Apple iPhone 5 vs HTC Droid DNA – Full Comparison
After Apple launched its new generation of iPhone, the iPhone 5, competition has rapidly developed and it seems like it would be an interesting holiday season. One such competitor for Apple’s leading smartphone is the HTC Droid DNA, recently launched in New York City. The discrepancy between these two devices is evident: while Apple’s iPhone 5 is thin and elegant, with an aluminum build and an operating system (iOS) that offers an interface identical in all Apple devices, the Droid DNA is bigger (and more powerful), with a polycarbonate build and has the latest Android version but with a changed interface (whether that is a good thing or not).
Considering the holiday season is here (and that means a lot of people will look to buy a new smartphone, either as upgrades for themselves or gifts for their loved ones), competition is going to get stronger in the smartphones market as companies like Apple and HTC will try to convince potential customers to buy their own brand of smartphones. If you are looking for a new smartphone and don’t know which one to choose between Apple’s iPhone 5 and Verizon and HTC’s Droid DNA, we will try to help you in this article. We will do a direct comparison of both devices in an effort to make your choice easier.
iPhone 5’s design is different than that of its predecessor. Not radically, but noticeably different. First of all, Apple abandoned the iPhone 4s’ glass back. We already mentioned in the opening paragraph that for its sixth generation iPhone, Apple choose an anodized aluminum back supported by two glass parts (one at the bottom, the other at the other end of the device). A diamond cuts the chamfers of Apple’s new iPhone, giving it an elegant look.
A remarkable achievement is how despite having a larger display and a more powerful chipset than its predecessor, the iPhone 5 still manages to be smaller. Apple engineers outdone themselves in an effort to keep the new iPhone 5 as small as possible without making quality and performance compromises. Thanks to a thinner display, the sixth generation iPhone is only 7.6 millimeters thin (18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S), making the iPhone 5 one of the thinnest smartphones available and that is impressive. Just as impressive as its weight of only 112 grams (20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S which weighs 140 grams). As elegant as ever and now even slimmer and lighter, the new iPhone form Apple is a looker.
Verizon’s Droid DNA is bigger than Apple’s iPhone 5, as we already mentioned. While not exactly large as a brick, compared to the sixth generation iPhone the Droid DNA is definitely not as delicate as Apple’s smartphone. It is 26 grams heavier than the iPhone 5 (138 grams for Verizon’s Droid DNA) and 2.1 millimeters thicker than Apple’s latest phone (Droid DNA being 9.73 millimeters thin). Part of the reason comes from its powerful chipset and larger display.
The Droid DNA’s design is heavily inspired by other HTC smartphones. Its back resembles that of another HTC product with the same name: the HTC Droid Incredible, with a similar layout for the camera sensor. If you ever owned a HTC EVO 4G LTE, the layout of the soft navigation keys will look familiar. Unlike iPhone 5’s case, Droid DNA’s case is made of polycarbonate. But even though it is plastic, it fits well one’s hand and has enough adhesion that you won’t worry about dropping it on the floor. Besides, it looks like it is pretty durable (you still have to take care of it, though).
In this first round, the winner is Apple’s iPhone 5, with its slim, lightweight and elegant design.
When it comes to displays, both devices offer amazing quality screens. If you have ever owned an iOS device equipped with a Retina display, you know what to expect from iPhone 5’s display. Measuring a diagonal of 4 inches, iPhone 5’s Retina display is 0.5 inches bigger than iPhone 4S’ display, even though the smartphone itself is smaller in size. However, even though larger, the display keeps the same width so every activity you were used to doing with a single hand on the iPhone 4S you can still do with a single hand on the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5’s display resolution is 1136 X 640 (not High Definition) and offers a pixels per inch density of 326, which means impossible to perceive pixels and a crystal clear image. iPhone 5’s display also has a new 16:9 aspect ratio and that means that you can watch video content (movies, TV shows) in widescreen mode without letter-boxing. Another novelty found in iPhone 5’s Retina display is ‘In Cell’, a technology that allows the touch sensors to be included in the LCD screen giving the impression that pixels are painted on the screen. In Cell technology is also what helped Apple reduce the thickness of iPhone 5’s Retina display.
