HTC DROID Incredible 2 review

The DROID Incredible 2 recently landed on Verizon Wireless, and it has some tough shoes to fill. When the original launched, it was BGR’s favorite Android phone to date despite stiff competition from the Motorola DROID, which launched at the same time. The DROID Incredible 2 packs some decent hardware, like a 1GHz processor, an 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 720p video, and more, but its specs — and data speeds — don’t match those of phones at the higher end of Verizon’s portfolio. Is the DROID Incredible 2 a worthy successor to the original or does it fall short? Read on to find out!

Hardware / Display

I remember reviewing the original Incredible and feeling a sense of loss the day I had to send it back. It had a unique race-car inspired design and HTC even had interchangeable red and white covers for the back panel that you could buy separately. The whole idea was that HTC was totally tweaking the industrial design of the phone to really get consumers turned on to the sexy designs possible with a mobile device. There’s less shock value with the Incredible 2. The red battery compartment is gone, the contours aren’t unique anymore, and the whole device feels too similar to the original to be exciting.

The phone feels excellent in the hand, though, and the soft-touch black finish provides good grip. The volume keys are in easy reach on the top left hand side, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top across from a power button, and the back is home to an 8-megapixel camera and a dual-LED flash. I love that the menu, home, search, and return buttons automatically rotate so that they’re displayed correctly in both landscape and portrait view. HTC should definitely carry that feature into other phones.

The most noticeable difference on the Incredible 2 is its larger 4-inch 800 x 480 resolution display. I like that it’s bigger than the original 3.7-inch screen on the first Incredible, which was a hair too small, but I’m disappointed that HTC ditched the AMOLED display panel. Text looks decent on the screen, but the colors don’t pop in the way they did on the original Incredible. The trade off is that the current display is much easier to view under direct sunlight, however.

I’ll discuss the rest of the hardware in various parts of this review, but here’s a quick rundown of the raw specs: the DROID Incredible is powered by a 1GHz processor — that’s the same clock speed as the original — and it has an 8-megapixel with a dual-LED flash, a 1,450 mAh battery, a 1.3-megapixel forward-facing camera for video chat, and a 16GB microSD card pre-installed.

Software

The Incredible 2 is powered by Android 2.2.1 (Froyo) with HTC’s custom Sense user interface running on top, and its 1GHz powered through it all just fine. Unfortunately, the phone is not loaded with HTC’s new revamped version of Sense, which will make its debut on the T-Mobile HTC Sensation 4G any week now. I’ve always been a big fan of Sense. It’s one of my favorite Android user interfaces, but it’s hard to recommend software that’s already being replaced. The DROID Incredible 2 also runs Android 2.2 (Froyo), too, instead of the newer Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS.

Thankfully, there’s relatively little bloatware installed, save for V Cast Apps, V CAST Media, V CAST Music, V CAST Tones, and V CAST Videos. Verizon has pre-installed some other software, including 3G Mobile Hotspot, Blockbuster, Amazon Kindle, Lets Golf 2, NFS Shift, Skype Mobile, NFL Mobile, Slacker, and more, but those applications are often very popular Android apps, too, and I’m a big fan of many of them. The 3G Hotpsot application will allow you to share your 3G connection with other Wi-Fi enabled devices, and I used the Incredible 2 hotspot during an entire workday without any connection drops.

Calling / Data

Calls on the DROID Incredible 2 were solid, as is typically the case on Verizon’s phones in New York City. During a test call, the other party said I sounded “clear” while walking on the streets of New York City, and she said she couldn’t make out the background traffic. The speakerphone was a bit watery but the volume was sufficient. As far as data, the Incredible 2′s data speeds were just OK. I averaged 1.2Mbps on the downlink and 1Mbps up, which is good enough for a 3G phone but a far cry from Verizon’s brand new 4G LTE network which offers download speeds that are nearly 20 times that.

Camera

The Incredible 2 packs an 8-megapixel camera, just like the original, and can shoot 720p HD video. I was satisfied with the images I snapped — they look great on the phone itself and just as solid blown up on a computer screen. Unlike some newer phones, the Incredible 2 isn’t capable of auto-focusing while shooting video, though, which was a bit of a disappointment. Similarly, it lacks an HDMI-out port, so you won’t be able to show videos or photos on your bigscreen TV, another feature that’s supported by many other high-end devices.

Battery Life

During my few days of testing I didn’t have any problem getting through a full day of moderate use before the 1,450mAh battery ran out on the Incredible 2. Verizon rates it for 6.5 hours of usage, though, so you’ll want to bring a charger along if you’re planning to watch movies during a long plane ride or car trip.

Wrap-up

The DROID Incredible 2 is a good phone — there’s nothing inherently wrong with it — but I don’t think it brings the Incredible brand forward at all. In fact, there really isn’t anything “incredible” about it. The phone is very similar to the original, save for a larger screen and some small tweaks like a forward-facing camera, but at $199.99 it costs just as much as dual-core smartphones like the DROID X2, and it’s $50 shy of Verizon’s 4G LTE smartphones that offer much, much, faster data speeds. Is it a solid follow-up to the original? No. In fact, I like the original better.

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