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A lot can change in a week. When I woke up last Monday, I had content plans and ideas that I had full intentions of seeing through. And, well, things changed. Moving forward, I will no longer be PhoneDog's primary video guy and am back to tapping away at a keyboard, which is somewhat comforting. I am very comfortable writing day in and day out, and I was stressing each and every day about improving my video presence and becoming a noticeably better video guy.

I picked apart every video I made, critiquing all the minor details and making improvements to each daily iteration.

As you all may know by now, Aaron is back, and he's hitting the YouTube channel full force. And for now, I'm going to stick to what I know: writing.

I know you all may be thinking, "Taylor! What about your 30-day challenge with the DROID DNA?" I'm not quitting it cold turkey. But I am cutting it short. Instead of seeing the challenge all the way through, I will be writing a full review tomorrow and summarizing some of my thoughts after a week with the device below and in some later pieces. Without further ado …

 

I initially picked up the DROID DNA thinking that it would be a rather difficult challenge. Not only was I shelving the Verizon iPhone, I was also shelving my primary phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note II. I generally carry two phones daily because I like having options, I like being able to choose between iOS and Android on the fly. But I certainly don't need to carry two Android phones everywhere I go, especially not two of the largest smartphones on the market.

For the last week (with the exception of yesterday, when I grabbed my Galaxy Note II on the way out the door for my cousin to play with), I have been carrying a single smartphone, which I initially thought would be the crux of this so-called challenge.

I'm now on day eight and things are going quite well. I found that I actually really enjoy the DROID DNA. The build quality of the phone is fantastic, the display is gorgeous, LTE is great as usual, I have only experienced two performance hiccups and I have yet to run out of storage space. On the flip side, I have a few complaints that can't go unsaid.

 

Hardware

First, the device itself. It feels absolutely great in the hand. The back is solid and just tacky enough to give the user peace of mind in knowing the phone won't slip through their digits to the perilous cement below. I love the red accents around the chassis – the trim around the camera, the speaker grill, the trim on the edges and the spun aluminum volume rocker and power button. And the way the glass is beveled, the front of the device melts away into the back.

This is a device I can use without a case, and I really adhere to devices like that. There have been many devices over the last year that I have felt are entirely too fragile to carry naked. The DROID DNA certainly does not fall into that category. The hardware is well put together and feels extremely sturdy. That said, I fear what would happen if I were to drop it. (I have that fear with basically every phone ever, though.)

 

Display

The display is anything but a sore point with this phone. It's beautiful. I have loaded the DROID DNA down with movies and games. And it's amazing at displaying content. However, if the content is not optimized for the 1080p resolution, it's terribly noticeable.

Take wallpapers, for instance. When I first used the DROID DNA, the day it was announced in New York, I loaded one of my favorite wallpapers on the phone. It was that moment that I knew 1080p would be a problematic change for a while. The wallpaper, which looks great on my iPhone and Galaxy Note II looks absolutely terrible on the DROID DNA.

 

Constant Wi-Fi notification

With all the streaming and uploading I do, my 2GB data plan doesn't last that long. So I always tend to connect to Wi-Fi when possible. With most phones, if you keep Wi-Fi enabled at all times, you will be notified when you are around accessible wireless networks.

The problem with the DROID DNA (and pretty much all Android phones on Verizon) is that there is a Wi-Fi notification in the notification shade at all times, whether you have Wi-Fi enabled or not. On top of that, there is a persistent pop-up that will appear intermittently when you open specific applications. The pop-up suggests various networks you can connect to.

Fortunately, the latter can be disabled in the Advanced section of Wi-Fi Settings. But I still don't appreciate constantly being told I should connect to Wi-Fi. Maybe Verizon should offer more logical and affordable data plans that can get even heavy users through a month without costing an arm and a leg.

 

Battery life

I was concerned about the DROID DNA's stamina before I ever started the challenge. I have owned countless HTC smartphones over the last three years and I have struggled with battery life with every single one. In fact, the only smartphone I haven't struggled with is the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

I'll be honest. The battery life of the DROID DNA is a tad better than I expected. I charge it full last week and let it go until it completely died. I took it off the charger just before 8:00 AM. With light to moderate usage (maybe 30 minutes of streaming music via Spotify, about 10 emails, 300 text messages no more than 10 minutes of calls and a little Web browsing, the DROID DNA lasted 16 hours and nine minutes before powering down.

