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May 24, 2011 • Reviews

Android Device Review: HTC Verizon DROID Incredible 2

A little over a year I took a quick look at the HTC Droid Incredible, and now Verizon and HTC have released their follow-up, the Droid Incredible 2. Some of the features that set the updated version apart from the original include a 4″ screen (the first Incredible’s was 3.7″), Android 2.2 (Froyo), a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, and a larger battery (1450 mAh vs. the original 1300 mAh).

Missing is the 8GB internal memory that the original version carried, but that is more than made up for by the presence of a pre-installed 16GB microSD card (there was no external memory card included with the original version); the Incredible 2’s RAM has been upped from the original’s 512MB to 768MB. Gone is the optical joystick in favor of the four capacitive buttons that are now becoming common on most HTC Android devices.

Unlike the previous version, this one is “global ready”, meaning that it comes with a pre-installed SIM card that is both CDMA and GSM capable. This is the second HTC Verizon device that I have seen that included a SIM, but unlike the HTC Thunderbolt I reviewed (and loved) last month, the Incredible 2 is not 4G LTE capable. That’s probably not going to be a huge deal for a while because not much of the country is 4G LTE enabled; it would stink though, to be in an area that was and not be able to take advantage of 4G LTE — especially while locked into a two-year contract — and especially with new markets being announced all the time (23 new ones on June 16th, as a matter of fact).

Still present are the eight megapixel autofocus camera (which impressed me previously) and a 1GHz processor, although the original Snapdragon Processor was listed as a Qualcomm MSM 8655, and this one is a Qualcomm QSD 8650.

One last difference is in size: the Incredible 2 measures 4.7″ tall x 2.5″ wide x 0.48″ thick, whereas the Incredible was 4.63″ tall x 2.3″ wide x 0.47″ thick. The difference in size is hardly noticeable, and the resulting device feels good in hand.

There are likely a few other differences, but those will give you an idea that this is a similar device to what we’ve seen previously, but its specifications have been updated to reflect its status as a successor.

The Incredible 2’s entire body is covered in matte black rubberized plastic, with the exception of its large Gorilla Glass screen. While the I2 is not as heavy and solid as the ThunderBolt, it is still a solid and creak-free device.

On the front there is a black mesh grille covering the ear speaker and the LED indicator; the front-facing camera is on the top right of the screen. The four capacitive buttons are on the bottom of the screen, but they only light up when the device is in use.

These capacitive buttons also have a cool trick — they rotate depending upon whether the device is being used in portrait or landscape mode.

Yeah okay, I can admit to being easily impressed with gratuitous features (as long as they work), but I think it’s a thoughtful and clever touch. =)

Specifications & Features

Network: CDMA 800/1900MHz + UMTS/HSPA 900/2100MHz + GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900MHz
Dimensions: 4.75 x 2.52x 0.48 inches
Weight: 4.77 ounces
Operating System: Android 2.2
Display: 4” capacitive touch screen; 480 (w)x 800,(h) WVGA display; Orientation in portrait and landscape
Battery: Rechargeable lithium–ion battery 1450 mAh; Usage: up to 390 minutes or; Standby: up to 361 hours
Memory / Processor: Qualcomm®MSM8655, 1 GHz Snapdragon™; 16GB SD card preinstalled (expandable to 32GB)
Camera: 8 MP rear camera with auto–focus and dual led flash; 1.3 MP front–facing camera
Image & Video Formats Supported: JPEG / GIF87/a GIF89a / PNG / WBMP MPEG4 / H.263 / H.264 / WMV9
Audio Formats Supported: AAC / AAC+ / eAAC+/ AMR-WB / MID / MP3 / OGG / QCELP/QCP/ WAV / WMA9; Create and Manage Playlist; Headset: 3.5mm Audio Jack; Speakerphone
Web/Apps: HTML Browser; Adobe Flash Player 10.1; GPS/AGPS E911; MS Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Windows Live Hotmail, POP3/IMAP; Backup Assistant, Mobile IM, Visual Voice Mail, 3G Mobile Hotspot, Blockbuster, City ID, Amazon Kindle, Lets Golf2, My Verizon Mobile, NFL Mobile, NFS Shift, Skype 3G, Slacker, VCAST Apps, Music, Tones, Videos, VZNavigator
Tools: Calendar, Calculator, Flashllight, Alarm Clock, World Clock, Stop Watch & Timer; Supports 18 Languages; Advanced Speech Recognition; Embedded ringtones, vibrate alert and silent; Sync & Connect capable; Skype 3G capable; Mobile IM; Visual Voice Mail; TTY Compatible; Hearing Aid Compatibility = M4/T4
Bluetooth Profiles Supported: HSP, HFP, SPP, A2DP, AVRCP, GAVDP, AVDTP, AVCTP, OPP (Vcard, Music, Album, Cal) ,PBAP , FTP (Server Side only)

