HTC Droid Incredible Review
May 6, 2010

When the Motorola Droid launched in November 2009, the elite smartphone void had been filled for many of Verizon’s customers. However for some, the Droid’s form factor combined with its lack of a next-gen processor (Arm Cortex A8 550mhz) and limited RAM (256 MB) left them wanting more. In January Google released their newest ‘Google Phone’ the Nexus One, which on paper featured everything the Droid lacked; sleeker all-touch based design, 512 MB of RAM, and the latest build of Android, version 2.1. The only problem was the Nexus One was only available to T-Mobile customers, but Google insisted a CDMA version of the device would be coming to Big Red. As months passed, the Nexus One never landed on Verizon, and Motorola’s Droid remained the only top-shelf Android choice for customers. Well finally, after months of frustration Verizon customers finally have the hot, spec-heavy smartphone they’ve been waiting for, HTC’s Droid Incredible. Read on to find out if the Incredible lives up to the hype, and will keep Verizon’s smartphone audience satisfied (at least for the next couple months, lol).

Let’s start with the exterior. The HTC Incredible is simple, sleek, and unique. The Incredible’s face is basic, but still pleasing to the eye. It features a red-colored ear piece at the top, a capacitive 3.7” WVGA AMOLED (800x480 resolution) touchscreen display, four touch-sensitive buttons ( home, menu, back, & search), and an optical joystick at the bottom. The screen is gorgeous and may trump the Droid for best display on the market. The only knock is it doesn’t do well outside in bright sunlight, as icons and text are tougher to view. The multi-touch display is crazy-accurate and responsive, and features the best virtual keyboard I’ve ever used. Along the top of the device you have a power/lock button, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The left-hand side of the phone contains the volume rocker, and a micro-usb charger port. The right side of the device is bare, and the bottom features the microphone and a slot that is used to access the phone’s battery and micro sd card slot. Around the back, the Incredible features a unique, contoured, soft-touch cover, which may or may not appeal to everyone. HTC said they were aiming to make something similar to the lines found on a sports car, and I actually dig the style of the case. I think the phone would have looked too bland if the back of the device didn’t feature the lines and grooves, especially when you consider how simplistic the front design is. The back also features the Incredible’s 8 megapixel camera/video recorder (800x480 video capture), which is accented in red, and complemented by a dual-LED flash. Build wise, the phone is a little plasticky, but it’s heavy enough that it still feels good in the hand.

Internally, is where the Incredible separates from the pack. The Incredible rocks the latest Qualcomm 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, and backs it up with 512 MB ROM/512 MB RAM, making the Incredible one of the fastest phones available. Applications open quickly and run smoothly. Menu animations fly, and in general everything the phone does, it does fast. For storage, the Incredible comes with 8GB of internal Flash memory, and also ships with a 2GB SD card, giving users 10GB of space to store music, pics, video, etc. The phone quality on the Incredible is excellent as the mic, earpiece speaker, and external speaker are plenty loud and voices sound loud and crisp. The Incredible is Wi-Fi enabled (802.11 b & g) and features a 1300 mAh lithium battery. In my time with the phone I’ve found the battery life to be okay. I can usually make it through a work day and into the evening with average usage, but when doing extra browsing and/or video playback the battery can bleed out pretty quick.

On the software side of the things, the Incredible runs Android 2.1 aka Éclair (like the Nexus One), with an updated version of HTC’s Sense user interface running on top of it. Android 2.1 brings the updated version of Google Maps with spoken Navigation, and features all of the standard Google apps such as Gmail, Talk, Android Market, etc. The Incredible offers enhanced support for MS Exchange and supports multiple POP/IMAP e-mail accounts. What makes the Incredible special though is Sense. HTC’s highly customizable interface gives users the ability to tweak their phone’s layout to their liking. There are 7 home panels to work with, and you can also save your different customizations as ‘Scenes’ and then switch back and forth between them. HTC has also beefed up Sense’s social networking functionality with the addition of FriendStream, which allows users to tie Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr together in one place. Depending on how heavy you use the different social networking services FriendStream can get hectic, but it’s a nice tool to have at your disposal. HTC has also added the ‘Leap’ feature which gives users a zoomed-out view of their 7 home panels and allows you to leap from one panel to another without swiping. Leap isn’t a heavy duty feature, but it’s the type of small touch that makes HTC’s UI feel more pulled together and polished than the stock Android experience you get on the Droid or Nexus One.

In addition to the hardware and software, the Incredible also packs some good multi-media features. I’ve been particularly impressed with the Incredible’s camera. In average to bright lighting pictures turn out very good, especially by smartphone standards. The camera also takes surprisingly good macro/up-close snapshots. In low light surroundings the Incredible doesn’t do as well, but the dual flash still allows the phone to take decent pics. The camera app has lots of features such as slideable zoom settings, color adjustment options and more. I haven’t been as impressed with the video recorder. In good lighting video is above average, but slightly gritty. Indoors the quality goes downhill and recordings turn out average at best, with videos noticeably grainier. Another multi-media strong point is the web browser. Like all Android phones the Incredible ships with a Webkit based browser, but being an HTC device the Incredible also includes Flash Lite support, which allows some Adobe Flash content to play on certain sites. Until full Flash support is released Flash performance will be inconsistent, but it is nice to have embedded audio and video play on some pages. The browser also reaps the benefit of the phone’s Snapdragon processor and onboard memory, as pages load fast, and page scrolling is a breeze. The phone includes HTC’s music player which is better than the stock Android player, but still lacks swiping functionality and additional features like an EQ. Music does sound nice and clear on the phone, but HTC could put a little work into upgrading the music options. The Incredible also includes an FM tuner for radio lovers, and a YouTube app/widget.

Overall the Incredible largely lives up to its name and hype in delivering a powerful, all-touch Android smartphone for Verizon customers. The specs alone easily make it the most powerful device in Verizon’s line-up, and with HTC’s Sense interface it’s one of the most user-friendly options as well. The device does have a couple of shortcomings (battery life, lack of 720p video recording), but with everything the phone does right the Incredible is the best smartphone available on Verizon, and is arguably the best smartphone on the market. The HTC Droid Incredible retails for $199.99 after rebate/online discount on a 2-year contract.

Final Score: 9/10 - Top notch device and a must buy if you are shopping for an upper end smartphone on Verizon

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