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HTC Incredible review

July 6, 2010

in All Articles,Cellphone reviews

Post image for HTC Incredible review

If you’re looking for an Android-powered smartphone, the HTC Incredible is the one you want.

If you’d like a proper analysis and more detail about the Incredible, of course keep reading. But if you’re just wondering if the Incredible is really all that good, then I’m telling you now: Yes. Yes, it is.

I suppose a review should address the phone’s name. I could either be friendly and obvious and say “the name is perfect for the phone”, or go the other way and say “the name sounds like an idea from an overeager marketing department”. I suppose both are true. The “Incredible” name, I’m guessing, came from the same group that brought us the ambiguous, supposedly-cool sounding “G’zOne”. But I’ll go a third direction and say this: “At our rate of technological advance, the Incredible’s name won’t be applicable for long. But right now, it is.”

But I’m writing too much about something that’s very insignificant. Let’s move on to the fun parts about the HTC Incredible: just about everything.

HTC Incredible performance and features

I’ve attached at the bottom of this article the Verizon-provided specs for the HTC Incredible. Immediately below are features that stood out to me.

Speed

This is a fast phone, and the processor and memory are correctly sized for performance. There’s very little lag. When you hit a button, scroll a screen, zoom in/out of a picture, watch a movie, or do anything else requiring the Incredible to perform, the response is what you want it to be: fast.

I did a full sync with my business’ Microsoft Exchange server to fully populate my demo Incredible with my Exchange information. This included a bunch of emails, years of calendar events and contacts. There’s no processing delay and no additional lag. The phone behaves the same fully synced as it does when “empty”.

Looking at the stats, we see why the Incredible is so fast. It has a gigahertz processor, which is faster than consumer-grade PCs sold just a few years ago. I wasn’t able to see what that did to the battery life, but the Android OS has a great built-in battery monitor that shows you what applications are sucking up the most juice. You can use this to best tune your usage to get optimal battery performance.

8MP Camera

I’m not one to do double-takes, but I considered it when I first read the Incredible’s stats. Yes, the integrated camera is 8MP, better than many consumer digital cameras. Under the right conditions, you’ll truly get some excellent high-quality pictures.

But like any other small camera, realize that this may not replace a regular camera. The smartphone lens aperture – the amount of light that the camera can process – is low. So when you have good ambient light (like in daylight or bright internal lighting) you’ll get excellent pictures. But if the lighting is dim or dark, you’re relying on an LED, and a phone LED is not designed for flash photography.

The short story: If the lighting is good, you’ll get the full benefits of the 8MP camera. In bad lighting, pictures suffer and may be grainy. This isn’t a knock on the Incredible itself – any smartphone camera has the same limitations. I just want to be clear what the 8MP does (and does not) accomplish.

Virtual keyboard

As I’ve said many times in other reviews, I prefer physical keyboards. But it looks like (with a couple exceptions) the industry is trending in the other direction. More and more business-class smartphones are choosing to sacrifice the keyboard. In exchange, they get lighter and thinner, and some of the virtual keyboard drawbacks are compensated for by having smarter predictive input.

For me, the keyboard pros and cons on the HTC Incredible cancel each other out. I do want this phone, and would certainly be willing to accept the virtual keyboard’s slower typing speed.

Besides, if typing is really important to me (like if I’m writing articles or catching up on a lot of email), I can always get an Android-capable Bluetooth keyboard.

Buttons

This phone has what I consider almost the right number of buttons. This opinion sounds weird, I know, but it impacts navigation speed. I personally don’t like the single-button interface on the iPhone. And some other phones go way overboard and don’t work on simplifying the interface. Here are the buttons on the HTC Incredible:

Power

Volume Up/Down

Home, Menu, Back, Search – These are all not truly buttons, but LED-illuminated touch-sensitive areas on the bottom of the phone.

Optical Joystick – this is a recessed “button” that’s used for scrolling screen data. It also acts as the trigger button for the digital camera and similar applications. You slide your finger over it to scroll screen data in a particular direction. I’ve found that while it’s handy, I instead scrolled data by dragging my finger on the screen – it’s more precise and responsive than the optical joystick.

The optical joystick is the one button that I don’t think is necessary – I can do without it just fine, the camera trigger function can be reassigned to another button (physical or virtual), and it takes up too much space on the bottom of the phone.

Size and weight

As I alluded above, the lack of a physical keyboard makes the Incredible feel nice. It’s got a solid heft, but isn’t heavy. Much like the iPhone, it’s designed to be as thin and light as possible, while still packing in impressive hardware.

Extras

The HTC Incredible comes standard with the “usual” smartphone features that just a short time ago were extremely impressive: GPS and a digital compass. It also supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

There’s also an improved navigation interface. The Incredible has seven customizable “Home” screens. You can scroll back and forth between them, or use a cool “Leap” feature to view all at once, and tap to quickly jump to the display you need:

The HTC Incredible's

Techie review – Don’t just take my word for it

I showed the HTC Incredible to my coworkers. All of them are experienced IT consultants and know the various smartphone OSes and hardware platforms. All have advanced, heavily-customized smartphones. Most of them run Android.

The consensus was that the Incredible was very light and very fast, and had a few handy functions not available on their own similar phones (like the “Leap” feature above). They all loved it. Many of them wanted the Incredible instead of their current phones.

Conclusion

The HTC Incredible is a great phone in the Google-powered Android lineup. As of this writing (June 2010), it’s also the best.

Now that other competitors have finally caught up with Apple, we’re past the days of talking about the one “iPhone killer”. The industry is now back where it should be, saturating the smartphone market with excellent options from many different companies and operating systems. Market competition at its finest. While I personally think the HTC Incredible is better than an iPhone, my requirements and usage are probably different than your own.

In today’s never-ending smartphone battle, the HTC Incredible is leading the charge. It’s one of the best. I want one.

 

The HTC Incredible is available from Verizon Wireless for $200 and a two-year contract.

 

HTC Incredible features

Android 2.1 with HTC Sense experience

1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for maximum responsiveness

Friend Stream for unified Flickr, Facebook and Twitter updates

“Leap” view for quick access to all seven home screen panels

8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash for crisp, detailed images

Razor-sharp 3.7 inch WVGA (480×800) AMOLED capacitive touch display

Optical joystick for smooth navigation

Dedicated, touch-sensitive Home, Menu, Back and Search keys

Proximity sensor, light sensor and digital compass

Integrated GPS

Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)

3.5 mm headset jack



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