Aaron's HTC DROID Incredible review

Aaron Baker
member from Dallas, TX
Published: May 18, 2010

HTC Droid Incredible

What's Good: Stunning AMOLED display, fast 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 8 GB of built-in storage (finally), and 8.0-megapixel camera.

What's Bad
: Signal strength indicator is misleading; battery life is exceptionally poor.

Introduction

Incredible 1

When the Nexus One came to market, critics were quick to point out the flaws in the device.  As a result, media circles have continually wondered when a revamped Android device would hit the market that fixed the problems on the Nexus One.  Despite a few issues, I'm here to tell you that the HTC DROID Incredible is just that device.  Complete with the same processor and 3.7-inch AMOLED display, the Incredible ups the ante with Sense UI, an 8.0-megapixel camera, and an optical trackpad.  Though it addresses most of the concerns that the Nexus One was plagued with, is it incredible enough to justify the name?

Design & Features

Incredible 2

The HTC DROID Incredible ships with the battery, AC adapter, and USB cable (which doubles as the power cord).  Though it's not included on the box, Verizon has been offering a 2 GB microSD card for free with purchase; as it stands, there's no word on when the promotion ends.  Measuring in at 4.60 inches tall by 2.30 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick, and weighing 4.6 ounces, it's small enough to stow in a bag, pocket, or cup holder.  The 3.7-inch AMOLED screen is is one of the most gorgeous displays I've ever seen on a cell phone.  Despite offering 65,536 colors, the display is crisp and vibrant.  As beautiful as it is, the downside comes when viewing it outdoors - it's virtually impossible to see in direct sunlight.

Incredible 3

The left side of the Incredible houses the volume rocker and microUSB charging port, while the power/lock button and 3.5mm headphone jack can be found on the top of the device.  The camera and speaker are both located on the back of the device, while the optical trackpad, home key, menu key, back button, and search button are located on the front, just under the display.  The camera has a red "ring" around it - when you remove the back cover, you'll notice that the innards are painted red (including the battery).  It's a neat little touch, and goes well with Verizon's color scheme.  Though the plastic body isn't poorly constructed by any means, I miss the metal body of the Nexus One, and have a feeling that those that have worked with both will as well.

Usability & Performance

Incredible 4

The DROID Incredible ships with the same 1 GHz Snapdragon processor found in the Nexus One and HD2.  While I've been frustrated with lagginess in the mid-range Sense UI-equipped handsets (DROID Eris, Hero, etc.), the Incredible is incredibly snappy and smooth.  Throughout testing, I never experienced any lag, and I can't help but think to myself "this is what Sense was meant to run on."  What's more, the scrolling issues that were present on the Nexus One's screen are nonexistent on the Incredible.  Due primarily to how much space Sense UI takes up, the Incredible offers 8 GB of built-in storage, which is a welcome addition to Android handsets. 

Incredible 5

With HTC's Sense UI installed over Android 2.1, HTC solves one of the issues that I've always had with Android.  At its core, I still believe Android 2.1 is too "geeky" for mainstream adoption, particularly with webOS and iPhone OS on the market.  Like it or not, there's a vast majority of the population that wants an operating system that's simple and easy to use, and not something that's highly customizable.  HTC's Sense UI doesn't solve every problem in this regard, but makes the overall Android experience much more user-friendly.

Incredible 6

The Incredible offers an 8.0-megapixel camera, and in my testing, pictures came out crisp and full of color.  Editing options include the ability to modify brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, effects (grayscale, sepia, negative, solarize, posterize, aqua), white balance, ISO, resolution, and screen size (widescreen or standard).  Additionally, you can set a self-timer and geo-tag your photos using HTC's Footprints application.

The DROID Incredible was tested in the Charlotte, Manhattan, Newark, and Orlando metropolitan areas, and call quality was very good across the board.  In many instances throughout testing, I had zero bars of service, but calls were crystal clear.  Callers had no problem hearing me, and call quality was clear on my end as well.  The earpiece on the Incredible is quite loud, making it easy to hear the other caller.  When testing the Incredible in a fringe area in Charlotte, I was able to hear the other caller, despite some occasional choppiness.  Speakerphone worked well, and I was able to pair my Bluetooth headset to the device without issue.

Incredible 7

There's a bit of a dispute over the signal strength indicator on the DROID Incredible.  Some have noticed that the device registers a lower "bar" count than other devices in the category (DROID, Devour, and the like).  I can confirm that the discrepancy exists, though I've experienced no dropped calls (even when the device shows no bars of service).  When I compare the dBm of the DROID Incredible to other devices, it's nearly identical.  So when you pick up the DROID Incredible and notice that the signal strength is less than that of its peers, rest assured - it seems to be the indicator only.

The device supports 3G connectivity (EVDO Rev. A) on Verizon Wireless, and in testing, internet speeds were quite fast.  CNN's mobile website loaded in five seconds, and the full PhoneDog homepage loaded in about 17 seconds.  Data-heavy tasks like Google Maps, Navigation, Peep, and YouTube worked flawlessly.

Incredible 8

The Incredible sports a 1300mAh battery with a rated talk time of 5.2 hours with EVDO (3G) connectivity, and about 6 days of standby time.  There's no doubt about it - the battery life on the DROID Incredible is a huge achilles heel.  With moderate use including calling, text messaging, browsing the internet, using apps, and use of the Android Market, I haven't been able to make it through a single day in the three weeks I've been working with the unit.  I understand that widgets, background processes, and the like rapidly consume battery life, but the inability to get through a full day with moderate use is unacceptable.  Though task killing programs such as Advanced Task Killer have helped, I'm still unable to make it through a full work day.  During meetings in Manhattan last week in which I took the device off of the charger at around 8:00 AM, the Incredible would regularly power down just after 4:00 PM.  If you are a moderate user or someone who travels on a regular basis, be sure to pick up an extra battery and car charger, at the minimum.

Conclusion

Incredible 9

This is the device that makes you sit back and think "this is everything that the Nexus One should have been."  With a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 8.0-megapixel camera, 8 GB of built-in storage, and HTC's (fantastic) Sense UI, it literally improves upon the Nexus One in every sense (no pun intended).  The phone is snappy, and applications open with fluidity and ease.  The only thing that's not incredible about the Incredible is the battery life.  If you're a moderate or heavy user, you're going to need a second battery, car charger, and an additional AC adapter.

Products mentioned

This Week's "People's Choice Rankings" Best Smartphone

 
×
 
×
 
×
 
×
 
×