iPhone 5 vs HTC DNA

My brother suggested I post a review since I’ve got both of the phones in hand. It’s not going to be on straight specs because you can already find all of the information online. I’m looking at it from a usability perspective since I’m trying to figure out which one to buy.

My Purpose: I primarily use my phones for emails, texts, picture taking, and the occasionally app. I need a phone that allows for quick typing and ease of use in a stable platform.

My History: Four years ago, I bought the Blackberry Storm, the first blackberry touch phone with a keyboard. I loved the SureType keyboard: a QWERTY keyboard with 2 letters per key. Two years ago, I upgraded to the Android HTC Thunderbolt. The first 4G phone with a 4.3 inch screen, one of the largest at the time. I’m now looking for the next best phone to use as my everyday device.

HTC DNA: I love the giant 5 inch screen. It makes sense to have a phone with a large screen because you can put more content right in front off you. I wear jeans almost everyday and even with the 5 inch screen, it fits perfectly in my right front pocket and doesn’t feel like it’s going to crack when I sit down. I do worry a little bit that if I dropped the phone, the length would make a much easier to torque and crack the glass. I know I will drop my phone at least once every couple months on either concrete or hardwood so the gel case I buy must protect it. The camera takes great pictures and there is almost no delay if your trying to snap a quick one. The giant screen makes it easier for me to type and seems to cut down on the errors in portrait mode, but it does take a little more stretching to reach the keys on the left side of the keyboard. I’m a right handed, slender, 6 foot 3 inch guy so my fingers are long and thin. The more spaced out the keys are, the easier it is to type…to a point. For the shorter people, the HTC DNA will be difficult to type with one hand in portrait mode. The swipe mode is extremely beneficial and allows me to type the fastest out of the two phones. I don’t like how difficult it is to press the top screen power button with my thumb using one hand. I predominantly use only one hand when handling my phone so the inability to turn off the screen quickly after sending a text message will always bug me. The group text messaging is easy to manage with the DNA because you can see every recipient, but it still shows “Multimedia message” as the message preview before opening up the message. I like how it is easy to view all recent applications and then slide your finger upwards to stop the application. I do wish the email was a little easier to navigate on the DNA. You must use dropdowns at the top of the screen to change to a different “Label” which is essentially email folders and it is still a little difficult to reach the dropdown button with one hand. Since the DNA has a quad core processor and 2 GB of RAM, everything is quick! Google did a beautiful job with the screen transitions and hands down has a beautiful interface.

iPhone 5: I’m not an Apple advocate. I respect all technology unless it really is crap that does not work as advertised or is unstable. I decided to do this comparison because I’ve never really used an iPhone or iPad in a day to day environment. Two days ago, I activated my brother’s iPhone on my number and started playing around with it. Since there is only a home button, everything else in the OS and in the applications must have a pressable button or an item that can be long held. Naturally, applications are built with a visible hierarchy since there is no physical “Back” button. This makes all the different applications and menus very similar which means everything on the iOS platform has a similar feel to it. The downside is it requires more buttons to be programmed into the application which can make it cluttered. The iPhone takes great pictures and is pretty quick. The hardware specs only about half the DNA (processor is dual core and only has 1GB or RAM) which means iOS is less flashy, but still performs with almost no lag. The keyboard typing is really fast, but in my typing tests, I was able to type a little more accurately with the DNA due to the slightly spaced out keys. I had a chance to test out the bluetooth in my car and it was quite amazing. It is a world of difference from my Thunderbolt. I actually love how the iPhone organizes the email. The is a top level where you can see every email account and then you can step down into the different folders and then even to the individual message level in an email thread. It’s very easy to see how many people have posted individual replies. The group text messages are also clearly designated multiple person icons and the message previews always show properly from other iPhone and Android users. Emojis are also a nice addition to the conversations. Double tapping the Home button makes is easy to see running applications, similar to Android, and you can kill them by long pressing and then clicking the red dashes.

Verdict: The HTC DNA is a superior phone. It’s bigger, faster, newer, and prettier BUT, for my purposes, I worked more efficiently on the iPhone. I could accomplish the same basic tasks much faster and much easier on the iPhone. I never thought I would favor an Apple product, but I’m afraid my next phone is going to be an iPhone. I think the things that weighed in the most was email and text messages. As emails hit different folders, the iPhone shows me exactly where they are, using their hierarchy. With text messages, iPhones don’t have any viewing issues like Android does. Sure, Android didn’t create their own proprietary messaging platform like iMessage, but text messaging without Emojis is kind of bland. The iPhone also does a wonderful job with customizing notifications. I can specify exactly which applications can bug me with pop up messages and which kind.

Technical Note: I’ve developed Android applications before and I am extremely unhappy that I have to learn Objective C to build an iOS application. Android is built on Java which runs on every platform so it’s much easier to built client-server applications. Looks like I’m going to have to stick with web applications.