Phil Nickinson

We're inundated with a couple really new phones -- namely the Nexus 4 and the Droid DNA -- and that means it's a working weekend ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. It's also decision time for a lot of people. Get a Nexus 4? Get a Droid DNA? What about the Galaxy S3 or the Galaxy Note 2? And AT&T's still powering ahead with the One X+ and One VX.

Some quick thoughts to send you on your way this week:

  • We talked about it on the podcast last week, but the failure of the Google Play store as the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 went on sale last Tuesday is disconcerting, to say the least. This is the almighty Google, indexer of the entire freakin' Internet, We trust it with our e-mails. Our pictures. Our videos. Our documents. Our phone calls. How is it e-commerce -- which by comparison you'd believe to be far more simple -- gave Google such fits last week? That must be fixed.
  • On the other hand, I wonder how would fare under that kind of load. Quick -- everybody go buy a case or battery or something. Let's find out. :p
  • You've gotta wonder what the inventory levels were for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10. Such a quick sell-out either means great popularity, or low availability. I haven't even managed to buy one yet.
  • Here's to hoping Google releases sales numbers.
  • Between the lockscreen widgets and the shrinking of the icon dock on the Nexus 7, I'm doing something I don't think I've done before -- I'm questioning whether the cosmetic changes Google's made in this latest version of Android are a good thing, at least cosmetically. (And that's to say nothing of how the lockscreen widgets can present a bit of a security/privacy issue.)
  • I don't think I've ever seen expectations so far out of whack as they've been for the Droid DNA. The battery life is not bad. In fact, it's pretty darn good considering it's pushing a 1080p resolution display. I think folks are trying to lump it into the Galaxy Note category of phones, and that's just not the case for the DNA. It's a phone -- a tall phone with a ridiculous amount of pixels -- but it's also physically smaller. The Note 2 has a 53 percent larger battery, in terms of capacity. It's  basic math at that point.
  • But, damn, that display is gorgeous.
  • How I look at battery life: From the moment the phone is unplugged from the charger, it's "in use." For me, that usually starts about 6 a.m. I still think "display on time" is obsessed over a little too much. It's important, to be sure. But a poor network connection will kill a battery even if you're not using the phone. So don't discount what's happening when you're not holding the phone.
  • My tl;dr version of Droid DNA battery life: It's good. Not just kinda good, but really good. At least as good as the Galaxy S3. 
  • We're a month and a half out from CES. Good, lord.

And that's it for this week. Back to work. 


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Droid DNA, Android 4.2, and other quick thoughts


You are right Phil. its kinda worrying how google have managed the play store sale of the devices. You would think thst after this time they could nail it.

People need to understand that comparing the HTC DNA to the GALAXY NOTE 2 is not what should be done. The Note 2 stands alone nothing on the market compares to that device. The HTC DNA is more on the wave length of the Galaxy S3, Lg Optimus G, Razor Maxx, and various other devices. Htc did not make this device to compete with the Galaxy Note 2 even with the fact they were released right behind one another. Htc has come a long way this year with the EVO 4G LTE, HTC ONE X, HTC ONE S, HTC ONE X+. All these device today are 5 times better than the Htc Resound, Htc Amaze 4g, Htc Evo 3d Htc Thunderbolt and whatever else came out in 2011 early 2012. Bottomline here everyone use's their device differently so YES battery life is subjected to that individual. If you are on Verizon you have some hard choices to make HTC DNA, RAZOR MAXX HD OR GALAXY NOTE 2. I love my Galaxy Note 2 on tmobile it's a superior device something never seen on the market yet but the HTC DNA is nice too....

Note 2 on Sprint had rooted and unlocked in minutes super easy to do much simpler then on Evo Lte were you had to download it from the htc site. I love htc phones had evo 4g evo 3d evo lte.Dna only 10gb of user space no sd card slot its a fail big time 4 gameloft games would fill it i will never buy a phone that doesn't have a sd card slot. Maybe Sprint gets a variant like the x and they add a sd card slot to it

Phil.....your words sound so beautiful regarding the Droid DNAs battery. So profound. So deep. So inspiring. much like common sense.

