The HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE continues the tradition of awfully long Android device names, and is the latest entry in the Verizon DROID Incredible series of devices. The DROID Incredible line has been very popular for Verizon, and I on several occasions have recommended one of the Incredible devices to friends and co-workers who didn’t have the need for a high-end device with a super-sized screen, or preferred battery life to 4G LTE connectivity. The Incredible line has easily been the must-have alternative to the flagship devices, but will the DROID Incredible 4G LTE continue this tradition? Read on to find out.
1. Form Factor
When you pick up the Incredible 4G LTE, the first thing you’ll notice is its unique form factor. The Incredible continues the design made popular by its predecessors, from the protruding backside, to the red accents around the camera, speaker grill, and power button. By all accounts, the Incredible 4G LTE is going to be hit or miss with customers; some will like the overall shape and feel of the device, while others will prefer the sleek, thin profiles offered by the likes of the Galaxy S III or HTC One X. Form factor is largely a preferential choice, and I have to admit I don’t particularly enjoy the build of the Incredible 4G LTE.
2. Android 4.0 with HTC Sense 4.0
Okay, yes, I don’t like custom skins. So why on earth did I give the Incredible the point in this category? Of all the custom skins out there, HTC has one of the cleanest interfaces and that makes the Incredible easy to pick up and use by just about anyone. Sense 4.0 really tones down the skinned UI elements, and the ability to completely customize your lock screen to quickly launch your most-used applications is a welcome feature that makes using the device a bit easier. Some of the other tweaks they’ve done, say to the camera application for example, take this level of usability even further, in some ways surpassing their stock Android counterparts. In short, you can certainly do much worse than Sense UI, and in some ways the experience in Sense 4.0 is better than Google’s Android 4.0 stock build.
As per Verizon’s MO, there’s a ton of bloatware on the Incredible 4G LTE, and not much of it is useful in the least. For example, the Slingbox application comes preloaded on the Incredible 4G LTE, but I can count on one hand the number of people I know who own a Slingbox (I think I have a review unit boxed up in the garage somewhere). There are no fewer than a dozen Verizon-installed applications, though it’s fairly easy to disable/uninstall the ones you aren’t interested in. There are several useful apps like My Verizon that lets you view your mobile usage on the Verizon network, but several others (Let’s Golf 3 HD – seriously?) have no business being pre-installed on devices.
The Incredible 4G LTE is powered by a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage (expandable by a microSD card slot). Despite not having the latest and greatest internal components, the DROID Incredible 4G LTE felt snappy and was able to handle every task we threw at it with relative ease. Performance was snappy and fluid throughout our time with the device, and we hardly noticed any lag during normal use. When it comes to the performance of the device, the hardware found in the Incredible 4G LTE gets the job done, and is certain to please all but the hardcore enthusiasts who, let’s face it, are probably going to be getting the Galaxy S III anyway.
All of the things we’d expect to see in a device released in 2012 are there as well, with both NFC and LTE support found in the Incredible 4G LTE.
5. Call Quality
Of course, the Incredible 4G LTE is a phone above all else, and we’re happy to report that the device performs well in this category. Calls were clear both on our end and on the other party’s end when we had good coverage, which was most of the time thanks to Verizon’s large nationwide network. Speakerphone performance was on par with other mobile devices, and obviously varies in quality based on signal strength.
Naturally, you’ll spend most of your time with the Incredible 4G LTE looking at the screen. The Incredible 4G LTE features a 4.0″ SLCD display with a qHD (960 x 540) resolution. While not quite as sharp as the amazing screen on the Galaxy S III, the screen will not disappoint and is easy to look at. Colors are sharp, though again not as sharp as Samsung’s world-class displays. Videos, pictures, and other media content looked good on the Incredible 4G LTE, and those of you who decide to purchase the device won’t be let down by the screen.
