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HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE review - a smaller Android smartphone tries to run with the big players


Review by Dan Seifert on Saturday July 07, 2012.

htc droid incredible 4g lte · verizon · android reviews · smartphone reviews · htc news · android news · smartphone news · dan seifert

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HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE

Hardware hardware: 3 of 5 score

Compared to the giant Android devices that manufacturers have been keen to produce recently, the HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE is quite small. Strikingly small, in fact. Its footprint measures only 122mm x 61mm (4.82in x 2.4in), making it easy to handle with one hand. Oddly enough, the Incredible 4G LTE is rather thick, however, at 11.7mm (0.46in). It isn't so thick that it makes the phone unwieldy, but it certainly isn't very impressive for a phone released halfway through 2012.

The Incredible's small size is thanks to its 4-inch display, which is miniscule when set next to many other Android smartphones available today. The screen is a Super LCD unit and sports a qHD (540 x 960 pixel) resolution. At this size, the qHD resolution is pretty sharp, but combined with the display size, you may have to zoom in a bit more to read text than with other smartphones. Colors are accurate, and the display is passable under direct sunlight. Its viewing angles aren't the best, though, as contrast levels drop significantly and colors wash out when the phone is viewed from the side.

Below the display are capacitive keys for back, home, and multitasking, while a VGA-resolution front-facing camera, LED notification light, and light sensors are located above the screen. The earpiece has stylish red grille that has become a bit of a hallmark for HTC devices carried by Verizon.

The right side of the Incredible 4G LTE is home to a volume rocker that works as expected, despite having a mushy feel. The opposite side houses the micro-USB charging and syncing port. The top of the phone sports a 3.5mm headphone jack, noise-canceling microphone, and snazzy red power/sleep/unlock key that works a lot better than the ones found on some older HTC smartphones.

The black and red motif carries over to the back of the Incredible 4G LTE. The soft-touch rear cover sports the same ribbed texture we saw on last year's HTC Rezound for Verizon Wireless, and it helps aid in handling of the phone. The signature bevels that debuted on the original Incredible and also seen on the Incredible 2 are present and accounted for on the back of the Incredible 4G LTE, though they have softened quite a bit from the earlier versions. At the top of the back is the 8 megapixel camera, LED flash, and external speaker. The camera features a red metal ring around it and is virtually flush with the back of the phone, so hopefully it is more resistant to damage than camera housings that protrude from the back.

HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE

As with the earlier Incredible models, the Incredible 4G LTE's rear cover is removable, providing access to the 1700mAh battery, microSD, and micro-SIM card slots. The ability to swap out the battery for a fresh pack is great, but because of the removable cover, the feel of the Incredible 4G LTE is not nearly as solid as HTC's own unibody smartphones like the One X and One S.

Usability usability: 4 of 5 score

HTC has equipped the Incredible 4G LTE with a tuned-down version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor used in the One S and LTE version of the One X. The Incredible's chip is clocked at 1.2GHz instead of the 1.5GHz as in the other phones, though it is paired with the same 1GB of RAM. Because of this, the Incredible 4G LTE doesn't benchmark quite as high as the other devices. But in everyday use, I didn't notice it to be demonstrably slower. The interface is fast and operates without lag, and apps open up quickly. The Incredible handles 3D games without problem, though the smaller screen can make it difficult to play certain titles.

HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE

The Incredible 4G LTE is a Sense 4 device, so it has Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC's latest custom user interface. The interface on the Incredible is virtually identical to the one on the One X and the One S, and it is much better than earlier versions of Sense. HTC has toned down the superfluous animations that were present in earlier editions of the interface, and Sense 4 is much more enjoyable to use as a result.

Android purists will bemoan the fact that Sense 4 doesn't really resemble stock Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich at all, but for the majority of users, Sense 4 shouldn't really present any problems. If you happen to be coming to the Incredible 4G LTE from an earlier Incredible model, you should feel right at home with Sense 4.

HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE

There are certain tweaks in Sense that I am a fan of. The lockscreen features quick access to the four apps that are in the main dock, and it can be customized to display information such as weather and social network updates. On the flip side, I do not like how Sense handles the legacy menu button that is required for a lot of Android apps. Since the Incredible, like the other Sense 4 devices, has capacitive keys for back, home, and multitasking, HTC has to make room on the display for a the legacy menu button when it is required. This means that you lose a good chunk of screen real estate to accomplish one task. Additionally, while I find that HTC's customized multitasking menu is pretty and attractive, in practice it's slower to use than the vertical multitasking menu found in stock Android 4.0.

HTC has improved the on-screen keyboard in Sense 4 with better touch response and a new optional tracing feature that mimics the capabilities of the Swype keyboard. The tracing feature works as expected, and the keyboard is fast and responsive, but I am still not a fan of the layout of the keys and the persistent cursor controls that take up far too much screen space. HTC has said that future iterations of the keyboard will provide an option to turn off the cursor, but for now, users can head to the Google Play Store to download an alternate keyboard if they wish.

Minor quibbles aside, the DROID Incredible 4G LTE is a pleasure to use and is a considerable upgrade from the older versions of the phone.

HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE

Calling / Data calling: 4 of 5 score

As the first Incredible with support for Verizon's 4G LTE network, the DROID Incredible 4G LTE offers significantly faster data speeds than its forebears. In areas with decent LTE coverage, I consistently saw network speeds over 15Mbps down and 10Mbps up.

Call quality on the Incredible is solid, and the earpiece gets loud enough for most situations. The speakerphone is clear as well, though it could use a boost in the volume department.

The Incredible 4G LTE also has support for Bluetooth, NFC(INFO), and Wi-Fi connections. For some reason (likely due to pressure from Verizon), the Incredible is very keen to make sure you are aware of its Wi-Fi capabilities. The phone has a persistent notification in its notification tray at all times informing you of its Wi-Fi status, whether you are connected to a Wi-Fi network or not. I have not found a way to get rid of this notification, and frankly, I find it to be rather obnoxious.

HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE
HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE

Messaging messaging: 5 of 5 score

Like the other Sense 4 devices we have seen this year, the DROID Incredible 4G LTE offers a solid messaging experience. The SMS/MMS app offers threaded conversations and message previews on the lockscreen, and it has a built-in group message function. Fans of the Google Talk instant messaging service also have access to the excellent Talk app for Android 4.0 that supports video chats in addition to standard messaging.

For email, HTC's email client is tough to beat, with an interface that's chock full of features such as multiple inboxes, multiple message management, HTML support, and grouped conversations. Of course, if you are using Android, you are likely to be a Gmail user, and the native Android 4.0 Gmail app that comes on the Incredible 4G LTE is very good, though it could use better message scaling and zooming capabilities.

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About the author

Dan Seifert
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.

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