Graham Russell and I each spent a few days with Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible. More than any other device this year, the Incredible had piqued our interest. While the spec list promises lust-worthy hardware, Verizon's 3G network plays no small part.
Graham: Physically, this feels about as much like an iPhone as an Android device is going to. It's sleek, it's friendly-looking, and though I don't know what the heck is going on with the shape of the back panel, it's otherwise pretty straightforward. Coming from a Droid, it's much lighter, and the material is thinner; it feels more comfortable, but it also feels like it may break more easily. The optical joystick at the bottom is as divisive as ever. As we've seen before, some people like them, and others ignore them completely. (I'm in the latter camp.)
Matthew: Its clear HTC was aiming for the high end user. There is no doubt this is in the same arena as the iPhone. I actually found the Incredible's narrower width easier to operate one handed than my iPhone which feels quite wide. The screen, higher resolution than the iPhone, is gorgeous. This Droid is substantially lighter than the Moto Droid which I think is a positive for a pocket device. Anytime I used the optical pad it was a conscious decision to do so. I think Blackberry converts should find it more appealing. I was glad to see it was not preloaded with any intrusive carrier software. Thank you Verizon.
Graham: HTC Sense puts other UIs to shame. It's slick-looking and professional, and since it's all designed together, it looks much more like a cohesive unit than a hodgepodge of pieces shoved into one screen. "Scenes," where you can have different sets of home screens based on context (like "Work" and "Travel") are useful ways of switching up widgets when you need to. The Incredible's bumped system specs make everything run a bit smoother than with previous 2.1 Sense devices (Legend and Desire), and smoothness is much-appreciated with this look.
Matthew: I've been intrigued by HTC's UI over Android. I've experimented with some jailbreak apps and themes on the iPhone that mimic parts of it. I really like the implementation of the "Scenes" Graham mentions above. They really can alter the character of the device quite easily delivering an optimized UI for when you are at work, on the road or relaxing.
Graham: The camera in this thing is impressive. I'll let Matthew give you his expert opinion on it, but it certainly outclasses the Droid's once-nice capabilities, and I could actually see using it on a regular basis. The sound quality is nicer than a lot of phones I've seen, though I can't tell much difference from the Droid, and battery life seems adequate.
Matthew: The best camera is one that you'll have with you. The first digital camera I used was a 1.3-megapixel that cost our company nearly $20K. An 8-megapixel camera in a phone leaves me envious. It is much better than any iPhone camera. Even the next iPhone is rumored to have only a 5-megapixel camera. The dual LEDs were helpful too for low light situations. It's not a bad image capturing device for when you are caught without your dedicated camera.
Graham: As I spent more time with it, I found myself longing for my good old Motorola friend. Sure, it's not as slick or as snappy, but I missed the solid way vanilla 2.x handles speech-to-text functions, I missed haptic feedback from the on-screen buttons and, most of all, I missed my physical keyboard.
Matthew: Sorry Graham, I think I turned the haptic feedback off. It has it.
Ok, this is just me. Remember though, I'm a geek that loves shiny new things. While using the Incredible, I never really missed my iPhone. The Android Market is filling with apps quickly and some developers are creating Android apps before iPhone apps.
As I mentioned already, the Incredible is lighter and suits my hot little hands better. The virtual keyboard seemed as good as any, but I absolutely love the voice-to-text button that is always there for any text field.
Also Google's mapping and GPS navigation features make the Incredible a compelling choice with its optional views and turn-by-turn voice guided directions.
So should you get it? Being my top pick for an Android phone, I would not hesitate to recommend the Droid Incredible. It eclipses the Palm Pre and anything from RIM. It can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone. Apple still seems to have an advantage of media integration with iTunes and the iPhone's media handling. Though some folks despise iTunes. But then the Incredible shames the iPhone's minimal native navigation and puny 3-megapixel camera. Also, there is the benefit of Verizon's comprehensive 3G network.
Here is a roundup of what others had to say:
Josh Topolsky, Engadget: "Let's just put this out there: the Droid Incredible is the best Android device that you can purchase in America right now. It's better than the Droid, better than the Nexus One, and certainly beats the pants off of any previous generation handsets like the Eris, myTouch, or Cliq. It's not just a very, very good Android phone (though it is); it's also an excellent smartphone no matter how you cut it."
Matt Buchanan, Gizmodo: "The Incredible might be the world's first mullet phone: flat, straightforward business in the front, stylized rubber party in the back."
Bonnie Cha, CNET: "While the Android 2.1 smartphone doesn't offer any new, ground-breaking features, what it does better than any other Android product on the market right now, including the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, is enhancing those features with better software (courtesy of HTC Sense) and combining it with a sleek design and lots of power."
Ginny Mies, PC World: "I find these social network feeds a bit annoying (do I really need to see everybody's Tweets and Facebook status updates all mixed up together?), but I suppose if you're an avid social networker seeing all of these updates in one place is useful."
Specifications and features:
- 3.7" 480x800 WVGA AMOLED Touch screen
- Virtual QWERTY Keyboard
BLUETOOTH v2.1+ EDR
- Bluetooth Supported Profiles: Headset, Handsfree, Stereo, Phonebook
- Camera: 8MP camera w/auto–focus and video capture
- Create and manage playlists
- Sync music from PC to phone
- Headset: 3.5mm Audio Jack
- Fm Radio Capable (wired headset required for use)
- Audio Formats Supported: Unprotected AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, MP3
- OS: Android 2.1, Google Experience Device
- Integrated Google, Exchange & Facebook contacts
- User Interface –next generation Sense UI
- Push Gmail and Exchange
- 8GB internal memory*actual formatted capacity is less
- 1 Ghz Snapdragon processor
- Tools: Calculator, Alarm Clock, Calendar, Stopwatch & Voice
- Bilingual User Interface: English/Spanish
- Advanced Speech Recognition
- Embedded Ringtones, vibrate alert and silent
- Phonebook capacity dependent upon available memory
- TTY compatible
- Up to 16GB of optional microSD support
- Hearing Aid Compatibility = M4/T3
- Device Insurance Available
- Advanced Device –Early Termination Fee of up to $350 applies
- Visual Voice Mail capable
- Backup Assistant capable
- Mobile Broadband Connectcapable
- HTML Browser: Supports Flash Lite 4.0
- WiFi® capable
- Text, Picture and Video messaging with threaded messaging feature
- Speech to Text Feature
- Google Maps with Navigation, Latitude, Google Talk; Gmail; YouTube™,
Google Calendar, Google Search
- 1000’s of apps and 100’s of widgets available on Android Market
- Fast access to YouTube™, Twitter and Facebook®
- Google Over the Air updates
- Dual Band CDMA2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO/1xEVDO Rev A (800/1900 MHz)
- Memory: ROM: 512MB, RAM: 512MB DDR
- Qualcomm® QSD8650, 1Ghz
- Dimensions: 4.63" (H) x 2.3" (W) x 0.47" (D)
- Weight: 4.59 ounces
- Usage Time: Up 312 minutes OR
- Standby Time: Up to 146 hours
- SAR: Head: 1.40 W/kg; Body: 0.7 W/Kg