Had this been a day of heavy usage, 16 hours would be great. But the phone was on Wi-Fi at least 12 of those hours and was on standby for a vast majority of the day.

Ever since, I have struggled to last an entire day and have been forced to carry one of the many battery pack chargers I own to charge the DNA throughout the day.

 

Camera

Considering the HTC One X and ImageSense couldn't produce a stellar photo, I never imagined the DROID DNA could either. Given the right lighting, the DNA is capable of taking a great picture. Above is a perfect example of just that. (Click the image to enlarge.) But, in most scenarios, this camera's output is not even in the same category as the Galaxy S III or iPhone 5.

Exposure and auto-focus are extremely difficult to get just right without some finagling. And as soon as lighting becomes an issue, the DNA camera begins to trip and stumble. Noise and compression noticeably show. And I have sharp flashbacks to the smartphone cameras of 2008.

I love taking tons of photos. I have taken thousands with my iPhone 5 since September. Yet I have taken less than 15 (recreational) in the last week with the DROID DNA. Plain and simple, I do not enjoy shooting with this phone's camera.

 

I'm actually surprised at how content I am with the DROID DNA. I knew there would be features I didn't like about the phone going into the challenge. I had almost forgotten how much I love HTC's hardware. But this phone suffers from the very same issues every other HTC smartphone from the last two years has been plagued by: poor battery, meager storage space and just enough of everything else to get by. The display is the one thing that's above and beyond.

The problem with that, however, is that I would much rather have much better battery life and more built-in storage than a display that is over the top.


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96 Reactions to this post

"Would you choose the DROID DNA over the Galaxy S III?"


