The Motorola Droid has some ‘Incredible’ competition in HTC’s newest Verizon-based device. While the phone’s name - Incredible - seems a bit presumptuous, the look, feel and functionality of the device do offer a cool factor that can easily be described by the handy little adjective.
The Incredible runs Android 2.1 alongside HTC’s Sense technology, sporting a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Translation: the phone is fast. When you hold it, it’s much lighter than the Motorola Droid, but the molding on the case itself offers a sleek plastic-like grip that rests comfortably in your hand.
Looks-wise, the Incredible is sexy, but a true geek at heart might prefer the base-block style of the Motorola Droid. It comes off as a Nexus One clone, but looks more like the HTC Desire. The red underside (seen on the camera, and once the cover is removed) adds a bit of flash to the phone, which is a nice touch considering most HTC devices are uniform color and a bit bland.
The visuals on the Incredible, from the 480 x 800 AMOLED touch screen, offer vibrant colors. The only down side to this is that the high gloss screen, in direct sunlight, or even a highly overcast day, can turn it into a 3.7-inch mirror. Also, since there is no keyboard, fingerprints on the screen is another minor annoyance.
However, the touchscreen on the Incredible is one of the best we have tested so far. During setup, the Incredible will want some training from its owner for a bit of self correction. What we learned is that it appeared to use the auto correction feature to offset our fat-finger texting. The result was faster, accurate texting and email creation.
There are plenty of little things that the Incredible offers that make the display pop. For example on the home screen, just after the device is unlocked, you will see an animated visual of the current weather forecast. This same animation is displayed in the weather application as well. The most amusing ones deal with rain (water droplets on the screen with a wiper blade to clean them), and a frosted screen if there is snow.
There is also a preview screen, when you press the home key twice, that will show each of the seven pages available for applications and gadgets.
The controls are like the other DROID devices, and the joystick below the function key row helps with Web navigation or menu options. The touchscreen wasn’t all that sensitive, so light taps were all that was needed to move about the various menus and options.
Call quality, either using the handset or speakerphone, was clear. In truth, we had to turn the volume down some when talking, as it could get a little loud. On the speakerphone, we were able to set the Incredible a good three feet away and hold a conversation with no problems. Sound quality on the speaker when playing video or music was surprisingly rich considering it’s a phone.
The applications, while limited to the internal memory, ran smooth as expected. The Friend Stream feature, where you can follow Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr on one screen came in handy, but only the most hard core social media user will keep this active at all times.
Once you attach your Google account, email and the Android Marketplace are ready to go. The marketplace has grown since we last reviewed the Motorola Droid, and the best part is that there are more helpful reviews on many of the most popular applications.
Browsing on the Incredible was as expected, and the addition of Adobe’s Flash Lite helped round out the overall Web experience. The iPhone-like pinch and zoom came in handy on many sites, and the display was clean no matter what viewing resolution we went with on any given page.
Speed-wise, we encountered no issues while testing, but we also had decent 3G coverage around town. Even with only one bar, we had no issues loading our own site or others like CNN. Your experience will vary we’re sure. Since you can use Wi-Fi, you have some options available when surfing. Naturally, the best speeds were when we used a hotspot over the 3G connection, but that was expected.
Storage-wise, the Incredible supports up to 32GB of space with a microSD card, but this will not overcome the internal memory limit on applications. However, for storing images and video taken, there is plenty of room to be had.
Images and Video:
While it takes decent video, the still images from the 8.0-megapixel camera just sing. The examples below were taken on an overcast day with no flash. The level of detail and the crisp finish, make this the best camera yet on a DROID device in our opinions.
[We were asked to include the video testing. Here is the video we shot using only the default settings.]
The battery life is decent. The rating is 5.2 hours of talk or six days standby. In all, it took us about 3 hours with constant usage (Web, Twitter, Facebook, games, and YouTube video) to kill the battery completely. You can charge the Incredible via USB 2.0 if you want, but even using the wall charger, it recharged itself rather quick.
The Incredible is impressive. If ever there was a Verizon device that could compete with the awesome that is the Motorola Droid, the HTC Incredible is it. It’s a fun phone with decent battery life. Thanks to Android operating system you get speed and a massive amount of toys to download from the marketplace. The sound quality is great, and it sports a camera that takes solid pictures. Reflective display aside, we really couldn’t find any faults with this phone.
April 29 now, the Incredible will run $299.00 USD with a $100.00 USD mail-in rebate. You’ll also need to include a talk plan (starting at $39.99 USD), as well as an Email and Web for Smartphones plan (starting at $29.99 USD). The applications will range in price, but are affordable.
Update: Added test video on 4/29/2010 -Steve