2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Droid DNA vs. Nexus 4

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November 14, 2012

How does the HTC Droid DNA compare to the Nexus 4?

How does the HTC Droid DNA compare to the Nexus 4?

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When Apple launched the iPhone 4, its Retina Display was a breakthrough. Text was razor-sharp, and images were crisp. Two years later, that level of detail is now the norm. So how do you differentiate your new handset? One way is to cram 1080p resolution into a 5-inch screen. That's just what HTC did with the Droid DNA (known outside the US as the HTC DLX). How does it compare to the LG and Google Nexus 4? Read on.

Size

Both phones are big, but the DNA is huge

The Nexus 4 is a super-sized phone, but the Droid DNA is a monster-sized phone. The plus is that they have huge displays. The minus is that they might feel too bulky.

Weight

Neither phone is the lightest around

Huge phones can only be so light. Though there are heavier phones out there, neither is a feather-weight.

Display

The DNA's display has an absurd resolution

The Droid DNA's display is its big headliner. Its 1080p resolution has an absurd 440 pixels per inch (PPI). It's an unprecedented spec, but it may also be overkill. To most eyes, the Nexus 4 will look just as sharp.

Processor

Both phones have the Qualcomm S4 Pro chip

There's no advantage either way here. Both phones have the same Qualcomm S4 Pro chip.

RAM

Both phones have 2 GB of RAM

Performance may be equal, since random-access memory (RAM) is also the same.

Storage

The base model of the Nexus 4 doesn't offer a ton of storage

The base Nexus 4 only offers 8 GB of storage, but you can pay more to match the DNA's 16 GB.

Wireless

Only the DNA gives you LTE

The Droid DNA supports LTE, the fastest and best 4G network. The Nexus 4 is limited to HSPA+, which is typically slower.

Cameras

Both cameras should take good pictures

Both phones should take quality shots. The DNA's front-facing camera is a bit sharper than the Nexus 4's.

Battery

Capacities are similar, but the DNA has more pixels to power

Capacities are close. But remember that the DNA's battery is powering a display with over 2 million pixels. That could cause big-time drain, so it would be wise to wait for reviews before buying the DNA.

Starting price

The Nexus 4 has great off-contract pricing

This is a big advantage for the Nexus 4. In the Google Play Store, you can order it off-contract for only US$100 more than the DNA costs on-contract.

Intangibles

Super Retina, or pure Jellybean? (eye: Shutterstock)

Do you remember the first time you saw a 1080p TV? Its picture was probably sharper than anything you'd seen. That same number of pixels is now in a 5-inch phone. Overkill? Maybe. But still unbelievable.

The Droid DNA ships with Android 4.1 Jellybean, but the Nexus 4 runs the newer (4.2) Jellybean. The Nexus also runs "pure" Android, while the DNA has HTC Sense 4.0 pasted on top. Even if you like Sense, it means DNA owners will have to wait for updates. Nexus 4 owners will get them immediately.

Summing up

If you're looking for a super-powered Android phone, these two are prime contenders.

At least on paper, the Droid DNA's display is a big step forward. But will its battery life suffer? And is it worth having to wait for software updates, when the Nexus 4 will get them right away? For many customers, the Nexus 4's cheap off-contract price will cinch it.

For more options, check out our 2012 Smartphone Comparison Guide.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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1 Comment

The thing that all of these comparisons lack is that the screen types aren't compared. 10 seconds with a AMOLED screen and any LCD screen in sunlight is enough to make it extraordinarily obvious how much better the AMOLED is, resolution aside.

The one thing that's exciting about this kind of resolution is that it shows we are pushing gradually closer to the kind of pixel density required for holography, but we have a LONG way to go.

Charles Bosse
15th November, 2012 @ 09:49 am PST
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