I have gotten tired of people expecting their own usage to fall in line with other people's. I personally can drain any phones battery in a matter of hours when I'm at work where my signal suffers immensely. My advice to people: put your phone in airplane mode when your not using it, it will save the battery in a huge way. No more constantly searching for signals will be a huge gain.

This method worked with my iPhone, Galaxy Nexus and other devices.

If the DNA works like the Evo LTE (both similar) it doesn't matter how bad the signal is when it is not being used and you don't have to put it in airplane mode to conserve battery and get a decent life.

These new phones with the newest small/fast processors and even larger batteries are NOTHING like models from a year ago. My previous phone, which was high-end, would eat through battery when there was low signal, even when I never touched the phone. That problem appears to be just GONE now (thankfully).

Maybe for you. But if I don't put my Nexus in airplane mode, it will constantly try to find a signal. And it does drain faster when your phone is constantly disconnecting and trying to reconnect.

Again, this is helpful for me.

I assume you mean the Galaxy Nexus S? If so, like I said, you can't compare that phone to these.

Yes, it will drain faster with a weak signal, but the difference between the last gen and current gen of high-end phones is HUGE in this regard.

No such thing as a Galaxy Nexus S my friend. Clearly the newer phones are better at battery management than the Nexus S. Are you also saying that the new phones are that much better than the Galaxy Nexus or GS2? I don't agree. I currently use the GS2 but I spent 3 weeks with an Evo LTE and a further 2.5 weeks with a GS3 and didn't notice much of a difference. When signal was low, the battery drained very quickly. Perhaps in your experience this is not the case but I feel that you may be setting unrealistic expectations for people.

Not only are the new phones better, but there are tools to help us with these things on older phones. And you don't even need to switch to airplane mode manually all the time.

I use Automateit Pro. I think Tasker can be used similarly.

I don't shut down the voice radio (that radio hardly uses any juice for me). But all my other radios (3g, wifi, gps) are disabled when the screen goes off. They all are enabled when the screen comes on.

I also have all kinds of exceptions made for specific instances (don't want the wifi or 3g radio shutting off, when the sceen turns off, if I'm in the middle of downloading something from play store or streaming music, etc). My Radios also don's shut down if the phone is pulgged in and charging.

My phone also automatically enables those radios every hour (with the screen off and just sitting in my pocket) for a few minutes and then shuts them back down. I think of it as a "syncing window". So I get emails, updates, etc constantly refreshed all day. But the radios are only on for those narrow "syncing windows" and when the screen is on.

Once that I've created all those rules...It's all automatic.

To think that a manufacturer can produce a device that is going to work flawlessly for millions of different people, with millions of different needs, in millions of unique locations... is absurd.

You can do whatever meets your own needs. I've just done what works for me. My phone is one of those that had "horrible" battery life (as was it proclaimed by internet screamers everywhere). I have an original htc incredible. I only have one stock battery (and it is certainly weakened after 2 and a half years). I didn't need to spend a bunch of money on an extended battery (new ones or carry spares with me)... I spent 1.99 on an app.

I just went two and a half days without charging, on light usage. Going all day with moderate-heavy use is not ever a problem.

Read... Learn... use the tools available... spend a few pennies... solve your problems... stop screaming in CAPS on the internet... it is not that hard.

Are we nerds or are we mice?!

Yes, that is EXACTLY what I am saying. The new phones are MUCH, MUCH better than the GS2 and the Galaxy Nexus when it comes to standby battery usage. It is possible there is something else going on in your case. I don't know. I will say that most of the day, I am connected to WiFi, even with a weak cell signal.

The DNA with its improved radios is amazingly better, than phones from a year ago. It barely sucks any juice, when it is idling. And, I was able to download all of my apps from the Play store, without using up all of my battery. The DNA as a whole is much more energy efficient, than any phone from a year ago, and, I think we can look forward to more energy efficient phones in the future.

