By now we’ve seen other HTC phones, other Verizon phones, and other Android operating system phones, but the Droid Incredible seems, at least at first glance, to have a personality all its own. We set out to see if the lives up to its name, or if it is just a geeky tool or a phone for the masses.
The Droid Incredible comes in a non-descript small white box that touts the three companies that came together to create it – Verizon, HTC, and Google.
Included in the box and shown in Figure 2, are the Droid Incredible, a USB charging cable, an adapter for the USB cable that allows you to charge from a wall outlet, a small tips book, a product Safely and Warranty Brochure, and a Consumer Information About Radio Frequency Emissions and Responsible Driving Brochure. Also included is a small card that explains where you can download the software to use the Incredible as a modem for your laptop or netbook computer. Since many wireless carriers either charge more for this sort of tethering or don’t have it available at all, this was a welcome announcement.
Depending on where and when you purchase, the Incredible may include a 2 GB micro-SD card. Our demo unit came without any SD card.
The Droid Incredible is a fully-packed smart phone with a 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU from Qualcomm (which uses ARM technology), 8 GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, an 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and autofocus, and a 480 x 800 AMOLED capacitive touch screen. It runs Android 2.1 operating system with HTC’s Sense interface. All this is packaged in a small device. The Incredible is 4.63 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick (11.76 x 5.84 x 1.19 cm) and weighs 4.59 ounces (130 g).
The design that sets the Incredible apart from the competition is seen on the back of this Droid which is shown in Figure 3. You will immediately notice the unusual asymmetrical angular design. Judging from the Droid Incredible television commercials, we assume that this design was created to appeal to the young geeky crowd. However, we think that this design will have a wide appeal. This design also feels good in the hand as it gives you a little something to hold onto. The fact that the Incredible is slightly narrower than the iPhone also makes it a little more comfortable in the hand.
Although the Incredible has a sturdy feel, it plastic parts seem to be a bit flimsy when compared to the iPhone.
[nextpage title=”The Hardware”]
The front of the Incredible, shown in Figure 4, sports a 3.7” 800 x 480 AMOLED touch screen. The screen is bright and clear except in bright sunlight. We found this to be the biggest drawback of the Incredible. If you will be constantly using it in bright sunlight, our advice would be to look at another phone. Turning the brightness up to full strength will make the screen more readable in bright sunlight, but of course, doing so will use a little extra battery power.
Under the screen are four completely flat areas that are touch-sensitive. They are marked with icons for their functions: Home, Menu, Back, and Search. Below that is an optical trackpad. This trackpad takes a little getting used to, but once you grow accustomed to it, you will find it very useful.
The small area of dark red at the top of the front of the device and the word Verizon under it is the only decorative element on the front of this very simple-looking phone.
The back of the Incredible is again shown in Figure 5. In this figure you will notice the camera near the top with a red circle around the lens. Next to that are two LED lights. Next to that is the speaker opening. Other than that, the back only has the HTC logo in the center and the Google logo near the bottom.
The sides and top of this phone are very uncluttered. The top has a sleep/power button on the right and a standard headphone jack on the left, as shown in Figure 6.
Along the left side is a volume rocker and a Micro USB connection port. We missed having a dedicated mute button, but most people won’t find that a deal-breaker.
The bottom and the right side of this phone have no buttons at all. The only thing that you see on the bottom is the microphone opening and a notch in the center that is shown in Figure 7. Placing a fingernail or an object into this notch will allow you to pop off the back of the phone for access to the battery and microSD card slot.
As seen in Figure 8, when you remove the back of the phone you find an amazingly bright red interior. You can also see the battery and the MicroSD slot, which accommodates cards up to 16 GB.
[nextpage title=”Keypad, Android & Sense OS”]
Unlike the Droid, the Incredible has no physical keyboard. Instead it relies on the on-screen keypad, which is shown in horizontal position in Figure 9. The keypad has haptic feedback which we found useful, but which can be turned off for those who don’t happen to be haptic fans.
