DROID Incredible 4G LTE review: It could have been a contender

When HTC unveiled the One Series back in February, they were looking to simplify things with their hope that the carriers would buy into the models without any carrier-specific customization. T-Mobile took on the One S and AT&T took on the One X. Sprint took on the One X as well, but made changes and marketed it as the EVO 4G LTE. That left Verizon Wireless, who decided to do something completely different. They wanted to continue the DROID Incredible line and basically started with a One S, but made so many changes that it really couldn’t be classified as a One Series phone.  Will it satisfy the appetite from previous Incredible owners? Hit the break to find out, and you can also check out our initial hands on review.

Design

The One X and One S seem like 2012 phones, but the DROID Incredible 4G LTE seems so 2011. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing as many consumers are comfortable with your basic slate sans hip styling. I will say that I like the rubberized back as it provides a very nice grip. Too many phones are just too slippery these days, so this is a nice touch. It’s also on the smaller side as it only has a 4-inch display. It’s actually amazing that 4-inches is considered small. I remember the original DROID was 3.7-inches and I can’t imagine how I was happy with it now that I’m using phones that have close to 5-inch displays.

If you’ve ever held a One S, you noticed how thin it is, at 7.9mm. The DROID Incredible 4G LTE comes in at 11.7mm thick which is a big difference. Fortunately it doesn’t feel all that bad, probably because the screen size is smaller by 0.3-inches.

Now I mentioned that Verizon started with the One S in concept, but made changes from there. The basic differences between the One S and the Incredible is the smaller screen size (4.0 vs 4.3), the addition of a microSD slot, a removable battery, and the lack of ImageSense, which I will get into later. The removable battery and microSD slot are welcome additions, but I still feel they are overated as most people only require about 16GB of storage and they rarely switch out batteries.

The top of the phone has the power button to the right (just like other One Series phones) and the headphone jack to the left. The right side has the volume rocker and the left side has the microUSB port for charging and connectivity.

Hardware

The specs include a 4-inch qHD (960 x 540) Super AMOLED display, a 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front-facing camera, 8GB of storage, microSD slot for an additional 32GB of storage, 1700 mAh removable battery, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, and 4G LTE.

Performance

The processor performance is slightly inferior as compared to the One X and One S since it’s clocked at 1.2 GHz as opposed to 1.5 GHz. This is not something that translates into “real world” use for the casual user, but for you hardcores that want comparisons via a benchmark, I ran the AnTuTu, and it came in at 5996, while the One X was 6772 and the One S was 6993. As you can see it’s about 10 to 15% lower, but again let me stress that the casual user using this phone will be very happy as it’s very snappy.

The display is about the same as the One S as it’s Super AMOLED at qHD (960 x 540). It’s PenTile, which I know will scare a lot of you, but don’t be. With the screen size being 4-inches, it’s barely noticeable. It certainly isn’t as jaw dropping as the gorgeous Super LCD 2 that we love on the One X, but again this phone is geared towards the very casual user. Even with that said, it’s decent in sunlight and the viewing angles are fantastic.

Beats Audio is on board and I found the sound to be very similar to the One S and One X. Beats is a just a way to turn up the bass and treble, but hey, I’m not going to complain that it’s there. Louder is always better.

Battery

The battery is only slightly smaller than the One X, but has a lot less pixels too push. I did my usual rundown test in which I ran continuous video while the display is turned up to about 2/3′s. Now for the Incredible I was able to do it while connected to LTE and I got just about 7 hours 45 minutes. That really is pretty good when you consider I was only able to get a little over 7 hours from the One X connected to HSPA+(not LTE).  It’s no even close to the performance of the DROID RAZR MAXX, but for those wanting a compact phone, this should satisfy.

Software

Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich and Sense 4.0 is on board so it’s identical to the One X, One S, and EVO 4G LTE. I won’t get into it too much here, but you can hit those links to see more. Overall I do feel Sense has improved with Ice Cream Sandwich. I’m still not a Sense fan, but I can live with it. If there is anything I dislike most about it is the keyboard, but that’s easily changed with a quick trip to the Google Play Store. Other than that, all the features in the other One Series phones found their way to this phone, so if you’re a Sense fan at heart, you will feel very comfortable.

