The Incredible 2 captures 720p (HD) video at 30fps with decent results. While it performs significantly better than its predecessor, video recording isn't as stellar as photography. The frame rate isn't quite as smooth as with some other devices (the iPhone 4 comes to mind), and sound quality leaves room for improvement. The camera interface offers a plethora of settings: there's touch-to-focus (for both stills and video), flash mode, Photo Booth
-like effects, and additional options nestled within the menus (such as timer, exposure, while-balance, resolution, ISO, and face detection). The digital zoom is activated by pressing the volume rocker or by using an on-screen slider. Unfortunately, there's no dedicated 2-stage camera button, no panorama mode, and the 4-inch Super LCD display, while gorgeous, tends to wash out in direct sunlight, making it difficult to properly frame shots.
While the Incredible 2's hardware is supremely refined, things are bittersweet on the software front. It's running Sense
, which we've reviewed in detail
alongside the Incredible S. We appreciate that it brings a polished, friendly, and consistent user experience across HTC's multitude of devices, and also provides the company with a strong brand identity, but we're just not fans. The problem is that with each revision of Sense we feel more alienated from what we came looking for in the first place, namely Android. Sense is starting to look and feel like its own OS -- Android in a parallel universe -- with almost every aspect of the user interface getting customized, and deviating significantly from the Android way
. Certain changes are positive, like the cool time / weather widget, the fast boot feature, and the much improved music player. Others are frustrating, like the the convoluted dialer / call log and the poor keyboard layout (who decided to put the hide button just below the shift key?!) We realize that it's all a matter of taste, and that some people will choose to go down the rabbit hole into Sense wonderland, but we're purists. So HTC, give us a way to disable Sense, and all will be forgiven. Oh, and third-party launchers and keyboards don't count - like most people, we don't have the time or interest to customize our phones beyond installing a few apps.
Sadly, the Incredible 2 ships with Android 2.2.1 (Froyo
) which, despite having stayed properly refrigerated for the past 9 months, is getting rather stale. The good news is that the Incredible S is in the process of receiving
an Android 2.3 (Gingerbread
) update, so Verizon's version can't be far behind. Overall, we don't have much to complain about -- Froyo still provides solid performance, especially when paired with speedy internals. The phone feels snappy and light on its feet all around. It's clear that HTC's spent time fine tuning Sense to make it highly responsive. Still, there's room for improvement in some areas like the web browser which, while loading and rendering pages briskly, falls short of matching the rest of the user interface in terms of smoothness when scrolling and zooming around heavy sites like Engadget.
The most glaring issue we have with the Incredible 2 is the criminal amount of crapware that Verizon decided to pre-load on the handset -- apps that can't be removed and will forever litter the app tray. Some of them, like Adobe Reader, Kindle
(basic version), Skype
, and Slacker
are apps you'd likely want to install anyway. Others, such as Blockbuster (a shortcut to the Market), Let's Golf 2, NFL Mobile, and NSF Shift don't have the same widespread appeal, but are passable. But it's with apps like City ID, My Verizon Mobile, V CAST Apps, V CAST Media, V CAST Music, V CAST Tones, V CAST Videos, and VZ Navigator
that things become downright ludicrous. Apparently Verizon wants to lump its sexy flagship 3G Android smartphone together with its generic dumbphones by contaminating it with utterly meaningless carrier-branded apps and services. We can only hope that a few heads will roll in Verizon's marketing department after we publish this review, and that common sense prevails with a Gingerbread update that allows us to uninstall the offending apps.
We'll come right out and say it: the Droid Incredible 2 is the best 3G Android smartphone on Verizon today. If you live in a 3G-only area or you can forgo LTE (and the Droid Charge
), the choice basically comes down to the Incredible 2 and Verizon's iPhone 4
. With this device, HTC is pushing the single core Snapdragon platform to the limit, then packaging it into an attractive and beautifully finished product. It improves upon the already excellent Droid Incredible with a nicer screen, an even better camera, global roaming capability, and most importantly, amazing battery life. It's an incredibly (ahem) well rounded handset -- the perfect storm of quality, refinement, power, and efficiency -- as long as you can live with Sense. And that's the crux of it -- while we think Sense will appeal to many people, we feel that HTC is doing its core audience of passionate, tech-savvy, pure Android aficionados a disservice by not providing a way to disable it (or at least making it easier to install custom ROMs via an unlocked bootloader). This, together with the insane amount of pre-loaded crapware, are the only major issues we have with respect to the software. Of course we'd have liked to see Gingerbread available out of the gate, but this looks like it will be remedied soon. In the end, the Incredible 2 isn't a fish in the sea of Android -- it's a shark seeing Verizon red and ready to devour the competition. Considering how much of a runaway hit the original Incredible was last summer, perhaps HTC should have called this new version the Jaws 2?