You also get a new Group Contacts widget, which lets you, well, organize your contacts by groups. For example, you can set up one for work colleagues, another for friends, and another for just family--whatever you please. The UI looks good, and it's simple to add contacts to a group, though removing them requires a few extra steps.
Another feature called Friend Stream provides a single place for all your social-networking needs, piping in updates from Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr all into a single place. Unlike Motoblur, it's not server-based; the phone connects to the sites and pulls information directly from there.
By far, our favorite new feature, however, is the Leap screen. By pinching the home screen (or pressing the home button if you're on the center panel), it brings up a thumbnail view of all your home screen panels, so if you have your favorite apps and widgets on those screens, you easily "leap" to the screen you want and access them. The Droid Incredible offers seven home screen panels, and there are different "Scenes," which presents a whole new set of seven home screen panels that you can customize by the theme of the Scene (Social, Work, Travel, Play, and so forth). Admittedly, it can be overwhelming, but the best part is that you can use as many or as few of the features as you want; the device is completely customizable to your needs.
Behind HTC Sense, the Droid Incredible is running Android 2.1, which means you'll get the latest features available, including live wallpaper, voice-to-text capabilities, and Google Maps Navigation. The smartphone also comes with the usual Android staples, such as Gmail, Google Talk, a dedicated YouTube app, QuickOffice, and Android Market. HTC throws in a couple of its own extras as well, including its Twitter app, Peep, and Footprints, which allows you to geotag photos and add notes and audio clips to the "digital postcards," among other things. In addition, Verizon has its own channel in the Android Market, so you can easily find and download apps specific to the carrier, such as Visual Voice Mail, VZW Tones, V Cast Media Manager, and NFL Mobile.
Aside from Gmail, the smartphone supports multiple POP3, IMAP, and Exchange accounts and combines them in a unified in-box. There's a setup wizard when you first use to the device to help you bring in all your contacts from your various accounts, including the aforementioned e-mail types, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Often it's as simple as entering your user name and password, but you may need additional information when setting up your Exchange account. The Droid Incredible can sync your Exchange calendar and contacts as well. That said, we had some initial problems syncing our Exchange calendar to the Droid Incredible and had to remove and then add our account again to get it to work.
The contact management system is pretty good. If any of your contacts have Facebook updates, it will display them right next to their picture in the contact database. Again, Sense has done of nice job of making it easy to access as much information as possible with little effort. For example, you can see all your exchanges (text messages, call logs, etc.) with a single person from their contact card, and all your contacts are accessible within the phone app. However, we still had multiple instances of duplicate contacts and had to go back and manually link them together.
As a phone, the Droid Incredible offers a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view. Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, and integrated Wi-Fi are also onboard, and Verizon has said that the Skype Mobile app will be available for the Droid Incredible. The smartphone has the same WebKit browser as the Nexus One and Droid and offers Flash Lite and pinch-to-zoom support. If you want to use voice and data at the same time, you'll have to connect via Wi-Fi, because Verizon does not allow you use their network for voice and data simultaneously. The basic but drab music and video player have never been a selling point for Android, and that's still the case with the Droid Incredible, though HTC Sense adds a slightly more attractive interface to the player. Most important, however, is that it gets the job done and supports a good range of music and video codecs, including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, OGG, WMV, MP4, and 3GP. In addition, there's an FM radio, but it requires a headset with a built-in tuner, which Verizon does not include in the box.
There are plenty of streaming radio services available in the Android Market, however, and there are several ways to get music onto the phone. Android doesn't have a native app for syncing your music from your PC to your phone, so you can either connect via USB and use the old drag-and-drop method or use a third-party app such as DoubleTwist to sync with iTunes playlists, podcasts, and more. Of course, you can also browse and purchase songs right from your phone via the Amazon MP3 Store, but it doesn't come preloaded, so you'll have to download it first. Storing your media files won't be a problem since the Droid Incredible offers 8GB of internal memory and an expansion slot that supports up to 16GB cards.
Another area where the Droid Incredible bests the current crop of top smartphones is the camera. Rocking an 8-megapixel lens and dual LED flash, the smartphone took excellent photos indoors and outdoors. Pictures had a good color and sharp definition, and there was very little shutter lag. Nighttime shots still looked a bit gray and dull, but it was certainly better than most other camera phones, and objects were clearly defined in the image. The camera can also shoot video at WVGA resolution; the video quality was acceptable but a tad grainy.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) HTC Droid Incredible in New York using Verizon service, and call quality was good, though not without issue. We enjoyed clear conversations with very little background noise or voice distortion, and there was plenty of volume--almost piercing at the highest level. Friends also reported good results with no major complaints about the audio quality on their side of the conversation. Though we didn't experience any dropped calls, there were a couple of instances where the sound cut out so we couldn't hear our caller. The situation was easily resolved by moving to a new spot, but it was nevertheless a bit annoying.
Speakerphone quality was nothing surprising. We could carry on conversations with relative ease and there was enough volume to continue in noisier environments, but callers did note that there was a slight echo. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Heaphones with no problem.
Verizon's 3G network provided reliable 3G coverage throughout our testing period and with swift speeds to boot. CNET's full site loaded in 16 seconds, and CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 4 seconds and 5 seconds, respectively. Meanwhile, the Slacker Radio app (1.02MB) took 11 seconds to download from the Android Market. YouTube videos took a few seconds to buffer, but once going played continuously, though quality was a mixed bag. We had much better luck with our own MP4 files as clips played back beautifully with clear picture and robust sound. Despite having a lackluster music player, songs sounded rich and full through our on Bose On-Ear headphones.
Out of everything, though, the one aspect of the Droid Incredible that absolutely knocked our socks off is general performance. The smartphone is armed with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB ROM and 512MB RAM and the Droid Incredible was one of the most responsive and fastest Android devices; heck, one of the fastest smartphones in general, that we've tested to date. The handset handled every task we threw at it without stumbling, and even with six open apps open, the Incredible never slowed down.
The smartphone comes with a 1,300mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5.2 hours. In our battery drain tests the Droid Incredible provided 5.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. In real-life usage, the smartphone was able to last just over day on a single charge with moderate use. According to FCC radiation tests, the Droid Incredible has a digital SAR rating of 1.4 watts per kilogram and a Hearing Aid Compatibility rating of M4/T3.