HTC DROID DNA should’ve been the Nexus 5

November 16, 2012
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Google's Nexus line is known for pushing the cutting edge and helping the evolution of Android along. Earlier this week Google's brand new LG Nexus 4 finally went up for sale. While we aren't here to talk about the lack of stock, or the immediate sold out status, we do want to mention what should've been. It should have been the HTC Nexus 5 or the HTC Nexus DNA. With a beautiful 5-inch 1080p HD display and a quad-core processor if any phone deserved the Nexus branding, the HTC DROID DNA was it.

The LG Nexus 4 went up for sale on November 13th, the same day the folks from HTC and Verizon announced their new flagship HTC DROID DNA with all the specs we lust for. Those being big displays, high resolutions, ultra fast processors, and the latest versions of Android. While I wouldn't go as far as to say the DROID DNA overshadowed the Nexus 4's debut, it certainly cast a little shadow in our minds.

HTC has pushed the hardware to the absolute cutting edge in more ways than one with their new DROID DNA. So much in fact, it's hard not to feel like HTC's DNA should've been the next Nexus, not LG's. We're certainly not alone in this thinking either. Back when the LG Nexus 4 was still just a leak and a rumor, the unknown HTC "phablet" had the same fate. We even reported multiple leaks regarding an HTC Nexus 5. As I'm sure you're all aware, the specs are quite stellar and certainly worthy of the Nexus brand. HTC's DNA comes with a first of its kind 5-inch 1920 x 1080p HD display with 440 pixels-per-inch. a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, an impressive 8 megapixel camera and more. While the battery and internal storage leave something to be desired, Google certainly could and would have stuck with the 16GB of storage HTC's currently offering. Compare this to the similarly spec'd LG Nexus 4 coming in with a smaller 4.7-inch 720p display, the choice on which is more cutting edge is quite clear.

At this point and time HTC doesn't quite have the same level of stature as Samsung, being able to offer their Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II unchanged on all major US carriers. While we personally feel that HTC could, they don't have that luxury at this point. An HTC Nexus DNA would have been their only chance at anything near that level, and certainly helped them out of their current slump. Google would have sold it unlocked in the Play Store and users worldwide would be purchasing it for multiple networks. Instead we have a carrier exclusive (for now) HTC DROID DNA coming from the folks at Verizon Wireless. We're not sure why this happened, but feel it was a missed opportunity for both HTC, and Google.

Obviously a lot comes into play when working on and developing a "Nexus" device. We know Google pushed the limits with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, wireless charging, a quad-core processor and more but HTC has done the same. There's a lot that goes into the partnership between the two companies, teams, development, and of course pricing. It's here that LG most likely had the leg-up on HTC. Being able to reach Google's extremely tight demand for a premium device at a low $299 price. There's so many variables between carrier branding, subsidized pricing, 4G LTE, and tons of other reasons that probably got in the way, but price was most likely one of the deciding factors.

In the end we'll probably never know why HTC wasn't a part of the Nexus program this time around, and there's no saying they won't in the future either. The original Nexus One was by HTC and we've been dying to see another ever since. All that aside we've been enjoying our limited time with the device that will end up making its way to the shelves, that being the HTC DROID DNA. You can see our hands-on and unboxing for an idea of what to expect. HTC desperately needs a device that will help rocket them back into the minds (and hearts) of consumers just as the Motorola DROID and Samsung Galaxy S has. While the HTC DROID DNA has the best change we've seen yet, we still can't help but wonder what would have been if indeed it was the Nexus 5. What do you guys think?

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  • SkyPira

    doesnt anybody else hate the nexus naming system? whats the 7th nexus phone going to be called? nexus7? what about the 7inch nexus tablet?
    honestly, they shouldve called the nexus 4 something else, that doesnt confuse people with the tablet names.

    • Burr

      There’s already a nexus 7. and it is the 7inch nexus tablet

      • SkyPira

        i know that. whats your point?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505417135 Yancy Amornkul

        Burr is stating that the 7th phone obviously won’t be called the Nexus 7. The Nexus 4 was named such in honor of Android’s 4th birthday. Nexus is Google’s codename(if you wish to call it that) for any device marketed as pure Android.

        Aside from the failed Nexus Q, it’s quite easy to understand…. Nexus 4 = 4 inch device, Nexus 7 = 7 inch device, Nexus 10 = 10 inch device.

        As Cory stated, they won’t all be numbered since once that starts happening, THEN it becomes confusing for the consumer.

        All said and done, I actually secretly wished the Nexus 7 would have been called the Nexus Prime, as a combination of ASUS’ stunning Transformer Prime lineup and the Nexus brand name.

