iPhone optimize

Top 10 ways the Droid Incredible killed my iPhone envy

What does it take to slay the iPhone? Sam Diaz says the Droid Incredible is more than up to the task.

Regular readers will know that I've been looking for a new smartphone for quite a while, honestly holding out for the iPhone to land in a Verizon Wireless store. But the wait is over. I have made my smartphone purchase and, quite frankly, I don't care if Apple and Verizon ever cut a deal.

The Droid Incredible by HTC is my iPhone killer.

In all fairness, I had pretty much talked myself out of the iPhone a few months ago. I had been using a loaner Motorola Droid, a device I liked from the software side but didn't really care for on the hardware side, largely because of the bulkiness from the slide-out keyboard. I wanted the iPhone-type experience, and Google and HTC -- first with the Nexus One and later with the Incredible -- seemed to be reading my wish list.

So what makes it so great? Here's my short list of reasons why the Incredible is My iPhone.

Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in ZDNet's Between the Lines blog. It's also available as a PDF download. For more images of the Incredible, check out this photo gallery.

1: Verizon Wireless

The voice service is excellent. The 3G service is great. Plus, I bought it through Verizon, not Google.

2: Tethering

Yes, I know the iPhone has unlocked that feature, but last I heard AT&T still hadn't. With the ability to use my phone's 3G connection to surf the Web on my laptop, I instantly save $35 a month by dumping the aircard.

3: Multi-tasking

Yup, Android already does that, too.

4: The Sense UI

The experience of the HTC's Sense UI on top of Google's Android software is nice. It seems to understand what users want and need, down to a ".com" button in the keyboard when I'm typing an e-mail address.

5: The Google integration

Want to know where search really rocks on Android? Within Google Maps. The search feature gives you results within the map itself of which pizza joints or ATMs or hardware stores are near you. And the GPS navigation means never needing to buy a TomTom. Likewise, Google's other products just seem to "fit" in the Android environment.

6: Google Voice

Apple may have rejected the app but Google has integrated the one-number-for-life service into the device beautifully. Now, for me, this phone has two numbers tied to it -- the main number that Verizon Wireless provided and the GV number I can manage as my work cell phone number, which means I can schedule it to not ring in the evenings or on weekends.

7: Voice input

In Android, if you can type it, you can speak it. A small microphone button appears in the on-screen keyboard that allows users to speak what they would normally type. This is not just for search but anywhere you can type -- email, SMS, maps, etc. No, it's not perfect -- but it's pretty good most of the time and getting better.

8: Facebook contacts

The address book allows you to link your contacts to their Facebook profiles or Flickr accounts so that the information they share with friends on those profiles -- maybe their birthday, home number, or private email address -- gets wrapped into the contacts card.

9: Good apps

No, Android doesn't have the gigantic app store that Apple has. But I don't really need all of those apps, either. It's got Pandora. It's got Yelp. My bank has an Android app. I can do the Fandango movie ticket thing. Sure, maybe there's no iFart app like there is for the iPhone -- but I don't really need that on my mobile device anyway.

10: Scenes vs. folders

The new iPhone will include folders on the home screens to better organize apps. Android already does that -- but the Sense UI also has "scenes," which allow you to customize your phone's home page to reflect your lifestyle of the moment. For example, when it's a work phone, the home screen has a generic wallpaper with icons for corporate mail, corporate calendar, and other work-related apps. When I'm traveling, I can place the Tripit app next to my maps app and my "Find a Starbucks" app on the home screen along with that camera icon -- because I'll be shooting a lot of pics while traveling. Finally, my "Weekends are fun" scene includes a fun picture of the Vegas weekend as a background, along with some gaming apps, my Yelp app, and my Pandora app.

Yes, I've seen what iPhone OS 4.0 will offer -- and now, thanks to Gizmodo and a careless Apple software engineer in a bar, I have also seen what the device itself will look like. It's nice -- but it hasn't "evolved" in a way that Android has. I know the Incredible will likely be topped by something better next week or next month, something flashier or more user-friendly.

The good news is that the next big thing will probably be yet another Android device that has taken something good and made it even better. Seeing what I've seen from Apple (and AT&T), I know in my heart that the next big thing won't be an iPhone. And I won't have buyer's remorse.


