Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC Droid DNA

March 16, 2013
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On Thursday, the Samsung Galaxy S4 was finally unveiled by Samsung in New York, putting an end to months of rumors and speculations about the new member of the insanely popular Galaxy S line of smartphones.

Arguably one of the highlights of the device is the use of a 5-inch 1080p display. With the Galaxy S4, Samsung has made its fashionably late entrance in the already crowded club of full HD phone makers. At this point, the full HD invasion is complete, with nearly every Android device maker boasting at least on full HD phone in its portfolio.

The fast adoption of full HD displays is so much more impressive when you think that just a few months back, the HTC J Butterfly, and its American doppelganger the Droid DNA were making the headlines with their new ultra crisp panels.

Has Samsung managed to define what a modern smartphone should be like? Has HTC struck a better balance between specs and design, functionality and appearance? Let’s find out together.

You can jump to the bottom of this article for a video review, or join us as we pit the Samsung Galaxy S4 against the HTC Droid DNA in four rounds: display, design and build quality, internal hardware, and software.

Specs

Specifications Samsung Galaxy S4 HTC Droid DNA
Dimensions 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm130g 141 x 70.5 x 9.7 mm (5.55 x 2.78 x 0.38 in)141.7 g (4.97 oz)
Display 4.99-inch, Super AMOLED1920 x 1080 Full HD, 441ppi 5-inch Super LCD 31080 x 1920, 441ppi
CPU and GPU International version

  • Samsung Exynos 5 Octa
  • Quad-core A15 (1.6GHz) + Quad-core A7 (1.2GHz)

US version

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 APQ8064T
  • Quad-core Krait 300
  • 1.9Ghz
APQ8064 Snapdragon S4 ProQuad-core 1.5GHzAdreno 320
RAM 2GB 2GB
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB internalmicroSD, up to 64GB 16/32GBNon-expandable
Cameras 13MP rear, LED flash, autofocus, burst mode, Shot with Sound, Dual record, Smart Erase 8MP rear,  autofocus, LED flash2.1MP front, 1080p, 30fps
Battery 2600mAh, removable 2020 mAh12.8h talk time (3G)
Networks GSM, UMTS, HSPA+/LTE GSM, UMTS, CDMAHSPA+, LTE
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n acWi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, NFCBluetooth 4.0 A2DP

microUSB, MHL 2, infrared

A-GPS

Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, nWi-Fi hotspotmicroUSB, DLNA

NFC

A-GPS

Bluetooth 4.0

Operating system Android 4.2 TouchWiz UIAir View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause,S Translate, Knox, S Drive Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Sense 4+

Display

The HTC Droid DNA features a 5-inch full HD Super LCD 3 display that clocks in an impressive 441ppi pixel density. This Super LCD 3 display is a joy to gaze at, as it not only offers great contrast levels and pixel-free crispness, but also accurate color reproduction.

In the Samsung corner, the 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is equally crisp, has better brightness, but (as all SAMOLED panels) less accurate color reproduction.

Verdict: The HTC Droid DNA has more accurate color reproduction, thus has a small advantage in this round, although SAMOLED fans will surely want to go for the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Design and build quality

The Samsung Galaxy S4 borrows a lot from the design of its predecessor, featuring a very similar home button flanked by two capacitive buttons. The corners are less rounded on GS4 than they are on the GS3, making the phone look like a cross between last years Galaxy S and the Note.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 in) and weighs in at 130 g (4.59 oz), while the HTC Droid DNA measures 141 x 70.5 x 9.7 mm (5.55 x 2.78 x 0.38 in). As the numbers dictate, the Galaxy S4 is the more compact of these two smartphones.

The HTC Droid DNA features an aggressive design, with bold red aluminum accents in line with Verizon’s branding. HTC has applied a rubbery texture to the back plate,  making the DNA a bit easier to use with one hand.

Verdict: Feel free to disagree in the comment section below, but even though the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a bit more compact, the Droid DNA is the better looking device.

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Internal Hardware

CPU, GPU, and RAM

The HTC Droid DNA uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro system on a chip (SoC), meaning that under its hood hums a 1.5GHz quad-core Krait CPU and a Adreno 320 GPU, coupled with 2 GB of RAM.

The recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in two versions: an international version that uses an Exynos 5 Octa, a brand new chipset (rocking a quad-core A15 CPU plus a quad-core A7 CPU in big.LITTLE configuration, a GPU), and a North American version that will make use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 CPU (a 1.9 GHz Krait CPU, an Adreno 320 GPU). Both versions will feature 2GB of RAM.

As preliminary benchmark tests demonstrate, the Exynos 5 Octa proves itself faster than the Snapdragon S4 Pro.

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Internal and Expandable Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions and can work with microSD cards, while the HTC Droid DNA comes with 16GB of internal space and no microSD card slot.

Cameras

The HTC Droid DNA features an 8MP primary camera and a 2.1MP secondary camera for video calling, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 seems to be a bit better endowed in this department, with its 13MP primary camera and a 2MP secondary shooter. Besides the larger sensor (and probably better optics), the Galaxy S4 also integrates a number of new little feature, that some might find gimmicky, but I am sure that many users will appreciate.

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Battery

The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 2600 mAh user-removable battery, which is obviously preferable to the 2020 mAh non-removable battery that’s inside the HTC Droid DNA.

Verdict: The hardware specs round clearly goes to the Samsung Galaxy S4

Android implementation and software 

Verizon’s HTC Droid DNA runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Naturally, both the carrier and HTC have promised a timely update to Android 4.2, but don’t hold your breath.

The Droid DNA uses the HTC Sense 4+ interface, which is arguably better designed than the Samsung Galaxy S4’s TouchWiz interface, albeit the latter comes with a number of useful software features such as: Air View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, and a number of others that you can learn all about in the article here.

Verdict: The TouchWiz interface on the Samsung Galaxy S4 wins this round thanks to its array of software features.

Hands-on video

Verdict

Both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC Droid DNA are great Android smartphones, but the Galaxy S4 is not only faster, but also the more complete and versatile device.

The Droid DNA features one of the best displays on any phone (especially if you want true-to-life colors) and features a snazzy design, it does have a couple of flaws that could have been easily avoided by HTC. Yes, I’m talking about that smallish battery and lack of microSD card support.

What do you guys think: is the Samsung Galaxy S4 the new king of full HD smartphones ? Has the Super LCD 3 display on the HTC Droid DNA charmed you? Let us know in the comments!

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