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When the HTC One X arrived earlier in the year, it easily took the smartphone display crown, blowing us away with its high pixel density and super-clear zero-air-gap screen. Fast forward six months and we already have a successor in waiting, in the form of Verizon's Droid DNA. The DNA rocks a 1080p SuperLCD 3 screen versus the One X's 720p SuperLCD 2, and that means it boasts a whopping 440 ppi (pixels per inch) compared to the One X's 312.

It shouldn't be surprising to hear that the Droid DNA produces incredibly crisp images -- after all, it matches the pixel count of the average HDTV.  But the One X's screen is impressive in its own right, despite packing less than half as many pixels in total. As you can see in our close-up shot above, the differences between the Droid DNA and One X are noticeable but subtle -- when viewed up-close, icons, text and other on-screen elements do appear crisper. The perceived difference isn't anywhere near as great as going from WVGA to 720p, though.

Pixels aside, the two phones are pretty closely matched in color quality and brightness, too. The Droid DNA's screen is ever so slightly cooler and a little darker than the One X at maximum brightness, though these aren't differences you'll  notice unless you've got both devices sitting side by side. For general day-to-day use, both of these screens look stunningly good.

You'll be able to see for yourself when the HTC Droid DNA goes on sale tomorrow -- stay tuned for our full review. In the meantime, be sure to sound off in the comments, and stop by our Droid DNA forums for more great discussion.

There are 52 comments

cyanogen-man says:

Nice :) I get my one x plus to marrow. Woot

84guy says:

completely POINTLESS. im never going to be looking at my screen under a microscope. id rather my cpu not have to power all those extra pixels. i cant even get close enough to my screen without loosing focus. max maybe 6 inches from my face and i never even use my phone closer then 1 foot, sucks that next year you wont be able to buy a high end phone without it being 1080p "sigh"

3mp3ror says:

You want a high end phone without cutting edge technology? Get yourself next year's mid-grade phone and call it a day.

h0ruza#AC says:

84gut makes a excellent point. Android gives an amount of choice but its based on the old dumb phone strategy.

What if I want a phone with a 4" screen? Well I'll have to live with a slower CPU, cheaper materials, a smaller battery, a reduced camera... we've all seen it happen.

Now I've been a happy android user ever since I decided to only buy flagship phones. As much as this shouldn't be the case anything less than flagship delivers a sub par Android experience... for up to two years.

This means my next phone will be 4.6+" when all I want is a phone the size of my i9100 but for the whole front to be a screen with (current) flagship technology inside it.

This will never happen it seems and even though I may not be making sense to most of you essentially this is the same as walking into a shoe shop and getting a pair of sneakers without laces or the air bubble because I'm a size 6 and not a size 10.

feenixfly says:

Agree with the above poster, I don't think anybody would see the pixel difference WITHOUT a magnifying glass. So there's really no point for the droid DNA bumping up the pixels... Seriously.

jbrandonf says:

I agree. Its purely for marketing though. What sucks is that for this phone to use media native to its resolution would require lots of very quick bandwidth and tons of storage space. HTC should instead consider developing technology like Nokia did with touch screens that you can use with a glove, or that have higher refresh rates for smoother animations.

gregmcph says:

Sometimes I lie in bed with my phone close up to my nose.... but then I'm short sighted.

I am completely cool with this many pixels. The phone has the grunt to drive them. The battery seems to be sufficient. Bring on the awesome.

I agree with 84guy. I have a galaxy nexus and 720p is more than perfect. Even zoomed in full I can't see anything to complain about.

Linebarrel86 says:

I have to wonder why in the hell people are complaining about having a dense screen. Where were your complaints when the Galaxy S2 launched?

Having better screen technology will push not just density, but other factors as well.

I guess the same people complaining about a 1080p screen will also complain about octo-core processors or even more powerful GPUs.


84guy says:

no because 1080p means less performance and more cores/better gpu means better performace. 720p is the sweet spot imo.

See, people keep saying that. But tell me this: How much less performance am I supposed to be seeing?

droidbeat says:

KaBoom! Well said, Phil!

Andro X says:

thank you

As much performance as you can see under a microscope. That's how we grade these things now right? ;)

descendency says:

In reality most things are VSync'd now and most high end GPUs push more pixels than the 60FPS cap that your device will implement, regardless of resolution.

