Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Editors' note: Portions of this review were taken from our evaluation of the HTC Incredible S, since the two phones share a number of similarities.
One of our favorite smartphones from 2010 was the HTC Droid Incredible. The smartphone's zippy performance and polished user experience helped earn it an Editors' Choice Award. Obviously, its day has come and gone, but it's not the end of the line. HTC unveiled its successor, the HTC Incredible S, at Mobile World Congress 2011 and it's finally made its way to the States and back to Verizon Wireless as the HTC Droid Incredible 2. Available now for $199.99 with a two-year contract, the Android device has some large shoes to fill and is facing a lot more competition this time around. Is it up to the task? The answer is yes and no. Read on for more.
At first glance, the HTC Droid Incredible 2 looks pretty plain, largely because 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 Droid Incredible 2 is completely boring. If you flip the phone over, you'll see that the back features a topographic design, much like on 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 2 measures 4.75 inches tall by 2.52 inches wide by 0.48 inch thick and weighs 4.77 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, but gone are the red interior and accents that gave the Droid Incredible an attractive splash of color.
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. Helping phone navigation is HTC's Sense user interface, which brings a host of helpful interface tools and customization options, as well as a faster boot time. 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.
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.
The HTC Droid Incredible 2 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a preinstalled 16GB microSD card, a SIM card, and reference material.
The HTC Droid Incredible 2 is really more of an incremental upgrade to the original model, and as such, you won't see some of the latest technology and software on the handset, which is sure to disappoint some. That said, we are happy to see the addition of world-roaming capabilities. The Droid Incredible 2 is a dual-mode handset, meaning that it supports both CDMA and GSM networks. Here in the States, it will continue to run on Verizon's CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A network as usual, but once abroad, the phone will automatically detect and switch to a GSM network.
The Droid Incredible 2 comes with a SIM card preinstalled, but Verizon has a policy where it will unlock the SIM provided that you've been a customer for more than 60 days and are in good financial standing. Unlocking the SIM gives you the freedom to swap out the SIM card for, say, a prepaid SIM you purchase from an international carrier.
Other voice features of the smartphone include a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. It also comes with a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera and Skype Mobile for video calls. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS are all onboard, but if you're looking for 4G support, you should probably look elsewhere. The Droid Incredible 2 is 3G-only. Using Ookla's Speedtest.net app, we averaged download speeds of 1.32Mbps and upload speeds of 0.54Mbps. It's a far cry from the data speeds we got on the 4G-capable HTC ThunderBolt, but the upside is that your battery won't run out after several hours. The smartphone also offers mobile hot-spot capabilities for up to five devices. To use this feature, you will need to sign up for a Mobile Broadband plan, which costs $20 per month and has a 2GB data cap (Verizon charges 5 cents per MB for overage fees).
The Droid Incredible 2 ships running Android 2.2.1 and not Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Verizon said that it's not sharing any details on whether it will bring the latest Android OS to the handset but added that it is committed to delivering the latest experience to its customers. Given that the Incredible S is due to get the Gingerbread update during the second quarter of this year, we think it's pretty safe to say that the Droid Incredible 2 will also get it at some point.
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, Slacker Radio, Blockbuster, 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. Being a Verizon phone, the smartphone also comes preloaded with a number of the carrier's services, such as V Cast Videos and Music, VZ Navigator, and NFL Mobile, but unfortunately, you can't uninstall these apps.
There aren't a whole lot of changes in the multimedia department. The media player supports your standard music and video codecs and features player controls, such as shuffle, repeat, and on-the-fly playlist creation. The phone is also equipped with SRS surround sound technology. You can transfer files from your PC to your phone using the drag-and-drop method, or you can use software like DoubleTwist to sync up your media. The Incredible 2 offers about 1GB of internal memory and ships with a 16GB microSD card. The expansion slot can support up to 32GB cards.
The camera remains the same at 8 megapixels but it adds 720p HD video recording and built-in camera effects. Picture quality was OK. Like a lot of camera phones, it had trouble with photos taken in dimly lit environments. More specifically, colors came out looking slightly dull and there was often a pinkish or yellowish hue. However, the objects in the photos were sharp, and we were quite happy with shots taken outdoors. Video quality was impressive; the picture had good clarity and showed a lot of detail.
We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC Droid Incredible 2 in New York using Verizon Wireless service and call quality was mostly good. The phone now has integrated noise-cancellation technology, and we didn't detect any background noise, nor did our callers. There was no voice distortion, but there were occasions where voices sounded muffled on our end, so we had a hard time understanding our friends.
HTC Droid Incredible 2 call quality sample Listen now:
Speakerphone quality was decent. The audio was clear and didn't have the typical tinny or hollow sound that often plagues speakerphones. There was also enough volume to still hold conversations in noisier environments. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and had no problems making calls or listening to music.
On Verizon's 3G network, CNET's full site loaded in 18 seconds, and the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN both came up in 5 seconds. High-quality YouTube clips loaded in several seconds. Playback was continuous for the most part, though there were a couple of points where the video did stutter. We also watched videos from Verizon's V Cast and NFL Mobile services and they played without problems, though quality was a little murky.
The Droid Incredible 2 has 768MB RAM and is powered by a second-generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor. Though some will scoff at the fact that it doesn't have a dual-core processor, most of you should rest easy knowing that the smartphone performed smoothly during our review period. Apps launched almost immediately, and we were able to navigate and interact with the phone with minimal delay.
The HTC Droid Incredible 2 ships with a 1,450mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6.5 hours and 15 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests the smartphone delivered 6.25 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. Anecdotally, we saw better battery performance on the Droid Incredible 2 than the original model. With moderate use (e-mail, some Web browsing, and music and video playback), we were able to go a full day before needing to recharge at night. According to FCC radiation tests, the Droid Incredible 2 has a digital SAR rating of 1.29W/kg and a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M4/T4.
The HTC Droid Incredible 2 might not be the shining star the first Droid Incredible was, and those who crave the power of 4G or a dual-core processor should definitely check out the HTC ThunderBolt or wait for the Samsung Droid Charge or Motorola Droid Bionic. That said, the Droid Incredible 2 does improve on its predecessor and is a much more refined product. The versatile smartphone is also a welcome addition to Verizon's world phone portfolio, which was a little heavy on the business-oriented models. We think $199.99 is slightly high for what you get but even so, we'd say that the HTC Droid Incredible 2 is one of Verizon's top world phones.