The Good HTC Droid Incredible is extremely fast thanks to Verizon’s 3G network. HTC Sense is expanding with Android 2.1, and the smartphone has an 8MP camera and 8 GB of internal storage. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G are on board.
The Bad You cannot use voice and data at the same time. Multimedia experience is sufficient, but still behind the competition.
The Bottom Line With its polished design and user interface and extreme speeds, HTC Droid Incredible holds the pole position as the best Verizon smartphone and is now an Android device.
Editor’s Note: Parts of the UI section are taken from our HTC legend review because they have similar features.
If you put an “Incredible” adjective in the product name, it will deliver the product better, or else you end up looking silly enough and probably have a bunch of evil customers in your hands. Fortunately for HTC and Verizon, this doesn’t seem to be the case, since Droid Incredible depends on its name and then some. While the Android 2.1 smartphone doesn’t offer any new, innovative features, it does better than any other Android product on the market right now, including the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, enhances these features with better software (courtesy of HTC Sense) and combining it with sleek design andlots of power.
Although there may be many eyes on the Sprint HTC Evo 4G and we have small shackles here, we absolutely do not hesitate in recommending Droid Incredible. It’s the best Verizon smartphone and one of the best and fastest Android devices on the market right now, so much so that we consider it worthy of our editor’s award. The HTC Droid Incredible will be available from Verizon Wireless on April 29 for $ 199.99 with a two-year contract and a $ 100 postage discount.
The Droid Incredible is another example of HTC’s and Design & Company’s handiwork. Though the overall shape and design is similar to many touch-screen smartphones on the market, it’s the finer details and the HTC Sense user experience (more on this later) that make the Droid Incredible different and a step above the rest.
About the same size as the Nexus One, the Droid Incredible officially measures 4.63 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide, 0.47 inches wide and 4.59 ounces wide. Compared to the Nexus One, it looks a bit more sophisticated, but it finally gives Verizon customers (well, those who can live without a physical keyboard) a viable alternative to the Motorola Droid, as it still offers some more advanced features, such as the Snapdragon processor and display high resolution features that are missing from another Android device – Droid Eris.
The HTC Droid Incredible is compact and attractive.
Oh, and what a beautiful display that decorates the Droid Incredible mug. The capacitive 3.7-inch touch screen has a WVGA (480×800) resolution, just like the Nexus One, but compared to them, the Incredible looks smoother and brighter than the Nexus One.
In addition, he felt more responsive, registering each touch at once and providing a smooth scroll. The built-in accelerometer quickly changed the screen orientation, and the proximity sensor starts as soon as you hold the phone to your ear to answer the phone. Our only complaint with the screen would be that it is quite difficult to read in bright sunlight, like many others, the touch screen is an absolute magnet for fingerprints and blemishes, so we recommend to keep the screen wiped constantly.
The on-screen keyboard is HTC’s own, not the standard Android keyboard, which is great because the buttons are slightly larger for easier typing, especially in portrait mode. We made fewer mistakes and could score a little faster on the Incredible than the Nexus One. That said, we definitely joked about Swype after surviving how fast and accurate it was. Swype for Android is currently in closed beta.
In place of the trackball navigator is an optical joystick.
Below the screen, you have four touch-sensitive shortcuts – home, menu, back and search – and below them a new optical joystick. Like the HTC Legend and the HTC Desire, it replaces the trackball found on previous devices and works just like the trackpad; you just move your thumb over the control in the direction you want to move, and you can even press down to select the item. In general, it works as advertised, but the smaller size of the button at first makes it a little uncomfortable. In general, we used it mainly to scroll through and select a smaller item on a website, such as a link, and we used the touch screen for everything else.
The Droid Incredible has a topographic back cover and red interiors.