The Incredible uses HTC’s on screen keypad which we found easier to use than the Android keypad. We found it to be the easiest on-screen keypad we have ever used. Whether thumb typing or hunt-and-pecking, the slightly wider keys made it easy to use. We even found it easier to use than the on-screen keypad on the iPhone. However, if you don’t happen to be that good with the keypad, the Incredible also offers a useful predictive text feature that gives you 3-4 other ideas for words that you may have been trying to type.
As with other touch-screen smart phones, the screen is a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. So be sure you have a cleaning cloth handy.
The Incredible uses Android 2.1 operating system which features voice recognition, Google navigation maps, and live wallpaper. All of these features are wonderful.
The voice recognition on this phone is excellent. You can simply hit the search button, then touch the microphone and speak in what you want to search for. The results appear quickly. Similarly, but even better, is being able to use your voice to create text in applications like the Incredible’s email. You simply touch the microphone and speak what you want to type. Your words are immediately translated into text. It works quite well in our testing. You can insert punctuation by simply saying the word “period” or “comma.” If the Droid doesn’t translate your words properly, you can simply hit the spacebar to erase what was typed and start over again.
Google navigation gives excellent turn-by-turn instructions. The live wallpaper is a little gimmicky, but still works well. It can show you the sky changing with the time of day and clouds floating by on a cloudy day in your location.
Besides the Android operating system, the Incredible makes use of the HTC Sense interface. Sense is like an overlay that HTC puts on top of the Android operating system. It tends to make the Android OS more user-friendly. For instance, Sense lets you have four additional home screens for a total of seven, instead of Android’s three home screens. A leap screen, which shows you a thumbnail view of all your home screens, lets you easily switch between screens without having to scroll through each one. “Friend Stream” aggregates news feeds from Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. Sense also adds a useful tabbed interface along the bottom of the email, contacts, and calendar windows. It even makes the media player more attractive.
Verizon and HTC have already announced that the Incredible will be updated to Android 2.2 Froyo, when it is available. This will add even more useful features.
[nextpage title=”Phone & Market”]
To unlock the Droid Incredible, you drag the white bar shown in Figure 10, to the bottom of the screen. We found this easier and more intuitive than many other phones like the iPhone where you slide your finger to the side of the phone to unlock the screen.
Thanks to Verizon’s network and good hardware, both the incoming and outgoing calls on the Incredible were excellent. The speaker was also loud enough for music playback and speakerphone calls. The Droid Incredible also has 3-way calling, speed-dialing , and also supports voice commands.
We didn’t encounter any dropped calls and we found with average use we could get a full day out of one charge. As with most smart phones, heavy users will have to recharge more often. One limitation of the Verizon network is that you cannot use both voice and 3G data at the same time. To some users, this may be problematic, but it won’t bother most average users.
The Android Market does not have as many apps as the iTunes store, but it does have apps that seem to cover all the basics. It also has plenty of games. Verizon has its own channel in the Market for apps that work on its phones. One of these is Verizon’s new Skype mobile service. Skype can be used on 3G as well as WiFi. Skype-to-Skype calls don’t count towards the mobile minute allotment. Also, Skype can be cheaper for International calls, so this can be a money-saver.
The Incredible also allows you to make your own folders to keep your apps organized. You can also use what they call Widgets to put often used functions on the home screen.
[nextpage title=”Additional Features”]
Like all good smart phones, the Incredible handles email admirably. It is easy to set up and supports multiple Exchange, POP, and/or IMAP accounts with a unified inbox. We were able to sync Gmail calendar and contacts easily. Exchange Active Sync allows full synchronization with exchange servers. The tabs that the Sense overlay puts at the bottom of the email make it a pleasure to use. There is even a “conversation” tab that lets you view ongoing threads.
The Incredible also supports Group Contacts which lets you separate your contacts into groups like friends, family, work, etc.
Browsing the web on the Incredible is a real pleasure. The 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and 8 GB internal flash memory give the Incredible good performance levels throughout the phone functions and this is especially noticeable when surfing the web. Screens are drawn quickly. Video and animations play with virtually no lagging or jerking.