As far as bloatware you get a lot of the same old stuff which includes Amazon Kindle, Amazon MP3, Apps (V CAST), facebook, Let’s Gold 3 HD, My Verizon Mobile, Notes, Real Racing 2, Slacker, Slingbox, V CAST Tones, Verizon Video, VZ Navigator, and Watch. It’s actually pretty toned down for a Verizon phone.

Camera

As I have mentioned before, the biggest disappointment here is the lack of ImageSense processing that is on all One Series phones, but it’s not all about that. The lens is also a little inferior as the One Series gets an f/2.0 lens, while the Incredible gets an f/2.2. Even with both of these issues, the Incredible performs very well, and you will find all the software features of the One Series on the Incredible like HDR, Panorama, and all the effects. For more on those features, see my One X review or Joe’s One S review. You can also check out my experiences with the One X camera on my recent vacation.

The one major item missing in action is burst mode, which lets you take up to 99 pictures per minute. I guess a lot of people might never use this feature, but trust me it’s awesome for toddlers.

I don’t claim to be a photography connoisseur, but I think image quality is pretty close in most situations when comparing them to the One X (and One S). Below are example shots taken from both the Incredible 4G LTE and the One X. With the exception of the first set, the Incredible is fairly close. One thing ImageSense does is perform better post processing so you can clearly see the One X handles colors slightly better, but it’s not a complete shellacking.

 

DROID Incredible 4G LTE HTC One X

Closing

The DROID Incredible 4G LTE is a little bit of a disappointment to me as I was hoping for a One X-based device. An obvious second choice would have been the One S, but we really didn’t get that either. We did partially, but the screen is smaller and the design isn’t as attractive. On the plus side, it does have a removable battery and microSD slot. At $149 it appears to be a great deal considering it’s Verizon, but when you look at the Samsung Galaxy S III priced at $199, it’s hard to recommend this one over that. The GSIII is only $50 more, but then again there are people who just don’t want the bigger screen. If it’s a smaller phone you’re looking for and you are tied to Verizon, then this is the phone for you. If you want the best bang for the buck, you have to go Galaxy S III.

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


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  • Jack Holt

    Good review. I always loved the Incredible series and I still believe that the Inc 2 had one of the best cameras for the time. When putting the pictures side by side the Inc 4G pictures look a wee bit bland. The colors just don’t pop as much.

  • David Frank

    “The DROID Incredible 4G LTE is a little bit of a disappointment to me as I was hoping for a One X-based device. An obvious second choice would have been the One S, but we really didn’t get that either. We did partially, but the screen is smaller and the design isn’t as attractive. On the plus side, it does have a removable battery and microSD slot. At $149 it appears to be a great deal considering it’s Verizon, but when you look at the Samsung Galaxy S III priced at $199, it’s hard to recommend this one over that.” You should never write a review based upon “what you were hoping for”. The Incredible 4G is similar in scope to the One series in a few ways but is much more of an extension of the original DInc and Dinc2. Both were very popular Verizon phones and the brand is strong within VZ. There is an incredible lack in normal sized phones and this is the highest specced 4″ phone out there, running ICS and Sense 4. It’s vastly superior in all specs to the worlds most popular smartphone, the iPhone 4S. You complained about “burst photos” but in my use over the past week I can take pictures as quickly as I can tap the button…I took about 20 in just a few seconds when I tested it. Burst photo just isn’t that compelling of a feature. And while 16GB of storage may be enough for you, removable storage is still a huge draw for any audiophiles or people that like to play a lot of games. I would recommend the Dinc 4G to anyone looking for a new android smartphone that doesn’t want the (albeit fantastic) beast that is the Galaxy SIII. It’s certainly impressed everyone that I’ve shown it to.

  • guest

    One thing, it’s a Super LCD screen, not Amoled and not pentile.