Sam Diaz is a senior editor at ZDNet. He has been a technology and business blogger, reporter and editor at the Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, and Fresno Bee for more than 18 years. He's a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
43 comments
MAXXout
MAXXout

I read this article and felt that Sam Diaz's point was clear and to the point, he had a desire for an iPhone but simply would not change his carrier. His search for a comparable smart phone appeared in the form of the HTC Droid Incredible. It's pretty straight forward without any hidden agendas. I don't exactly see it as a blow to any Apple fanboy ego's or an act of Droid arrogance. With that said, I personally shared the same iPhone envy as Sam. When Apple came out with their game-changing phone back in 2007, I can recall how excited I got. I looked forward to the day when the phone would appear on Verizon, but as the years progressed and rumors of a long exclusivity deal with AT&T appeared to be a growing reality, I had to search for alternatives. Nothing really appealed to me during that time. I decided to go with the LG Dare in 2008, which I was very happy with but still wanted the rich Web browsing experience that iPhone offered. When the Android OS came out I had some high hopes, unfortunately had to wait a little longer till it arrived on Verizon. The Motorola Droid would have been my next choice of phone but with rumors of the Nexus One on Verizon, I held off. Then that got canned, I almost gave up and contemplated switching networks until I heard the announcement of the Incredible. After doing the research, I made the investment. Now I'm a proud owner of an HTC Droid Incredible and I've been EXTREMELY happy with it. So I can see why everybody is getting excited and hyping the Incredible, it really is a great phone on a reliable wireless carrier. On a side note, I'm not an Apple lover; never thought much of the brand or the OS. I do commend them for the quality of their products, but I don't think the cost of their aesthetic quality merits the price they charge for their products. Hence, why I probably never went with Apple, they're just too expensive for my needs. That's my two cents. :)

kat-act
kat-act

If this is it, then I really don't even need to look forward to getting a droid phone. I can do just about everything listed with my simple Samsung Impression, granted I had to do a little moding but it does a lot of the things listed here. Love my Impression.

Ian Frazer
Ian Frazer

You forgot to mention a "biggie": No more @#$%%^&* iTunes either! You can manage your own accounts (and multiple accounts on one PC too!), your own media, etc. as -you- want to. Not how Steve Jobs wants to mange your "stuff".

chris.smith
chris.smith

In regard to item # 9, is it just me or is all this app mania seem like a gimmick? With things like web services, silverlight, flash, HTML5 (on the way), why do I need apps to do everything that can be done in the browser? Flash and Silverlight offer rich user interfaces, HTML 5 has some new cool things also. I realize the hardware hasn't been there in the past to support these platforms but with the new snapdragon and Cortex (http://gizmodo.com/5480985/why-most-current-android-phones-will-never-get-flash-101), don't you think apps will start to seem a bit redundant? I know Adobe and MS haven't fully adapted their platforms to the mobile devices, but when and if they do, I don't see the need for many of the apps that are already out there. Anyone have more insight into this?

stewartngandu
stewartngandu

I guess that is how it goes. As some jump off the iPhone boat others jump on. Let?s hope your purchase contributes to better sales figures in the next quarter because iPhone sales seem to have outstripped HTC by a mile. It?s going to take more than the Droid Incredible to slay the ?mighty iPhone?, hate it or love it but the numbers say it all, though both have increased market share the latest iPhone sales are a bit dramatic from 3.7 million to 8.7 million units in the first quarter this year this is against 1.3 million to 2.8 million units for HTC. Of course percentage wise HTC is doing as best as it can but there are still more people out there with ?iPhone envy?. I still think part of the ?iPhone envy? relates to Apples strategy to break rank and introduce a Smartphone targeted at the consumer because surprise surprise that very same consumer is the guy/gal in the suit. People are too bent on iPhone bashing that they fail to learn from Apple. June is coming and Apple is going to be at it again the iPhone 3rd gen is going to create another wave of ?iPhone envy? and from this tsunami only a few will eventually jump off. RIM is currently sitting in second position in the Smartphone market with a share of 19% down from 22% Apple is at 15% up from 11% if this is the future then the new kid on the block might just be second to the behemoth Nokia who is firmly planted at 38%. Good for you Sam but with these numbers I still think we are still to see the ultimate iPhone killer. But probably one of the most potent and yet seemingly contradictory killer is for people to simply stop obsessing over anything Apple. My theory is; for as long as everything else is being compared to the iPhone then it will always be the ?de facto gold standard? when it comes to phones. I have a friend of mine who literary boils when you mention the word iPhone and I have told him that both Apple fan boyz and Apple bashers are responsible for giving the prominence to the iPhone and now iPad that these devices enjoy. Think about it every new OS is compared to the iPhone, every new Smartphone is compare to?. When Driod came out there where no comparison lists of how it stacks out against Windows Mobile. There was a time on gsmarena where without fail every picture of a new phone always had an iPhone on the side. Every list like this one that argues why it should be another phone simply entrenches the iPhone as the benchmark. This kind of publicity has created a situation where one phone has literary slain whole arms of phones. Though it might seem like a task and a half but at this rate it might not be that surprising to see the iPhone toppling Nokia's dominance of the Smartphone market. And why not, the iPod generation will be hitting the job market soon; I wonder what phones they will be using. To give you a hint, a group of young teenage girls is sitting at an ice cream parlour at the mall, one of them pulls out a phone with a very big grin on her face and suddenly the whole table explodes, ?On my gosh, on my gosh it?s an iPhone. Shut up girl. I am like so jealous. I hear like it?s the greatest phone ever.? These might not look like cooperate users today but they will be tomorrow?. Behold the future. ; -)

stso9daa
stso9daa

does it have Remote Desk Top and/or VPN support? Yes, the features on a phone are a bit of a stretch, but it can still be done...

