all photos by Kevin Stanford
It’s hard not to get excited when a new phone shows up for review, especially when one boasts all of the bells and whistles found in the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. This particular Droid model was announced earlier this year at CTIA, and I have been using it off and on for the past month.
What I’ve learned during this time is that while the Incredible has a slightly smaller build than most of the higher-end Android phones we’ve seen lately, you won’t be compromising too much with this device, and there’s much to love about a phone this size.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE (say that three times quickly) has a 4″ super LCD qHD screen (960 x 540), rounded edges everywhere, a solid feel, a creak-free body, and it is one of those phones that just feels good to hold; add to that how it has a slim body that is perfect for one-handed use.
Some of the Incredible’s highlights include:
Verizon 4G LTE Network: Provides significantly increased speeds and reduced lag time up to 10x faster than 3G
8.0 Megapixel Camera: Front facing and 8.0 MP rear facing camera allows you to capture and share compelling images with a higher quality digital camera right on your phone
4″ LCD screen: The qHD screen makes all your photos and videos look better than ever
Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich: Latest Android platform offers a customizable experience with photo and video edits, resizable widgets, cloud connected experience and more
Considering that so many Android phones have had screens measuring 4.5″ and larger any more, the Incredible is definitely one of the smaller and lighter Android phones I’ve encountered recently; it measures approximately 4.9″ tall x 2.4″ wide x 0.5″ thick and weighs 4.7 ounces, which means it’s much more pocketable than a 4.5″ or 5″ screened device will ever be; it just is.
Included in the box:
- Standard Lithium Ion Battery (1700 mAh)
- Micro USB cable with icon
- AC adapter
- RF Brochure
- Product Safety & Warranty Brochure
- Quick Reference Guide
- Important Consumer Information Brochure
The Incredible’s body is dominated by its large Gorilla Glass screen, which is flush with the sides and bottom and has a slight drop-off just below the ear speaker. There are three capacitive buttons on the bottom: Back, Home and Recent Apps; haptic feedback alerts you when they have been properly pressed, and they do not change orientation when switching between portrait and landscape mode.
You can just make out the front-facing VGA (640×480) camera on the edge of the screen, here. Just beyond it is a subtle red grill over the ear speaker, and the Power/screen-wake button is done in a matching red. Along the top edge, there is also a 3.5mm headphone jack as well as a noise-canceling microphone.
The left side of the phone is clean, except for the microUSB port on the lower edge.
The bottom of the Incredible has only a microphone and a little depression for you to stick your thumb-nail in, to remove the peel-off battery cover.
Similar to so many of HTC’s designs since 2009′s Snap, the Incredible’s back is just about completely covered by the flexible battery cover, which has two levels along with cut grooves to give the user a better grip. The camera lens is ringed in shiny red metal (which keeps the back from being too businesslike), and there is a single white LED flash. That the phone has 4G LTE along with beats audio is signified in silkscreen.
When the battery cover is removed, the MicroSIM tray and the MicroSD slots are revealed. The Incredible has dual-band EV-DO REV A (850/1900 MHz) and 700MHz LTE along with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. As with many of Verizon’s newer devices, the Incredible 4G LTE has a SIM, which I thought at first meant that it is “global ready”and both CDMA and GSM capable, but that is not the case.
I’ll admit that I was a little bit surprised to see that the Incredible only came with 8GB internal memory; call me greedy, but it seems like 16GB would have been much more … well, incredible. Luckily, the phone worked just fine with the 64GB SanDisk I’d picked up recently.
And of course, the 1700mAh Lithium Ion battery is removable, which remains a selling point for power users who fret about being caught without enough juice and a place to recharge.
To recap: the device feels good in hand, has a similar style in keeping with past HTC Incredible designs, has a few little red accents that make it less businesslike than it first appears … but how does the Incredible 4G LTE work as a phone and as a mini computer?