With a display of such a high quality as the iPhone 5’s Retina display, Apple set the bar very high for the HTC Droid DNA in this category. Fortunately it rises to the challenge and does not disappoint. With an diagonal of 5 (yup, that is a five) inches it has an immensely large screen, 1 inch larger than the iPhone 5’s in fact. But the most amazing thing about the HTC Droid DNA is that it is the first smartphone in the world with a Full High Definition display. Yes, you heard that right: its 5 inches screen will offer Full HD – that means it has an unbelievable (for a smartphone) resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p). Correlate its Full HD resolution with a huge pixels per inch density of 440 and you get a display that not only matches Apple’s famous Retina display but is actually better. So everything Apple said about its own Retina display, certainly applies to Droid DNA’s display – you won’t be able to perceive any of the on screen pixels and the image quality is sky high. To be fair, HTC Droid DNA’s display is probably the largest and best display that you can find in a smartphone at present time. Almost forgot to mention the HTC Droid DNA’s display has a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9 too, just perfect for high definition movies.
Apple is known for the high quality screens found in its devices, but with Droid DNA, HTC and Verizon managed to take the cake. With its Full HD display and its ridiculously high pixels per inch density, the Droid DNA wins this round.
Apple’s sixth generation iPhone is more powerful than previous generations of iPhones. For its newest smartphone Apple chose a custom designed CPU based on the ARM v7s architecture and they called it the Apple A6. The custom A6 processor is a dual core with a clock speed of 1.2 GHz. It is twice as fast as the Apple A5 CPU and besides the afferent high performance it also offers very good power management. iPhone 5’s GPU is a triple core PowerVR SGX543MP3 (running at 266 MHz) that offers twice as much graphics performance than the A5 GPU; the increased graphics performance will translate in higher frame rates in games and a smoother experience with graphics intensive apps. 1 GB of RAM completes the iPhone 5’s technical specifications.
Verizon’s Droid DNA uses a pretty common SoC (System on a Chip), the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. The S4 Pro version of this SoC, that is integrated in the Droid DNA, includes a CPU based on the ARM v7 architecture. This CPU is a quad core clocked at 1.5 GHz (model number APQ8064). The GPU in the Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC is an Adreno 320 (QXGA/1080p), the best GPU that you would be able to find in an Android phone right now and the amount of RAM is 2 GB. While it has a faster quad core (unlike the iPhone 5’s processor that has only two cores) CPU and more RAM, Droid DNA’s performance is similar to the iPhone 5’s, the reason being that all its extra horse power goes into running everything at Full High Definition resolution. You didn’t think such an enormous pixels per inch density and Full HD come without cost, did you?
It is very hard to decide on a winner for this round. On the one hand, Verizon’s Droid DNA has more horse power under the hood and at a first glance should offer better performance than the iPhone 5. On the other hand, most of its power goes into displaying everything at Full HD and 440 pixels per inch. It seems to be a tie when it comes to performance so neither of the two smartphones wins this round.
Apple’s iPhone 5 comes with two very good cameras. Its rear facing camera is among the best smartphone cameras on the market. At 8 Mega Pixels, the rear camera can shoot videos in High Definition quality at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. A very important feature of the iPhone 5’s rear camera is its lens aperture. It has a lens aperture of f/2.4. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, here’s a quick lesson regarding camera lens aperture: the bigger a camera lens’ aperture is, the more light that camera can get from the environment, so with a big aperture you can make a quality photo even in a low lit environment. The aperture is measured in f/numbers and smaller numbers means a bigger aperture (which in turn means we need less light to take a good photo). A good aperture for a non SLR camera is f/2.8. That means the iPhone 5’s rear camera has a bigger (and better) lens aperture so it can make good photos even in conditions of low light, also helped by its BSI (backside illumination) sensor.
The iPhone 5’s FaceTime Front Camera was improved from previous models. Also featuring a BSI sensor, it is a 1.2 Mega Pixels Camera, able to shoot videos in 1280 x 720 pixels (HD). If we compare these specs with the iPhone 4S’ front facing camera (which takes photos at only 0.3 Mega Pixels and shoots videos in a resolution of 480p) we can see exactly how much the iPhone 5’s FaceTime front camera has been improved. Being able to shoot in HD means that if you like to use Skype from your iPhone 5, you won’t have to worry about the quality of the video, even in low light conditions.
