A Review of the HTC Droid Incredible 2

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The Droid Incredible 2 has some big shoes to fill, as the original Droid Incredible was one of the best devices released in 2010, and was certainly one of the reasons that the Android OS rose to such prominence in the marketplace. The new Incredible has a lot of things going for it, but unlike its predecessor, it just misses being considered a top-tier device. The areas where it falls short could doom the device before it even gets a chance to succeed, as the top-tier devices like the iPhone 4 and the Thunderbolt are only slightly more expensive than the Droid Incredible 2. Nevertheless, there is a lot to like about this device, which is essentially the same as the recently released HTC Incredible S, except the Incredible 2 runs on the Verizon CDMA network.

Design (4 out of 5)

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The basic design of the HTC Droid Incredible 2 is the same as almost every smartphone available today. There is a large LCD screen dominating the front of the device, with four softkeys just underneath the screen. The device measures 4.75 inches high, 2.52 inches wide and 0.48 inches thick, making it larger than the original Droid Incredible but thinner than the new HTC Thunderbolt. The device weighs in at 4.77 ounces, which is pretty much perfect for a smartphone of this size. It is heavy enough to feel solid, but light enough not to feel like a brick in your pocket.

The back and sides of the Incredible 2 are covered with slightly rubberized finish, which helps to keep the device in your hand, should you decide not to use a cover. Like its predecessor, the device has a two-tier back cover, with thin edges and a plateau in the middle. This design does help make the device look thinner, but I’ve always found it unattractive. That said, you really can’t feel the bump when you hold the device, so other than when you are looking at the back side, it doesn’t really matter.

The major benefit gained from having such a large phone body is that there is plenty of room for a large LCD. The Incredible 2’s 4-inch Super LCD display looks, well, incredible, as long as you are indoors. The display is 480x800 and has an 800:1 contrast ratio. The screen is a bit sharper than the old AMOLED from the original Incredible, but doesn’t quite compare to the Super AMOLED displays that you can find on other high-end devices. Unfortunately, once you venture outside into the sunlight, it becomes very difficult to see the screen.

There are two cameras on the device, a small one on the front and a high-quality one on the back. The sides are thankfully clear from the button spam found on some devices, as there are only the power and volume buttons. The sides of the device also house a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headset jack. One special note, the icons for the softkeys beneath the LCD actually rotate when you flip the device. A minor point, sure, but if nothing else it’s kind of neat.

User Interface (3 out of 5)

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The Droid Incredible 2 continues a disturbing smartphone trend by shipping with an outdated operating system. The device ships with Froyo (2.2) instead of Gingerbread (2.3). Granted, it’s tough to prep a device for an operating system that is still in development, but Gingerbread has been out for a few months. Verizon has claimed that the device will eventually get the upgrade to Android 2.3 and the Incredible S gets the upgrade shortly, so you probably won’t have to wait forever. Of course, that’s what we all said about the Galaxy S devices getting 2.2 last year. In the end the jump to 2.3 isn’t game changing, but it would be nice for a new phone to launch with the latest OS, or at least have a hard target date for the upgrade. No one likes to drop hundreds of dollars on outdated equipment.

The Incredible 2 uses the HTC Sense overlay, which is probably the best Android overlay out there. HTC Sense includes a number of helpful and attractive widgets, like a combined clock and weather, the Peep Twitter widget, calendars, clocks and even a web bookmark widget. The Leap feature lets you pinch anywhere on a home screen to instantly see all seven of your home screens, so you can quickly move between them. The device software also lets you set up different scenes, where you can customize your home screens as a set that you can quickly change. The new version of Sense also affords you a few additional customization options, like the ability to rearrange the order of the tabs at the bottom of some applications.

Overall, the user interface is easy to understand and easy to use. The phone features, settings, widgets and applications are all in a natural place and simple to find. Anyone who has used a smartphone in the past two years will have no issues whatsoever getting around the device. Even a smartphone neophyte will probably have very few problems finding whatever they are looking for.

Features (4 out of 5)

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The HTC Droid Incredible 2 comes packed with a number of excellent features, starting with an 8MP camera with a dual LED-flash on the back side of the phone. The camera takes fairly amazing pictures in good light, and even takes decent pictures in poor lighting. Even with 8 MP behind it don’t expect to get the same image quality as a decent digital camera, but the quality should be more than enough for most people. The camera also acts as a 720p video recorder. The quality is fairly good, but far from perfect. There is also a 1.3 MP front-facing camera for video chatting, which is about what you would expect from a 1.3 MP camera.

The video and audio programs support a wide range of file types and the overall quality of the programs is impressive. There is a speakerphone on the back of the device, but it is very small and the audio quality is not very good at all. When using a headset, however, the audio quality is excellent. The built-in media players are decent, and fairly easy to use. There could be a few additional features included, but they still get the job done.

Both HTC and Verizon have no qualms about loading the device down with bloatware. A few of them, like visual voicemail, Amazon Kindle and NFL Mobile, I find useful. Some of the other apps include Verizon’s VCAST line of apps, VZNavigator, Skype 3G, My Verizon, Backup Assistant and City ID. It would be nice to be able to delete unwanted apps, but such is life with modern smartphones.

As always, you have access to a robust application store in the Android Market, which currently boasts over 150,000 apps and games. The Droid Incredible 2 can run just about everything well, so you will have few issues running graphically intensive apps. The device has 1 GB of built-in memory and comes with a 16 GB memory card installed.

Performance (4 out of 5)

Call quality is exceptional when you are in a good signal area and using the standard microphone/earpiece combo, or a Bluetooth headset. In poor signal areas, the quality drops off quick, but it is difficult to say if that was just my area, or if it is symptomatic for the device. The speakerphone, again, is not very good. Tests in a slightly noisy environment revealed that the Incredible 2 noise-cancellation works well. The device doesn’t quite hold up in very noisy environments, but that’s not a knock on the phone, as there are just some environments where you shouldn’t be trying to make a phone call.

The Droid Incredible 2 uses a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and has 768 MB of RAM, so the device is very responsive, even when moving quickly between apps. The web browser works well, with pages loading pretty quickly especially considering that the device is using a 3G connection.

Verizon claims that the device will have about 390 minutes of usage, and I found the device lasting even a little bit longer than that. This isn’t unexpected, as the battery will slowly give less and less life as time goes on, but over 400 minutes of usage out of the box is fairly decent. Obviously, heavy video or Internet use could drive that number down.

The Verdict (3 out of 5)

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Let me start by saying that the Droid Incredible 2 is a very good device. It is solidly made and does exactly what it claims to do. Outside of the outdated operating system, and a terrible speakerphone, there are no significant failures. The biggest drawback to the phone is, unfortunately, the price. Currently priced at $200 after various rebates, the Droid Incredible 2 is just $50 less expensive than the HTC Thunderbolt, which gives you all these features plus access to the 4G network. Hopefully, Verizon will come to its senses and drop the price by $50-$100. This would make the Incredible 2 one of the best $100-$150 smartphone options.

If you have the original Droid Incredible, you might want to pass this device up, as it isn’t a game changer like the original. However, if you are looking for a great smartphone at a decent price, the Incredible 2 is just a Verizon sale away from being wholly recommended.

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