iPhone 4 vs. HTC Incredible: Smartphone Showdown

Introduction & Overview: Tale Of The Tape

Is this the showdown of the year? In the smartphone world, we would argue that it is. If you're looking for arguably the world's best 3G smartphones right now, you're likely considering two specific choices: Apple's iPhone 4 on AT&T, or HTC's DROID Incredible on Verizon Wireless. Both phones provide an excellent user experience, and both are as cutting edge as they come. Both they also offer very different and distinct experiences, with one coming by way of iOS 4 and the other Android 2.1 with HTC's Sense overlay.

In other words, both of these devices are competing for the same crown, but each one is its own beast, with its own list of pros and cons. If you're in the market to upgrade your own handset and can't seem to choose between these two super-phones, we've got a guide to help you break down the pluses and minuses of each one in order to help you make the best decision for your needs.

To start, we'll give you a "tale of the tape" look at these phones from a pure specifications standpoint, and present to you a couple of videos of them in action...

Apple iPhone 4 and HTC DROID Incredible Specifications
Specifications & Features

Apple iPhone 4                                                    
 HTC DROID Incredible
CPU Speed  Apple A4 CPU
Qualcomm QSD8650, 1GHz Snapdragon
Platform  iOS 4
Android 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC Sense
Memory  Flash 16GB/32GB + 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM  Flash 8GB + 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM
Dimensions (LxWxT)  4.5 x 2.31 x 0.27 inches (115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm) 4.63 x 2.30 x 0.47 inches (117.5 x 58.5 x 11.9 mm)
Weight  4.8 ounces (137 grams) with battery  4.6 ounces (130 grams) with battery
Display  3.5" Retina Display with 960x640 resolution; 326pp; Multi-Touch; 800:1 Contrast Ratio; 500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical); Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front and back 3.7-inch AMOLED touch-sensitive screen with 480 X 800 WVGA resolution
Network  Quad-band UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) + GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) Dual-band (800 and 1900MHz) CDMA2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO/1xEVDO rev. A
Onscreen Navigation  All touchscreen Optical joystick
GPS  Internal GPS antenna Internal GPS antenna
Sensors  Digital compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer  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/n
3.5mm stereo audio jack
Apple Dock Connector 
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  5-megapixel camera with auto focus and 720p video capture (up to 30 frames per second with audio); LED Flash 8-megapixel camera with auto focus and video capture
 Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma
Recording: .amr
 Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv
Recording: .3gp
Battery  Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Talk time: Up to 7 hours on 3G/14 hours on 2G
Standby time: Up to 300 hours
Internet Use: Up to 6 hours on 3G; 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 40 hours 
Rechargeable 1300 mAh Lithium-ion battery
Talk time: Up to 313 minutes
Standby time: Up to 146 hours
Expansion Slot  None 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 
Voltage range/frequency: 100 ~ 240V AC, 50/60Hz
DC output: 5V and 1A
Email  Gmail and Exchange Push Gmail and Exchange
In-Box Content  Main unit, Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic, Dock Connector to USB Cable, USB Power Adapter, Documentation Main unit, Micro USB cable, Battery (1300 mAh), AC adapter, RF Brochure, Product Safety & Warranty Statement, Quick Start Guide

So, what are left with? For one, the display on the iPhone 4 is superior in its resolution. It's just marginally smaller (3.5" versus 3.7"), but there are far more pixels on Apple's device than on HTC's. The iPhone 4 has a native 960x640 resolution, while the DROID Incredible has a native 800x480 display. That's a pretty large leap percentage wise, and it's safe to say that Apple's device has the highest resolution and greatest pixel density of any sub-5" smartphone on the market. The only way you'll get a higher resolution on a phone is to purchase a voice-enabled MID or UMPC.

As for size? Both phones are nearly identical there, with the only major differentiation being the 0.47" versus 0.27" in terms of thickness. But after that, things get interesting. The DROID Incredible has a faster CPU, as Apple has not come out an clarified what the speed of the A4 here is. The iPad has a 1GHz A4, which Apple was proud to boast about; by not boasting here, we're taking that to mean that the A4 is underclocked somewhat, probably to somewhere in the 800MHz range. And then there's the storage. The iPhone 4 ships with 16GB or 32GB of NAND, all of which can be used for storage of apps, music, photos, etc. But the DROID Incredible ships with just 512MB of integrated NAND specified for app storage, accompanied by an 8GB module that can be used to hold music, multi-media and ringtones (and select apps, if they're programmed to support internal storage).

This is a very important differentiator. Users can really only load 512MB of apps onto the Incredible before they'll need to use either a third-party solution or a feature coming in Android 2.2 to load them onto a MicroSD card (the integrated 8GB is only useful for media and select apps that have been updated to support this new configuration of storage in Android 2.1). On the other hand, iPhone 4 users can load their 16GB (or 32GB, if you purchase the upgraded model) up with apps. While you may not really need 16GB of apps, it's safe to say that users who enjoy complex games or navigation apps with local maps will appreciate the iPhone setup; large games and map systems simply can't fit on the limited 512MB of RAM that the Incredible has.


And then there's the network. The iPhone 4 uses GSM worldphone on AT&T, while the DROID Incredible is a CDMA phone on Verizon Wireless. If you're planning on traveling to Europe or Asia with any frequency, the iPhone 4 is the obvious winner, but users can alleviate the sting of owning a CDMA phone a little bit by just renting a phone in the nation they arrive in. It may not be ideal, but those are the facts. The 8MP camera in the Incredible is a step above the 5MP camera in the iPhone 4, and Apple's device is the only one of the two that can play back DRM iTunes files that were sold for years.

Battery life is a big issue when it comes to smartphones. Smartphone users generally do a lot to drain their devices, be it surfing the Web, using GPS/maps or having notifications on that pop up often and eat away at the battery. Apple refuses to comment on the size of the battery, but many reports show it as having a 1500mAh battery compared to the 1300mAh cell in the DROID Incredible. The edge goes to the iPhone 4, here, both in terms of specs and real world battery life.

Hardware designs, like beauty, are all in the eye of the beholder. We think both the HTC and Apple devices have their own strong points, with the overall style edge going to Apple. As for build quality, though, both units are solidly constructed and feel very sturdy in the hand. Finally, both phones can be purchased for $199 on a 2-year contract; the iPhone 4 on AT&T, the DROID Incredible on Verizon. Both phones require a monthly data plan, and while the DROID Incredible can be used with a $30/month "unlimited" (5GB) plan, the iPhone 4 can only be purchased (by new customers, anyway) on one of two plans: a $15/month plan with 200MB of data, or a $25/month plan with 2GB of data, with each extra GB costing $10. If you're a heavy, heavy data user, the Verizon plan obviously suits you best. AT&T users who already had the $30/month 5GB plan can maintain that plan if they upgrade to the iPhone 4.

Related content