HTC Incredible S (unlocked) review: HTC Incredible S (unlocked)

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HTC Incredible S (unlocked)

(Part #: INCREDIBLESULK)
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars 2 user reviews

The Good The HTC Incredible S features a crisp 4-inch, Super LCD multitouch screen. The HTC Sense UI provides a slick user experience and generally snappy performance.

The Bad The Incredible S runs the older Android 2.2 OS. Call quality and camera quality could be better.

The Bottom Line The HTC Incredible S might not impress the tech enthusiast crowd, but it works as a midtier Android smartphone, offering some nice improvements over its predecessor.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

One of our favorite smartphones from 2010 was the HTC Droid Incredible. The smartphone's zippy performance and polished user experience helped earn itself an Editors' Choice Award. Obviously, its day has come and gone, but it's not the end of the line. HTC unveiled the next-generation HTC Incredible S at Mobile World Congress 2011, revealing an improved though not revolutionary follow-up. It's not available with a U.S. carrier yet, but HTC was kind enough to send us an unlocked model , which is available now for around $550. There is also a rumor that a CDMA version of the phone will surface at Verizon Wireless this summer as the Droid Incredible 2, so again, if you're curious about what to expect, you can check out our preview here.

Design
At first glance, the HTC Incredible S looks pretty plain, largely due to the fact that the controls beneath the display aren't visible when the phone is turned off or in standby mode. It may not be very striking, but there's also a beauty in its clean and minimalistic look. Plus, that's not to say that the Incredible S is completely boring. If you flip the phone over, you'll see that the back features a topographic design, much like the HTC Droid Incredible. It's purely a cosmetic touch that may or may not appeal to your personal tastes, but as long as it doesn't interfere with using the phone--and it doesn't--then we're OK with it.

The Incredible S measures 4.72 inches tall by 2.52 inches wide by 0.46 inch thick and weighs 4.78 ounces. It's slightly bigger than the Droid Incredible but remains pretty sleek, thanks to the tapered edges. A nice soft-touch finish coats the back and sides of the handset.


The Incredible S gets upgraded to a 4-inch Super LCD.

Gracing the front of the phone is a 4-inch, 480x800-pixel Super LCD touch screen. It's an upgrade in size and quality from the Droid Incredible, as the Super LCD technology offers better contrast and wider viewing angles than regular LCDs. We definitely noticed the difference, as text and images looked sharper and more vibrant on the brilliant screen, and it holds its own against the iPhone 4's retina display and Samsung's Super AMOLED touch screens. That said, the screen does wash out in bright sunlight.

The multitouch screen has a built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor and felt very responsive during our testing; launching applications, scrolling through menus or home screens, and using the pinch-to-zoom gesture posed no problems. Easing phone navigation is HTC's Sense user interface, which brings a host of helpful interface tools and customization options. You can read more about HTC Sense in our full review of the HTC Inspire 4G. We have to say that HTC's virtual keyboard doesn't feel quite as fast as some of its competitors, but the layout is roomy and we found it easy to use.


Like the Droid Incredible before it, the Incredible S features an interesting topographical design on the back.

Below the display, you get the usual Android shortcuts--home, menu, back, and search. However, HTC has added a cool touch: when you rotate the phone to landscape mode, the icons also rotate. Is it an earth-shattering feature? No, but we appreciate the attention to such fine details.

On the left side of the phone, there's a volume rocker and a Micro-USB port. The right spine is devoid of any controls, but we would have loved a dedicated camera button. The top of the device houses the 3.5mm headphone jack and power button, and sitting on the upper right side, just above the display, is the 1.3-megapixel front camera. On the back you'll find an 8-megapixel camera and dual LED flash.

Features
The HTC Incredible S runs Android 2.2.1, which is a bit disappointing, but the smartphone is due to get the Android 2.3 Gingerbread update during the second quarter of this year. Gingerbread brings such additions and improvements as better power management, NFC support, and Internet calling via SIP. For now, you'll have to make do with Froyo, which really will take care of the major things, such as contact and calendar management, social networking integration, and a full Web browser.

In addition, there are core apps on the device to get you started, as well as some extras, including the Quickoffice suite, a Reader for Android app for e-books, HTC's Peep Twitter client, an FM radio, and an alarm clock. As of this writing, the Android Market has more than 150,000 apps in its catalog, so if there's something you need, there's a good chance you'll find it there. You can save apps to the phone's internal memory (1.1GB) or to a microSD card.

As a phone, the Incredible S offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS are all onboard, along with mobile hot-spot capabilities. The smartphone is 3G-capable with support for the 850/1700/2100MHz UMTS bands, compatible with T-Mobile's 3G network. If using the phone with an AT&T SIM, you'll only get EDGE speeds.

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