The Nexus 10's lag is kind of saddening, though.

84guy says:

nexus 10 performance :)

h0ruza#AC says:

OK Phil how about you use a non flagship phone for a year as your daily driver to clear this up.

It can be from next year if you want but essentially you would review the latest and greatest but return to your 2013 S3/S4 mini equivalent.


we could just watch re-runs of the podcast and count how many times you have said you looove the HTC One S but you have always returned to a flagship phone for your daily driver.

I its a shame there are no S4 pro 1.5gh chips in phones with smaller screens and 2gb of ram to put this to bed

jbrandonf says:

Battery ;) .. But seriously, android isn't fully utilizing the hardware it's running.. Now the upcoming push for phones at 1080p will further push the hardware ahead if software that actually uses it.

abtxpress says:

720 really is good enough for a phone. To me 1080 is a bit gemicy. I'm not complaining, just putting in my two cents.

erin_looney says:

1080p makes sense on phablets like the future successor to Galaxy Note 2, to get that retina display ppi. Basically, keep it over 300 ppi and it looks awesome. I do agree I would rather have superior performance and 300ppi, to slower performance with 400 ppi. That being said, it is exciting we are seeing display technology march forward and raising the bar. Can't wait for a nice retina phablet in 2013 to replace the Note 2.

What this article fails to mention is the S3, which still beats both these phones due to replaceable battery and upgradable storage. I'm running 80gb on my s3 and have infinite battery life due to swapability. These two advantages beat the advantages of the phones above quite handily. Infinite battery and as many videos, photos, and songs as I like. I'll take it any day over 400+ ppi that dies and can't hold a video or music collection. Winner: Samsung, even six months after its release. MOST impressive.

cjbrigol says:

Hey...shut up...I like just got my note 2 :(

Mobius360 says:

1080 was obviously the next step. The manufacturers feel they have to keep pushing and really it's a good thing. For me though I can zoom in the screen on my Gnex all the way and things still look great to me. It was a big step from my Galaxy S Epic, which at the time had a great screen too.

I'm interested in seeing some benchmarks (even though I typically don't care for them) of the DNA vs. The Optimus G and Nexus 4. Same CPU/GPU 5" 1080p vs. 4.7" 720p. Damn I wish the One X+ had gone with the S4 Pro.

Grahaman27 says:

1080p is 2x the resolution of 720p...

so, if a phone looks increadible at 4.7" @ 720p then the SMALLEST that needs 1080p would be 2x 4.7" = 9-10" tablet. NOT A PHONE.

jbrandonf says:

I thought the One X+ had the S4 pro in the at&t version?

PiotrekDG says:

Such high resoultion is not useless.
Run a game, which does not have antialiasing on your HD screen, let's say Modern Combat 3 or GTA III and take a look at the edges of variuos objects - you'll see what I mean.

Small_law says:

A great screen is really nice thing to have, one of those things you notice without noticing all the time. That being said, so much pixel density at that resolution comes with big performance compromises. It taxes the heck out of a CPU and GPU to render a screen like that. The Nexus 10 should scream with the chip set it has, but the display saps a lot of its Exynos' strength. It depends upon what you want, but I can say that high pixel density displays feel like a luxury item, and once you get used to it, there's no going back. The iPad Mini display is good, but unpalatable compared to the iPad or Nexus 10 (or N7 for that matter).

Spaniard85 says:

While I think the DNA will undoubtedly be a nice device, I'm VERY excited about my unlocked One X that'll be here on Friday. Freeing myself from Verizon's clutches!

l00natic71 says:

People haven't seen the phone, yet they are declaring it useless? Interesting

Andro X says:

Welcome to the internet.

Ron Beselt says:

Too N.American minded. We aren't the whole world. We only really need 3x5 or 9x11 pixels to form a legible character set. You could argue that you can't tell difference between a 3x5 arial 'H' and a 300x500 one.

However, what about the BILLIONS of people in the world who use characters like this: 簡體 简体字...

I think we are just reaping benefits from a different target audience.

blp72 says:

Very good point!!

yrj525 says:

Got my DNA today...the screen is amazing!

gregmcph says:

Simple as that.
If it looks awesome, then it is awesome.