Verizon’s Droid DNA has two high quality cameras that will satisfy all your needs in terms of photography and videos taken with your smartphone. If you were impressed by how good the aperture lens of the iPhone 5’s rear camera is by comparison with normal (non SLR) digital cameras, you will probably be amazed to find out that the Droid DNA’s rear facing camera has a lens aperture that is even bigger: f/2.0 (remember smaller numbers means a bigger lens aperture). Also helped by a backside illumination (BSI) sensor, the Droid DNA’s rear facing camera is able to take photos at a resolution of 8 Mega Pixels and shoot videos in 1920 x 1080 pixels pixels, just like the iPhone 5’s rear facing camera.
The Droid DNA’s Front Facing Camera has an ultra wide (88 percent wider) lens, capable of taking photos at a 2.1 Mega Pixels resolution, almost double than the iPhone 5’s front facing camera, and is capable of shooting videos in Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, which is even better than the resolution offered for videos by iPhone 5’s front facing camera. So if you are used with video calls from your smartphone, the Droid DNA’s front facing camera is perfect for you.
This round it is a bit easier to choose a winner, unlike in the last round. Both devices have pretty similar camera, but the devil is in the details. So, with a better lens aperture for it rear facing camera and and a better front facing camera that is able to shoot in Full High Definition and offers a better resolution for images, the HTC Droid DNA is this round’s winner, having quality cameras that could compete even with some dedicated digital photo cameras (non SLR though).
Storage space and battery life
The iPhone 5 is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery of 1440 mAh. Battery life is estimated at approximately 8 hours of talk time and about 225 hours in standby mode and it has a watt hours ratio of 5.45 watt hours. Previous HTC phones had some trouble when it came to battery life. There are voices that say that the Droid DNA’s 2020 mAh battery is too small for such a powerful device, but we found it to be acceptable. If you are going to play videos or play games or stream media (in other words, if you will put it to heavy use) the Droid DNA won’t make it to the end of the day without a battery recharge. But it is understandable, as performance does come with a cost, a cost reflected in battery life. But as we said earlier, for such a powerful device, capable of displaying at Full HD resolution, the battery life is acceptable and you won’t have to glue your charger to your smartphone as with previous HTC models. Both the iPhone 5’s and the Droid DNA’s batteries are non removable so if you need to change the battery (for whatever reason) you will be out of luck, or at the very least it won’t be an easy task.
In terms of storage space, Apple’s sixth generation iPhone comes in three versions: 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models. Verizon on the other hand offers the Droid DNA in only one version, with 16 GB of storage. Missing a microSD card slot the Droid DNA disappoints when it comes to storage space. Without any options for additional storage space, 16 GB (well, actually it’s 11 GB when you realize that out of the 16 GB, 5 GB are used by the OS and software) is not a lot, especially when your smartphone offers Full High Definition content which can take quite a big size of space (estimating, the Droid DNA can hold only about 5 hours of Full High Definition quality videos). Apple’s iPhone is missing a microSD slot as well, but it has the advantage of having 32 GB and 64 GB versions.
Apple’s iPhone 5 is the winner of this round, having good battery life and more storage options than Verizon’s Droid DNA.
Operating Systems and Software
The sixth generation iPhone uses iOS 6, Apple’s latest version of its famous mobile operating system. iOS version 6, which was released on September 19 2012, adds many improvements over the fifth version, and as many as over 200 new features. Of course, the iPhone 5 comes with Siri an intelligent personal assistant that allows interaction via spoken commands via natural language (so you don’t need to use an inflexible wording system). With iOS 6, Siri saw many added features and improvements. A change that upset a lot of people was the transition from Google Maps to Apple’s own Maps application. This decision generated a lot of controversy among iPhone users; if you want to learn more about the differences between these two mapping applications (and also Nokia’s newly released HERE Maps) you can do so by reading our article here.
Other new features included in Apple’s latest version of iOS are: a helpful Do Not Disturb feature, Passbook (which is an app that lets you store coupons, all kind of tickets, boarding passes and other types of mobile payment). better Facebook integration (Facebook features available in native apps and you can even like products directly from Apple’s App Store), a Panorama mode for the smartphone’s camera, and improvements to Mail, to the iPhone’s native web browser Safari, to FaceTime, Accessibility and to many other services, too many to count. We mentioned the App Store and we must say the Apple’s distribution platform is a big advantage that the iPhone 5 has over the HTC Droid DNA. With over 700,000 (yes, seven hundred thousands) quality apps to download many people get locked in App Store’s ecosystem. Not because Google Play has a smaller number of apps available, no – it is because Apple’s App Store offers much more in terms of (quality) content.