There are very few other physical buttons on the Droid Incredible. On the left side is a volume switch and a Mini-USB port, and on the top of the device you’ll find a power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. As with most phones, the camera and in this case the dual LED flash are located behind, but what is unusual in the Droid Incredible is the topographic design of the back and the inside of the phone. Instead of a smooth surface, the battery door has bumps and bends, and only after you pin it down will you realize that it actually follows the lines of the inside of the phone. You will notice that the inside of the phone is red. Does this make sense to the smartphone? No. But can we appreciate that HTC wanted to highlight some of the technology that went into the device and made it beautiful inside and out? Absolutely.
Verizon comes with the Droid Incredible for a minimum: AC adapter, USB cable and reference material. For more extras, check out our mobile phone accessories, ringtones, and help pages.
Many have asked about the difference between the Droid Incredible and the Nexus One, and one of the key differentiators is the HTC Sense. Droid Incredible uses Sense, while Nexus One uses the standard Android user interface.
While there will be purists who prefer standard Android leather, in most cases we choose a device running Sense, and we think it’s something that really gives Droid Incredible a competitive edge. Of all our special skins for Android (Motoblur, TouchWiz, etc.), Sense is our absolute favorite. Not only does it give Android a more user-friendly interface, but in many cases it actually enhances the core features thanks to better feature integration.
Like Legend and Desire, Droid Incredible is launching a new version of the HTC Sense, which was announced at the 2010 Mobile World Congress. This includes an updated mail widget that can bring you to the list view of your entire email, rather than just a single message. Once in the mailer, there is a convenient tabbed interface at the bottom that lets you view unread messages, attachments, meeting invitations, and more with a simple tap. The Agenda widget also now displays the entire program on the screen, and, like the HTC HD2, you get an animated weather widget right on the home screen, which automatically displays the current conditions depending on your location.
You also get the new Group Contacts widget, which lets you organize your contacts well by group. For example, you can set up one for work colleagues, another for friends, and another for just family – anything you like. The UI looks good, and adding contacts to a group is easy, though removing them takes a few extra steps.
Another feature called Friend Stream provides one place for all your social networking needs, bringing updates from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr all in one place. Unlike Motoblur, it is not server-based; your phone connects to sites and pulls information from there.
Today, a favorite new feature is the Leap screen. Pressing the home screen (or pressing the home button if you are in the center panel) will open a thumbnail of all the home screen panels, so if you have your favorite apps and widgets on those screens, you can easily “go to the desired screen and access Droid Incredible offers seven home screen panels, and there are various “Scenes” that feature a whole new set of seven home screen panels that you can customize for a scene theme (social, work, travel, play, etc.). may be overwhelming, but nike The great part is that you can use as many or as few features as you need; the device is fully customized to your needs.
With HTC Sense, Droid Incredible runs Android 2.1, which means you get the latest features available, including live wallpapers, voice text capabilities, and Google Maps navigation. The smartphone also comes with standard Android brackets such as Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube Specialist, QuickOffice and Android Market. HTC also adds several custom apps, including the Twitter, Peep, and Footprints app, allowing you to geotag photos and add notes and audio clips to “digital flyers”, among others. Verizon also has its own Android Market feed, so you can easily find and download carrier-specific applications such as Visual Voice Mail, VZW Tones, V Cast Media Manager, and NFL Mobile.
In addition to Gmail, the smartphone supports many POP3, IMAP, and Exchange accounts and combines them into a single inbox. When you first use the device on your device, there is a setup wizard that helps you link all your contacts from different accounts, including the email types mentioned above, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. This is often as simple as entering your username and password, but you may need more information when setting up your Exchange account. Droid Incredible can also sync your Exchange calendar and contacts. However, we had some initial issues with syncing our exchange calendar with Droid Incredible, and we had to delete and then re-add our account to make it work.
The contact management system is pretty good. If any of your contacts have Facebook updates, they will display them right next to their image in the contacts database. Again, Sense has done a good job of facilitating access to as much information as possible with little effort. For example, you can see all your exchanges (text messages, call logs, etc.) with one person on your contact card, and all your contacts are available in the phone app. However, we still had a few instances of duplicate contacts, and we had to go back and manually link them.