      • Guest

        the nexus 4 is actually 4.7 inches…closer to 5 inches than it is to 4. so that doesnt really make sense. also, it was also androids 5th birthday this year, not 4th.
        by the way, thats really a good idea. i think at least ONE of the nexus devices should have been named nexus prime :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505417135 Yancy Amornkul

        The first Android phone was released in 2008 which would make 2012 the official 4th birthday of the phone lineup. As for sizes, a 4.7″ spec still has a 4 in it. ;)

        I do get where you’re coming from though.

      • Guest

        since each nexus phone was not released on exactly the same day, its not really the 4th birthday. and again. 4.7 is closer to 5 than it is to 4.

      • http://twitter.com/Nexus7Forum Nexus 7 Forum

        It doesn’t matter that it’s ‘closer’ to 5 inches. The naming convention that Google is using from now on is the first number of the screen size in inches. Thus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. The next Nexus phone will also be called the Nexus 4..but it will be the 2nd generation. These are the naming conventions Google is going with. If we see a Nexus 5 or Nexus 6…it will be because it has a 5.x or 6.x sized screen. But the Nexus 4 will be continuing from now on with each year getting an update/upgrade/new version. Same goes for the small and large tablets, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. That will be their same names even in the 2nd, 3rd, and further generations. None of these names has anything to do with the year or how long Android has been out. It’s a screen size numbering system using the first digit of the screen size even if it is incrementally larger. (thus the 10.55 inch Nexus 10 is not the Nexus 11). Get it? Good.

      • ha

        Nexus 4 = 4 inch screen Nexus 7 = 7 inch screen Nexus 10 = 10 inch screen. Nothing to do with birthdays…

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

      they won’t all be named with numbers. Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus.. When we get to 7 it will probably be something like the Motorola Nexus MAXX HD+ lol

      • SkyPira

        i know thats probably whats going to happen. it just makes the names inconsistent though. like with the galaxy nexus, it shouldve been nexus prime (because galaxy is a samsung thing).

      • Sirian

        You realize Samsung made the galaxy nexus right?

      • SkyPira

        yes, but you realize the galaxy nexus is more of a “google” phone than it is a “samsung” phone right?

      • Sirian

        It was described as a joint venture essentially, hence the name. One part from each company.

      • Guest

        yes i know that, obviously. but that only applies to the first 3 phones. how do you explain the nexus 4? exactly, thats my point. you cant. theres no naming consistency.

      • Jason Richardson

        Well the Nexus S was based off of the Galaxy S idea so only the nexus one and nexus 4 are left out. Samsung must’ve wanted to contribute to the names and Google did not like that

      • j

        It was screen sizes… Way to waist everyone’s time with this argument.

      • RCB

        It’s weird there’s a couple of parallel naming conventions. The Nexus One was the first Nexus, but also it’s interesting that HTC went on to make the One series… notice it was Nexus One not just Nexus or Nexus 1.

        As Jason Richardson said, Nexus S off Galaxy S and Galaxy Nexus off of Galaxy and Nexus lines working together.
        The Nexus 4 is the 4th Nexus… it’s also close to the Optimus G. I think they could have called it the Optimus Nexus.

        They wanted to do this whole size thing for simplicity with the rest of the Nexus line. It’s interesting because the Nexus 4 has a 4.7 inch screen so it’s close.

        I think the next Nexus will be called the Nexus 5…. because it will have a 5 inch display and also be the 5th Nexus. I think could be a Motorola device by the way. After that they’ll probably keep them the same name… just be the new version of the same name.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dacha.liceknjiga Dacha LiceKnjiga

      I do not hate that, usually there is 2-3 months of annoying marketing for new devices so you cannot miss what is what, unless you’re off the grid.

    • superbaked

      Nexus 4.1 , 4.2 , 4.3 :D

      • will wright

        Thats a really good idea

  • VicVicVic

    I like the opinions you’ve expressed in this article. There are some grammatical errors that made it a tiny bit confusing to read, but I agree with you for the most part.

  • Scott Tisoy Leavitt

    Google probably wanted to get away from having the Company’s name. The phone could have been easily named Optimus Nexus, since the Optimus lines is LG’s. Nexus S was still part of the Galaxy line but focused on the S and part added the Galaxy instead.
    As for the numbering, we’ll find out next year what Google has planned for their Nexus line.

  • http://blog.cocchiararo.com.ar/ Roberto

    COME ON guys, let us have at least a few more months before High end phones are all 5+ inches…

  • Joda

    I would say it was probably the price point Google was aiming for

  • David Hickes

    I would’ve hated a 5 inch Nexus device. I think a lot of people would agree

    • donrhummy

      Completely agree. Who wants a phablet?

      • Chris Carter

        ME!