Let’s take a look …
So here’s the thing — I don’t make a lot of voice calls anymore. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point texting and emailing took over for all but the most necessary calls. Granted, I’ll call my daughter just to hear her voice on occasion, but we generally text each other at least once a day. Kev and I will only call each other when we are traveling apart, or when what we need to say throughout the day is too long (or involved) to easily text. My mom and I see each other often enough that we email in between. So I didn’t make a lot of calls with this phone, nor did I worry too much about dropped calls because they don’t usually happen on our network. With that said, on the calls that I did make, the quality and clarity were just fine.
As for the device’s performance, let’s start with the most obvious — the display. I found it to be decent, but at times some of the whites seemed yellowish, and when I zoomed in on full-sized web pages, letters and objects didn’t have the sharply rendered edges I expected. Perhaps I am just used to the iPhone 4S display, but I felt a bit let down.
The Incredible doesn’t have the fastest processor available, but for the most part it’s hard to tell. Its 1.2GHz Dual-Core Snapdragon with 1GB of RAM is fairly nimble; I was able to play games and run multiple apps with no stuttering or stalling.
I was pretty happy with the 8 megapixel camera — except for the picture I took from our front porch when it was overcast. The colors and focus just seemed off to me, but I like the wide-angle lens. All of the photos below will enlarge when clicked …
The view from our front porch on an overcast day
Looking down at an agave; I could not get the lens to focus properly on the tip!
This closeup of a porch pillow pattern looks great!
The zoom distorts pictures; it’s better to just take the full size and crop later.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was how well the 1700mAh battery performed. Even with constant use while emailing, surfing, and reading, I was able to comfortably make it through a full day; that’s something I have never been able to do on my iPhone. =P
Here’s something else I can’t do with my iPhone … notice that this phone has NFC, or Near Field Communication? It’s not in every mobile device, yet, but NFC is a technology that I am excited about, and that I think will eventually be very important. The Incredible also has Bluetooth 4.0, which is supposed to use much less battery power than previous versions.
Moving right along … Verizon did the smart thing, because they didn’t overload the Incredible with a bunch of unnecessary apps. Even though there are technically 14 apps listed on the Verizon tab, half of them (Kindle, Amazon MP3, Let’s Golf HD, NFL Mobile, Real Racing 2, Slacker, and Slingbox) are not Verizon apps, and several are apps that I would have added anyway. Okay … maybe not those particular games.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Incredible is running on Android 4.0.3, or “Ice Cream Sandwich”. This, coupled with the latest Sense UI from HTC makes for a fluid and much more refined Android experience than I’ve had in the past. No, it’s not “Jelly Bean” (Android 4.1), but I have a feeling that most users won’t even notice.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE has one more trick up its sleeve that is perhaps 20% gimmick and 80% cool new tech, but I did find that it worked consistently well for me: the phone can be set to unlock based on facial recognition. Granted, you have to set up either a 4 number pin or an unlock pattern to fall back upon when lighting is too poor or when you look different, but it’s a fun new feature.
And yes … the Incredible will do simultaneous voice and data. Take that, CDMA iPhones!
While the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is not necessarily a top of the line device, it has a lot going for it that makes it a solid smart phone for those who don’t want one of the larger-screened options. It’s price seems a bit high for a two-year contract when better tech is always imminent, but if you want a solid phone that can do tricks the iPhone hasn’t yet considered, this one may be your device.
The HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE is available directly from Verizon and through other retail partners.
MSRP: $499.99 off-contract; $149.99 with a two-year contract and after online discount
What I Like: The Incredible 4G LTE feels great in hand, and it has a solid build; it may not have the fastest processor, but I had no complaints during my use; the battery lasts all day; facial recognition unlock feature is pretty freaking cool; simultaneous voice and data
What Needs Improvement: Display colors seem a bit washed out; zoomed items are not as sharply rendered as expected; using the camera zoom guarantees poor quality photos; only 8GB internal memory