HTC badly needs a hit smartphone, and the Droid DNA will probably get the job done. HTC's new superphone for Verizon Wireless boasts a class-leading, 5-inch 1080p HD Super LCD3 display. It packs an iPhone 5-killing 440 pixels per inch and puts most other smartphone displays to shame.
There are no other 1080p HD smartphones available in the U.S; the Droid DNA is the first to offer such a high-resolution screen. Though it measures 5 inches, don't call it a phablet. HTC insists that the DNA is a smartphone, not a smartphone/tablet hybrid. It does not include a stylus.
The DNA runs Google's Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean and includes HTC's Sense 4.0+ user interface overlay. HTC's software customizations include themes and profiles to help personalize the device, as well as faster boot times.
[ HTC agrees to pay Apple for each Android device it sells. Read more at HTC Settles Apple Lawsuit. ]
Powering the 5-inch screen you'll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor. It has four cores at 1.5 GHz each, and includes 2GB of RAM. A high-end GPU and imaging chip help push the DNA's performance to the max.
HTC has carried forward the same 8-megapixel main camera it has used on most of its high-end devices this year. The image chip lets users take pictures while simultaneously shooting video. It also has back-side illumination and an f/2.0 28mm wide-angle lens to help with low-light performance. The user-facing camera can capture 2.1-megapixel images. It also has an f/2.0, 88-degree, ultra-wide angle lens for low light -- because who doesn't want to conduct video chats in the dark?
As with the HTC One X+, the DNA has two amplifiers rated at 2.55 volts each. One is for the headphone port and the other powers the internal speaker. HTC says this dual-amplifier set up helps to create the best possible sound quality without distorting the music. Of course, the DNA also includes Beats Audio.
There are a few troubling omissions and/or "features" about the DNA that might convince some users that it's not the ultimate smartphone. First, the device's battery is embedded, meaning it can't be removed or switched out. The battery is a meager 2,050 mAh, well below the 3,100-mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the battery of the Motorola Droid RAZR HD and MAXX HD.
The DNA also has limited storage. It holds just 16 GB, and it doesn't support microSD cards. I have to say, 16 GB is scraping the bottom of the barrel for a modern smartphone, especially given the increase in the size of applications and the size of media files people like to tote around. With only 16 GB on board, many may feel that the DNA doesn't provide enough room for their media and other content needs.
Verizon Wireless is the only network operator selling the DNA. It can be pre-ordered starting Tuesday and will ship beginning November 21. The device costs just $199.99 with a new two-year contract. That's $100 less than Samsung's 5.5-inch behemoth, the Galaxy Note II.
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