The zippy new HTC Droid DNA phone runs on Verizon Wireless's super speedy 4G LTE network, and its 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and 2 GB RAM make overall performance amazingly fast.
The Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) Droid DNA looks snazzy right out of the box with its sleek, attractive and thin case, colored a shiny black with a nice-looking red trim. Its 5.5" by 2.78" by .38" size makes it better for the briefcase or purse than a pocket, despite its surprisingly dainty weight of only 5 ounces.
Dual-purpose keys adorn the phone's virtual keyboard, and its screen size allows for somewhat larger keys than on most other phones. Android 4.1.1 also claims enhanced voice search and speech-to-text, both of which work very well on the Droid DNA.
The phone's 8 MP auto-focus rear-facing camera takes exceptional photos, with HTC's ImageChip allowing continuous shooting of up to 99 images - as many as four per second. The front-facing 2.1 MP camera sports an 88-degree ultra-wide-angle lens with improved low-light performance. Both front and rear camcorders capture in HD up to 1080p, and you can turn any frame from a video into a still photo.
Battery life on the Droid DNA seems downright impressive. Like that famous bunny, it keeps going and going and going. Even with some game playing, Kindle reading, social media surfing and emailing, the battery wasn't even close to drained after a couple of days.
The Droid DNA's 5" screen seems huge even though it's a bit smaller than the Galaxy Note II which I recently reviewed. Games like Angry Birds and Words With Friends play very well, and videos from YouTube and HBOGO look vibrant and awe-inspiring. Articles and emails are easy to read with crisp, clear text. You can even comfortably read Kindle books.
Despite coming with the full slate of Google programs plus most of Amazon's programs also pre-installed (including Amazon Kindle), about 75 percent of the phone's 16 GB in memory remains free for your apps and media. This is an important point since the phone doesn't have a microSD card slot.
I wouldn't let the Droid DNA's lack of a microSD slot keep it off your short list, given its generous amount of internal memory. There may be good reason for phones not to include a slot.
I've seen a bad microSD card and have heard of a fair number of other cases of faulty cards in phones. Customers may have returned quite a few phones, thinking they were defective, when the real problems related to their microSD cards.
Although no mobile service can promise to cover every nook and cranny of the U.S., there aren't many places you can hide from Verizon's reliable signal. They even cover most of the country with their speedy 4G LTE service now. The DNA is also global ready, though you'll want to make sure to sign up for an international plan before traveling outside the U.S. to avoid an unexpectedly hefty bill.
The Droid DNA sells for $199.99 with a two-year agreement, and Verizon's plans for new sign-ups run about $70 or $80 monthly.
Anyone who wants large text, videos and games and doesn't mind a bit of extra carrying size would probably take a shine to the Droid DNA. If you're looking for a solid phone with high-end features and plenty of screen real estate, the Droid DNA deserves a close consideration.
Rating: **** (out of 5)