HTC Incredible (Verizon) Review

Noah Kravitz
 from Oakland, CA
Published: April 17, 2010

The new HTC Incredible is the best smartphone currently available on Verizon Wireless, and it's the best Android phone for sale right now in America. Now then, on to the details ... 

UPDATE: Hey, look, it's an unboxing video!

What's up with delivering a much anticipated new smart - I mean, SUPER - phone on a Friday and lifting the embargo that Sunday night? I've got mad love for you, HTC, but making me work on the weekend is flat out wrong. Still, what could I do? You sent me Incredible and people want to know about Incredible and it's not actually out for another two weeks ($199 on contract, after rebate, on April 29), so I had to oblige. But still, it's messed up making me work on the weekend, HTC.

Complaining aside, as you read on bear in mind that I've only had a few days with Incredible (weekend days at that), so this can't really be considered a final review. I'll be using, testing, and posting more about this beast over the coming days and weeks, believe you me.

The HTC Verizon Incredible is fast. Really fast. It's also more plasticky feeling than I thought it'd be after having used its spiritual forefathers, the Desire and Legend. But still it's fast and has a very vivid 3.7" multitouch-capable, capacitive touch AMOLED display. And it also has an 8MP camera and runs on Verizon, all of which makes it the best Android phone in America - on paper, anyway.

Incredible runs the newest versions of Android OS and HTC's Sense, both currently tabbed Version 2.1. Android 2.1 backed by the Qulacomm Snapdragon chip that powers Incredible is fast, and Sense 2.1 is smoother and marginally more useful than the last version. Leap - aka "Thumbnail View" - provides a nifty, visual way to hop between each of the seven homescreen panels in Sense, and Sense itself is bolstered by Friendstream, HTC's social aggregator app that provides easy access to an overview of your Flickr, Facebook and Twitter feeds displayed via your choice of two widgets.

When I first took it out of the box, I was surprised by how relatively lightweight and plasticky Incredible felt. Many of HTC's recent devices, including Nexus One and Legend, have a solid heft to them that Incredible lacks. That's not to say that Incredible is a flyweight by any standards, but rather that it feels more like a commodity than a luxury item as its brethren do. Still, there's something to be said for a light, pocketable device, and over the course of the weekend I often found myself holding Incredible up to Legend or Apple's iPhone to confirm that this new Verizon HTC actually had a larger, 3.7" display - there's something about Incredible that makes it feel smaller and lighter than it really is, which all in all is a good thing. Think of it more as a lightweight sports sedan that "drives smaller than it really is," as opposed to Nexus One's Mercedes S-Class heavyweight vibe.

Voice quality using Incredible on Verizon's network in the San Francisco Bay Area has been quite good, and the phone is really uber-responsive in all computer-type tasks - apps, Web browsing, messaging/Email, social network updates, and so forth. Actually, at times I found the device a bit over-eager, as I often scrolled well past where I thought a single thumb flick would take me, and the touchscreen seemed a bit twitchy - especially during typing on the virtual QWERTY board. The virtual QWERTY is totally usable - it's just not as smooth out of the box as I wanted it to be.

The 8 megapixel camera is quite good for a cell phone camera, but it's still a cell phone camera. And it doesn't do 720p video capture - only WVGA (800 x 480). But the auto-focus mechanism is pretty quick, the dual-LED flash system is more useful than the average cameraphone flash, and the software adds some useful image property adjustments to help you line up your shot before capturing.

Most of what you'll see here you've seen before on HTC Sense Android phones, save for a few tweaks ... and, oh yeah, that new "Optical Joystick," which is really more like a virtual trackball than a joystick. I like it quite a bit, though to be fair I had the chance to get used to it on the unlocked Legend that HTC sent us a few weeks back.

Again, I've only had Incredible for a few days, but I'm pretty confident in saying that it's the most satisfying smartphone experience to be had on Verizon right now. I have been finding the touchscreen a bit overeager, and I think a keyboard replacement is in order to alleviate the accuracy issues I've been having in both landscape and portrait modes on Incredible, but all in all this is one fast, smooth machine. If you read my posts here on the site, you know I didn't really like Droid all that much, mainly because I hated the hard QWERTY board (Aaron - and many of you - disagreed with me there). Incredible gives a few pixels away to Droid, screen resolution-wise, but otherwise outperforms it in every way while also ditching the bulk of the sliding keyboard for a sleeker all-touch form factor. To me, that's a big win. And while I am a bit disappointed that it doesn't pack the luxe feel of its European cousins in HTC's Android lineup, I do like that Incredible feels deceptively small and light for a phone with one of the largest displays currently available on a US carrier.

More to come in the coming days.

Products mentioned