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

The smartphone's multimedia capabilities aren't that much different from the Droid Incredible's. The built-in media player supports a variety of music and video formats, including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, WMV, MP4, and 3GP. The music player has all the usual functions (repeat, shuffle, on-the-fly playlist creation) and features a Cover Flow-like interface. The Incredible S is also outfitted with SRS surround-sound technology and a built-in equalizer (in headphone mode), so you can enhance the audio.

We were pretty disappointed with the picture quality.

The camera remains the same at 8 megapixels, but the software now includes some extra tools, such as built-in effects. Unfortunately, picture quality fell a bit flat. Photos taken indoors came out rather dull and with a pinkish hue, and using the flash tended to blow out the picture. We had better luck using the camera outdoors, as colors were a bit brighter. The camera can record 720p HD video, and the quality was decent for a camera phone. An HDMI port would have been nice.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC Incredible S using AT&T and T-Mobile service in New York, and call quality was OK. We didn't notice any disruptive background noise nor did we experience any dropped calls during our review period. However, voices tended to sound a bit muffled, so at times we'd have to ask our callers to repeat themselves. Fortunately for our friends, they didn't have the same experience; most reported good results on their end.

HTC Incredible S call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality left much to be desired, as calls sounded pretty hollow. There was enough volume to hear callers in a slightly noisy environment, such as in a room with a TV on, but beyond that, the speaker tends to be drowned out. We were able to pair the Incredible S with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones to make calls and listen to music.

Using T-Mobile's 3G network, CNET's full page loaded in 1 minute and 15 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 9 seconds and 13 seconds, respectively. YouTube videos took just several seconds to load, including HQ clips, and played back without interruption. We loaded a couple of MPEG-4 videos from our personal library and they looked very nice on the smartphone's Super LCD screen. The SRS surround-sound technology definitely brings a fuller and richer audio experience, particularly through headphones.

The Incredible S is equipped with a second-generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor and has more RAM than the Droid Incredible (768MB versus 512MB), and general performance on the smartphone was quite snappy. We didn't experience too much lag, and even tasks like launching the camera felt quick.

The HTC Incredible S ships with a 1,450mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 10 hours (2G)/6 hours (3G) and up to 12 days (2G)/15 days (3G) of standby time. We were able to get 6.25 hours of continuous talk time over 3G in our battery drain tests.

In today's market, the HTC Incredible S may seem a little underwhelming when compared with all the dual-core, 4G goodness coming down the pike. However, it's important to remember that not everyone wants the latest and greatest, and it would be a shame to overlook the Incredible S based on the lack of certain specs, as it is an improved and refined smartphone.

We wouldn't necessarily recommend buying the phone unlocked, since it's a bit pricey for what you're getting, but if the rumors about it being Verizon-bound are true, we think the Incredible S will make for a nice midrange option, as long as--and this is the key factor--it's priced appropriately.

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