The bottom of the Incredible 2 has a voice microphone and the groove that you have to slip your thumb into to remove the battery cover that makes up tghe back of the device.

There are no buttons or ports on the right side.

The top of the Incredible 2 has the power button, a second microphone (most likely for video calls), and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the left side there is a long black bar which serves as the volume toggle, and when in camera mode — the zoom in and zoom out control. There is also a standard microUSB charging port.

The battery cover which makes up the back of the Incredible 2 is like most of the newer HTC devices, it snaps on and off  —  you remove it by sticking a thumbnail in the groove, and then pulling it off. There is no metal in the body which makes this a lighter phone for those who think devices such as the ThunderBolt are too heavy; I suspect that there will be many people who appreciate the Incredible 2’s balanced size and weight.

The back of the Incredible 2 is still composed of different “steps”, which is one less than the original. There are three holes back here that appear to be microphones — two at the bottom and one at the top near the camera; I’m guessing that their purpose is directly related to video recording with the rear camera.

Let’s slip that battery cover off for just a moment and peek inside …

As I mentioned before, this is only the second HTC Verizon device that I’ve reviewed that had a SIM included. This makes the Incredible 2 a global phone, but you’ll want to check Verizon’s international rates before you get to worked up over that fact.

The Incredible 2 is supposed to ship with a 16GB microSD card, but my review loaner came with an 8GB. =P

Let’s get back to the 8 megapixel autofocus camera again for a moment. I was really impressed by it! The camera takes extremely good pictures in natural to low light.

all pictures are thumbnails; click to enlarge

And yes, it has the dual LED flash, which makes it possible to take photos in less than optimum lighting conditions, but (as usual) it’s a mixed bag when doing so.

That’s the hardware in a nutshell, now lets talk about using the Incredible 2 as a phone (novel thought!) and as a PDA.

The Incredible 2 has visual voice mail, which anyone who has owned an iPhone will appreciate.

The contacts list integrates perfectly with Facebook information; contacts display their Facebook photos, and when you click on a contact you’ll see their Tweets, birthdays, and social network updates. It’s pretty spiffy. Phone calls made on the Incredible 2 are clear; I had no issues in an EDGE area (at home), nor did I have any in a 3G area (San Angelo). I had no dropped calls when using the Incredible, and coverage areas and the accompanying shown signal strength (which is an unreliable indicator, but taken at face value) was as expected in areas that I am familiar with. Perhaps the only shortcoming was the speakerphone; the speaker is a bit tinny and not as strong and clear as I might have liked.


all photos are thumbnails; click to enlarge

The Mail app is probably one of my favorite styles ever, as it allows you to group your inbox according to time received, conversations (with nested emails), favorite people (sorted by those you email the most. I’m guessing), unread, and email with attachments. This is efficient, orderly, and a beautiful use of Gmail. The only thing missing perhaps, is the ability to star or flag emails that you need to keep handy.

The Incredible 2 comes with a selection of skins and themes, which make it easy to quickly switch between work and personal mode, depending upon your mood.

