Why I don't plan on buying the DROID DNA

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: November 14, 2012

Following a sudden flood of rumors over the past two weeks, we saw the DROID DNA by HTC become official at the press event held by HTC and Verizon in New York City yesterday. Inspired by super cars and built to be "the ultimate smartphone", the DROID DNA is undoubtedly one of the most powerful smartphones on the planet.

Under its hood, it's housing a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 chip, 2GB RAM and 16GB of built-in storage. And it has the most gorgeous display that can be found in a pocket-sized device. At 5-inches and 1080p resolution, it features a display that packs 440 pixels per inch, far beyond that of any other device on the market.

Some of you know that I have been patiently waiting to see what HTC's 5-inch smartphone would entail, waiting to decide whether Samsung's Galaxy Note II or the HTC DROID DNA would be my next long-term phone.

After a short time with the DNA yesterday, though, I'm confident in saying that I probably won't be purchasing the device after its release.

Don't get me wrong. It's a fantastic phone. Its quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro is sufficient to push the 2,000,000 pixels with ease and stave any initial lag. And being a pixel junkie, the display is mesmerizing. Oh, and the design is fantastic, though the matte finish on the back is a fingerprint magnet.

No less, phablet or not, I have no interest in buying it for various reasons.

In short, I guess you could say I'm content with the Galaxy Note II. Like I explained a few weeks ago, it's in a class of its own, thanks to several features Samsung included in the Note II version of TouchWix Nature UX. I'm a power user, and the multitasking features of the Galaxy Note II set it apart from its closest competitors and even Samsung's other devices, like the Galaxy S III.

On the DROID DNA, there are no software features that set it apart from any other HTC device currently on the market. It's simply a specification bump to the One X+. We're now at a point where hardware differences are negligible and software differentiation is vital.

And that gets me to my next point. Sense 4 was nice. I enjoyed it for most of the time I used the One X, which is a far cry from other versions of Sense. The version of software on the DROID DNA is Sense 4+. The changes between Sense 4+ and Sense 4 are minimal, visual tweaks at best with the few enhancements of Jelly Bean underneath the surface. It's certainly a significant upgrade. But it doesn't address some of the more outstanding problems I found after long-term use of Sense 4.

App switching and HTC's aggressive background task management are still present. At first, this wasn't a problem on the One X. But the more I used the phone, the more reloading applications I had just left moments before started to get to me. And Web pages would reload almost every time I switched to and from the app. After growing so fond of the advanced multitasking on the Galaxy Note II, it's been hard to go back to the One X and, likewise, it would be difficult to switch to the DROID DNA.

Changing the wallpaper can only be done from Gallery or from the Settings app (under Personalize).

Neither of these are deal-breakers. But they're tiny quirks that subtract from a larger part, the overall experience. And that's what's really killing this device. The entire thing, save for the excessive display, is just barely enough, missing two key features that would push such a gorgeous display over the edge.

The 16GB internal storage, for example, is just enough to get most users by. Only 11GB of the 16GB are available to the user. This is not unlike the One X, where, between apps, music and pictures, space was always tight.

Then there's the battery. At 2,020mAh, I can't imagine it will leave me with much at the end of the day. I was told it lasts "about a day" countless times yesterday. But in my experience with HTC devices, a full day of use is a pipe dream. I have a hard time believing the S4 Pro chip will offset the additional power required by the significantly brighter and more dense 1080p display. Even if it does, I figure people will be just squeaking by at the end of the day. After using the Galaxy Note II, I'm a fan of having excess battery at the end of the day.

There is nothing terribly superior about the DROID DNA, except its display, which is above and beyond anything that is needed. And as much as I love crystal clear displays, I would take a better overall package with a noticeably lower display density over a gorgeous display with substandard specs (in this case, meager storage space and battery capacity) slapped on the back, even if it is in a gorgeous casing.

I'll be sticking with my Galaxy Note II over the DROID DNA. What say you, ladies and gents? Is the DROID DNA everything you were wanting? Or is it a letdown by, yet again, being just enough?