As a phone, Droid Incredible offers speaker, speed dial, smart dial, voice commands, conference calls, as well as text and multimedia chat messages. Bluetooth, 3G, GPS and integrated Wi-Fi are also on board, and Verizon has announced that Skype Mobile will be available for Droid Incredible. The smartphone has the same WebKit browser as the Nexus One and Droid, and offers Flash Lite support and “clear zoom” support. If you want to use both voice and data at the same time, you will need to connect via Wi-Fi, as Verizon does not allow their network to simultaneously transmit voice and data. The basic but music player and video player have never been a selling point for Android, and this still applies to Droid Incredible, though the HTC Sense adds a slightly more attractive interface to the player. Most importantly, though, it does the job and supports a good range of music and video codecs, including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, WMV, MP4 and 3GP. There is also an FM radio, but this requires a headset with a built-in tuner that Verizon does not include.
However, there are many streaming services on Android Market and there are several ways to stream music to your phone. Android doesn’t have a built-in app to sync music from your PC to your phone, so you can either connect via USB and use the old drag and drop method or use a third-party app like DoubleTwist to sync playlists, podcasts, and more with iTunes. Of course, you can also view and buy songs directly from your phone through the Amazon MP3 Store, but it doesn’t load in advance, so you’ll first have to download it. Saving media files is no problem, as Droid Incredible offers 8GB of internal storage and an expansion slot that supports up to 16GB of cards.
The 8-megapixel Incredible camera took great photos.
Another area where Droid Incredible estimates the current crop of the best smartphones is the camera. Sweeping an 8MP lens and dual LED flash, the smartphone took great photos indoors and outdoors. The paintings had good color and sharp clarity, and the gap in the flap was very small. Shooting at night still looked a bit gray and dim, but it’s certainly better than most other camera phones, and the objects are clearly defined in the image. The camera can also shoot video in WVGA resolution; the video quality was acceptable but not attractive.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) HTC Droid Incredible in New York using Verizon, and the call quality was good, though not without problems. We enjoyed clear conversations with very little background noise or distortion, and there was a lot of volume – almost high pitched. Friends also reported good results, with no major complaints about audio quality on their side of the conversation. Although we did not have any rejected calls, there were a few cases where the sound was muted so we could not hear our caller. The situation was easy to solve when you moved to a new place, but it was still a little annoying.
The quality of the speakers was not surprising. We were able to talk with relative ease, and there was enough volume to continue in noisier conditions, but subscribers noted that there was little echo. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveler Bluetooth headset and no Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Heaphones.
Verizon’s 3G network provided reliable 3G coverage during our testing period and at a fast download speed. The full CNET site loads in 16 seconds, and the CNN and ESPN mobile sites load in 4 seconds and 5 seconds respectively. In the meantime, it took 11 seconds for Slacker Radio (1.02 MB) to download from the Android Market. YouTube videos took a few seconds, but once they were played constantly, although the quality was mixed. We were lucky with our own MP4 files, as the clips played beautifully with crisp picture and sound. Even though we have an unstable music player, the songs sound saturated and filled with our Bose On-Ear headphones.
Of all, however, one aspect of Droid Incredible that absolutely knocked our socks off is overall efficiency. The smartphone is armed with a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 512 MB RAM and 512 MB RAM, and Droid Incredible was one of the most responsive and fastest Android devices; hell, one of the fastest smartphones in general that we’ve tested today. The handset handled every task we threw at it without stumbling, and even with the six applications open, Incredible never slowed down.
The smartphone comes with a 1300 mAh lithium-ion battery with a talk time of 5.2 hours. In our battery tests, the Droid Incredible provided 5.5 hours of continuous talk time at a time. In real use, the smartphone was able to listen for just over a day in a single charge with moderate use. According to FCC radiation tests, Droid Incredible has a digital specific absorption ratio of 1.4 watts per kilogram and a hearing aid compatibility rating of M4 / T3.