Sleek black-and-red design; Bright screen that's easy to read outdoors; Fast camera; Solid 4G LTE speeds; Beats Audio provides sound boost
Relatively thick; Display has limited viewing angles; A bit pricey
The HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE delivers a fast camera, bright screen and enhanced audio in a compact design, but it's a little pricey.
What's probably most incredible about the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is that someone is still making Android phones for people without giant hands. Yes, you can actually use this new Verizon Wireless device without performing finger gymnastics. More good news: The Incredible 4G LTE ($149) packs a zippy 8-megapixel camera and Beats audio--all inside a design that's not only compact, but also has a bit of attitude. Still, given that you can snag the big bad Galaxy S III for just $50 more, how well can this Droid punch above its weight class?
DesignGalaxy S III (5.4 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches), but it actually weighs the same as Samsung's super phone and is significantly thicker. That's noteworthy because the S III has a much larger screen (4.8 vs. 4 inches). The HTC certainly feels chunkier in the hand, too, but this is mostly offset by the smaller footprint.
DisplaySamsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III. Touch accuracy was mostly good, but a few times we had trouble selecting smaller items.
Overall, the Incredible 4G LTE LCD offered crisp and colorful images. The high-quality trailer of "Skyfall" on YouTube delivered lots of detail; we could easily make out Daniel Craig's stubble as he was being interrogated. This screen is also bright enough to handle direct sunlight. It registered 414 lux on our light meter, compared to just 210 lux for the Galaxy S III and 340 lux for the Galaxy Nexus.
However, the Super LCD 2 screens on HTC's One X and EVO 4G LTE and the AMOLED panel on the One S offer wider viewing angles. The Incredible's display looked a bit cloudy when viewing it off axis. This effect was more pronounced when using the Incredible as a GPS navigator in a car.
The small speaker on the back of the Incredible 4G LTE pumps out plenty of volume, nearly enough to fill a small room. We had no trouble hearing the pleasant female voice for Google Maps Navigation as we rode down a bumpy stretch of the Garden State Parkway.
When you plug in a set of headphones, Beats Audio technology kicks in, which is designed to deliver richer audio for music, movies and games. With the setting engaged Coldplay's "Paradise" got a volume and bass boost. Depending on the track, Beats can overpower the instrumentals, but you can easily toggle the setting off in the notification shade area.
Software and Interface
HTC's Sense 4.0 software rides on top of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for the Droid Incredible 4G LTE, which emphasizes ease of use. For instance, HTC displays the words Forward, Delete, Reply all and Reply when you open an email message instead of potentially confusing icons.
As with other HTC phones, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE offers lock screen shortcuts to Phone, Mail, Messages and Camera. Just drag the icon into the circle to launch the app. To change these shortcuts, you need to drag them off the lower bar once you unlock the phone and replace them with other icons.
HTC also includes themed Scenes to quickly change out the background and widgets. The Social Scene, for example, displays your friends' Facebook and Twitter updates beneath the time on the main home screen. The default Scene is Verizon, with its Droid-esque black-and-red background and robotic eye.
Powered by a 1.2-GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 processor and 1GB of RAM, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE proved swift in everyday use. We quickly switched between applications, and the camera routinely started in just a little over a second. We didn't notice much in the way of lag, except when trying to enter the Settings menu from the notification share and loading HTC's own mail program.
This Incredible had no trouble rendering the lush visuals in the included demo of "Let's Golf! 3" game. The fly-overs were nice and smooth.
In terms of benchmark performance, the Incredible 4G LTE phone notched above-average scores in most tests but falls well short of category leaders. The Incredible registered 2,998 on the CPU portion of the Benchmark app, compared with 2,616 for the Android average. However, the faster 1.5-GHz chip inside the Galaxy S III (4,786) and HTC One X (4,885) scored much higher. The Droid RAZR Maxx (3,398) and Galaxy Nexus (3,219) also beat the Incredible.
