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Hardware

HTC Droid Incredible review: Everything you need to know

The HTC Incredible has arrived as one of the most powerful Android smartphones on the market. Learn the pros and cons of the Incredible as a business device.

For those who had been waiting for the Google Nexus One to arrive on Verizon Wireless, the HTC Incredible stepped into the void to offer a high-end, touchscreen-only Android phone that can stand toe-to-toe with any device in the smartphone market.

Here is our full review of what the Incredible has to offer and its pros and cons as a business device.

Rather than overwhelming you with a long narrative, TechRepublic product reviews give you exactly the information you need to evaluate the product, along with plenty of photos, a list of competing products, and links to more information. You can find more reviews like this one on our Product Spotlight page.

Specifications

  • Carrier: Verizon Wireless
  • OS: Android 2.1, with HTC Sense UI
  • Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (QSD8650)
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Storage: 8GB Flash + microSD slot (add up to 32GB card)
  • Display: 3.7-inch AMOLED, 480x800 WVGA
  • Battery: Lithium-ion with 1300 mAh capacity; up to 313 minutes of talk time
  • Charger: Micro-USB
  • Weight: 4.6 ounces (130 grams)
  • Dimensions: 4.63 x 2.30 x 0.47 inches (117.5 x 58.5 x 11.9 mm)
  • Camera: 8MP with auto-focus, flash, and video capture
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
  • Keyboard: Virtual QWERTY keyboard only
  • Networks: Dual-band (800 and 1900MHz) CDMA2000 1xRTT/1xEVDO/1xEVDO rev. A
  • Tethering: USB
  • Price: $199 (with 2-year contract)

Photo gallery

Click the image below to go to a full photo gallery of the HTC Incredible, including unboxing, software, and hardware photos.

Who's it for?

Knowledge workers who want a high-end touch-screen smartphone on Verizon Wireless (in the U.S.) will be attracted to the HTC Incredible (also called the Droid Incredible by Verizon). Businesses that need strong device security and manageability will still be more attracted to BlackBerry, but those who want a better mobile Web experience and more third party applications in an open ecosystem will be drawn to Android devices like the Incredible.

What problems does it solve?

The Verizon Droid was released in October 2009 and has been a very popular device. However, its slide down keyboard made it a little thicker and more bulky than it needed to be and the keyboard itself wasn't that great. In fact, many users reported rarely using the hardware keyboard. The Google Nexus One came out a few months later and offered an all touchscreen device with a high-end hardware profile, but it was only available through Google with service from T-Mobile (and later AT&T). The HTC Incredible offers a similar form factor to the Nexus One, as a touchscreen-only device, but pairs it with a more robust data network in Verizon Wireless.

Standout features

  • High-end hardware - The Incredible pushes the envelope on smartphone hardware with its CPU, display, and camera (although Sprint's HTC EVO kicks it up even higher). As fast as the smartphone market is developing right now, it makes sense for power uses to buy the most advanced smartphone that you can, especially since you'll probably have the device for two years.
  • Verizon network - Verizon offers the most widespread 3G network in the U.S. and also does well on reliability. The Sprint 3G data network offers better bandwidth in some locations and Sprint is off to a faster start on 4G with its WiMax rollout (via Cleawire). But, Verizon is also in the midst of a massive rollout of LTE, which will offer more 4G capacity and speed than WiMax in the future. When 4G rolls out, it will unleash the full capacity of these mobile devices.
  • Android innovation - The pace of innovation on Android right now is staggering, and certainly much more brisk than competitors like the iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, and webOS. Google and the open source developers that drive Android are releasing a regular stream of improvements that bring new functionality to the platform.

What's wrong?

  • Weak battery life - Because you can run programs in the background and load any apps from the open Internet, you need to watch for battery life problems on any Android smartphone. The HTC Incredible has a very powerful CPU and AMOLED screen, but the price of all that power is shortened battery life. I've had times when the Incredible didn't even make it through a full business day. If you're going to rely on this smartphone as a business device, then I'd highly recommend getting a second battery or a portable power accessory (like this one) for recharging devices on the go.
  • Android fragmentation - The flip side of the Android innovation mentioned above is that Android is also becoming very fragmented as hardware vendors innovate at a relentless pace and carriers balk at deploying OS updates in rapid succession. That means you could get stuck with an Android device that, a year from now, is lagging behind the latest version of Android by a couple version numbers.
  • Non-standard backplate - The back of the Incredible has a three-tiered design that is unique (see photo below). It wouldn't be worth mentioning except that it makes it more difficult for accessory makers to design a case for it. Cases made for similar HTC phones certainly won't fit the Incredible because of the backplate. If you like to put a case on your device (and a lot of corporate users do to make the devices more durable) then this is an important thing to be aware of, because cases are probably going to be fairly limited for this device.

Bottom line for business

The HTC Incredible has jumped into the fray as one of the best high-end smartphones on the market. Being on the Verizon network in the U.S. gives it great connectivity. Being part of the Android ecosystem means that it's riding a wave of innovation but is also exposed to the risks of OS fragmentation.

The Incredible isn't quite as enterprise-friendly as a high-end BlackBerry, but it offers a much more powerful Web and application experience. Its high-end hardware profile means that this device will likely hold up well over time for those who will be locked into using it for two years.

For instant analysis of latest tech news, follow my Twitter feed: @jasonhiner

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Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about how technology is changing the way we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

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