Editors' note: Portions of the user interface section were taken from our review of the HTC Legend, since they share similar features.
When you put an adjective like Incredible in a product name, it better deliver the goods, otherwise you end up looking pretty foolish and probably have a bunch of angry customers on your hands. Fortunately for HTC and Verizon, though, it looks like this won't be the case because the Droid Incredible lives up to its name and then some. While the Android 2.1 smartphone doesn't offer any new, groundbreaking features, what it does better than any other Android product on the market right now, including the Motorola Droid and Nexus One, is enhancing those features with better software (courtesy of HTC Sense) and combining it with a sleek design and lots of power.
Though a lot of eyes may be on the Sprint HTC Evo 4G and we have little quibbles here and there, we have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the Droid Incredible. It's hands-down Verizon's best smartphone, and one of the best and fastest Android devices on the market right now, so much so that we deem it worthy of our Editors' Choice award. The Droid Incredible by HTC will be available from Verizon Wireless on April 29 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate.
The Droid Incredible is another example of HTC's and Design & Company's handiwork. Though the overall shape and design is similar to many touch-screen smartphones on the market, it's the finer details and the HTC Sense user experience (more on this later) that make the Droid Incredible different and a step above the rest.
Roughly the same size as the Nexus One, the Droid Incredible officially measures in at 4.63 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick and 4.59 ounces. It does feel a bit plasticky compared with the Nexus One, but it also finally gives Verizon customers (well, those who can live without a physical keyboard) a viable alternative to the Motorola Droid, as it still offers some of the higher-end features, such as the Snapdragon processor and high-resolution display, that are missing on the carrier's other Android device, the Droid Eris.
Oh, and what a beautiful display that graces the mug of the Droid Incredible. The capacitive touch screen measures 3.7 inches diagonally and has a WVGA resolution (480x800) just like the Nexus One, but in a side-by-side comparison, the Incredible's display appears smoother and more vibrant than that of the Nexus One.
In addition, it felt more responsive, registering every touch right away and providing a smooth scrolling experience. The built-in accelerometer was quick to change screen orientation, and the proximity sensor kicks in as soon as you hold the phone up to your ear to take a phone call. Our only complaint about the screen would be that it's pretty hard to read in bright sunlight and like many others, the touch screen is an absolute magnet for fingerprints and smudges, so we'd recommend keeping a screen wipe close by at all times.
The onscreen keyboard is HTC's own rather than the standard Android keyboard, which is fine by us since the buttons are slightly bigger for easier typing, especially in portrait mode. We made fewer mistakes and could type a bit faster on the Incredible than the Nexus One. That said, we were definitely jonesing for Swype after having experienced how fast and accurate it could be. Currently, Swype for Android is in closed beta.
Below the display, you have four touch-sensitive shortcut keys--home, menu, back, and search--and below them is a new optical joystick. Much like the ones found on the HTC Legend and the HTC Desire, it replaces the trackball navigator found on previous devices and operates much like a trackpad; you simply move your thumb over the control in the direction you want to move and you can even press down to select an item. Overall, it works as advertised, but the smaller size of the button makes it a bit awkward at first. In general, we used it mostly to scroll and select a smaller item on a Web site, such as a link, and used the touch screen for everything else.
There are very few other physical buttons on the Droid Incredible. On the left side, there's a volume rocker and a Mini-USB port and on top of the device, you'll find a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack. As with most all handsets, the camera and in this case, the dual LED flash, are housed in the back but what's unusual about the Droid Incredible is the back's topographic design and the phone's innards. Instead of a smooth surface, the battery door has bumps and ridges, and it's only after you pop it off that you realize it actually follows the lines of the internal parts of the phone. You'll notice that the insides of the phone are red. Does it add any value to the smartphone? No. But can we appreciate that HTC wanted to highlight some of the engineering that went into the device and make it beautiful inside and out? Absolutely.
Verizon packages the Droid Incredible with just the bare minimum: an AC adapter, a USB cable, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Many have asked about the difference between the Droid Incredible and the Nexus One, and one of the key differentiators is HTC Sense. The Droid Incredible uses Sense, whereas the Nexus One uses the standard Android user interface.
While there will be purists who prefer the standard Android skin, in most cases, we'd choose a device running Sense, and we think it's something that actually gives the Droid Incredible a competitive advantage. Out of all our custom skins for Android (Motoblur, TouchWiz, etc.), Sense is our absolute favorite. Not only does it give Android a more user-friendly interface, it actually, in many cases, improves on the core functions by better integrating the features.
Just like the Legend and Desire, the Droid Incredible runs the newer version of HTC Sense, which was announced at Mobile World Congress 2010. This includes a revamped mail widget that can take you to a list view of all your e-mail instead of just one message at a time. Once in the mail app, there's a handy tabbed interface at the bottom that lets you view unread messages, attachments, meeting invites, and more with a simple touch. The Agenda widget also now displays your whole agenda on the screen, and like the HTC HD2, you get an animated weather widget right on the home screen that automatically displays the current conditions based on your location.