing this review to help those are are on the fence about this phone. I love this device except for its couple flaws which are minor in my opinion but you may view them as huge issues.[/NOTE]