HTC DROID Incredible 2 Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Conveniently aiding Android’s permeation to the masses approximately a year ago, the HTC DROID Incredible helped usher the beginnings of high-end Android love with its better than average specs at the time. Fast forward to a year later, we’ve seemingly witnessed a major shift in the landscape as Verizon is embarking on yet another journey to the top with their top shelf offerings. Although it’s basically the same as the HTC Incredible S that we reviewed over a month ago, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 comes out of the gate bringing some improvements over its predecessor­­­ – while being retaining its global stature as a CDMA device. However, it’s coming in at a time when we’re seeing devices like the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge taking precedence with their next-generation hardware. Is it too late for the DROID Incredible 2 at this point? Let’s find out!

The package contains:

  • HTC DROID Incredible 2
  • 16GB microSD card
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Product Safety & Warranty Brochure

Design:

If you checked out our HTC Incredible S review, you’re not in for any surprises with the DROID Incredible 2 since its design is absolutely identical. Naturally, being slightly larger than its predecessor, the minimalistic design style is once again evident as it completely looks clean in the front, while being complemented with a subtle soft touch feel around its back. Even more, we see that the unmistakable contoured rear pattern design is in play once again as it gives the handset its sprinkling of character. Sure it’s one solid feeling handset, but it doesn’t come off as anything remarkably impressive since it follows in traditional fashion to other recent HTC smartphones of late.



You can compare the HTC DROID Incredible 2 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Rather than finding it using an AMOLED panel like its predecessor, we’re instead presented with a larger sized 4” Super LCD display with WVGA (480 x 800) resolution. Still quite polarizing on its own with its iridescent color production, it’s actually more natural looking and doesn’t have the overly saturated presentation of some other AMOLED displays out there. Additionally, its size and resolution combine well to deliver a sharp image, while viewing angles and outdoor visibility are also pretty good.


Again, the other one unique distinguishable item about the HTC DROID Incredible 2 is the fact that its usual set of capacitive Android buttons will actually rotate accordingly to the orientation. Definitely a nice touch indeed, we still find ourselves accidentally pressing them since they’re positioned very close to the edge of the handset.


Much like other contemporary high-end smartphones, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 sports a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera that makes it convenient for shooting self-portraits or video chatting with friends. Also, the LED indicator is hidden beneath the right side of the wide looking earpiece grill.
 
On the left edge, we find its microUSB port for charging and data connection purposes, while the thin looking volume rocker offers a reasonable amount of feedback when pressed. Meanwhile, the 3.5mm headset jack, second microphone, and dedicated power button are located on the top side of the phone. Thankfully, the power button is slightly raised to offer an adequate amount of feel, while still packing a moderate response.


Taking a look at the rear, its 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with dual-LED flash and speakerphone grill are placed towards the top area of the handset. And even though the lens of the camera is recessed a tiny bit from its surroundings, we don’t necessarily feel confident in placing the device flat on its back due to the fear of the lens potentially being scratched.


In addition to finding the microphone in its usual location on the bottom edge of the phone, we also have a notch that allows us to easily yank of the rear cover – thus giving us access to its 1,450 mAh battery, SIM card slot, and spring loading microSD card slot (16GB card preloaded).



HTC DROID Incredible 2 360-degrees View:





Interface:

Employing the same exact processor used by the HTC ThunderBolt, the 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon processor with 768MB of RAM enables the HTC DROID Incredible 2 to fly swimmingly in its operation. Facing some stiff competition by the horde of newer devices packing on dual-core processors, the single core CPU of the DROID Incredible 2 might be perceived as last generation, but it’s still nonetheless adept at handling even the most demanding needs. Activating an intensive 3D live wallpaper, the handset doesn’t stutter much when navigating through its homescreen or launching various applications.

Love it or hate it, especially when upcoming devices like the HTC Sensation 4G and EVO 3D flaunt the latest version of the Sense UI, we’re simply left with the usual looking last generation experience of Sense running on top of Android 2.2.1 Froyo. Finding plentiful levels of personalization thanks to its vast mix of standard Android and HTC widgets, the experience is supplemented with the handset’s “Scene” modes which are essentially preset themes. When it comes to beautifying the device to your liking, there’s a total of 7 homescreen for you to fill up with various things, which can all be displayed simultaneously with a quick pinch gesture to get it into helicopter view.


