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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About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

30 comments
hill8302
hill8302

In the "case" of not being able to find cases for this phone, go to my favorite go-to website for all things cell/pda accessories: www.talkietech.com. They have at least 20 different ones. Don't let a little thing like not being able to find a cover deter you from buying this phone. Case Solved! (pun intended)

bmiller30
bmiller30

You have to be sitting next to a cell tower to make a call. It's phone radio is worse than the 6 year old phone I replaced!

ebarreiro
ebarreiro

I mean, using a dummy pencil. I'm tired of buttons, and can't believe that most of the touch screen smartphones are not capable of this. Thanks by your note, it is very useful and interesting for me, I'm very fond of HTC. I still use an HTC S620 and I'm looking for a replacement.

gthoenen
gthoenen

What about Bluetooth? ... or is there some other wireless stereo capability buried there somewhere?

dwhahn
dwhahn

It would be very valuable to add how much Active Sync compatibility (remote wipe, require password, etc) comes with what firmware version of smartphones. It is impossible to find or keep up with. Maybe a single place with info? thanks

jim
jim

Yes it has lots of bells and whistles, but! How well does it work as a phone?? Nothing worse than having lots of features and gadgets, but poor voice quality or reception range. Maybe we need 2 devices. A really solid high end phone, and another gadget to use all the web and mail features.

pcr5791-tr
pcr5791-tr

What is your opinion of Nokia N900 as a business user smart-phone ? It is missing from your list of competitive products.

njmarchetti
njmarchetti

You did not even mention the increased Enterprise Security HTC added to the Incredible. The Incredible supports 19 Exchange policies including Remote Wipe, Password enforcing and complexity, local device wipe, auto discovery and more. This makes it the first Android that out is the box can be used in a Corporate environment without major compromise.

davidhbrown
davidhbrown

When you say "OS fragmentation," what do you mean? Do you mean the different versions of Android? I.e., 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 -- and phones which might be stuck on earlier versions. If so, how is this much different from, for example, the original iPhone not getting 4.0 or the variety of capabilities of different Blackberries?

RipVan
RipVan

I wanted the MyTouch when it came out and now I wish I had waited, but at that time, I had bashed my old phone pretty bad. As much as I hated Verizon, I found out that they had the best coverage for voice and data. We had to switch work phones over to Verizon, and my daughter gets NOTHING but Verizon where she goes to college. So I was wondering whose coverage you refer to. If it is Verizon, that will be the first time I have heard of another carrier besting them. As far as cases, I always thought that the aftermarket people did a better job than the makers, who always seem to have the highest prices for EVERYTHING. Battery life? We need a quantum leap with that. I make sure I have a car charger as well as a home charger. MyTouch kind of went one better witht the detachable USB. If you aren't near an electrical outlet, pull the USB out and charge from a computer, or even a car radio. (Provided you have a new radio that has a USB port.) (Edit for speeling.)

tenderric
tenderric

I set one of these up for our VP the day it was out, great device. Only issue i found was syncing to Outlook 2007. Anyone know if this has been resolved? I haven't checked forums in about a month. cheers

i<3php
i<3php

I've had the Incredible for a little over a month and I have to say that it's a top notch phone. The touch-keyboards, qwerty and standard are intuitive and even though you may be fat-fingering words out, 2.1 does a fantastic job of guess what you were trying to type. Call quality is great. Sound is clear and not choppy like it was sometimes on my former LG Dare. Reception wise, I routinely make crystal-clear calls on a single bar at my house, and this thing's got a pretty low drop rate, at least in my area. I love the fact that I can use it with wifi so I'm not relying on 3G all the time, though Verizon's 3G coverage is usually pretty good everywhere. I haven't tested the wifi broadband connect features where you can share the signal with other devices. Might try it just for kicks. I pull in several emails and use the Facebook/Gmail and a downloaded Twitter app simultaneously without issue. I can personally attest that the battery life could be a little more robust. Checking my battery level and usage is easy, but I guess I'd like more control over what's running when the phone is idle. Probably just need to download the Task Manager app. Somebody ^^ there was asking about GPS. I've used both the Navigation and Maps apps and this phone is always Johnny-on-the-Spot with info about where I am and where I'm going. This is likely a Google thing, but I'm a big fan of being able to send locations directly to the Nav apps from the web browser, text messages or emails. Saves me the copy/pasta steps. So far I haven't had any problems with errors or force closes, though I've read of others having issues along those lines with 2.1. I waited for 2.5 years for the iPhone to hit Verizon, and when I heard the Incredible was about to launch I figured to give it a shot. I'd venture to say the Incredible is better than an iPhone in a lot of areas, including backgrounding and multitasking (obviously) but also just in organization style. I really like that I've got 7 home screens so I can split up my apps/widgets to different places. I'd really like to see a larger availability on widget choices, but that's all Android and not really phone-specific. Let me know if there's any other info you'd like to know.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

the different versions of BlackBerry than iPhone. However, the Android situation is even more chaotic because you have different carriers PLUS different hardware makers (who are also adding software and UI components in some cases). The situation is in danger of getting out of hand and creating an environment where developers can't build the same experience for their apps on all devices (or get stuck programming for backward compatibility). That's the biggest threat, in addition to certain devices getting stuck on old version of the OS.

