To say that the Nexus 4 and the HTC DROID DNA are currently the hottest Android phones would be a huge understatement. Google’s having a hard time keeping up with demand for the Nexus 4, and the 5-inch 1080p display on the DROID DNA almost seems too perfect to be real. While there’s a huge difference in design and software, the HTC DROID DNA and Nexus 4 are pretty similar on the inside. Both phones and powered by a quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and have 2GB of RAM. On the software side, the Nexus 4 is running stock Android 4.2 while the DROID DNA is loaded with Android 4.1. and HTC Sense 4+.
We know most of you would cheer for the Nexus 4 if these two phones were to battle to the death, but is the Nexus 4 really a better phone? While the internal specs of the two devices are identical, the Nexus 4′s main advantage should be its stock Android 4.2 software, devoid of any manufacturer tweaks or bloatware that can slow the system down. The HTC DROID DNA, on the other hand, comes with Sense 4+, a notorious systems resource hog. But how do the two phones compare when put through a series of standard benchmark tests?
The HTC DROID DNA comes out on top.
That’s right. HTC’s new flagship phone with its 5-inch 1080p display somehow manages to best the Nexus 4. But how is this possible? Shouldn’t the Nexus 4 running stock Android beat a competing phone running an older version of Android with a custom UI? In theory, yes. But there’s a bit more at play here.
According to a few tests performed by AnandTech, the Nexus 4′s performance during benchmark tests is compromised due to thermal throttling. It turns out that the Nexus 4′s software is able to identify when the processor is working too hard and is able to modify the clock speed in an effort to reduce power consumption. AnandTech was able to confirm their theory by taking the Nexus 4, putting it inside a ZipLock bag and throwing it into a freezer to run a second set of benchmark scores, which produced much better results.
So is the HTC DROID DNA more powerful than the Nexus 4? It’s hard to say. If you live in Minnesota and plan on using your Nexus 4 outside when it’s -18° in the middle of February, you’ll probably be able to match the benchmark scores from the HTC DROID DNA. Unfortunately, -18° days don’t come around that often. In the real world, the thermal throttling of the Nexus 4 will always allow the DROID DNA to score higher benchmark scores. But does that really matter? Benchmark scores only give us a baseline for the maximum performance output of a phone under a very specific set of circumstances.
The numbers say that the HTC DROID DNA is more powerful than the Nexus 4, but does that make it a better phone? That’s up to you to decide. What do you want more? Stock Android directly from Google or the world’s most amazing display?