HTC Droid DNA review

Verizon and 'quietly brilliant' HTC get big and flashy

Droid DNA
Droid DNA joins the HTC gene pool

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Importing your contacts to an Android phone has never been difficult. No matter what your preferred digital address book is, you can have all your familiar names and face on the Droid DNA by HTC in a matter of seconds.

HTC Droid DNA review

However, if you're a Gmail user, you'll find the process especially easy, to the point where we recommend making an account if, for nothing more, than for importing purposes.

The People app is the primary home for all your friends and their phone numbers. Of course, this isn't the only way to jump into your address book. It's also accessible from any app that would need such info, such as Phone, Messages and Email.

Contacts can also be imported and synced with Facebook and Google Plus. Your friend's social network profile pictures add some life to the People page. This method also retrieves whatever new contact info your friends might provide online, such as email address and phone numbers.

Of course, bringing in contacts from multiple sources can result in lots of annoying duplicates. The Droid DNA handily solves this problem by presenting the option to "Link Contacts." Doing so can take a minute or so, depending on how redundant your phone book gets, but the result is a tidy and permanent solution.

For further organization, contacts can also be sorted into groups. Pre-made groups include Co-workers, Family and Favorites. You can also make your own custom groups. The Droid DNA also keeps a running list of your most frequently contacted people

Of course, this is all pretty standard Jelly Bean stuff, which in turn boasts a few improvements over the old Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich methods. However, iPhone expatriates might be impressed, since iOS 6 only lets users choose VIP and favorite contacts, and does its most powerful contact management functions via a Mac's Address Book program.


HTC Droid DNA review

In addition to all the apps and media functions, smartphones also make calls, remember? HTC hasn't forgotten, as the Droid DNA offers very good connectivity as well voice quality.

Testing the phone on Verizon (the DNA's exclusive carrier) here in San Francisco, dropped calls were never an issue. We heard our friends' voices clearly and free from static, and the handset speaker provided plenty of volume.

On the other end, callers reported voices as easy to understand and without distortion, though they never once confused it with a landline connection. The phone does offer excellent noise canceling, and we had significantly less trouble making calls in crowded public places than we've experienced on cheaper phones. Still, it was nothing that blows away other premium smartphones.

HTC Droid DNA review

The DNA's speakerphone is very good. It can get very loud, and even at the maximum volume, which we doubt users will ever engage, sounds suffer only minimal reverberation and distortion. At more reasonable levels, voices were crystal clear. On the other end, callers weren't even able to discern that were using a speakerphone, except in noisy public places. That's rather impressive.

Getting back to Verizon's service, while we did encounter places in the city where we were bumped down to 3G data service, we could still reliably place calls in those areas.

As far as the phone application itself, HTC has given retooled the aesthetics somewhat, but as far as functionality goes, it's all Jelly Bean. From the phone tab there's a white on black dial pad, with a list of recent calls and favorite contacts to scroll through before hitting an alphabetical list of everyone you know.

There's also the Android smart dialing feature, which automatically begins to suggest contacts as you dial. This works for both numbers and letters, which means that dialing 595 will bring up numbers with those digits, and whatever names can be spelled from the associated letters.

All in all, it has a lot of thoughtful features, reskinned by HTC to match the matte black finish of the DNA. The biggest boons in calling department are the high quality speakerphone and Verizon's cell service, which never gave us a dropped call or garbled conversation.