stevebuck
stevebuck

is any indication of the support and upgrade that will be offered to this new Android phone, then I would not worry about fragmentation. If HTC has upgrades you could get them directly or Verizon may provide downloads from their website. The actual HTC generic name for this phone is the 'Desire'. Here is an English link. http://www.htc.com/hk-en/product/desire/overview.html

thomas.manning
thomas.manning

Looking at the Incredible for personal use, and as a supplement to work-issued BB. I don't use a lot of voice minutes per month, but may be fairly heavy on data use. For Verizon, what's the minimum voice plan necessary to get "unlimited" (5GB?) data plan?

Cerebral*Origami
Cerebral*Origami

The main problem I have is that I get poor reception in my home for every carrier except T-Mobile. Now that may have changed as I haven't tested it for about 6 years. But looking at the phones I like the Incredible and the HD2. The biggest drawback to the HD2 is that it is running windows mobile. Which according to the reviews I've seen is slow and buggy. Can you install a different operating system on your phone? I'd like to get the OS from the Incredible installed on the HD2. Also is the EVO restricted to Sprint?

artlife
artlife

Silly name. And, why would I want an Incredible when I can get the Evo June 4? * 3G/4G capability * Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650 (1GHz) processor * 4.3" capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom and tactile feedback * World-class HTML browser with bandwidth and quality that rival that of netbooks * Android 2.1, with access to more than 30,000 apps on Android Market * GoogleTM mobile services including Google SearchTM, Google MapsTM, Google TalkTM, GmailTM, YouTubeTM , and syncs with Google CalendarTM * Access to Google Goggles to search with pictures instead of words * Sprint Navigation, with turn-by-turn driving directions and 3D maps * Updated HTC Sense, award-winning user experience, which includes Friend Stream to integrate Facebook, Twitter and more into a single flow of updates * Visual voicemail * Messaging: personal and business email, IM and text messaging * 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices * 4G data speeds (WiMAX) peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps. * 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps. * 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera * High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds * Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone * Output pictures, slides and videos in HD quality (720p) via HDMI cable (sold separately) * Live video sharing with Qik * Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing * Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack * FM radio and Amazon MP3 store * Sprint applications including Sprint TV? and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile(SM) * Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR * Built-in WiFi: 802.11 b/g * Digital compass, G-Sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS * Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB SPECIFICATIONS: * Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT) * Weight: 6 ounces * Main display: 4.3" WVGA (800x480) 65K colors * Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery * Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM

tdh2112
tdh2112

I have also had the Incredible for about a month now and wanted to add this... I also have a Garmin Nuvi 350, and I have to say that the HTC is better at GPS than the Garmin. It picks up the satellites much quicker and with Google Maps, you can navigate with the satellite images on, which is pretty damn cool. I have had a few force close issues, but I blame that more on the individual apps than on Android 2.1. I also had one weird issue where both the earpiece speaker and the external speaker stopped working for phone calls, but a restart fixed it. Someone also asked about Bluetooth. It is built in, but I haven't tested it. I just order the Motorola T505 car kit for my wife, so I'll soon know how well it works. So far my only complaint is also about battery life. I often have to charge it in the evening if I am going to use it extensively. I may break down and order a high-cap battery, although the 2100mah version apparently comes with a new back for the phone since it won't fit otherwise. It's a compromise for sure since my case will no longer fit.

mfa
mfa

...but no mention of the GPS sensor technology

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

about $80/month for a basic voice plan + unlimited (5GB) data plan.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Yes, it is tied to Sprint. At least for now. However, that basically has what you're looking for: HD2-like hardware with Android OS.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

No you can't install the android OS on the HD2. I can tell you that the HD2 is a very smooth and responsive phone. I never had any issues with it being slow. I don't own one personally, but I have played with a friends and it is a very nice phone. Bill

bdskp
bdskp

The only reasons I could think of for getting an Incredible over an Evo is: 1) Locked into a carrier. My work only deals with Verizon. Good thing my work doesn't touch my cell phone. 2) People that have horrible Sprint coverage in their work area/home. I would imagine this is most likely a rare thing to happen but I'm sure it still happens sometimes. 3). Smaller device. The evo is a little bigger and some people might not like the extra screen space that comes with the evo. Yeah, weird..I know. :) I had an Incredible until I learned of the release date of the Evo. The Incredible is a VERY nice phone. I loved it. So I think I'll love the Evo even more.

artlife
artlife

I don't think any of the phone makers state explicitly the specs of their GPS sensor. The Incredible list antenna just as the HTC Hero does, and the Hero has full fledged GPS as you would expect from a smart phone.

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