Joni reviews the HTC Droid IncredibleJoni Blecher - Editorial Director - LetsTalk.com
The DROID Incredibly by HTC is arguably one of the hottest cell phones available to date. There are plenty of good reasons: It has an elegant design, gorgeous display, easy-to-use Google Android 2.1 operating system, HTC Sense overlay that makes it just that more customizable, and finally, did we mention that it’s fast? It is. Literally, there’s minimal if no lag time when switching between screens, applications, or surfing the web. Oh and if that’s not enough did we mention it has an 8-megapixel camera with dual flash, and 8GB of internal memory? In short, this 3G smartphone won’t let you down.
- Call quality: We found call quality on the DROID Incredible clear: we could hear callers loud and without distortion, while callers said they had no problem hearing us, as well. In fact, volume can be so loud that we often found we needed to adjust the cell phone’s volume with the corresponding buttons on the side of the DROID Incredible. Another plus is that regardless of how close you hold the smartphone to your face, the “End Call” button never seems to get “accidentally” hit. Additionally, there was no degradation in call quality when we used the speakerphone or when we used a Bluetooth headset, and we could still hear callers in a noisy environment, such as a crowded store.
- Audio quality: The playback of music on the speaker of the DROID Incredible by HTC is quite impressive; songs sounded loud, but not distorted or tinny. The DROID Incredible sports a 3.5mm headset jack so you can use your own high-end headphones to listen to music stored on the DROID, however, unless they are also cell phone compatible you won’t be able to take calls. Additionally, the smartphone supports stereo Bluetooth so if you prefer to go wireless, you can always listen to tunes via an optional Bluetooth-enabled stereo headset.
- Menu/phone book: The DROID Incredible by HTC runs Google Android Operating System (OS) 2.1 the same as the OS currently found on the DROID by Motorola since those smartphones recently received an over-the-air update. However, the DROID Incredible has a couple of features the DROID by Motorola doesn’t. First, it has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor while the DROID by Motorola has a Arm Cortex A8 processor 550 mHz. What’s that mean to you? The DROID Incredible is one fast smartphone and you can load web pages quickly (it also has pinch and zoom for web pages), play streaming videos without any lag time, and switch between apps on the cell phone with ease. The other main feature the DROID Incredible sports is HTC Sense, an overlay that sits on top of the OS that adds more functionality and features to the cell phone.
For starters, HTC Sense offers seven screens (instead of the 5 screens offered by Android) to customize and a slue of widgets to help customize the cell phone. It also has Footprints an application that allows you to take a picture of a place, get all the information available about it from the web including a map, and even add a note. The idea is that whenever you go back to that place you can revisit or just share it with friends. Additionally, the DROID Incredible also has the new Friend Stream feature that lets you view all the updates (including pictures, Facebook updates, and more) for your contacts in one place. That means you don’t need to go to the Facebook app to look for just a few updates from a list of people who might not all be in your contacts. However, we should note that this feature didn’t always work for us. The good news is that since the OS can be updated over-theSpeaking about friend updates, we should mention how that feature is integrated into the phonebook. Once you add a contact to People, you can opt to link their Facebook information. More importantly all the latest interaction with people listed in contacts will appear underneath the name. For example, that person’s latest Facebook status update will appear, or number signaling new messages from the person whether its e-mail, text message, or voicemail.
Overall, the user interface is fairly straightforward and icon friendly. To access the cell phone’s applications simply select the up arrow key and they’ll appear. Here are a few things to note about navigation. If you’re in a screen and want to go back to the previous screen simply press the back arrow. If you want to exit a program simply press the button with a picture of a house. Whenever you’re in an application and want to do more press the Menu key and a set of options will appear.
The Google Android OS is really all about having all your contact information in one spot and constantly synched. When we say all your contact information we mean all – including social networking sites, multiple e-mail accounts, messaging (messaging is threaded – so you can see a complete text message conversation in one view), and even photo services where you may have accounts created. You can add all pertinent account information easily when you set up the device. If you want to sync with your computer simply connect it via the included microUSB-to-USB synching cable and it will appear as an additional drive on your desktop, making it easy to drag and drop files from a computer to the cell phone’s MicroSD card.
- Messaging: The DROID Incredible by HTC can handle multiple e-mail accounts either corporate e-mail or web-based e-mail. Setting up an e-mail account couldn’t be easier and one of the screens has an HTC prompt that walks your through the set-up steps. It’s just a matter of knowing user name and password. The smartphone does the rest. The e-mail feature also supports folders already created in an e-mail account so you can save e-mails to particular folders. We should not that if you delete a mail on the cell phone it will also delete it in the account that appears on the computer.