There has been alot of early judgements on the DNA's battery life which haven't been fair. That said I understand why people are leery after owning previous HTC phones. My Thunderbolt with ics and extended battery lasts around 12 hours on work nights. Don't have a signal in my office and don't bother turning off data. This weekend I hit 29 hours at 14% left. With standard battery on gb I was getting 4 hours on workdays.

Yeah, because missing all of my important calls are what phones are made for? That is some straight b.s., bro. Anyways, They really lost me on the expandable storage.

"Put your phone in Airplane mode when you're not using it"...? Really? That's ridiculous. Might as well just turn it all the way off rather than airplane mode if you're actually "not using it".

My phone is still a phone, when I'm not physically using it, which means it needs to be able to take a call when someone calls me, and it's still a text message device, which means it has to be able to, you know, receive text messages, whether I'm actively using it or not. Airplane mode defeats the most basic of PHONE features, doesn't it?

Now, if you'd said something more reasonable like "turn off bluetooth, WiFi, and mobile data" when you're not using them,, I wouldn't have objected quite so much.

I've got a much better idea, though. Plug your phone into an AC charger, dock, or your computer's USB port if you sit at a desk all day. Plug it into a car charger when you're in a car. Carry a spare battery in your wallet if your phone has a removable one.

I finally have the Nexus 10 in my hands (arrived Fri night). But the order process was a huge cluster F****. The worst online ordering experience I have ever had (and I have done a lot of online ordering). 45 minutes of non-stop stress and frustration, followed by uncertainty and anger. Not until 4 hours later did I even know my order went through, when I finally got an Email.

I couldn't agree more with Phil, they really need to "fix" the process.

On the 4.2 changes - I'm not really liking two separate notification panes on the Nexus 7. I would rather have just one like the phones do with a button or 2 finger swipe to get the settings pane.

Totally agree. After all the talk about how user experience needs to be simplified, how could they possibly think that breaking the simplicity of the notification bar is a good idea? And to add what? Links to settings menus that we could already access with two touches - pointless.

They felt the need to force tablets to use phone UI (and the associated wasted screen space) in the name of simple and uniform UX, but it's OK to mangle the notification area? I get the feeling that Duarte is all talk and spin, Cupertino style.

Of course, if google wasn't so averse to giving us UI customization options, none of this would be a problem. It wouldn't bug me if I could turn it off.

Wow, I didn't even notice the dock shrinking because I've been using Nova Launcher Prime! Now that I look at it, it is uuuugly… thank goodness for launchers.

lol, I switched switched back to the stock launcher from NLP because I like the smaller dock icons.

I guess Google just needs to give people choices in the settings like CM does.

I'm not sure that I'm particularly fond of the 4.2 changes either, at least not in their current form. I'm eager to see what the guys over at CyanogenMod do with that settings pane, I see some good possibilities there. As it is right now, it's just quick links to the settings. Throw some actual toggles on there, and you've got a winner. The lock screen widgets are a cool idea, but it doesn't register my swipes very well. I find myself just unlocking the phone and then opening apps from the drawer.

Thanks so much for your battery life observations! I've had the DNA on preorder since announcement day, but I've wondered about the battery life. I still have the Motorola universal portable charger anyway just in case.

There's a big difference with providing an e-commerce site than a search engine index. The whole of Google's database for searching is based up queries, indexes and read-only data. It then uses separate profile for logging the interaction with searches and for the bots that index the web.

With e-commerce you have to do real-time inventory. I'm guessing either Google over-complicated the inventory system or had it way to basic. When you're looking at a massive amount of customers who are hitting the site at exactly the same time ordering exactly the same items then it's a bit harder to cluster the databases. If you think of the atomic transactions and the fact that some transactions in the DB may not commit and have to be rolled back. Along with the fact that you don't want to have people hold onto stock in their basket too long, but you also don't want to let them try to buy something that no longer exists when they get to checkout, it isn't easy.

You start to get into the realms of the finance industry and stock trading style programming just to purchase a gadget once every 6 months or so.

