Droid DNA vs. Samsung Galaxy S3

In late November, HTC and Verizon released a new Android smartphone called the Droid DNA. The Droid DNA is the latest in a long line of Droid smartphones for Verizon’s network and the Droid DNA is arguably the best Droid yet. The device however isn’t without its competition especially on Verizon where a host of smartphones tempt consumers.

One of those devices is the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung’s flagship that arrived earlier this year and has gone on to sell over 30 million units worldwide, setting previous records set by the Samsung Galaxy S2.

The success of the Galaxy S3 is not surprising. Samsung has done a fantastic job of building up the Galaxy series and it has become one of the most recognizable Android brands alongside the Droid brand.

Read: iPhone 5 vs. Droid DNA.

And due to the brand popularity and the features of both devices, consumers are bound to have both of these devices, the Droid DNA and the Samsung Galaxy S3 at the top of their shopping lists. But how do they compare to each other?

Here, we take a deep dive into the similarities and differences between Verizon’s latest Droid, the Droid DNA and Samsung’s latest Galaxy-branded smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S3.

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Release Date

Fortunately for shoppers out there, both the Droid DNA and the Samsung Galaxy S3 are out on shelves and available to buy this very minute.

The Droid DNA was the last big smartphone to get announced for 2012 and it was released on Verizon’s 4G LTE network after a host of rumors on November 21st. The device is available through Verizon and third-party retailers like Amazon.

As for the Galaxy S3, it was released in the United States all the way back in June of this year. However, it remains one of the best Android smartphones and really, one of the best smartphones that money can buy.

Like the Droid DNA, the Galaxy S3 is also available through an assortment of carriers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, and it’s also been the benefactor of deep discounts on retails like Amazon Wireless.

Design

The Droid DNA’s design borrows heavily from HTC’s Droid Incredible series of phones and sprinkles a hint of the HTC EVO 4G LTE in there as well. The red and black device sports a large camera in the middle of the back casing, just like a Droid Incredible and possesses soft navigation keys strongly resemble the keys on the HTC EVO 4G LTE. It is made of plastic, but it’s soft and easy to grip, something that is important for a phone of this size.

As for specifics, due to its huge display, the Droid DNA packs a big footprint. Not as big as say the Galaxy Note 2, but definitely bigger than most smartphones. Thankfully though, it’s nice and thin.

The Droid DNA weighs 138 grams and it checks in at 9.73mm thin. Both are not best-in-class but for a smartphone of this size, it’s impressive.

Moving on to the Galaxy S3, like the Droid DNA, it is made of plastic. The polycarbonate material used in the design is easy to grip and more importantly, it’s durable which should be something clumsy people are keen on. The design itself is, as Samsung says, inspired by nature and features a slick curved design.

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The Samsung Galaxy S3 is made of plastic.

The Galaxy S III specifics include a design that is 8.6 mm thin and weighs 133 grams. It’s just a tad lighter than the Droid DNA but quite a bit thinner.

Display

HTC saved its best display for last. The Droid DNA is the first smartphone in the United States to touch down with full 1080 HD resolution. And its not even the resolution that’s astounding either. The 5-inch Droid DNA display also offers a whopping 440 pixels-per-inch which means that content including video, text, images and more are going to look absolutely stunning.

It also features 16:9 aspect ratio for widescreen content.

While not as good as the Droid DNA’s display, the Galaxy S3 sports a good HD display as well. The Galaxy S3 display is a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD screen that offers 1280 x 720 resolution. 720p, while not as good as 1080p, is still nice to look at and remains the standard for most Android smartphones.

As for the rest of the specs, the Galaxy S3 offers the same 16:9 aspect ratio and features a high 306 PPI which means that it too will display will produce crisp text and images. Again, it’s a good display but not as good as the Droid DNA’s.

Specs

It’s now time to dive deeper into the specifications for both devices to take a look at the differences between the specifications beyond just the display and the overall design.

First, the specifications for the Droid DNA:

  • 5-inch LCD-3 Full HD 1080p Display
  • 1.5GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro Processor
  • 16GB Storage (No microSD card slot)
  • 8MP Camera/2.1MP Camera
  • 2,020 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
  • 2GB of RAM
  • NFC
  • Wireless Charging

Here are the specifications of the Galaxy S3:

  • 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD display with 1280×720 resolution
  • 1.5GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 Processor
  • 16GB/32GB Storage (MicroSD card slot)
  • 8MP Camera/1.9MP Front-Facing
  • 2100mAh Battery (Removable)
  • 2GB of RAM
  • NFC

There are three key differences to note here. First, the Droid DNA has a non-removable battery. That means that users are stuck with it for better or for worse. The Galaxy S3 on the other hand has a removable battery that can be easily changed and upgraded.

Second, the Droid DNA is stuck with 16GB of storage space. It has no microSD card slot which means that users are going to have to be reliant upon the 16GB and the cloud for storage. The Galaxy S3 in the U.S. comes in both 16GB and 32GB.

The Droid DNA also features built-in wireless charging which means that users won’t have to attach third party accessories or kits.

