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Review: HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Not long ago, HTC announced that they were no longer going to participate in the rat race of who can make more phones faster. Instead they wanted to focus on making truly great phones, so they would stand out and be noticed. When it comes to the One X and the One S, I would say that HTC accomplished that goal handily. For Verizon Wireless, HTC decided to continue their line of Droid branded phones with the Incredible 4G LTE. The Incredible is the latest of many Droid phones that have been made as a collaboration between HTC and Android, and is likely to be the phone Verizon promotes the hardest coming into the holiday season.

Hardware

If you have used an HTC Incredible or the HTC Rezound, the Incredible 4G will feel right at home in your hands. The 4-inch devices feels very much like HTC’s previous devices, right down to the textured battery cover and placement of the camera. The black casing and red accents complete the familiar look and feel to the device. Compared to recently released phones, the 12mm thick Incredible feels a little chunky, but is still thinner than its predecessors. Despite being a little thicker, the Incredible is only 132 grams, and the 4.82″ frame is still very comfortable in the pocket.

The Incredible 4G is packing a 1.2Ghz Snapdragon S4 and 1GB of RAM, making the phone one of the more powerful on Verizon Wireless. This dual core processor has been seen on several other smartphones recently, and is routinely at the top of the benchmark charts for overall performance. Something else we’ve seen in several HTC handsets recently is their 8MP rear camera with a backlit sensor. The front facing camera on this phone isn’t quite as impressive, sporting only a 0.3MP front-facing camera. At the top and bottom of the Incredible 4G you find a pair of microphones for noise filtered calls.

The screen on the Incredible 4G is somewhat lacking compared to the other devices on Verizon Wireless’ high end phones. This 4-inch S-LCD panel sports a 540×960 resolution display at only 275ppi. The screen on the Incredible 4G doesn’t perform particularly well outdoors, and is nearly unusable in direct sunlight. At the top and bottom of the display is a nearly 0.75-inch bezel, which makes using the phone awkward when compared to other 4-inch devices. At the center of the bottom bezel the three soft button layout that HTC has started using on everything recently takes up all of the real estate instead of software buttons.

HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Software

The Incredible 4G LTE is running the Android 4.0.4 based Sense UI. Despite having used this version of HTC Sense several times before, I found the UI particularly obnoxious on the Incredible 4G. Every time I went to do anything on the phone, I would be prompted to switch to Wifi. To make matters worse, even when you are connected to WiFi the UI feels it is necessary to keep this information in the notification bar above any other notifications. It is abundantly clear that if you are anywhere near something that even looks like WiFi, Verizon Wireless would prefer you use that instead of their LTE or 3G network.

Sense UI is very snappy on the Incredible 4G, both in navigating the UI and loading apps. The power of the Snapdragon S4 really shines here, just like we’ve seen on other HTC phones recently. For the Incredible 4G, Verizon Wireless has included five apps on top of their own management apps, navigation apps, and app store. In total, Verizon has included 12 apps over the apps that are included by HTC on their devices. Verizon doesn’t do any obvious promotion of their apps on the device, simply offering them as alternatives. The first time you try to navigate to a location, you’ll be prompted to use wither Google Navigation or VZ Navigator. Similar prompts exist in other places, with exception to the Google Play store.

Camera and Battery

HTC’s pride and joy right now with all of their devices is their camera, and the Incredible 4G is no exception. The camera takes great photos in just about every situation, and HTC’s post processing really helps the images pop. In low light situations, the backlit sensor takes the camera on this phone far above what most other smartphones are capable of. The Incredible 4G is absolutely capable of replacing the point and shoot when you are out and about.

HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Another point that the Incredible HD stands out is in battery life. HTC claims that the 1700mAh battery will get you just shy of ten hours on a single charge. In my tests with the phone, I was able to keep the screen on while using Google Navigator for four and a half hours, and still be able to use the phone for another six hours. During a day of what I consider to be average use, understanding that I get far more notifications on any given day than the average user, I was able to get closer to twelve hours out of the battery. Compared to the Galaxy Nexus and the S3 on Verizon Wireless, the battery life on the Incredible was downright impressive.

Final Thoughts

If the Droid Incredible 4G LTE had come to Verizon Wireless two months ago when the One X came to ATT, I expect that this phone would have flown off the shelf. As it stands right now, with Android 4.1 on the way for the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S3 already on Verizon, I would have a hard time recommending this phone to anyone who was interested in “the best phone”. Fortunately for the Incredible 4G, the phone is at least $50 cheaper than the Galaxy S3 and is far more powerful than the Galaxy Nexus when it comes to processor and camera quality. At $150 on a new contract, the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE may not be my favorite phone, but it is still a good phone.

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