This could be where Google tried to over-complicate things. They might even have set their site up so that when you added an item to your basket you were adding a specific individual item rather than a generic item. Now if they were load balancing and two people hit add to basket at exactly the same time and both were served by a different DB server then the same item might be bought by the different people. A sanity check would pick this up and one of you would lose it from your basket.

A simpler way would be "we have a stock of 31,000, lets just decrement by one for each add to basket and sell a maximum of 30,000 with 1000 in reserve for over allocation errors". Not a great system for normal e-commerce but works better for a high load scenario like this.

It probably didn't help having thousands of people setting up 5 second auto-refreshers on their shop front either.

All speculation of course, I didn't write their shop front, but I have written a few others in my time.

Low inventory is the culprit... Nexus phones are not targeted to the mainstream. Plain and simple. I don't recall seeing any nexus phone sales numbers in the past, I can't imagine it ever being significant. If it was, we'd see numbers. I expect the same from this generation of devices. Maybe Google will prove me wrong...

" (And that's to say nothing of how the lockscreen widgets can present a bit of a security/privacy issue.)"

I dont know why everyone is going crazy over the lockscreen widgets and this. Its Android. If you dont like em, dont use em. If security is a concern, dont put any widgets that display personal information on the lockscreen. I just tested it on my Nexus 7, and if you have some sort of security (besides basic slide to unlock) you need to enter it before you can even add a widget to the lockscreen.

Im with you on the dock icons. that looked terrible. Switched right back into Nova Launcher.

Sorry,Phil, you missed the boat completely! There is a rumbling about the dna's battery life. The real problem is internal storage. I do not have access to Wi-Fi or 3g/4g during the day. I need space to hold my music(maybe 2 GB) and podcasts (another gig). That seems fine, but I am a gamer too. And all of the top notch games on android (especially HD games) are starting to weigh in at 1-2 GB. Add a couple of those up with Facebook, instagram, weather channel and my other go-to apps and I can't snap a photo or shoot a video if I need too. This is not good HTC! I was an original droid incredible owner and was really looking forward to this device. Shucks!

No, I'm very much on that boat. I just didn't write about it here. More on that in our review, and I've already talked about it at length in the forums.

sorry,but what i dont get about the battery life is that so many reviewers have problems stating how the bat-life is.
Is it really that hard,all are eiter based on some useless video rundown test or some vage mumbling around.
Why not do it like almost every members on xda does it.
Make a screenshot of the battery usage history,the display,tell us a bit what you have done it that time and what settings you used while using the phone(i mean things like brightness,auto sync,lte/wifi).
I you do this pretty much everyone can make himself a pretty good picture of the battery life.
This is not meant offensive but imo it would at least me,help a lot getting the picture.
Because for me it is all about the battery when talking about the DNA.
Why?Because there is no doubt the screen is amazing,the perfomance is super and it feels great in the hand.
Regarding the Storage,the 16gb is a total no go for me,wouldnt even consider it but i dot live in the usa,so it isnt even possible for me to get it.
And if the international version doesnt have a sd card slot or at least 32gb,the device and maybe even HT is dead for me because of their stupid decisions releasing devices with sch obvious flaws.And i would really hate to do that because i love their hardware

I dig the new size for dock icons. They're finally the same size as home screen icons. For an OCD nutter like me, it's so much nicer.

And I'm on the fence about the settings swipe down. I usually swipe down for notifications in the area that now triggers the settings shade. I'm not sure yet if it's just a learning curve thing or plain annoying.

Edit: I must have gone blind for a second. They ARE smaller! Why not just make them the same size???

The Verge just has to find a reason to crap on the DNA along with the other Android phones on Verizon being better options than the iPhone. Enough said.

Looking at replacing my Thunderbolt in the next month or so, and was looking at the DNA. Even if the battery life isn't as bad as feared, how do you address the eventual worn out battery? I'm on call 24/7, so the phone is on all the time, and after a year or so it gets to the point where it is time to replace the battery. What magic pixie dust answer does HTC have in the DNA to address that?