7. Camera Quality
HTC has improved cellular picture quality drastically with their HTC ImageChip found in the One series of devices. Sadly, though the Incredible 4G LTE just came out a few days ago, it is not a One device and therefore lacks the HTC ImageChip. As a result, the Incredible’s rear 8 megapixel camera continues to perform well in direct sunlight, with colors popping and awesome pictures as a result. It’s quite the different story in low-light situations, where we found a bit of graininess and noise, even at times when using the flash. One saving grace is the amount of time between pictures; while the Incredible 4G LTE does not support the rapid burst photos of the One series, the time between pictures is nearly instantaneous so you’ll always be ready to capture the next shot. Also, Ice Cream Sandwich added the ability to take still pictures while shooting video, which slightly makes up for the lack of burst mode. Overall, pictures from the Incredible 4G LTE came out pretty good.
The video camera worked fairly well, though we noticed some jerkiness even when the stabilization mode was enabled. Still, videos were easy to capture, and came out good enough for YouTube and Facebook, which is where 99+% of mobile phone videos end up anyway. Sure, it may not produce the best quality videos out there, but they’re certainly good enough for regular use.
8. Verizon 4G LTE
Of course, no phone review is complete without rating the network on which the device runs. As we’ve said on numerous occasions previously, Verizon’s 4G LTE network is speedy, even with several of Verizon’s smartphones now fighting for bandwidth on the network. Speeds routinely were between 8 and 12 mbps down, with 3-5 mbps uplink speeds as well. These speeds translate to incredible (forgive the pun) real-world performance; videos streamed flawlessly, as did internet radio and anything else that required a connection. Uploads were fast and always went off without a hitch as well, even high-definition videos shot from the device uploaded to YouTube very quickly. There’s a reason everyone applauds Verizon’s 4G LTE network, it’s the most widespread LTE network out there and it’s damn snappy.
9. Battery Life
What good is any phone if it can’t make it through an entire day? The problem with LTE devices thus far has been their notoriously bad battery life, though the latest Android devices have seemingly solved the battery life problem. The Galaxy S III and Droid RAZR MAXX easily make it through most of the day, with the latter lasting even longer than a day thanks to its 3,300 mAh battery. So how does the DROID Incredible 4G LTE stack up to the competition?
Well, those of you hoping to make it through an entire day without scrambling to find a charger will be sorely disappointed. In normal usage, the 1,700 mAh battery on the Incredible 4G LTE lasted about 7-10 hours on a single charge, on par with the HTC One X (AT&T), but well below that offered by the Galaxy S III and Droid RAZR MAXX. At best, I was able to eek out about 12.5 hours on the Incredible 4G LTE.
If you do purchase the Incredible 4G LTE and don’t have routine access to a charger, you may want to opt for an extended battery or second battery to help you get through the day.
Here’s the kicker for me; the DROID Incredible 4G LTE is a decent device, though it screams mid-range as opposed to the more high-end phones offered by Verizon. The DROID Incredible 4G LTE will set you back $199.99 in store, though it comes with a $50 mail-in rebate debit card. That’s the same in-store price as the 16GB Galaxy S III, and anyone in their right mind would opt to spend the extra $50 for the added benefits brought by Samsung’s flagship device. We would have liked to see the Incredible 4G LTE come with a $100 (or less) price tag, and we expect it’ll drop to that point in the not-too distant future. At $149 after MIR, it’s difficult for me to recommend the Incredible 4G LTE to anyone when there are more powerful devices available for the same upfront cost.
The HTC One Series impressed me with its build quality and high-quality internal components that rival those offered by Samsung’s latest flagship. Sadly, the DROID Incredible 4G LTE is not a One device. As a result, the Incredible 4G LTE lacks some of the key features that make the One series great, and it shows in the end product. There’s still a lot to like about the device, the display is good, the hardware results in a smooth and lag-free performance, and Android 4.0 with Sense 4.0 is one of the better UI skins we’ve used in a while. But you can’t help but feel that the Incredible 4G LTE could have been better, that a few design choices could have made the device a must-have for Verizon customers. As it stands, the Incredible 4G LTE is a decent mid-range device for those not looking for a flagship, though we’d like to see it at a much lower price point if its to really take off on the Verizon network.