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HTC Droid Incredible Review
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Date: Jun 03, 2010
Section:Gadgets
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction & Specifications

The Android operating system has enjoyed a tremendous boom in popularity since the Motorola DROID was released. Since then, many additional Android-powered phones have come to market. One of the latest new Android phones is the Droid Incredible by HTC.

The word "incredible" certainly invokes high expectations, so you can bet users will demand great things from this phone or there will be plenty of complaints. Given that the phone is made by HTC, a long-time and very popular player in the smartphone space, and the fact that the Incredible is hitched to Verizon Wireless' network, the phone certainly has a few things going for it.

As the best of the Android-powered phones on Verizon Wireless, the Incredible offers high-end features that give it a solid foundation for success. The Droid Incredible by HTC is the first Verizon Wireless phone to take advantage of Qualcomm’s superfast 1GHz Snapdragon processor. It's also the first available phone from Verizon Wireless to include an 8 megapixel camera. This phone is loaded with other high-end features as well including 8GB of built-in storage, a 3.7-inch WVGA (480x800) AMOLED capacitive touch display, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, and more. Software-wise, it runs on Android 2.1 aigmented with HTC Sense.

The Incredible also comes with a price that's on-par with other higher-end smartphones: It costs $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and a two-year contract. Of course, you'll need one of Verizon Wireless' Nationwide Talk plans (starting at $39.99 per month) and an Email and Web for Smartphone plan which starts at $29.99. At the end of the day, you're talking about more than $70 per month for the service by the time you add taxes and fees, but if you're looking for a smartphone, this monthly fee is to be expected.

Looking at it specifications, the Incredible looks good, but does it live up to its name? And perhaps more importantly, is it for you? Our in-depth review takes a closer look at all of the Incredible's features and software to help you decide.
HTC Droid Incredible Specifications
Specifications & Features

CPU Speed Qualcomm QSD8650, 1GHz Snapdragon
Platform Android 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC Sense
Memory Flash 8GB + 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM
Dimensions (LxWxT) 4.63 x 2.30 x 0.47 inches (117.5 x 58.5 x 11.9 mm)
Weight 4.6 ounces (130 grams) with battery
Display 3.7-inch AMOLED touch-sensitive screen with 480 X 800 WVGA resolution
Network Dual-band (800 and 1900MHz) CDMA2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO/1xEVDO rev. A
Onscreen Navigation Optical joystick
GPS Internal GPS antenna
Sensors G-Sensor, Digital compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
Connectivity Bluetooth 2.1 with FTP/OPP, A2DP, and PBAP
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
3.5mm stereo audio jack
micro-USB (12-pin micro-USB 2.0)
FM radio capable (wired headset required)
Camera 8-megapixel camera with auto focus and video capture
Audio
Formats
Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma
Recording: .amr
Video
Formats
Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv
Recording: .3gp
Battery Rechargeable 1300 mAh Lithium-ion battery
Talk time: Up to 313 minutes
Standby time: Up to 146 hours
Expansion Slot 16 GB microSD memory card support (SD 2.0 compatible); No pre-installed card.
AC Adapter Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60Hz
DC output: 5V and 1A
Email Push Gmail and Exchange
In-Box Content Main unit, Micro USB cable, Battery (1300 mAh), AC adapter, RF Brochure, Product Safety & Warranty Statement, Quick Start Guide

 

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Design

The Incredible is a good-looking phone with a black body and red accents. It measures approximately 4.63 x 2.3 x 0.47 inches and weighs about 4.59 ounces. This phone is lighter and thinner than the Motorola Droid which weighs 5.96 ounces and is 0.54 inches thick. To give you another frame of comparison, the iPhone 3Gs measures 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces.

Since it has a few curves and rounded edges, the Incredible doesn't have quite the same boxy feel as the Motorola DROID, but it isn't quite as rounded as the iPhone, either. Hardware-wise, the Incredible offers many of the features you'd expect from a high-end phone including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and an accelerometer. It also offers a few features that kick things up a notch, including an 8MP camera and 8GB of onboard memory in addition to the microSD expansion slot.