stso9daa
stso9daa

does it have Remote Desk Top and/or VPN support? Yes, the features on a phone are a bit of a stretch, but it can still be done...

paul
paul

By the way - there is a fart app, just in case you were wondering.

evholganza
evholganza

Greatly depends on what type of user you are. If your an application geek, then iPhone suits your needs. Otherwise, use HTC for practical apps.

bacvama
bacvama

Sam Diaz, you're behind the times dude. You should have done some research before you wrote this. OS 4 (June 2010) will have a bunch of the things you complain are "not there" (2, 3, 5, 10). 3 of the things listed (4, 8, 9) are already there in the iPhone. The only thing that isn't, and everyone is hoping is coming, is 1. That has to do with Verizon not allowing you to talk and surf the web at the same time and nothing to do with the phone itself. Journalism 101 man. Take a class.

JustDave
JustDave

I would add a few: 1. Ability to change the battery (and carry a spare). 2. Can pick your carrier (All of the major ones in the US have Android phones (Although AT&T has not released theirs yet) 3. Open standards. No one decides what kind of apps I can have except me. 4. Hardware keyboard available ('nuff said!) OK, 2 & 4 just apply to the set of all android phones, not necessarily the incredible.

ffly
ffly

I wanna know if the Droid phone will let me voice dial a number from a Bluetooth headset without touching the phone,the Iphone will not I know but my Motorola v3xx phone will and very well too.

abc123a
abc123a

I am glad the author likes his Android phone. I simply love my iPhone and it works for me.

willmuny
willmuny

find a way to search mail on the server like with a BB or an iphone, find a way to synchronise 50 podcast and I will re-consider android. i'ts not usable for me. The most usefull apps on android are task killer and the battery usage report. it's allow you to get more than 16 meg of ram after the boot and maid me understand that a clock sync app killed my battery in two hours. The point is I also use this kind of device... as a phone. I can't test every app on a second device to see if it's kill my phone or not and get it on a "production " phone.

TSaL
TSaL

I love the phone!!!

stevedtech
stevedtech

Thanks for the post. I was wondering about the extent of GPS capabilities (since I too am considering the purchase of a TomTom). Will the GPS functions work when you are out of the service area, ie good for camping trips, hikes etc?

adakar_sg
adakar_sg

If you love it buy another one so you dont have to switch to an inferior phone if it dies :) Personally the best part about the android is the amount of change i can make to it... you stand free to do what ever you want with all aspects of the phone

Ian Frazer
Ian Frazer

Forgot to put that in the Title.

david.hunt
david.hunt

Two simple points:- 1. I, like may others live and work in a regional area. That means that network connectivity is intermittent and sometimes just unavailable. I still want access to my data, even if the network isn't available. 2. My data is my data. When someone stuffs up in another company in another country and your bank account credentials are discovered at the local dump, I'm sure you will be forgiving when they say "Sorry, it was an unforseeable accident, or we've terminated the person responsible, or you should have read the fine print where it said "best endeavours". It's bad enough that my next device will have to integrate my PDA with a phone and thus provide network access to my credential store, albeit encrypted when not actually in use.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Why would I expose my data to the questionable security practices and potential down time of a remote third party when I can use local applications and retain control of my information? There are also several applications for which there is no browser accessed alternative. Requiring a third party abstraction layer plugin in addition to all the code already running behind the browser also makes Flash, Silverlight, Air and undesired requirements more often overused for "bling" instead of functionality. I'm sure the security will improve and public facing webapps will mature and have there time and place. I just don't look for ways to rely on them more personally.

Jye75
Jye75

I love this app too!

emoyer
emoyer

I have the driod and I can surf the web and talk at the same time.

MAXXout
MAXXout

Sam has a very good reason to give up hope on iPhone coming to Verizon. The reason why the elusive Apple phone has been unable to appear on the Verizon network is due to a 5 year exclusivity agreement between AT&T and Apple, Engadget posted this article a few days ago: http://bit.ly/dmvya3. So unfortunately for anybody on Verizon wishing for an iPhone, that will probably never happen. Unless of course, Apple is making something new for Verizon, who knows(wishful thinking).

bpcallahan
bpcallahan

You say that you can't talk on the phone and surf the web on Verizon. That simply is not true. I can do both at the same time with my Droid. I think AT&T needs to be honest with their marketing ploys.