The Incredible 4G LTE narrowed the gap in graphics performance, scoring 7,111 on An3DBench. That's slightly above the category average (7,060) and not too far behind the Galaxy S III (7,272) and on a par with the One X (7,111).
In Quadrant, which measures CPU, graphics and I/O performance, the Incredible soundly beat the category average (4,105 vs. 2,584). Once again, though, this HTC handset couldn't keep up with the Galaxy S III (5,159) and One X (4,901). The Incredible did outpace the Galaxy Nexus (1,963), though.
The Incredible 4G LTE comes with 8GB of internal memory, which you can expand via the microSD Card slot.
4G and Data Performance
Sites also loaded quickly. The mobile versions of NYTimes.com, ESPN and CNN all popped up in less than 6 seconds, and the full NYTimes.com site (ads and all) loaded in a brisk 11.9 seconds.
While the default browser performed well, we'd suggest downloading an alternative. The tabs are two taps away, and you can't access the notification shade from the browser. Chrome is much better.
Camera and Camcorder
A shot of flowers burst with color and remained sharp even when we zoomed in. We could also make out intricate carvings on a stone pot without any fuzziness. Indoors, a shot of several figurines looked a bit drab. While the Incredible 4G LTE struggled with shadows outdoors, engaging HDR mode helped.
The 1080p footage we shot of New York City traffic looked crisp, and yellow cabs really popped in the sun. We could even make out the license plates on cars when we paused the action.
The Incredible's front-facing camera produced a clear image over Google Talk when we conducted a video call. The other caller said he saw only minor pixilation. Audio was clear but somewhat low on our end of the line.
Verizon takes up a tab on the bottom of the app screen, which makes it easy to access all of the options it bundles. Fun games such as "Let's Golf! 3 HD" and "Real Racing 2" come along for the ride, but they're huge 400MB-plus downloads for just demo versions. You'll have to pay to unlock the full versions.
Other Verizon apps include the awesome NFL Mobile, which lets you keep tabs on your favorite teams and players and streams live games. There's also a Mobile Hotspot app, Verizon Video, VZ Navigator (don't bother, Google nav is free) and Slingbox (who still uses that?).
Call Quality and Battery Life
As a voice phone, the Incredible 4G LTE delivered solid results on Verizon's network. During a test call to a landline, the other caller came through clearly, with only minimal clipping. We just wish the volume through the earpiece were louder.
For a 4G LTE phone, the Incredible's 1700mAH battery offers decent endurance. The phone lasted 5 hours and 32 minutes in the LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing at 40 percent brightness. This runtime beats the lowly Galaxy Nexus (3:40) but is behind the Galaxy S III for AT&T (6:28) and way behind the Droid RAZR Maxx's epic 8:25.
The Incredible's $149 price tag puts this phone on the same level of the Galaxy Nexus, which will be upgraded to Android Jelly Bean soon and sports a larger and sharper (but dimmer) 4.7-inch HD display. HTC's phone lasts longer on a charge, though, and is more one-hand friendly. Verizon's Galaxy S III costs only $50 more, which includes a huge 4.8-inch screen and is full of delightful and surprising innovations. The Incredible 4G LTE is certainly worth buying, but you might want to wait for the price to drop.
- Top 10 Smartphones Available Now
- The Best iPhone Alternative Smartphones
- How to Buy a Smartphone: Everything You Need to Know
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Networks||LTE 700 MHz (band 13); CDMA 1xRTT/EV-DO REV A 800/1900 MHz|
|Data||EV-DO Rev. A|
|CPU||1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4 inch super LCD/960 x 540|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||VGA|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||eAAC+|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Video formats supported||WMV|
|Video formats supported||MPEG-4|
|Video formats supported||H.264|
|Video formats supported||H.263|
|Talk / Standby Time||9.6 hours/18.6 days|
|Size||4.8 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)||0.799|
|SAR Rating (Body)||1.05|