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The front of the phone is largely consumed by the 3.7-inch WVGA AMOLED touchscreen that supports a resolution of 480x800. Below the screen, you'll find Home, Menu, Back, and Search touch buttons. All of these buttons provide haptic feedback when pressed. Beneath these buttons you'll notice the Incredible's optical joystick. You can use this optical joystick to scroll through various home screens, navigate the Web, and for general navigation. You can also use it to select an item by pressing down on the optical joystick.

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Along the top edge of the Incredible, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button. The right side of the device is completely clean and the left side houses only a volume rocker and micro USB port. The phone's microSD slot is located underneath the battery cover on the right side.

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The ridges and design on the back of the Incredible give the phone a bit of texture, but some users may feel this design also makes the phone look busy. The raised edges aren't purely for looks: If you take a peek underneath the battery cover, you'll see the lines on the cover follow the phone's internals. Upon removing the battery cover, you'll also notice the entire inside is plastered with bright red, which you'll either love or hate. Regardless, it makes little difference since you shouldn't see the inside of the phone very often anyway.

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The plastic battery cover feels pretty flimsy on its own, but when attached to the phone, it serves its purpose. In contrast to the slick, high-gloss front of the Incredible, the rear cover has a soft, rubber-like feel.

The 8MP camera is raised from the rest of the case and surrounded by a red ring. Next to the camera lens you'll notice the dual LED flash.

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User Interface

Android 2.1 and the HTC Sense user interface work in combination with the Incredible's 1GHz processor to deliver a user experience that's speedy and responsive. In fact, the HTC Sense UI is actually one of the features that sets the Incredible apart from other Android 2.1 devices out there right now, particularly the Nexus One.


HTC Droid Incredible Sense UI Demo

The Sense UI adds a few features to various functions of the phone. For example, in addition to viewing a list of all of your email, Sense provides a tabbed interface at the bottom of the screen that lets you view unread messages, attachments, conversations, and more using a simple touch. The Sense UI also offers a weather widget that displays current weather conditions based on your location directly from the home screen. Using Sense, you can arrange your contacts by groups, view online directories, and more. The Sense UI also provides a feature called Friend Stream which collects data from Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr into a single location. 

    

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Android's music player has never been one of the most attractive or elaborate players out there, but it gets the job done and HTC Sense does make the interface slightly more attractive. The player supports many popular formats including AAC, WMA, MP3, WAV, 3GP, MP4, WMV, and OGG. The phone also has an FM radio, but you'll need a headset to work as an antenna, and one doesn't come in the box.

    

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Definitely one of our favorite new features found on the Incredible is the Leap screen, which you can access by pinching the home screen or pressing the home button if you're already on the center panel. This screen brings up a thumbnail view of your seven home screen panels, making it easy to jump between apps and widgets. These home screens are customizable using the various "Scenes" included with the Incredible. The Scenes provide various preset home screen panels that fit the theme of the Scene (Verizon, HTC, Social, Work, Play, Travel, and Clean Slate).

Thanks to Android 2.1, the Incredible also has a voice-enabled keyboard which makes it easy to dictate text messages and emails, search, and more. In fact, since the microphone button appears on the keyboard, you can speak just about anywhere you'd typically type.

    

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Android 2.1 also enables live wallpaper and Google Maps Navigation. As far as other apps are concerned, the Incredible comes with many of the typical Android apps such as Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, QuickOffice, and of, course, the Android Market. HTC adds a few of its own apps as well, such as Twitter, Peep, and Footprints. The latter of these apps lets you geotag photos and add notes and audio clips to photos.

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Performance

The Incredible has a vibrant, 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touch display with WVGA (480x800) resolution. The screen supports multi-touch functionality and responds very quickly. Our only complaints with the screen are that it's a bit difficult to read in bright sunlight and it tends to attract some fingerprints, though prints don't seem to affect performance. The phone's accelerometer is pretty quick to respond when rotating the handset.