Unfortunately, Verizon’s Droid DNA does not come with Google’s latest Android version; instead, it uses Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. While Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean has some nice features (like a better browser, improved notifications and others), Google’s Android 4.2 is a step in the right direction and an improvement over 4.1.1, not to mention it is the most optimized and smooth Android version so far. If you have owned an HTC smartphone before, you know they use the company’s own Sense user interface. In Droid DNA’s case, you will get Sense 4+ (the latest version, which comes with many additions, like HTC Watch 2.0 or HTC Get Started). You will also have some useful Amazon media apps, for streaming media. Given the low amount of storage space (we already mentioned how of the 16 GB you can actually use 11 GB, which is too little for media in High Definition format) the Amazon apps for streaming media are going to be very useful. You will be able to get more apps from Google Play, which is a growing service, though not quite as good Apple’s App Store. But it’s getting there.
Because the Droid DNA does not come with the latest Android version and because iPhone 5 users benefit from the App Store’s ecosystem, this round goes to Apple’s iPhone 5.
Verizon’s Droid DNA is, as you might have guessed, exclusive to Verizon in the United States, though it will probably appear on the international market under a different name. Because it is only offered in a single storage version, the Droid DNA will come in just one price variant: $199.99. Of course, that is the price if you make a Verizon contract; otherwise, you can purchase the smartphone off contract from Verizon or other places like Best Buy. Its off contract price will probably be around $500 or $600 or even $700 in other places.
Prior to its release, there were rumors that the iPhone 5 will be sold at the same price Apple set for its iPhone line. As it turns out, Apple indeed set a similar price point for the iPhone 5, even though it is a new and improved smartphone. iPhone 5 has three price points, depending on what storage version you choose: the 16 GB version will cost $199.99 on contract and you may notice it is the same price as the Droid DNA’s 16 GB version. Off contract, you will have to pay $649.99 for the 16 GB version of the iPhone 5. The 32 GB version has a price of $299.99 on contract, while buying it off contract means you will have to pay $749.99. Finally, the 64 GB version is $399.99 on contract and $849.99 off contract.
Because we choose a winner for every round, you may be tempted to say that we will also choose a winner between the two smartphones. But we won’t as our job was to compare them so that you will be able to make an informed decision when you choose what smartphone to buy this Holiday season. We cannot make that decision for you, but we can help you with information and while your taste and subjective experience will weigh a lot in your decision, being informed about the pros and cons of each smartphone (in a word: information) is very important in today’s world.
And while we said we won’t choose a winner, we will share our impressions for each smartphone, though. And we will start the HTC Droid DNA. A smartphone that offers the biggest and overall best display that you can find in the smartphones market at present day. It is also one of the most powerful smartphones out there, and the only one that offers Full High Definition content. We might say it is the best Android smartphone that Verizon has to offer. However, it was met with mixed reviews. Some people were not happy with having a single storage space version available, as 16 GB (of which only approximately 11 GB will be available to the user) is way too little space for a device capable of playing HD media. There were also reports of battery performance problems. All in all, the HTC Droid DNA is one of the best Android smartphones, and offers a lot of cutting edge technology for a mobile, sometimes making compromises. SO if you are a Verizon user, or if you want to change to Verizon, you can’t go wrong with a HTC Droid DNA.
iPhone 5 is a lightweight version of the iPhone line, with a 4 inch display and many improvements. It is as elegant as ever while also offering better performance than its previous versions. It comes with iOS 6 and no carrier pre installed software (as is the case with the HTC Droid DNA). It also comes in three storage options, so that won’t be a problem. Other than that, there’s not much to say… it’s a new iPhone, a better one than any before it. If you loved the older models, you will absolutely love this as not only is it the best iPhone yet, but one of the best smartphones you can get your hands on. That said, if you are an iPhone user and you don’t need a Full High Definition display, you can upgrade to iPhone 5 as it is everything you expect it to be and more.