Smartphones have gone through a huge transition in the past several months, as form factors increase in size, screens gain in resolution and clarity, and processors approaching those of the best notebooks. These trends have been mostly driven by the Android camp, although Apple’s recent debut of the iPhone 5 seemed to validate the bigger and better charge forward.
At a recent New York event, HTC raised the bar even higher with the debut of the HTC Droid DNA, a 4G LTE quad-core powerhouse with a 1920 x 1080, 5-inch HDTV-class display, and innovations like NFC communications and wireless charging support. TechnologyGuide chief editor Jamison Cush was there and talked to an HTC representative about the new phone, its capabilities and improvements that make it worth a closer look (the phone is available through Verizon and ships Nov. 23).
HTC: I am with a portfolio planning team. I wanted to walk through the new Droid DNA, which we believe is a revolutionary device. When we built this phone it was about taking all the latest and greatest in technology and the best of HTC and building it into this one phone. The highlight of this phone is definitely the display. We are able to bring you the latest and greatest technology, from the display perspective. In fact, this is not just a great Smartphone display; this is a great display, period. This brings the first 1080p Smartphone into the US market with a 440 PPI, which means that it is the sharpest display pixel density of any consumer electronics device that I know of. It is sharper than any TV or tablet, and definitely sharper than any Smartphone.
Cool thing about PPI is that it really enables you to get the clearest and most accurate visual of what is actually being represented in real life. This is reality in your hand. When you are taking pictures and watching videos, you are actually seeing what is on the display. The other thing that we have done is taken this design, and this is the 5-inch display. When we built this phone, we really focused on making 5 inches feel like 4.7 inches. When we look at our design, a lot of the architecture has been really crafted to make sure that we can re-architect the phone and make sure that it has a nice in-hand, one-handed feel and very pocketable. That is something that we achieved with this device. The screen is so amazing; you really have to see it to believe it.
J. Cush: It does not translate too well on video. It is something you have to see. By comparison, most phones are now topping out at 320.
J. Cush: The Retina display is 326, so 326 to 440 is a huge step.
HTC: Definitely. The other thing we have done is brought HTC?s best-in-class camera to the market and enabled it on Verizon. This brings to life really great low-light photography with our F2.0 lens. It has a super-fast shutter speed with 4 frames per second, and let me give you a quick example of what that would look like. I do not know if you can hear that, but I just took a whole bunch of photos.
J. Cush: It is burst mode, essentially.
HTC: It is burst mode built into the screen. We took the latest and greatest from HTC One X, enabled it on this phone, took the latest innovation with some of our camera features, and then we also combined it with some of our new front-camera innovation, which I will show you today.
This is our front camera. What we are able to do is, if you notice, I am barely holding my hand out, and you can capture a lot in this picture. Look how much space it is. We can cram 4 more people into the photo, which is really nice. Rather than me having to reach out and have my finger in the pic, I can tap on the screen, frame the shot, and it comes out naturally. That is a great thing. We have the best-in-class 2.1 Megapixel front-camera, image shift, and our F2.0 processor aperture on the main camera. We also have the latest and greatest performance from Snapdragon, this is the new S4 Snapdragon Pro.
J. Cush: Quad core?
HTC: Quad core processor.
J. Cush: 1.5?
HTC: 1.5 gigahertz. It also has 2Gigs of RAM, 16Gigs of internal memory, and it is powered by the latest from Google Jellybean.
J. Cush: It does not have expandable? It is all internal memory.
HTC: Correct. It is all internal memory.
J. Cush: Is the back panel removable, at all, or is this all one solid piece?
HTC: It is a single uni-body device, yes. It is really modern. It is about bringing the latest and greatest to the market. We also have a new gallery which organizes it by events, or you can look at things on a map. I do not really tag any of my photos. It mimics the user experience, and it makes it really easy because you can drag-and-drop. I want to show another cool camera experience.
J. Cush: Is that map built off Google Maps?
HTC: Correct, yes. Another cool experience that we have is, you know when you are taking a picture, just say you are on vacation, you can power off the camera and walk around, then when you pop it back on, it can go right back into the camera, so you do not have to fiddle with your phone, unlock it. It bypasses everything and goes straight to the camera.
J. Cush: Is that enabled by turning it off when the phone is in camera mode?
HTC: In the camera mode; it is called sightseeing mode. If you are on a tour, you want your camera to be accessible. Basically, what we do is enable everything so that we keep the camera first in the queue, and everything else is actually still off. If you load up your screen and you get out of that mode, it will take a few seconds to . . .
J. Cush: Will there be cache behind it, though, as the camera is on, or is that camera going to be it?
HTC: It is going to be less than a second to get ready to take a shot.
J. Cush: It is almost like an instant-on?
J. Cush: I noticed, too, you guys were doing a presentation and were pushing a lot of the stylings; the grill is on the side. Can you just talk about that?
HTC: We looked at the Droid Vision, and (there) is one thing..when we look at this phone, it is about its inner strength quality. The speaker is on the back, we have the micro-perforated speakers. We also have the Beats Audio Amplifier. We have an amplifier that is 2.55 volts. An example of this audio amplifier in devices that we launched 2 years ago, we had ? volt through the input jacks. We raised it to 1 amp for the One X, it says 2.55. It is a significant increase in the amplifier, so you get really high-quality music at high volumes.
The other thing we have is this, and it is really about, the concept behind this is inner strength. It is something hidden that is very powerful under there. It is almost like the power of this phone is oozing out of the side; that was a design vision for the phone. Maybe that is not something that is more behind the scenes of the design inspiration. The other thing I would say is it was really about having a display that you just hold in your hand and the phone disappears, and that was the context. It is not like where you look at other phones that we have launched where it is a very visually engaging phone.
This phone is really about a minimalist phone, and I think it speaks to that Droid consumer who really wants the latest and greatest power and (capability) of future technologies. You are never going to see..there is not an 8-core processor coming. LTE is the fastest that you are going to see in the market for awhile. Powered by Google, this is really what we can expect in the market for the next couple of years, I think.