The Incredible boasts of an 8MP camera that can also record video. Many of the pictures we took indoors and outdoors turned out well, and there wasn't a lot of shutter lag. That said, we're not willing to give up our point-and-shoot camera yet. The Incredible's camera did a good job, but some images appeared blurry and the dual LED flash washed out some of the detail in our images. We'll attribute the blurriness in some of our images to the fact that the camera often focused and locked in on our subject but it was difficult, if not impossible, to hold the camera perfectly steady after focusing and press the small optical joystick to take the picture. Video recording quality was good, but the results were on the grainy side.

    

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As far as call quality is concerned, we enjoyed clear conversations and did not have any dropped calls. Both the earpiece and the speakerphone were plenty loud, and the people we spoke with never complained about the quality on their side of the conversation. Like many phones these days, the Incredible has a proximity sensor that will automatically turn the display on and off when you move the phone close to your ear and it will turn the screen back on when you pull it away.

By far the best feature of the Incredible during our tests with was the speediness of the handset. This smartphone has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM, and 512MB of ROM. The HTC Incredible was one of the fastest smartphones we've tested to date and it handled various apps simultaneously without issue.

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As far as navigation is concerned, we appreciated the ease of use and convenience of the Leap interface with various home screens. The phone's touch-sensitive screen was quick to respond and the multi-touch functionality worked very well. The optical joystick isn't very large, so we often had to swipe our finger across it multiple times to scroll through a webpage. As a result, scrolling in the web browser using the optical joystick felt a little awkward. More often than not, we found ourselves using the touchscreen for navigation rather than the optical joystick, but it's still nice to have both options. While browsing the web, the optical joystick was especially useful for selecting a single link within a list of links or other small items on a page.

HTC claims you should expect up to 5 hours and 13 minutes of talk time on the Incredible's user replaceable battery. Overall, we were satisfied with the Incredible's battery life and were generally able to get a day’s worth of use from the phone while making calls, surfing the Web, and performing other tasks. Of course, your experience may vary depending on how aggressively you use the phone’s capabilities.

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Conclusion

There's no denying we were impressed by the Motorola DROID, but the HTC Droid Incredible may give you a reason to be jealous, provided you don't have a strong preference towards having a hardware keyboard. As Verizon Wireless' third Android-powered phone, the Incredible is arguably one of the best Droid handsets on the market today.

The strength of Verizon Wireless' network is also a key factor in the Incredible's favor. Depending on where you live, Verizon Wireless may provide some of the best coverage available. In addition, whenever you're in a covered area, you'll also have a high-speed data connection to fully take advantage of the Incredible's features.

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No phone is perfect, and the Incredible certainly is not without fault. The phone didn't feel as sturdy as the Motorola DROID. In addition, we wish the camera and camcorder would have produced better results and we found the optical joystick to be a bit on the small side. Moreover, the Incredible won't be the best option for all due to personal inclinations toward a specific mobile OS, wireless network, form factor, or budget constraints.

The Incredible runs on Android 2.1. While this OS doesn't offer any ground-breaking features that we haven't already seen on other phones, the Incredible does a great job at taking the features of this OS and making them better with the HTC Sense user interface. We also can't say enough about the speedy 1GHz Snapdragon processor powering the Incredible.

 

Verizon Wireless and HTC have a hit on their hands with the Droid Incredible. It's not only a very good Android phone, it's also one of the better smartphones on the market today. Verizon Wireless customers have some really great phone options, and the Incredible certainly deserves to be at the top of the list.

Certainly there are, and will be, a lot of powerful new phones coming to market in the coming months including the upcoming EVO 4G from Sprint and HTC, but when it comes to current high-end smartphones, the Incredible is now the Android smartphone to beat. The phone lives up to its name, so much so that we will call it worthy of our Editors' Choice award.

     
  • Speedy 1GHz Snapdragon processor
  • Vibrant 3.7-inch touchscreen
  • Free turn-by-turn directions
  • Pocketable form factor
  • Optical joystick somewhat small
  • Recorded video is a bit grainy
  • Can't use voice and data at the same time

 



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