Sadly enough, the handset doesn’t offer all the vast usable features present with some of its siblings that are connected to HTCSense.com – and it’s hard to comprehend the reasoning behind it. Furthermore, there’s a ton of third party apps that are preloaded out of the box – these include things like Blockbuster, City ID, Kindle, NFL Mobile, Need for Speed Shift, Skype, and Slacker. Last, but certainly not least, Verizon throws in their presence with apps like Backup Assistant, My Verizon Mobile, V CAST Apps, V CAST Media, V CAST Music, V CAST Tones, V CAST Videos, and VZ Navigator on board from the onset.

HTC Sense takes a smidgen of getting used to if you've never used it before, however is no more challenging than vanilla Android. In fact, it’s easier. For example, you can personalize the homescreen and add icons without a long-press of the homescreen. Instead, just tap the paintbrush and palette symbol on the bottom left of the homescreen - very intuitive. As already mentioned, there are plenty of pre-loaded HTC widgets which are very functional further improving usability. For those of you who want a list of HTC Widgets, in alphabetical order - your wish is our command: Bookmarks, Calculator, Calendar, Clock, FM Radio, Friend Stream, Mail, Messages, Mobile Instant Messaging, Music, News, People, Photo Album, Photo Frame, Search Anywhere, Stocks, Sync All, Tips for Home, Twitter, and Weather.



Organizer & Messaging:

Tap the "Phone" button, centered in the bottom of any one of the 7 homescreens, and the dialer is pulled up. This works wonderfully, enabling you to numerically enter a name (i.e. bob as 262), with the HTC DROID Incredible 2 displaying it instantly. Behind the dialer are all your contacts, so minimize the dialer, and intuitively, you're left with your contacts – great. The phonebook works well once you learn how to control it. By this, we mean that HTC Sense pulls in ALL your contacts from EVERYWHERE by default. This feels overwhelming at first, however, open "People", press "Menu" and then tap "View" and you can select which contacts to display (Google, Facebook, SIM etc). Once done, your contacts are a pleasure to thumb through. As for voice recognition, it works better than most, but still gets it wrong every so often.


Organizer tools performed very well indeed. Running Android 2.2,1, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 is perfect if you use Google calendars and contacts for example, it all functions as would be expected from a high-end Android phone (great), with the added sprucing up that comes with bespoke widgets courtesy of HTC, such as calendar and calculator. There is also a swish alarm interface, a flashlight and voice recorder along with all the other organizer tools you would expect.


With a larger display in tow, the messaging experience is fantastic to say the least thanks to the Sense keyboard’s useful layout. Meaning, there are numbers and certain punctuations available to you directly within the main layout by executing a long press on a particular button – rather than having to click the separate secondary characters button. Complementing the experience is the responsive rate that the handset is able to exhibit, which in turn, allows us to speedily type long messages without much fault. Despite being somewhat constricted with its portrait option, the landscape one obviously provides plenty of room to accommodate even the largest of fingers.


As usual, the Gmail experience with the HTC DROID Incredible 2 is top notch much like any high-end Android smartphone out there. That’s partly due to its wealth of features, like threaded view and the ability to add multiple accounts, which concretely combine together to offer an engaging and productive experience. Additionally, the setup of other email accounts is especially straightforward at this point since it mainly relies on you providing your email address and password for the popular services. Albeit, it may ask for you to input additional information, such as ports and server address, to properly get things up and running with custom accounts.





Camera:

Photo enthusiast will adore the myriad of specialty modes available with the HTC DROID Incredible 2 since this adds a dose of fun when shooting photos. Moreover, its camera interface provides enough manual controls, such as the ability to modify exposure, contrast, and saturation, to enable the user to perfectly capture specific shots in all of their glory. And finally, its vast mix of effects will entertain just about anyone who wants to add a sprinkling of quirkiness or fun to their shots.


