FIRST!1!!1!!!one!eleventy!! – A commonly found YouTube comment
Once every generation or so, a device gets to make this same proclamation: first to get a new processor, first to get more RAM, first to get a better camera. This generation, one of the key features appears to be screen resolution and, at least in North America, the HTC Droid DNA claims the prize of “first” device with a 1080p display.
Of course, the Droid DNA is not just another pretty face. It packs a definite punch with its quad-core processor and heaps of RAM, and though those things have become quite commonplace among the bevy of new devices on the market, the DNA is still a formidable device. But is it a device for a developer? Let’s find out…
The Droid DNA comes with the following specs on Verizon Wireless:
1.5GHz quad core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ S4 Pro processor
2GB of DDR2 RAM
5” 1080P Super LCD3 Corning® Gorilla® Glass 2
2020mAh Standard Li–Ion; non–removable
16GB internal storage
8MP Auto Focus Rear–Facing camera with Single–LED Flash + HTC ImageChip
2.1MP 88°ultra-wide-angle front-facing with improved low light performance
So yes, for all intents and purposes, it is an extremely powerful and well-built device.
In terms of actual usability, the hardware is amazing. Everything I threw at it just worked, no questions asked. Battery life was exceptional, lasting days and days on a single charge with extremely light usage, and more than a single day with heavier usage.
The camera, if it matters to you, is still very much a traditional cell phone camera. With enough light, it can produce some decent images, but as soon as the light dims, you get a lot of grain and motion blur. Some samples are provided in the video above.
The Droid DNA originally came out running Android version 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, with HTC Sense 4.0+. What’s the “+” for? I can only assume more Sense. It’s not the latest, greatest version of Sense available, but it was at the time of release. If Sense is something you enjoy, consider this device your cup of tea. Otherwise, you can always load up another launcher or root the device and replace any and/or all of it. Ahh, the beauty of Android.
Additionally, since it’s running Jelly Bean, you get the increased performance of the UI from Project Butter, but since it’s 4.1.1, you don’t have the added features from 4.2+ such as multiple user accounts, but depending on your point of view that might not be such a bad thing.
Approximately 9 days after the release of the Droid DNA, HTC dropped the kernel source and binaries to HTCDev.com. The device was quickly rooted, S-Off unlocked, and tons of custom ROMs and mods were created by the community.
However, for some reason, none of the larger projects seem to have added the DNA to their official lineups. There are quite a few CyanogenMod-based ROMs for the DNA and even a work-in-progress Ubuntu port for it, but nothing official.
Maybe it’s a lack of device adoption, or perhaps there’s something missing from the available sources from HTC. I’m not an Android developer, so it’s not my place to pass judgement on it.
Overall, from a consumer point of view, this is an extremely powerful, well-designed device with amazing battery life. It is very slim, lightweight, and no matter what you throw at it, odds are that it will perform admirably.
From a development point of view, there’s a ton of activity in the official forum here on XDA for the Droid DNA, but not so much from any “official,” larger projects.
At a $199 price point on-contract or $599 off-contract, it’s definitely an attractive device, but that decision is best left up to you and your preference. If you’re in the market for a Verizon device, head on down to your local store and try to lay your hands on this one and see how it fits you.