    • http://www.facebook.com/rmourar Ricardo Moura Rocha

      I would like to have the option to choose, I loved the concept in the rumors of several nexus devices from multiple brands… That could’ve been the HTC device…

  • Sirian

    What, other than the screen, was exactly cutting edge with the galaxy nexus? I don’t think that’s Google’s niche at all. I really like the new push toward high end specs at affordable pricing more than cutting edge at obscene prices. Also of course it’s carrier specific, Droid is a Verizon brand licensed from Lucas arts. A lot if this article seems uninformed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505417135 Yancy Amornkul

      I don’t feel the article was misinformed at all. Reading it multiple times, there were no false facts or incorrect notes.

      The main two items I’m seeing that could possibly be what you’re referring to are the mention of the DNA being worthy of the Nexus branding, which it certainly is. It never mentioned that the Nexus brand was always cutting edge or the best of the best at release. However, even with that in mind, a Nexus device COULD be such a thing at launch. And the DNA would have certainly been extremely worthy of the namesake.

      Item two being the carrier specific. The article states that it is carrier specific(for now). Correct statement, including the (for now) bit. Sure, Verizon has their branding on it… But the DNA will most likely be released in the UK as the HTC DLX. And with the DNA stateside supporting not only CDMA but Quad band GSM, it should only be a matter of time before HTC decides to make an HTC RNA(You’ll get the naming if you know your biology :> ). Especially if the DNA does well. Even if they don’t, just buying the phone outright allows you to almost instantly use it with any current US carrier.

      • Sirian

        I didn’t say it was misinformed, but that it was uniformed. I mostly think so because the points made within it don’t seem to be very factual or even likely. I honestly don’t think any of the droid line have spawned similar phones on other carriers from the same manufacturer, in fact I would think that would be a stipulation in Verizon’s contract with the company building it. Claiming this phone ” should have been” a nexus device is little more than personal opinion, opinion not based on many facts, in fact contradictory to most. Sure it’s a nice phone but there are many very nice non-nexus phones and those are almost certainly going to be your more cutting edge devices if nothing else than for differentiation while not relying on the nexus brand for sales. In fact I would argue the droid brand is exactly where you’re more likely to see crazy specs based on previous launches, and that happens to be exactly where this phone sits.

  • trob6969

    As long as Google keeps expandable memory from it’s Nexus devices for the sole purpose of pushing us towards cloud storage, I won’t give a damn about them.

  • Donny johnson

    I personally won’t ever buy a PHONE that’s 5in, that’s just crazy talk,( and not my brother). 4’3 is all my one hand can take.

    • marty

      we disagree on this (i’m buying this phone wednesday) but you get an upvote for a great simpsons reference

  • Rob Watkins

    I totally agree. It would made a great Nexus device. Imagine how fast it would be without Sense running on top.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dacha.liceknjiga Dacha LiceKnjiga

    I per-ordered this thing, I think HTC is on something this time. Btw I did have over 15 HTC devices from early windows, G1′s and others, now I’m stuck with 2xGS3 which are great phones but somehow I miss that HTC quality, their plastic is better! Oh yes, I’m only buying it because I like big screen, everything else is pretty much already there on other phones, but 1.5 G on 5″ and full HD, that’s a deal. I’m sorry Apple missed the mark with screen size, yes people want big screen everywhere, even in their pocket. Where is the limit? We are there 5″ IS THE NEW STANDARD like it or not. FULL HD will be standard on the phones, like it or not, and there is nothing anybody can do about it, people like big screens. People would buy bigger LCD TV even if they cannot see it properly because it’s big, we like it big in US!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dacha.liceknjiga Dacha LiceKnjiga

    Just look at that beauty next to that small LG phone, just kidding, I’ll order Nexus 4 for my T-mo SIM card but they’re out of stock, I hate that.

  • peacekeeper05

    HTC just can’t make their phones cheaper than they are. They are not as big as LG or Samsung and they do not manufacture their own parts like the display for example. LG has many divisions to help them minimize the cost as much as possible. And the only difference I see is that the droid DNA has a 1080p screen but with a worse battery capacity compared to the Nexus 4. That’s probably the reason why Google picked LG. and it’s a 5 incher w/c is already too big for some people.

    The Nexus 4 is a great device. you’re just being an HTC fanboy now. Does the 0.3 extra inches makes any substantial difference? I really don’t see the point of this thread making it appear that the Nexus 4 is overly inferior w/c is clearly not.

  • yourbrotherrex

    HTC effed up their Nexus chance with the Nexus One fiasco. Gotta give all the other players a shot. (And 5″ isn’t mainstream enough.)

  • JV

    I would’ve jumped over my own mother for that phone.

    • Chris Carter

      UP-VOTE!