This Droid supports pinch-to-zoom, which was incredibly smooth. When you zoom in on text, the software automatically wraps to fit the screen so you don’t have to scroll to the left and right to read the text. You can also use pinch-to-zoom on the home page, which is very useful.
The Incredible includes Flash Lite 4.0, which is not perfect, but is better than no Flash at all. It also supports most music and video file formats and codecs including MP3, WAV, WMA, MP4, 3GP, and WMV.
The Incredible also has an FM radio built-in. However, you must use headphones to listen since the cord acts as the FM antenna.
The camera on this cell phone is actually one that you can get excited about. Like everything else about the Incredible, taking a picture is speedy. We would have liked to see a dedicated camera button, but even with launching the camera app from the home screen, you can take a picture pretty quickly. The camera software is easy to use and is extensive for a cell phone. You can adjust brightness, contrast and saturation and even manually set the ISO. It even has several picture effects like grayscale, sepia, and negative. The built-in auto-focus works admirably.
With the LED lighting the 8-megapixel camera takes good pictures. It can also take videos up to 800 x480. This cell phone won’t replace your video camera. Videos can be a little pixilated and slightly jerky, but certainly adequate for YouTube and simple viewing.
The Incredible has 8GB of internal storage and supports micro-SD cards up to 16 GB, so it can hold a lot of music. The speakers are loud enough for listening without earbuds, if you like. It supports playlists and you can sync music from your PC to the phone.
Like other smart phones in the current crop, the Incredible supports Wi-Fi and stereo Bluetooth. It also has a built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor. It includes tools like calculator, alarm clock, calendar, and stopwatch. It supports threaded messaging. The only thing we found missing was a compass, but there is an app in the Market for that.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Droid Incredible cell phone main specifications are:
- Dimensions: 4.63" x 2.3" x 0.47" (11.76 x 5.84 x 1.19 cm) (H x W x D)
- Weight: 4.59 oz (180 g)
- Touch screen: 3.7" 480 x 800 WVGA AMOLED
- Technology: Dual Band CDMA2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO/1xEVDO Rev A (800/1900 MHz)
- Memory: 512 MB (ROM) and 512 MB (RAM)
- Storage: 8 GB
- Up to 16 GB of optional microSD support
- Processor: Qualcomm QSD8650 ("Snapdragon") at 1 GHz
- Operating System: Android 2.1
- Battery life: Up to 312 minutes talk time or up to 146 hours in standby
- Bluetooth v2.1+ EDR
- Camera: Eight-megapixel camera w/auto–focus and video capture
- Headset: 3.5 mm audio jack
- FM radio (wired headset required for use)
- Audio Formats Supported: Unprotected AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, MP3
- Bilingual User Interface: English/Spanish
- Advanced Speech Recognition
- Embedded Ringtones, vibrate alert and silent
- TTY compatible
- Hearing Aid Compatibility: M4/T3
- WiFi capable
- Speech to Text Feature
- More Information: https://www.htc.com
- Carrier: Verizon Wireless
- Price: USD 530 or USD 300 with a two-year contract or USD 200 with a two-year contract ordered on-line, plus cost of the selected plan
When a company give a product a name like “Incredible” you have to wonder if they are being arrogant or if they could have actually created a product that lives up to the name. In the case of the Droid Incredible, it is the second possibility. This Droid really is pretty incredible.
Overall, this phone is quite speedy. We never had to wait for it to perform a task. The Android operating system is good and the HTC Sense overlay makes it even better. It is intuitive and the main functions are easy-to-use. The speech-to-text feature is very good and very useful. All these things combine to make it a phone that will appeal to geeks, but will also be useful to everyone.
As an added plus, the camera takes good pictures and the camera interface is excellent.
- Good design
- Speedy processor
- Excellent on-screen keypad
- Haptic feedback
- Excellent browsing experience
- Good email & messaging support
- Great camera controls and interface
- Responsive touch screen
- Useful speech-to-text
- Tethering allowed
- Pinch-to-zoom auto formats text
- Sense overlay makes it easier to use
- FM radio
- Poor visibility in bright sunlight
- Battery life could be better
- No dedicated mute or camera button
- Plastic parts seem a bit flimsy