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Richard Allen Yarrell Droid Dna is useless especially on Verizon the bloatware network. Nothing beats Note 2 or Samsung.
Robert Adkins I did, my wife has the SIII and I definitely made the right choice.
John Leasure I'm so impressed by my HTC One X Plus I would buy the DROID DNA over any Samsung product.
Teron Facey HTC & Battery life in their "flagship" phones dont mix.
Ash Belarmino No way men! i got note 2 though and so far so goood! :D
Wilfredo Moises Bautista The only phone better than the GS3 is the GS4, and it's not here yet.
Marlon Milligan Yes 1080p screen.... Hell yea
Veronica Thibodeau Tomlinson I choose the iPhone 5
Jim Walker Still lovin' my Moto built tough Bionic. The machine to rule all machines. That Bionic gal needs to make another hot commercial.
Alex Arana Yes if it had a microsd slot and for tmobile
Mihail Bebrovski Galaxy note 3 will dominate any phone on the market
Yumi Faeldo No. Can't take Sense. And with S3, though delayed, you can hope for an update that will get you the latest version of Android. HTC is usually unable to upgrade because of the very heavy RAM hungry Sense.
Chris May Already have and it makes the s3 seem like a old phone. This phone will do more than the s3, and does not feel cheap like a s3. The s3 is a nice phone, but as the way phones go dna is the top dog. Dont knock it till u try it.
Preston Purdy GS3 for the win
Dan Bittner S3 is way better
Chris Northcutt No. I am all in now with the Galaxy S. 3. For the first time in a few years, I haven't wanted any of the new phones that have cone out since I got this one in July. Usually I am scheming and trying to find some excuse to upgrade to something newer.
Jose Sut Gs3 the best of best.
Michael Laschober Yes bcuz its a better device people are brainwashed
Gene Walker Yes. Would take the DNA over the S3. Smashes it in specs. Screen is beautiful. And the new sense is nice. Preference would be neither tho. Give me the stock android experience. I can do without ui overlays. Google's software is great without it.
Chris Downs Yes and love my DNA.
Clifton H. Williams II Hell to the no
John Resch Much better phone than the SIII..
Sebastian Gomes GS3 hands down. It has more features and expandable memory. Not a fan of cloud storage, I prefer having it on memory.
Howell Ruehl HTC for sure.
Mark Fisher Jr. It's too many androids out there as it is. They multiplying like rabbits.
Mark Kornak Neither, I'm waiting for a high end Nexus phone. I'm tired of custom Android crap the vendors push out.
Murtaza Rzv No...because s iii features are not in DNA
Timothy Tinay NON REMOVABLE BATTERY! LIMITED STORAGE/ NON EXPANDABLE! ONLY ON ONE CARRIER AND LIMITED DATA? SIGN ME UP! -_-
Daniel Quintero Yes if on sprint
Corey Stock Only if I knew that sense 5 will bring more features to the phone.
Odin Johnson HTC needs to as some useful features like Samsung.
Gary Bowling Note 2.
Juwon Donte Sorry meant s3 lol
Juwon Donte I defiantly would get the DNA over the s4 the 1080 screen is beautiful the size in perfect..last but not least it doesn't feel cheap and this is coming from an s3 user
Mario Reynel-Cerriteño I have it! Its awesome but I do wish it had more memory..
Gary Bollinger II HAVE THE SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE
Angel Hernandez Wtf is so great about a removable battery? My galaxy note 2 lasts all day off the charger. And removable storage? It isnt very useful if you can't store apps on it.
Bill Siembida I did and have no regrets . Battery life is almost identical It has better screen and it holds a 4g signal way better than the s3 My s3 could only get 4g if I was in a strong area . My house gets horrible signal and my DNA stays on 4g
George Millhouse The screen is so dry looking. All those pixels for nothing
George Millhouse No memory slot no deal
Mark Belcher Galaxy note 3 for me
Brandon Worley I waited a year for the DNA... well worth the wait. Had an S3 for 4days and sold that POS
Jesse Huertas Still sticking with my S3...I just hope they improve these flimsy buttons
Samantha Crump Nope s3 all the way
Earnest Scott Only if it was on all carriers instead of just one. I know is a world phone that's supports tmobile bands but just not available on that carrier. I would love to try it but honestly it's nothing new except for the hardware the sense ui is just to much unless you like it.
Humza Ahmed S3 sucks, the DNA is awesome.
Cesario Brito Jr. No. The S3 has removable battery and expended storage. HTC doesn't like that option.
Fonzy Paniagua It doesn't say Droid DNA over the Note 2 ? Does it ?
Steve Johns Nope there is no way the battery could hold up. And its htc lol
Kevin Post He is an beauty, but nit for sale in the EU, we have an htc 8A:
Ryan Thebabynotmine Dixon Nope got the Note 2
Paul Gonzalez 1080p screen? Hell yeah I'd get it over the s3.
Joe McDonough No I have the s3
Ian Baylon At least it's not an iPhone.
Marcus Samual Winchester No replaceable battery and no micro sd, that for me is a deal breaker. The Galaxy S3 is a leading droid device for that reason and why people like me have one or any Android that has these faculties HTC, LG, Apple and Sony should learn from Samsung.
Tracy Polson No expandable memory or removable battery. Note II for the win.
Gabriel Freeman Yes, I would. But I'll take either one as a gift.
Raveendra Reddy definitely...
Hend Farid YES any given day... but will think hard vs Xperia Z
Derek Aguiar no, if anything other than a GS3 would be a Note 2
Shaun Riedinger 11GB useable - No way
Brian Jones S4 is going to be way better S3 is nice for till then
Brandon Scoggins Yep and I did
Louis Agresti Hell Ya,Samsung makes cheap dime store quality build phones,with over saturated Dim displays and piss poor radios.
Stephen Wagner Battery is not sub par. Love my dna. I chose it over the gs3.
Teejay Crooks No way no microSD card slot come on HTC
Mustafa Akman Waiting M7 or S4.
Mustafa Akman Droid dna very good, but we can't buy it, in europe.
XrOss Hunter Nop. SGSIII is way much better.
Bobby Delaney No. The storage is not there, the battery is sub par even with the battery conserving quad core, it's not as open development wise with a lot of the developer community, the sleep/power button on top with a taller phone is awkward (tested it myself in the store), and "ferrari" inspired colors are to cheesy.
Jose Calderon ANYTHING over the S3
Danny Chavez No, I got that Note II
Randy B Hoopes No cause it's HTC
Joe Czo No way
Mark E Lynch I wouldn't
Antonio Vazquez If it had MicroSD expansion I would, but sadly Htc disappointed
Aapo Chihu Linna aint no got time fo day




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