Two years ago, HTC really created a winner with the original Droid Incredible. Its name was bold, the phone's performance fast, and it packed tons of features comparable to other smartphones. The company's follow-up product, the Droid Incredible 2, was a decent device, but lacked the zing of 4G data when it debuted in 2011. Now, still another year later, HTC and Verizon Wireless have teamed up again to create the third sequel, the $149.99 HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. While this fresh Incredible finally boasts 4G LTE and an adorably small design, it confirms that the franchise has fallen flat in many other ways.
If you're a fan of HTC's Droid Incredible series, the latest incarnation shouldn't throw you any curves. Just like the Incredibles before it, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is smaller than your average Android phone and sports a muscular, almost sci-fi aesthetic complete with Verizon red highlights.
Measuring 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.46 inch thick, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE has the footprint of its immediate predecessor, the Droid Incredible 2. At 4.66 ounces, though, the Incredible 4G LTE is a tenth of an ounce lighter.
Further in line with its futuristic feel, the phone's back is textured with a raised trapezoidal hump sculpted in unsymmetrical edges. It's a classic HTC design element carried over from the previous Droid Incredible 2 and original Droid Incredible. Frankly, I really dig it since it makes the device look like some sort of classified high-tech weaponry from perhaps an alternate universe.
Under the thin and funky battery cover is a 1,700mAh battery and microSD and 4G LTE SIM card slots. Thankfully, you can access these without touching the battery. Also on back is the phone's 8-megapixel camera with LED flash.
Above the screen is a VGA front-facing camera and below are the usual Android navigation controls. The right side holds a thin volume rocker, and on the left sits a Micro-USB port. On the top edge of the phone is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a tiny power button.
Helping the Droid Incredible 4G LTE keep its profile down is its 4-inch Super LCD screen. Despite being larger than the iPhone 4S' display (3.5 inchrd), it's small compared with the screens on other Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) (4.8 inches) and the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (4.3 inches). Also, the Incredible's qHD (960x540 pixels) resolution isn't terribly sharp when compared with those on the iPhone 4S (960x640 pixels) and Galaxy S III (1,280x720 pixels).
On that note, while the Droid Razr Maxx technically has the same qHD resolution and therefore less pixel density, to my eyes its AMOLED display offers superior image quality. For example, colors were much more saturated, viewing angles deeper, and shadow details greater on the Maxx than on either the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE or HTC One X (4.7-inch Super LCD2, 1,280x720 pixels). Even so, I still had plenty of fun watching high-quality movie trailers such as Ridley Scott's space horror flick "Prometheus" and other videos on the Droid Incredible 4G LTE.
As for text entry, the Incredible doesn't offer many options, but thankfully it's a good one. The default, and only, keyboard layout is the standard HTC Sense arrangement. Its keys are easy to hit, provide just a touch of haptic feedback, plus many double as often-used punctuation marks and numbers.
If you're hoping for Google's recently released Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS on the Incredible 4G LTE, you'll be sorely disappointed. Yes, it makes a good effort by including Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which up until last week was the top of the Android line.
On top of Android HTC layered its Sense 4 user interface, which I've always enjoyed. As on the new HTC One X, HTC One S, and HTC One V handsets, this updated version of Sense is lighter, more responsive, and plain less in-your-face as Sense 3 was. Gone is the crazed perpetually spinning carousel of home screens and aggressively 3D weather graphics. You can, however, enjoy full-screen weather animations or set this as the Incredible's live wallpaper if you'd like.
Instead of the usual five home screens, Sense features seven, which you can fill with apps and widgets to suit your tastes. By default, the main screen showcases HTC's iconic weather clock widget, which has graced all its phones for years. Pinching the primary home screen or tapping the Home key pulls up a helicopter view of all seven home screens at once. This lets you jump between them directly as opposed to swiping left or right to land on the screen you want.
Features and software
Inside the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE you'll find all the basic Android smartphone capabilities including a few advanced extras. There's GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 (the freshest version supporting low-power accessories), Wi-Fi, plus a mobile hot-spot app to share the handset's 4G LTE connection with other mobile devices. This privilege will cost you extra, though -- about $20 on top of your data and voice plans.
Besides support for the staple Google services such as Gmail, Google Plus, Maps, and Navigation, HTC adds some software spice of its own. The company's Watch video store hawks movies and TV shows to rent and purchase, while the Music app wraps up Google's Play music storefront, Slacker Internet radio app, locally stored tracks, and Amazon Music in one location.