Go ahead and raise your hand if you were surprised that the Rezound wasn't christened as part of the Incredible lineup. Given the cosmetic similarities, you'd be forgiven. Perhaps it was the phone's larger 4.3-inch display that ultimately dictated its fate, but Incredible fans will be pleased to know that the industrial design of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is remarkably similar to its forebears. The phone maintains roughly the same dimensions and weight as the previous iterations, and features bold, beveled lines around back. Purists will appreciate that the original Incredible's red accents have returned, which are evident on the front speaker grille, the power button and camera pod.
Thankfully, the latest Incredible is remarkably more comfortable to hold -- especially in comparison to the first generation -- as the beveled edges now flow into gentle curves along the side that allow the phone to fit naturally in one's palm. The soft-touch rear cover has also gained a nice textured finish, which adds to the overall visual appeal and makes the handset easier to grip. HTC has also updated the capacitive navigation buttons, which now fall in line with the scheme of the One lineup.
While the external changes to the Droid Incredible 4G LTE are rather modest, the real story lurks within -- and it's a thriller. Based on the Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm, the phone sports a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU and an Adreno 225 GPU. We'll discuss performance details a bit later, but quite simply, the phone offers a lot of power in a little package and feels every bit as snappy as the dual-core One X and Galaxy S III. It's very impressive.
Naturally, a smartphone is only as good as its display, and the Droid Incredible 4G LTE doesn't disappoint. While some may be put off by its smallish size, just as many will view the 4-inch screen as the phone's most compelling feature. Like the HTC One S, the Incredible offers a qHD (960 x 540) display, and while the resolution isn't exactly cutting edge, it's a great fit for a screen of this size. The end result is a pixel density of 275ppi, which is slightly better than the One S. Thanks to the S-LCD screen, text is very sharp and crisp, viewing angles are admirable and color reproduction is solid. The display is also reasonably usable in direct sunlight. Only in comparison to the S-LCD 2 screen of the One X does the new Incredible appear to be anything less than excellent.
Sadly, you won't find anything like the Infinity screen on the One X and One S, which gently drapes over the phone's edge. Here, your fingers will rub against the phone's frame. While the Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a solidly built phone, small touches like this reinforce the impression that it doesn't reach the fantastic engineering heights of the One lineup. That said, the design is also more functional, as the device offers an accessible 1,700mAh battery and removable microSD storage. Users will need to handle the rear cover gently, however, which includes a built-in NFC antenna along with raised contact points that appear somewhat fragile. While the stock rear cover doesn't support inductive charging, the phone contains the necessary contact points. FCC documentation also hints at the functionality. So, perhaps we'll see HTC introduce a separate cover to make inductive charging possible.
In terms of amenities, you'll find the power button, 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary microphone up top (which allows users to record sound in stereo), a volume rocker on the right-hand side, the primary microphone on the bottom and an MHL-capable micro-USB port situated on the left-hand side. There's also a handy charging / notification light, which is hidden just above the Verizon logo on the face of the phone. Positioned to the right of the camera pod on the rear is a speakerphone.
Performance and battery life
Don't be fooled by the small size of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE, because this one runs with the big dogs. Like the US variants of the One X and Galaxy S III, the phone includes a wicked fast Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm. Granted, the dual-core CPU within the latest Incredible runs at 1.2GHz -- compared to 1.5GHz in its larger brethren -- but it contains the same Adreno 225 GPU and real-world performance is comparable.
Benchmark tests reveal a similar story. For example, within Quadrant, the new Incredible's slower CPU is evident, but it also boasts significantly faster memory that helps it best even the mighty Transformer Prime tablet. In Vellamo, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE outperformed the quad-core HTC One X -- which features NVIDIA Tegra 3 internals -- and fell just behind the dual-core One X and Galaxy S III.
||HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE
||HTC One X (AT&T)
||Samsung Galaxy S III (AT&T)
|SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms)
|GLBenchmark Egypt Offscreen (fps)
|SunSpider: lower scores are better.
As we've alluded to, the real-world performance of the latest Incredible is buttery smooth: boot times are quick, apps are summoned without hesitation and the web browser is utterly fluid. Put simply, it's a joy to use.
The story with Verizon LTE is generally consistent and two-fold: excellent data speeds and miserable battery life. While we never experienced the insanely fast speeds that many have come to expect (performance averaged 13Mbps down and 6Mbps up) the latest Incredible offers battery life that's a refreshing departure from the norm. In our standard rundown test, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE eked out a solid seven hours and 15 minutes of runtime, which matches the excellent longevity of the Droid 4. Similarly, the phone managed to get 52 hours of uptime from a single charge with moderate use. While the Incredible's battery life doesn't approach the high mark set by the Droid RAZR Maxx, it offers a respite from the constant search for power outlets. And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE is a remarkably solid performer as a phone. While it doesn't quite approach landline quality, it's easily one of the better experiences we've had with a mobile device in quite some time. In all cases, voices were remarkably clear -- even at low volume -- and we were able to carry on a natural conversation without straining to hear the caller or struggling to properly position the earpiece. Similarly, others commented on the clarity and depth of our voice.
With respect to navigation, we're happy to say that the latest Incredible was able to detect GPS satellites nearly instantaneously.
If you're familiar with Sense 4, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE offers very few surprises. The skin was developed by HTC independent of Google's work with Android 4.0, and while it remains a significant departure from Ice Cream Sandwich, the overall experience is attractive, intuitive and responsive. For the purposes of this review, we'll focus on the software that's specific to the latest Incredible, but if you're unfamiliar with Sense 4, be sure to check out our full review of HTC's latest skin.