HTC Droid DNA


Engadget: The HTC Droid DNA sports a 5-inch 1920×1080 Super LCD 3 good for a resolution of 440 ppi. This is state of the art. I believe 440 ppi is highest in the world among shipping products, shared only by the HTC J Butterfuly. The rear camera features a 28mm f/2.0 lens mated to an 8 megapixel BSI image sensor.

Cramming 1920×1080 pixels into a 5-inch diagonal LCD is one thing, but to make sure that content looks fantastic is something else. Let’s hope HTC did the right thing by incorporating in-cell touch, optically laminating the LCD to the cover glass, used a combination of color filters and matching LEDs for a 100% sRGB color gamut, and tuned those colors for accuracy. Of course viewing angles, color/brightness shifts, contrast, reflectance, reflections, etc. all should be top notch as well.

The HTC Droid DNA, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, will run on Verizon’s LTE network, and launch on November 21 for a reasonable US$199 with a two-year contract.

Update 2012.11.16: Dan Seifert, The Verge:

[…] I’m not a fan of the placement of the button on the One X — but the location of the Droid DNA’s is a new low. Or a new high, if you will, since it’s located in the middle of the top edge of the phone, which might be the most awkward place it could be on a phone of this size. There is no easy way to press the button without shifting the phone in your hand and assuming a ridiculous claw grip with your index finger on top of the device. Somebody really needs to tell HTC’s designers that power buttons work best on the side when phones have 4.3-inch or larger displays.

I’m not a fan of the placement of the power button on the iPhone, all iPhones. Why is it placed to the right? To me it seems Apple designers designed the location of the power button for right-handed folks. Right-handed folks—I’m one of them—hold the iPhone with the left hand and do all the poking and pinching with the right. Well I don’t care for this type of design, and laud HTC for putting the power button where it belongs: in the middle. Whether you’re right-handed or left-handed the experience of pushing the power button is the same, and that’s a good thing. You can’t do that with everything (well, you can actually) but at least HTC figured out you can with the power button.

A ridiculous claw grip? Well, I’m scratching my head as to how Seifert presses the power button on the iPhone. Let me tell you how I do it: I assume a ridiculous claw grip with my pointy finger on top of the device. And so do millions of others. This is a non-issue. HTC designers did a great job of placing the power button in the middle. The same logic applies to the camera.

I mentioned you can’t design everything so it provides the same experience for left- and right-handed folks. Well, that’s not true; you can. The volume buttons don’t need to be off to one side. The + can be on one side and the – can be on the other. A right-handed person like me while gripping the phone with my left hand will usually press the left side of the phone with the thumb and assume something will go up. In this case + button on the left side of the phone can be set to increase, and vice versa for the – button on the right. For left-handed folks the settings can be reversed.

Instead of just leaving the bottom-located Micro USB port open and accessible, HTC decided to put an infernal protective flap over the jack, making it far more difficult to access whenever you need to charge your phone. The silly little flap is fiddly to remove and fiddly to put back in place when you remove the USB cable, and its frustrating every time you use it. This idea wasn’t good on the Palm Pre back in 2009, and it’s not good on the DNA in 2012.

Take a macro lens to the inside of the 30-pin connector and you’ll be greeted with filth, and a lot of it. I prefer there to be some sort of protective flap. We have the phone with us most of the time and generally don’t need access to the micro USB port and certainly don’t have a habit of staring at the bottom of the phone. Only when we need to charge it do we need to access the micro USB port. That’s usually once per day; unfortunately for the HTC Droid DNA that could be twice per day. So no, I don’t think having a protective flap over the micro USB port was a bad design decision. HTC could have made it less flimsy though.

Color reproduction and viewing angles are easily best in class, and the DNA has no problems outdoors in bright sunlight. Like the One X’s SLCD 2 display, the air gap between the glass and the LCD on the DNA is so small that it almost looks like images are floating on the screen.

I don’t know how you can eyeball things like color reproduction and viewing angles and declare them to be best in class. One of the best maybe, but best in class? Let’s wait and see what Raymond Soneira says to declare the HTC Droid DNA the best when it comes to color accuracy and viewing angles. I was hoping the cover glass was optically laminated to the LCD, but if what Seifert wrote is true then there is an air gap. No matter how small the existence of an air gap between the cover glass and the LCD it is simply not excusable. Let’s hope Seifert is wrong and HTC optically bonded the cover glass to the LCD. Fingers crossed.

For low-light photos, the DNA has a f/2.0 lens to let in a lot of light, but it doesn’t have a fancy optical stabilization system as found on the Nokia Lumia 920. Pictures taken in low light are good, but they aren’t quite as good as those offered by the iPhone 5 or the Lumia 920.

Does this mean the HTC Droid DNA is #3 next only to the Nokia Lumia 920 and the iPhone 5 in terms of the quality of photos you get in low-light environments? I’ll take that. The camera seems to be top notch. The display is without equal in terms of resolution and I like the overall understated design. The position of the power button as well as the micro USB cover is a plus in my book, but there is a serious problem. The biggest drawback with the HTC Droid DNA seems to be battery life: a smartphone absolutely needs to last at least a full day. Oh, and one more thing: That ghastly Verizon logo on the front needs to go.





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