wcbrow
wcbrow

I think that in your haste to post a scathing reply to this article, you may have forgotten to check it's title. Just so you know, it wasn't "Why the Incredible is better than the iPhone". The author is trying to describe why he's no longer envious of all of us that have and love iPhones. Yes, I include myself in that group, because I'm generally a huge Apple fanboy, but I generally like to think of myself as objective. Which means that, to me, all of Sam's points are valid when comparing to two devices and their respective services for the intent of this post. He doesn't have to be jealous of future Apple offerings because he has them NOW. He doesn't have to care about the often-touted multitude of apps, because he has all that he needs. And probably most importantly to him, he's got something that we may never have with Apple: a certain degree of freedom to choose what he wants for his phone. Objectively, I may be a little envious of him now. Of course, I think you'd have to take my whole arm to get my iPhone away from me.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Buy hardware that has the desired functions now. or Buy hardware that may get the desired functions in the future. In addition, you still have to criminalize yourself by jailbreaking your legally purchased iPhone to get full functionality beyond what Apple approves you for. (unless Apple fails to block the addition of the Iphone to the DMCA exceptions list) I'm personally not rooting for either side of this one though. What the Iphone does do, it does very well but doesn't do what I need. The Android devices offer the open back end and a growing third party developer community but as someone else put so well "it is the most pleasant invasion of privacy" with how Google's services seamlessly wire themselves in. I shouldn't be mistaken for a bias promoter of either device.

JustDave
JustDave

My G-1 does it and it is an earlier version of the OS than the Incredible.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

...too bad it's the bane of most IT Departments who have to deal with the bloated iTunes installations that you guys insist on having.

jgingrey
jgingrey

changed their position of charging a monthly fee for tethering regardless of already paying a monthly data plan?

rngunter
rngunter

With the plethora of devices out there I can't speak for all but, it's my understanding that most of the GPS enabled phones use signals from stationary object on the ground, i.e. cell phone towers, unlike their traditional GPS counterparts who pick up signals from satellites. So, if you're out of range from a tower (or towers) you loose GPS. If you're serious about needing a GPS while hiking/camping/etc. I'd spend the money and get a real GPS with reliability in the wilderness.

Zontago
Zontago

Steve, I have been using a Windows Mobile phone now for two years. I completely hate it! I would like to move over to Android but your envy with Android seems to be only applicable to yourself. Happy that it works for you but what about map coverage for other Countries? And who the hell is AT&T? There are one specific application that I can't live without, and that is Garmin Mobile XT. I will have to wait for Garmin or someone to wake up and "re-write" the app to work on Android first.

chris.smith
chris.smith

I would assume if you use myspace/Facebook/Twitter or web based email, your private data is already exposed. What about using a credit card on a website? I still think the apps thing is a bit of a gimmick. You can do so many of these things in a web browser. Granted there are cases where you need an app but for the most part, you can do most things in a browser. I mean that's basically the purpose of chrome OS and the whole cloud thing everyone is jumping into. It's just two different philosophies but I feel like most apps are redundant and if safari supported more web technologies, they would not be needed. I do have an iPad but really as I look through the app store, I see so many apps that can be done in a web browser. The only thing apple brought to the table with the app store was a consistent look and feel and the cookie cutter idea of an app as a stand alone entity.

stewartngandu
stewartngandu

I wish everyone can be as objective as you. Too often people get caught up in the hating and become overly defensive. I even think the tone in your response is better than Sam?s but that?s just me. An objective Apple fanboy, now all we need is an objective Apple basher. LOL!

bpcallahan
bpcallahan

This statement is not correct. Most smartphones have both the AGPS and GPS capability. My Droid can use AGPS, (cell phone tower), to approximate location, but turn on the GPS, and you are receiving location information from the GPS satellites.

tr
tr

Tower triangulation and GPS are two different things. They both get you a location but GPS coordinates are more accurate and do not depend upon signal from a tower.

rajesh.pillai
rajesh.pillai

Most of the modern smartphones have built in GPS, exmples are Droid, iPhone, Nokia N900 etc. They have something known as AGPS or Assisted GPS. Normal GPS will take a while on startup to get the co-ordinates. to overcome this situation AGPS will initially use cell phone towers to idetify your location, once GPS gets it's co-ordinates the device will use the GPS buit in the phone for location information.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You can "test" android map coverage by visiting Google Maps and then searching for local address's. Android makes use of the same Google Maps data.

rngunter
rngunter

AT&T is a cell phone carrier in the United States.

Zontago
Zontago

Hi Neon, thanks for the reply. I was actually being a bit sarcastic since the writer of this column just assumed that the rest of the world is using AT&T as a service provider. Secondly he also assumed that Google Maps have detailed coverage of the whole world. I wish this was the case, but sadly the reality is that there are MANY service providers and countries which only Garmin can provide maps for. How about getting a utility to export Garmin maps into Google?? ;-)