There’s a huge selection of software (Verizon versions and stock) pre-installed on the Incredible, including 3G Mobile Hotspot (which allows you to use your phone as a WiFi hot spot for up to 5 other devices), Backup Assistant, Blockbuster, City ID, Kindle, Lets Golf 2, Mobile IM (AIM, MSN, and Yahoo), NFL Mobile, NFS Shift, Skype Mobile, and Slacker. There are also a large number of Verizon-specific apps installed, including My Verizon Mobile, V Cast Apps, V Cast Media, V Cast Music, V Cast Tones, V Cast Videos, Voice Mail and VZ Navigator.

If any of those apps aren’t titles you are going to use, or if they aren’t programs you’d want to keep after checking them out initially, then you are out of luck — they are installed on the ROM, and you can’t get rid of them.

With no additional apps installed, the Incredible 2 shows as having 0.98GB available space.

I suppose this is the point where I should rail on the Incredible 2 for the audacity of shipping with Android Froyo (2.2) instead of Gingerbread (2.3), but I just don’t think it matters. HTC Sense makes using the Incredible 2 a pleasure; I never got the feeling that I was “missing out on something” because my device wasn’t a .3 versus a .2. In all candor,  I think that the only person who might miss Gingerbread (or feel shorted) is someone who would wind up rooting the device and installing it on there anyway.

As for what kind of battery life I got while using the Incredible 2, let me first explain my usage: I am constantly answering email, texting or looking things up on the phone’s browser. I tend to not use any phone other than an iPhone as a media device, so I don’t watch movies or use it to listen to music. I do use the Kindle app when I don’t have my tablet along, and I make a few calls. I keep WiFi turned on, the screen on full brightness, and BT turned off. I easily made it through a day (which is more than I can say about getting through a day with an iPhone 4), but that’s my usage. If you are a heavy media user, then you won’t be surprised when your Incredible 2 needs to be topped off at some point during the day. Fortunately the  Incredible 2 uses a standard microUSB port, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a spare cable for a top-off.

We all know what the iPhone 4 looks like, so it makes a good comparison device. The iPhone 4 weighs 4.8 ounces and the Incredible 2 weighs nearly the same, at 4.77 ounces. The iPhone 4 is 4.5″ tall x 2.31″ wide x 0.37″ thick versus the Incredible 2’s 4.75″ tall x 2.52″ wide x 0.48″ thick, so the Incredible is just a bit larger. But even so, I think that the Incredible 2 actually feels better in my hand, although I like the style of the iPhone 4 better; go figure.

I’m trying to decide upon what the major quibbles I have with this device would be. I prefer a heavier device such as the ThunderBolt, but other than that … there is much to like. Some will take issue with it not being a dual-core device, but I never felt that the Incredible 2 lagged; it certainly handled HTC Sense like a pro, and with multiple programs running at once it never bogged down. Others are going to be bothered by the fact that it doesn’t have 4G LTE, and if you live in an area that has it, then believe me … I get it. But if you don’t live in a large market or if you don’t want to deal with the battery suckage, then you aren’t even going to miss that this phone doesn’t have it.

There is much to like about the HTC Incredible 2; they have managed to improve upon the original — which was already a solid and well-performing phone, but they have also managed to make a phone that breaks out of the original’s mode. Removing the odd little digital joystick on the front was a great move, which not only cleaned up the device, also made it more true to its touch capabilities. The little touches, such as the rotating capacitive buttons, the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, the included skins, the included 16GB microSD card and the larger battery make it a device well worth choosing.

The HTC Verizon DROID Incredible 2 is available directly from Verizon and from other resellers
MSRP: $439.99, or $199.99 with two-Year contract

What I Like: Global phone (uses a CDMA / GSM SIM); Camera is excellent; phone calls are clear and good in both EDGE and 3G areas; the 4″ screen is large and beautiful; device is solid and fast

What Needs Improvement: Doesn’t have 4G LTE; doesn’t have a dual-core processor; huge amount of Verizon pre-installed software that you can’t remove without rooting; ships with Froyo, not Gingerbread (which I am sure some will take issue with)

Source: Review unit loan from HTC PR

 

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