HTC Droid DNA review: A superphone with flaws

HTC's new Android smartphone has some standout hardware elements, but the phone suffers from significant drawbacks.

By , Computerworld |  Consumerization of IT, android phones, HTC Droid

The Droid DNA utilizes Verizon's 4G LTE and CDMA networks. I clocked in between 8 and 19Mbps when I checked data speeds sporadically using Ookla's app. For comparison, while testing the Nexus 4 on T-Mobile's 4G HSPA+ network earlier this month, I routinely achieved speeds of 18Mbps. Data speeds can vary based on location, of course, so your mileage may vary.

The Droid DNA ships with custom HTC software based on the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

Much to my surprise, I had issues with the Droid DNA's call quality -- an area where I rarely expect to see much variance from one phone to the next. Voices on the Droid DNA sounded noticeably less crisp, clear and full than what I'm used to hearing on smartphones these days; friends and family with whom I spoke had tinny and almost robotic qualities to their voices, and the audio sometimes became distorted on and off throughout a call. People on the other end of the line told me my voice sounded more fuzzy and distant than what they were used to hearing, too.

Speaking of audio, the Droid DNA features Beats Audio integration, which is supposed to enhance the quality of music played from the phone. I tested it by listening to the same song with Beats mode toggled on and off and then comparing that with the same song played from a non-Beats-enhanced device. I used the same studio-quality headphones in all three scenarios.

I found the enhancements provided by Beats to be pretty minimal -- more of a bass and volume boost than anything. I'd be surprised if many people could tell the difference between the Beats-enhanced audio from the Droid DNA and the standard audio from another phone in a blind test.

(I had problems with audio output on the first review device I received; regardless of what headphones or speakers I plugged into that phone, I heard nothing but silence or staticky clicking noises. That was likely just a fluke defect limited to that specific unit; HTC sent me a second review unit which did not suffer from those issues.)

The Beats enhancements, by the way, don't extend to the phone's own external speaker. Compared to the Nexus 4, music played through the Droid DNA was significantly less loud, full and clear-sounding, with both phones set at their maximum volumes.

The Droid DNA features support for near-field communication (NFC) and wireless charging via the Qi protocol.

The software

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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