  • Noel

    Keep the 5″ but do away with most of the outer shell (shrink both the top and bottom bezel to a minimum) to bring the device to about 133 -136mm in height if possible. Won’t mind a device about 10mm thin to make room for a bigger battery, 64GB int storage or 32GB int storage plus SD card slot like on the J Butterfly. I will hope HTC will make an unlocked GSM version that will play nice with most carriers…Tmo USA especially.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aarontrevor Aaron Sentell

    I disagree. I really like my new Nexus as it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700415008 Edgar Irizarry

    The only thing that could possibly make this phone better than the nexus is the 1080 p screen. That’s it. The chip set and ram are identical. The battery is inferior to the nexus 4 and the screen size is a completely different form factor. Bad analysis and bad comparison. This article came off more like a biased wish list than an honest comparison between two like devices. That being said, the DNA should do well in the phablet market.

    • ali tajiki

      The nexus is HSPA+, not LTE.

      That makes a substantial difference imo since I stream a lot of data and the speed I queue the data is important to me.

      In fact, I’d say it is important to most people, but the magnitude of importance could be irrelevant for certain folks.

  • j

    What do I think? I think this article is a waste of time. The comments are more interesting than the article!

  • auglove3rd

    No LTE on this thing? That and no memory expansion are deal breakers.

    • Jim McNary

      Uh… yes, LTE.

  • xlr8r

    So true!! Nexus 4 should’ve been an HTC, not a POS LG…Nexus One was thee very best in its class, everything else that followed was utter junk… BTW i believe LG stands for the Lesser Gook… as in the lesser samsung, why bother with the lesser samsung..GOOGLE WTF WERE U THINKING!?

  • http://twitter.com/WaveRunnr WaveRunnr

    I’m sure the next Nexus will be 1080p

  • Calvin Phuong

    5 inch 1080p… Droid DNA is NOT the first of it’s kind. Seeing as how the HTC J Butterfly is the same phone released earlier in Japan but WATERPROOF… this is NOT the first of it’s kind. This is VERIZON’s first

  • moses

    this is just verizon bs, no nexus 5

  • Ben

    No, they should keep LG’s Nexus 4 and add a Nexus 5 that is Galaxy note sized (5.5 rather than 5.0 like the DNA). 4.6-4.8 has been the high-end Android screen size norm for awhile now (by tech standards) and the DNA is a little strange in that it is in between that and the new niche Samsung has created with the note.

    Then add a Nexus 3 budget phone at 3.5 inches. If they can sell the Nexus 4 with that beautiful screen and quadcore snapdragon for $300, imagine what they would sell a dual core phone with a less flashy screen for. They could really disrupt the budget market with a $150/no contract smartphone that, with a dualcore processor, would still handle most everything most people use there phones for with the exception of graphic-intensive games.

    And finally add a Nexus Transformer at 12-13 inches and Google’s got every mobile screen size covered. I think Google may be planning at least some of these products, and if not they should be. I believe in ten years people will think of hardware products when they think of Google (and Microsoft) and this makes sense given Google’s increasing desire to control the end to end experience like Apple.

  • Jeff

    I want to clarify something here. I see people posting comments about the Droid DNAs battery is inferior to the Nexus 4s because it is smaller. This is simply not true. Yes its smaller but somehow HTC managed to optimize their software very good this time around. Don’t ask me how I don’t know but I was just as surprised as the next guy was. Its incredible how well the battery holds up in the DNA. I have had it for 2 weeks now and well I’m pleasantly surprised in battery life. I easily make it through out the entire day on battery and end up around 60-40% average at days end. Granted I am on WiFi this entire time. That is still very good. I have been using the phone browsing internet and playing games. I came from an HTC thunderbolt that I had rooted with liquids aosp ice cream sandwich on it and I always ended the day running out of battery having to plug it in. Somehow this phone with the little battery gets amazing life. This is with all bloatware disabled and screen on auto brightness. Auto brightness also does a perfect job on this phone.

    Beleive me after the Thunderbolt I was very wary of HTC again but I knew I could return the phone if I wanted so I decided to give it a try. And I am so glad I did. My concern was battery life and battery life is amazing.

  • http://twitter.com/Nexus7Forum Nexus 7 Forum

    I believe people are erroneously thinking that the ‘Nexus 4′ is being called that because it is the 4th generation phone they’ve come out with. This is wrong. Google has started a new naming convention consisting of the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. They will maintain these as the names for their phone and small and large tablets. We will see a Nexus 4, 2nd generation as well as a 2nd generation Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. This will be the naming convention from this point forward. The #s represent the first number in the screen size. The Nexus 4 is 4.7 inches, the Nexus 7 is 7 inches and the Nexus 10 is 10.55 inches. The next Nexus phone will not be the ‘Nexus 5′, it will again be the ‘Nexus 4′, but it will be the 2nd generation of the Nexus 4. Understood? Good.