Camera

With the Droid DNA, HTC has included two cameras. One, an 8MP rear camera that features an ImageSense chip, same technology that the HTC One X camera employs. The ImageSense chip allows for Droid DNA users to easily switch between video and photo mode and it also lets users take photos while shooting video.

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A Galaxy S3 camera sample.

In the front, HTC has attached a wide-screen front-facing camera that allows for wide shots, perfect for group video chatting.

The Galaxy S3′s rear camera is also 8MP and while we didn’t find it to be on par with HTC’s ImageSense cameras, it’s still solid nonetheless. It can also shoot 1080p video like the rear camera on the Droid DNA.

Samsung’s smartphone also features a front-facing camera for video chatting purposes and while not spectacular, it will get the job done for those who are trying to video chat with friends and family.

Software

Neither one of these devices is running Google’s latest version of Android out of the box but that’s as big of a problem as it might seem.

Starting with the Droid DNA, it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean right out of the box. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is Google’s earlier version of Android and many of its best features can be seen in the video below.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on the Droid DNA will also be accompanied by HTC Sense 4+. Sense 4+ is HTC’s user interface that it lays on top of Android. Some like it, some hate it. Whatever the case may be, HTC Sense 4+ is arguably the best version of Sense yet.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is amidst a Android 4.1 Jelly Bean roll out. So far, the AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile models have received the update while the U.S. Cellular and Verizon models still are waiting for the software to arrive.

Once it does arrive, it will offer not only Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but also Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. Like HTC, Samsung also lays a user interface over the top of Android. The software on the Galaxy S3 offers some powerful tools and it will only get better with the arrival of Android 4.1.2 which brings a killer Galaxy Note 2 feature to the table called Multi-View which allows users to run two apps on screen at the same time.

Carriers

The Droid DNA, for now, has one carrier and one carrier alone. That carrier of course is Verizon Wireless. The Droid DNA operates on Verizon’s 4G LTE network which just so happens to be the largest network in the United States. Verizon’s 4G LTE network offers data speeds that can reach up to 10 times faster than normal 3G and it can offer them in over 400 markets across the U.S. The next closest competitor, AT&T, checks in with just over 100 total 4G LTE markets in the United States.

Fortunately, the Galaxy S3 is available on Verizon’s 4G LTE network as well. Those looking for more choice will be happy to know that it also can be found on the other four prominent carriers in the U.S. including AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile.

Of the five, only T-Mobile’s Galaxy S3 doesn’t run on a 4G LTE network, instead running on HSPA+ 42 which while comparable to 4G LTE, is generally not as fast.

Price

The Droid DNA checks in with only storage option at Verizon which means that it only has one price. The carrier charges an affordable $199.99 on-contract price for the Droid DNA. That’s cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy Note 2 which is $299.99 through Verizon and other carriers. Those looking to get the Droid DNA for cheaper can look through Amazon.

Amazon charges a mere $149.99 for the Droid DNA, a price that applies to both new customers and those that are looking to stick around on Verizon and simply upgrade their smartphone.

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The Droid DNA price arrived on Amazon for $149.99.

The Galaxy S3 is unsurprisingly cheaper than the Droid DNA. Carriers continue to charge exorbitant amounts for the device – Verizon still lists it at $199.99 on-contract while T-Mobile has it for $279.99 on-contract – but it can be found for much cheaper through retailers like Amazon and Wirefly.

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For instance, Amazon is only charging $49.99 for the Sprint Galaxy S3 and $79.99 for the Verizon Galaxy S3, both of which are deep discounts over their subsidized prices through the carriers themselves.

Comments

    • T bone says

      My DNA has a pretty good battery life. I’m on it a fair amount and usually only charge it at night while I sleep.

  1. Denny Crane says

    The lack of a memory card slot alone negates any interest in the DNA. I have a 16gb Samsung S3 along with a 64gb card for a total of 80gb combined storage. In a perfect world, you can keep all your HD movies in cloud storage and stream them, but in the real world (like when you’re riding in a car or on a plane), good luck with that. 16gb for all your apps, system memory requirements, contacts, emails, texts, music, video, and pictures… just doesn’t cut it in 2012.

  2. Scott says

    DROID DNA, invented to drive you over your tiered data limits. If your battery lasts long enough… I can’t understand why Samsung, HTC etc can’t figure out how to make a phone that is the whole package. The note 2 comes close, but it is too big for some, and saddled with the abortion touchwiz.

  3. Ed says

    Of these phones, the Galaxy is probably the best deal in my book. I just got one (I already had AT&T and like the 4G LTE network), and I’m blown away by the lightning-fast speeds. I moved into the Atlanta area a month ago to do some graphic design work, and the phone has proved itself to be the ultimate productivity tool. I’m loving the beautiful display, too.

  4. Eric Johns says

    Just got the DNA. Absolutely love it. For the first time ever, I tried the iphone (5) and found it was as limited as a 20 year old television on a digital network. So glad to be back to Android and the DNA. It does everything I need and want it to do. A friend has the Galaxy S3. We compared them. Pretty close, but the DNA seems to be just a step ahead in most catagories. Get the DNA.

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