It amazes me that so many people find a move towards 1080p screens a bad thing. Since when is moving forward bad? I am pretty sure it the DNA wasn't capable of running a 1080 screen smoothly on a quad core then they wouldn't have put it on there.

Raikon says:

exactly, it is still very smooth from what I've seen on previews

Aleksey_US says:

Agree... once they finally catch up to 4K and 8 cores, maybe they'll be finally forced to improve on the battery, and case design to differentiate...

Grahaman27 says:

how bout that battery life?

mid-day dead.

droidbeat says:

Love the high rez coupled with the fast processor. Win-win. Looking forward to the full review, and my DNA arrives tomorrow! :-)

reign831 says:

More pixels on a phone than my tv.

Crazy talk.

descendency says:

If you own a Nexus 10, you probably have more pixels in that 10 inch device than your Laptop, Desktop, and TV. Possibly combined... (1366x768 laptop, 1280x1024 desktop, and 720p tv... would be a total of 3.2 million pixels, whereas the Nexus 10 has around 4 million pixels)

spokenwordd says:

Looks like a great device just like it's siblings. Sucks that Verizon went the AT&T route with no SD slot, still a great phone though. I'm still happy with my EVO LTE

descendency says:

Samsung is the only manufacturer that is continuing to push SD cards. It might be because they produce them, though...

1080P? 1080P? What kind of poor-sighted old man would you have to be to put up with something that grainy? I'm holding out for a 4K screen to watch all those movies they'll be filming with RED cameras. 1080P...sheesh, you guys will put up with anything. ;)

descendency says:


Wait until they have the Nexus 10 with the 8K (16:10) screen. 36 million pixels. Almost 900 PPI.

Your eyes will bleed before you see the pixels.

David Horgan says:

Sounds like to me... alot of people just bought the G SIII or isn't a Verizon customer. ;) saying 720p is better than 1080p is like saying a dual core processor is better than a quad core lol or 1gb is better than 2gb!

h0ruza#AC says:


supa_dupa says:

I see a lot of jealousy here...GS3 owners with 720p Pentile displays?

bp240 says:

As a GS3 owner (and former One X owner)
1. Bringing up the pentile screen is a weak argument. Unless your face is buried in the screen and you're looking at the right color choices next to each other, you won't notice a thing. Most of the time.
2. I say bring on the 400+ppi screens. I want it to be so HD that the real world appears soft and dull. No jealousy here.

jbrandonf says:

There was a definite difference though. I had both at the same time and there's a reason why they said the One X had the best screen even after the S3 came out.

ChrisFricke says:

To all the people that say 720p is enough and you won't notice the difference in quality with the DNA over other phones: Are you saying this because you've seen it with your own eyes or are you making an assumption based on marketing data that Apple has pushed saying 312 ppi is the "sweet spot" for the human eye?

I've heard from DNA owners on the forums that you CAN see the difference in quality very easily and that it is fantastic. I plan to make my own judgement once I can try it out in the store next to the GS3 and maybe one of the iPhone5's from work. I'm guessing that "retina display" pixel density will be clearly inferior making Apple's marketing hype just that.

I mention Apple because they are the ones that set a specific ppi limit as "good enough" and marketed it as the epitome of device displays. For a long while it seemed this was true. Retina was king. It's not anymore. If "retina" is all the eye can see then Apple and others would never need to push farther. But they will and they are which means everything you were fed about "retina" was crap.

Look at it this way: How many pixels do you see on real life objects? Well that's how invisible the pixels should eventually be on computer displays - that's true retina.

Change is hard for some people and I get that but resistance to having better displays seems silly.

Grahaman27 says:

the balance between battery life and visuals is now WAY OFF>

goliath602 says:

I cannot believe that there are so many people complaining about a 5 inch screen on a phone with a PPI of 440. I understand that after 300 PPI it is hard to see a pixel with your bare eye, but it still makes the screen look more refined and sharper when looking at pictures or video or even when browsing the web. Yeah sure, 440 PPI might be somewhat of an overkill for a phone. But I do not see anything bad about it. A year from now everyone will be saying how great a 1080p screen on a phone is and will be making fun of the iPhone for only having a 326 PPI. Technology will only continue to improve, so deal it guys.