HTC took the wraps off the new Verizon Droid DNA a couple of days ago, which the company likes to distinguish from the rest of the smartphones in the same category. The company made it fairly clear that the device isn’t a “phablet”, immediately avoiding all comparisons with the Galaxy Note and the Note II. However, it is imperative that we compare them all to see how they go up against each other. Also, slightly below the phablet category are phones like the Galaxy S III and the newly launched LG Nexus 4. At 4.8 and 4.7-inches respectively, these two droids are well placed and are currently the best Android devices money can buy. The Verizon Droid DNA however is set in a league of its own. At 5.0-inches, it’s not as big as a Galaxy Note nor is it smaller like the Galaxy S III, One X, Nexus 4 etc. So basically, HTC plans on setting a new standard for screen sizes. If you thought 4.8-inches is a tad too small for you, 5.0 should be perfect, even when you consider ease of use during your everyday life. The Galaxy Note II frankly, goes beyond huge and is terribly awkward for one handed usage. Yes, it does have an array of software features and a solid hardware to back it up, but the size is a concerning factor. However, the sales of the device have soared higher and higher with each passing day, so there’s certainly more to it than meets the eye. The HTC Droid DNA however strikes a perfect balance with its display dimensions, and the hardware credentials have set a new industry standard.
The Droid DNA with its stunning 1080p display has caught our attention instantly and will certainly stand out from the crowd of huge and bulky Android devices. A global variant in the form of the HTC Deluxe is said to be on the cards which will be similar to the HTC J Butterfly which launched in Japan. But first things first, let’s see how the Galaxy Note II fares against this new offering from HTC in terms of hardware specs.
As we’ve already discussed the size of the device, we won’t go into that again. But just to point out, the 5-inch form factor is a welcome addition to the market and could be a decisive factor in the device’s success. Now for what’s inside the device. Well, both the smartphones have a remarkable display with the Note II featuring a Super AMOLED HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels which gives its 5.5-inch display a pixel density of 267 ppi. But the Droid DNA has no competition when it comes to display tech. Its 5.0-inch Super LCD 3 display offers a resounding pixel density of 440 ppi, all thanks to its 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution. So the Droid DNA is clearly the winner here.
The Droid DNA runs the Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core chip, with each cores clocked at 1.5 GHz. The Galaxy Note II features the Exynos 4412 Quad chip, clocked at 1.7 GHz. This is the same chipset seen on the Galaxy S III but with an overclocked CPU. This is a mixed bag really, since the Exynos 4412 Quad is one of the best chipsets out there and as evidenced from the Nexus 4 benchmarks (which also comes with the same Snapdragon S4 Pro chip as the Droid DNA), the S4 Pro only offers marginal increase in performance compared to its dual core sibling, the S4. But this is all too technical and it will all come down to real world usage. The HTC Droid DNA obviously packs the company’s new Sense 4+ UI while the Note II comes with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI which packs a punch with the multi window feature among other things. So we have to give it to the Galaxy Note II as benchmark results and the array of features that come with the device speak for itself. However, there is no doubt that both the devices will be level when it comes to snappiness and fluidity.
When we speak of design, Samsung almost always comes last. So the Droid DNA is clearly at an advantage here with the same unibody construction as the members of the One series (One X, One S). However, this design has its own flaws. The user has no access to the battery (for third party battery packs) and no microSD card slot for memory expansion. These are the areas where a Galaxy Note II user will have a sense of relief, because of the liberty to add more storage and/or a powerful battery.
The Galaxy Note II and the HTC Droid DNA both have an 8MP camera sensor, but with significant difference. The Droid DNA makes use of the HTC ImageSense chip inside, which gives it a competitive edge over the rest of the competition (except for the Nokia PureView based cameras of course). The Galaxy Note II isn’t bad either, but as it shares the same camera sensor as the Galaxy S III, it will offer the same amount of details and quality. The camera on the One X which is what we see being used here, is phenomenally good, which took everybody by surprise initially. But of course, as with any specs comparison, it would make more sense when it is compared side by side. But technically speaking, the HTC Droid DNA has a slight edge over the Galaxy Note II when it comes to capturing images.
The Galaxy Note II comes with 16, 32 or 64GB of onboard storage with the ability to add microSD cards of up to 64GB. So basically, the user has the option to expand the storage up to 128GB, although he won’t exactly get the full allotted storage as the Android system takes up a fair bit of space. Also, we haven’t seen a lot of 32 and 64GB variants of the Galaxy Note II, so we’re not sure if Samsung plans to launch it on a wider scale any time soon. The Droid DNA however comes with a non-expandable 16GB storage module inside, out of which, only 11GB is believed to be user accessible. This is something which HTC could have easily changed. 32GB of onboard storage would have been ideal for a device of the Droid DNA’s caliber. This could prove to be a deal breaker, especially if you wish to watch a lot of 1080p content on your device. Both the Galaxy Note II and the HTC Droid DNA pack a hefty 2GB RAM. So when it comes to storage, Galaxy Note II owners certainly have an edge.
The Galaxy Note II has a 3,100 mAh battery which gives it moderate to heavy usage times. However, the Droid DNA packs an average 2,020 mAh battery. We say average because it has a 5-inch 1080p display which means the user is likely to watch a few videos or browse the web a lot while on the go, so it’s very likely that the battery might not even last a full day with 100% charge. However, it’s too early to comment on the device’s actual power consumption before it hits the stores. So we’ll learn a lot more about the device after November 21, which is when Verizon plans to launch the device. But from a plain specs perspective, the Galaxy Note II is expected to last longer than the Droid DNA.
Well, this is merely a comparison of the specs of the two stalwarts of the mobile industry and it’s hard to come to judgment about the new Droid DNA just yet. However, going plainly by what we have on paper, it seems like the Droid DNA has a lot of substance, but not enough power (battery) to make it last. This could be a major flaw of the device, as we saw with the HTC One X, which had a terrible battery life initially. We wonder how a device with all those pixels to crunch and with a moderate 2,020 mAh battery would last even half a day. But that is something for us to know once the device is launched. Also, the limited storage will be heavily criticized once the device is launched. For now though, we’re very excited about HTC’s new offering. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up like the One X (international version).