HTC DROID DNA hands-on and first impressions

November 13, 2012

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Today the folks from HTC and Verizon have announced their all new 5-inch 1080p smartphone in the HTC DROID DNA -- and it's gorgeous. They aren't calling it a phablet, but we're still inclined to do so considering the sheer size of the phone. We already know everything about this new flagship from HTC, and if not here's our announcement post, so head on down past the break for additional details and our hands-on pictures and more.

Before we show you the beautiful and vivid display, lets talk about the specs. This is the all the latest mobile technology blend into one high end device in all aspects, except that small battery. HTC's DROID DNA is equipped with a 5-inch 1920x1080p True HD Super LCD3 display which works amazing indoors, and out. A quad-core processor, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. HTC touts the screen tech being "50% brighter than the Samsung Galaxy S III" but we'll have to wait and see once we get one in to review. This display is absolutely stunning and clearly the star of the show here.

Everything is crisp, sharp, and vibrant. Colors are extremely vivid and bright, the blacks are impressive and inky black, and we dare you to find a pixel on this ultra HD 1080p screen packing 440ppi. Viewing angles are great, as usual with HTC, and we have a feeling this will be an awesome performer outdoors too -- a place where most mobile phones fail to be very usable.

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Then you've got Qualcomm's new and powerful 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, Verizon 4G LTE, and 16GB of storage under the hood. Again they opted not to add a micro-SD card (I'm blaming Verizon) and then the battery is a bit of a bummer too being only 2020 mAh in size. With the Note II being the only real competition here and offering a 3,100 mAh battery, I'm at a loss for words as to why HTC chose this route. The screen probably takes up more space than they'd like. We'll test battery in our full review coming soon.

Then to wrap up the rest of the specs we have an 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash, as well as the usual HTC ImageChip for enhanced photo and video. You have 1080p video, 1080p video output with MHL, and can even take full 8 megapixel images while recording video with the tap of a button. The front camera is a first for Android, rocking an 88% wider ultra-wide 2.1 megapixel lens that can have four people in a single video call.

Then as usual we have Beats Audio, but this time around HTC's added a built-in 2.25v dual dedicated amplifier for the headphones, and the stereo speakers. If you didn't see any speaker grills on back that is because they are housed under the "Lamborghini inspired" grills on the sides of the smartphone as you can see in the image above. They are near the top so shouldn't get covered by hands during use in landscape, or portrait.

Running on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and HTC's new Sense 4+ everything is blazing fast as you can see in our video above. Jelly Beans improvements are clearly noticeable here in smoothness, even if Sense covers the look and feel. We really can't stress enough how amazing this screen looks. It's so crisp and vibrant it really is impressive. Do we need 440 ppi? Nah. Is it awesome? Yes, indeed! Overall our first impressions are rather favorable. The build quality is stunning as usual with HTC, the soft-touch polycarbonate back feels excellent in the hand and the weight doesn't seem too bad either. We can't fully test out things like battery life, or the new Beats audio sound quality and speaker grills in this setting -- but stay tuned for our full review with all the details.

The brand new and gorgeous HTC DROID DNA is available for pre-order starting later today from Verizon Wireless, and will hit store shelves November 21st for $199 with a new 2-year contract. Who will be getting this over the Note II?

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  • Faris!

    The video is only a Jpeg file… also i searched Youtube for your hands-on but nothing.
    The phone is absolutley excellent except for one thing, 16gb instead of 32gb or even 64gb =(
    I still LOVE my Int. One X =)

  • Oh, looks like HTC will have to announce a Droid DNA”Maxx” or DNA+ with a bigger battery.

    2200 mah is adequate for a 4″ 720p device to last a day but generating 1080p +powering 5″ would need a lot more power. Hope HTC and qualcomm have made DNA efficient enough to last 10hrs of moderate use.

    Else this sexy device would end up like oneX

  • throwexception

    16gb and no sd card. OOTB you’ll have 11gb free.

    Apps, esp games are 2GB easy nowadays. Try this on for size: download 3 games, have some music and picture on your phone. You now cannot use the advanced 1080p video recording of this device. (no space left)

    What does HTC expect us to do? uninstall all games, delete all music and pictures so you have space for video, and later reinstall all of those back?

    And before you say cloud, how will cloud solve this scenario!!!

    • Well, considering I store(and stream) my entirely 12,000+ song music library via cloud, I store my documents(books, PDFs, reports) via Google Drive(cloud), and upload all my photos to Google Drive as well(cloud again), I’d say the cloud solves a good bit of my dilemma…As for gaming… Well, I have a Nexus 7 for that, which honestly, thanks to the Tegra 3 in that, runs games a lot better than this will.

      I will agree with your main point though, I would have loved to have seen a micro SD slot or even a 32GB option for this.

  • What were they thinking… small batteries are so 2010…

  • RachelFleming

    Darn it. Why isn’t this available on AT&T’s 4GLTE? the Nokia Lumia 920 looks good, too, but I love the idea of being able to see the pics I take of my hair salon clients in that 440 PPI! AT&T just launched here in San Francisco not long ago; love it.

  • Tom Secreto

    I really love HTC phones, using the EVO 3D now and it is great. This phone HAD the potential to be tops BUT with no SD card it is out of the running in my book. The people I know all use the card for storage and the cloud is just a cool thing. Being in IT and now IT security for 10 years as well there is just too many things that will never go in the cloud for me. HTC you blew it with such a small thing, maybe Sprint will get a version that has a sd card since I would never pay Verizon their prices.

  • Tom Secreto

    Right now the Note II has it.