Every six months or so, a smartphone arrives that raises the bar for the entire industry. HTC’s newly announced Droid DNA is by far the most advanced device available to date: it’s the first mobile phone capable of supporting full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) on its 5-inch Gorilla Glass 2 super LCD 3 display. If you do the math, that amounts to a staggering 440 pixels per inch, which is the highest pixel density of any commercially available phone, tablet, computer or TV on the market, and blows Apple’s retina-level 326ppi threshold on the iPhone 5 out of the water. Your eyes likely won’t be able to discern that difference — rest assured it looks amazing, — but it does mean your existing digital 1080p content can transfer to your smartphone without a hitch.
Internals like Qualcomm’s latest a 1.5Ghz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of Ram, 16GB of internal storage, 4G LTE, Beats Audio and NFC also stack up with the current crop of Android elite handsets like the Nexus 4 and LG Optimus G. The rear camera is the same 8MP f/2.0 with 28mm wide angle lens, BSI sensor and ImageChip hardware found in the HTC One X, while its front-facing counterpart has been bumped to a f/2.0, 2.1MP shooter with an 88-degree ultra-wide angle lens for better group portraits and 1080p video. The DNA is also compatible with Qi wireless charging devices, so users who pick up a companion charging pad from Verizon can finally cut the cord.
So how does it feel in the hand? Read more after the break.
HTC’s design team apparently drew inspiration from supercars when creating the Droid DNA’s exterior; this metaphor is clear when holding the device. The body is made from the same strong polycarbonate used in the HTC 8X and features a similarly curved back that measures 0.38 inches at its thickest point, tapering to a thinner 0.16-inch profile at the edges. Droid-appropriate red metal microgrills, inspired by design elements found in a Lambo engine, line the phone’s edges. Though it’s missing the glass and thicker aluminum details that make the iPhone aesthetically worshiped, the DNA still feels like premium device and it’s deceptively light at 4.94 ounces. We would have preferred to see solid matte black throughout, but Verizon is known as Big Red for a reason.
The million dollar question, of course, is whether this 5-inch goliath is just too big for the average consumer. For comparison’s sake, its screen is just a half-inch smaller than the Galaxy Note 2, whose predecessor invented the so-called “phablet” market. But HTC hopes to avoid that label with the Droid DNA, and we think that’s the right call. Measuring 5.55 (H) x 2.78 (W) x 0.38 (D) inches, it’s still thinner than the Samsung Galaxy S3 and basically mirrors the One X in terms of width and thickness, while rising only 0.2 inches taller. The result feels much more like a super phone than a shrunken tablet, and is still quite pocketable. Average fingers won’t be able to reach the far corners when holding it with one hand, but that’s been true of other larger Android phones as well.
Pushing all of those pixels while powering a 1.5Ghz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor and an LTE antenna on just a 2,020mAh battery is also a natural source of worry. HTC reps anecdotally said that most power users should be able to squeak out 10 hours of heavy use before needing a charge, but we’ll need to conduct some longer term tests before verifying those claims.
Those issues aside, there’s no question that the Droid DNA harkens back to the power user roots begun by the original Droid and stands as the most bleeding-edge device money can currently buy. Verizon is accepting pre-orders starting today, and the handset officially goes on sale starting November 21st, so there’s plenty of time for begging your better half for this to wind up under the tree.
Buy Now: $199
ADVENTURE IS ONE CLICK AWAY
Subscribe to GP for a daily dose of the best in gear, adventure, design, tech and culture. 5pm sharp.