- Camera/video: The DROID Incredible by HTC has an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus, and a dual flash, but it lacks a tiny mirror for snapping self portraits. Overall, picture quality is acceptable and we’re happy to report it has a fairly fast shutter. Colors are true and details are sharp, unless you’re trying to capture something in motion – those shots could be a bit sharper. Once you snap a picture, you can save it, trash it, or share it to a multitude of options including Flickr, Facebook, Twitter (the app is called Peep), Bluetooth, and various messaging options. There are a quite a few camera settings: you can adjust White Balance, ISO Settings, Metering, Set a self timer, Exposure, Contrast Saturation, Picture Quality, GeoTagging, and Color Effects (Normal, Grayscale, Negative, Sepia, Solarize, Posterize, and Aqua).
Additionally, you can view and shoot videos on the cell phone. Shooting videos is pretty easy and the quality is acceptable. While it’s a nice feature to have, you’re probably going to enjoy watching videos you download or stream from the Internet over a WiFi connection more.
- Music: As noted, the HTC Android smartphone has a music player. You can listen to songs stored in MP3, AAC (Apple’s audio format), and WMA (Microsoft’s audio format) formats. There aren’t many music-centric features included in the player, but it has the ones we’ve come to expect: Repeat, Shuffle, and Playlists (you can even create them on the fly – nice!). Plus, you can save tunes stored in your cell phone as a ringtone Another plus is that you can share songs via Bluetooth. We suggest creating playlists on the DROID Incredible by HTC, if you don’t and choose to play songs randomly you might end up hearing a voicemail instead of a song. The DROID Incredible comes with a visual voice mail feature, so you can listen to voicemail on the cell phone without having to call-in to check voicemail. However, it’s saved as an audio file and appears in the music list.
The DROID Incredible has 8GB of internal storage on-board and can accept up to a 32GB microSD card. Out-of-the box you will have plenty of room to store music on this cell phone. Besides adding your own music to the cell phone, there are quite a few free music applications that you can download from the Marketplace such as Pandora. Plus, DROID Incredible by HTC also has a FM radio, however, you’ll need to plug-in headphones with a 3.5mm headset jack in order to use it.
- Connectivity/Bluetooth/WiFi:You can do a lot with Bluetooth on this cell phone. Besides easily being able to connect to a Bluetooth headset (we found call quality was decent when we used the Motorola T505), you can also transfer contacts and music. The DROID Incredible by HTC also has built-in WiFi, so you can use this smartphone to log onto available WiFi networks to surf the Web or send/receive e-mail. It’s a nice feature and it just takes moments to set up. The only thing you need to know is the WiFi network you want to use and password if needed. We should note that surfing the Web on the DROID Incredible was fast either via the 3G connectivity or WiFi. There’s not much you can’t do with this HTC smartphone when connected to a WiFi network.
- Look and feel: The DROID Incredible by HTC is one streamlined smartphone: it literally only has two buttons on the cell phone’s spine and those are for controlling the volume keys. There are also a 3.5mm headset jack, microUSB port, and power button. You should become immediately acquainted with this button on top of the DROID Incredible, as you’ll be pressing it a lot, since that’s the only key that turns on the display when it goes dark. The reason for this is so that you don’t accidentally unlocked
On the front of the DROID Incredible at the base of the display are four touch-sensitive icons and an optical navigation key, which are all you’ll need to navigation. They are home, Menu, Back, and Search. The icons are self-explanatory; although we should add that you can press the search to search on anything in any application or screen. The HTC smartphone also sports a black rubberized backing giving it a sturdy feel, while the front is essentially a large touchscreen display. The design features don’t stop there, when you remove the back cover, you’ll see that instead of the typical black, it’s red. You’ll need to remove the back cover if you want to insert a microSD card, however, you will not need to remove the battery a definite plus.
About that display, it really is gorgeous. It’s vibrant, bright, crisp, and visible in direct sunlight. Watching videos on it is really quite enjoyable. That said, it also attracts a fair share of face grease and fingerprints. When the display is not illuminated that’s when you can really the see the marks, otherwise it’s not that visible. To be fair, this is an issue with most touchscreen cell phones currently available.
- Keypad:The DROID Incredible is a touchscreen cell phone and as such it only has a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard, which is actually HTC’s own touch keyboard, not the one found within the Google Android operating system. We were quite impressed with the amount of times we tapped the correct letter on the first try and how well it learned the words we used on a regular basis. That said, we did have a hard time with the letter ‘a’ when using the keyboard in the vertical landscape – it thought we were choosing the letter ‘s’ instead. We should note that even if you have larger fingers, you probably won’t have much trouble using the keyboard.
- Battery Life:We found battery life on the DROID Incredible by HTC acceptable, but not stellar. In fact, it’s on par with many smartphones currently available. If you use the cell phone frequently to make calls, listen to music, as well as send/receive text messages and e-mail, this smartphone will probably last about a day before needing to recharge. However, if you consider the DROID Incredible primarily a cell phone and less of a messaging device, you’ll get about a day and a half of battery life from it. We should note that depending on what applications you download to the smartphone battery life can drain faster.