Can't say on the HTC DNA. But on the HTC Evo LTE, replacing the battery is fairly easy- estimated about 5 minutes. Remove some screws and swap it. Videos posted on YouTube.

Completely different setup, the DNA is manufactured similarly to HTC's new WP. Pretty sure the batter is sandwiched between the PCB and the screen.

Not sure the assumption that the battery will crap out in two years is a valid one either way.

FWIW, my launch day Thunderbolt is on his 2nd battery. The first pooped out after 12.5 months.

I had this exact same question on the forums, but it got looked over by all the minions whining about the shortage of places to store their questionable videos.

Totally agree with you on the 4.2 changes. Smaller dock icons look terrible, the dual notification bars on the nexus 7 is horrible, and I'm seeing more stutters and hiccups like project butter is broken or something. I tried to order the nexus 4 and got a confirmation and I have yet to receive any email regarding anything. Its like I ordered in limbo. Sucks.

Phil is trying his hardest to sell that new Droid. There is no way in hell the battery life is as good as in the Galaxy S3, no freaken way. Not only battery life I'm complaining about is the storage, everyone is saying you should use the cloud, I use the cloud, I have very important documents that I carry in my phone that I need to have access to 24/7. Try accessing your cloud filed documents in a plane, when out of network range, when you just have used up your data allowance, the cloud is not all that great. I think any high end device needs at least 32gb of int storage if there is no sd card. The more you allow the manufacturers get away with it they won't change. Not only does Samsung give the customers all they ask for but these new breed of Samsung phones are all the same looking from carrier to carrier, this means tons of accessories will be made and fit your phone no matter which carrier you buy from. Samsung makes the best phones in the world right now. The software is over the top, nothing compares to it. Everyday I find something new and crazy cool that is very useful for the business man. The Note 2 IMO is the best phone to buy right now, take all these tests and shove them, the Note 2 with it's quad core processor and 2 gigs of ram is a beast of a phone that will last you for a very long time. The screen is gorgeous. I would NEVER give it up for two of the new Droids.

There is no reason or evidence to believe or say that the battery life is not as good as the Galaxy S3. The HTC Evo LTE has battery life just as good as the S3, and the DNA is very similar to the Evo LTE.

No question the paltry 16GB of storage on the DNA is an issue, though.

Hey guys, continuing to bitch about the storage space on the DNA isn't going to magically make it bigger. Buy a different phone. For some it won't be an issue.

I guess if you have nothing better to do than gripe about a phone you're not going to buy then go for it. I'm just getting tired of seeing people whining about the same crap every time the DNA is brought up. We get it, 11 gigs of free space is a deal breaker for you/your GS3 or GNote 2 have expandable storage. No need to to write essays about why HTC is worse than Hitler and Carrot Top combined and how your phone of choice (usually a Samsung phone oddly enough) shits on the DNA then eats it for breakfast.

At what point is the finger going to be pointed at Verizon for the storage? Seriously... The JButterfly or whatever it's called is the SAME PHONE. By the same company. And it has a sd slot.

Clearly this is not a design, or technical need being fulfilled by HTC. In order to sell their phones to Verizon, make no mistake Verizon is HTC customer, not us, they must meet the specs big red gives.

At what point is the finger going to be pointed at Verizon for the storage? Seriously... The JButterfly or whatever it's called is the SAME PHONE. By the same company. And it has a sd slot.

Clearly this is not a design, or technical need being fulfilled by HTC. In order to sell their phones to Verizon, make no mistake Verizon is HTC customer, not us, they must meet the specs big red gives.

The battery life "pretty darn good considering it's pushing a 1080p resolution display."

But you know what the DNA also is? It's a smartphone that is supposed to be able to do basic tasks. It can't do those tasks when the battery is dead, and it can't do them well if you're limiting the phone's features when trying to eke out battery life.

So is the battery life good considering it's a phone that you want to be able to use? That's the question, and the answer appears to be that it's around the same as the GS3 but with a nonremovable battery whose capacity will decline over time. I can't imagine why a single Thunderbolt owner would consider subjecting themselves to HTC again.