Following the trend, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 utilizes a sizable 8-megapixel auto-focus sensor, much like the ThunderBolt and Incredible S before it. Unfortunately though, its quality is rather lacking mainly due to its muddy looking visuals, subtle over-exposed appearance, and cooler looking color production with images taken outdoors. Low-light shots come out grainy, but it’s nice to see that the dual-LED flash is equipped in lighting up the scenery. You may be able to get away printing 4” x 6” photos with the Incredible 2’s results, but we’d wager that printing out anything larger would expose its flaws tremendously.



Capturing those perfect poses is one thing, but the smartphone’s 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera makes it easy to shoot self-portraits – though, it’s not the best in terms of quality. Rather, it’s positioned to be used mostly for video chatting, which is acceptable in performance with services like Fring.

When you’ve got muddy looking visuals combined with a sluggish capture rate of 20 frames per second, you know that it’s far from being considered as “good” 720p video recording. In fact, it’s utterly downright awful and really makes you wonder how in the world it’s even able to advertise itself as offering high-definition video recording. On a bright note, the audio recording is marginally improved over the Incredible S since voices are natural in tone and distortion-free. Still, a disappointing video capturing experience to say the least.

HTC Droid Incredible 2 Sample Video:



Multimedia:

There isn’t much transformation with the Gallery App on the HTC DROID Incredible 2 as it lays out content in the typical grid-like formation in portrait, while turning it to landscape, switches it to a camera roll like carousel. With photos, there is a finite set of editing tools available, such as cropping or rotating, but there are additional after-effects that you can apply on them as well.


Happily accepting the HTC Music Player over the customary stock one, there’s some visual eye candy with its presentation in the form of a nifty looking cover-flow like interface in portrait and landscape – though, it seems to work better with the latter. Far from being boisterous in any way, the audio output from its rear speaker is rather mute in tone, and even though there is an option to enable SRS enhancement, it still lacks the pop to make it soundly resonating.


Shining brightly with its larger sized Super LCD display, high-definitions videos look ever so sweet on the HTC DROID Incredible 2 – and it’s definitely a companion for those long trips. Equipped at handling a short video encoded in DivX 1280 x 720 resolution, its performance is nonetheless expected since it doesn’t stutter in its playback whatsoever. And even though it offers DLNA functionality, which some might find appreciative, it feels somewhat lacking since it doesn’t offer HDMI out support like some of its rivals.


Preloaded with a 16GB microSD card, it’s usually what’s expected nowadays with something that’s priced at $200 on-contract. In the small event that it’s not sufficient enough, you can always swap it with other cards up to 32GB in capacity.

Internet and Connectivity:

It’s not the first time we’re seeing a global enabled Android smartphone from Verizon’s camp, but world travelers will scream for joy knowing that the HTC DROID Incredible 2 is yet an option for them. Capable of running on Verizon’s network domestically, it also has support to run on GSM networks abroad to keep anyone connected in almost every part of the world. Meanwhile, you’ve got features like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, and mobile hotspot functionality that allows it to share its data connection with up to 5 Wi-Fi devices simultaneously.

Being a 3G enabled device and all, it might not take away from the ThunderBolt’s lightning quick data speeds, but the overall web browsing experience is nevertheless astounding with the DROID Incredible 2. Continuing to show off its potential, we find convincing things like smooth kinetic scrolling, responsive pinch zooming, and its unflinching operation in the face of heavy Flash content present. Agreeably, we have to say that it executes on so many levels to offer a resounding well-balanced experience.





Performance:

Strangely, the audio output with the handset’s earpiece is uncannily reduced over what we experienced with the Incredible S, but it’s still reasonable enough to comprehend voices. This time however, voices sound very hollow in tone on both ends of the line, but it’s still audible to carry out conversations. Moreover, the speakerphone produces some crackly tones when it’s placed on the highest volume setting.

Frustratingly, the handset is painstakingly atrocious with retaining signal strength since it’s only able to get one or two bars at -86 dBm in high coverage areas. Not only did we experience dropped connections in the greater Philadelphia area, but there are numerous times when it’s drastically fluctuating in signal strength at the same locations.

When compared to the HTC ThunderBolt, the battery life of the HTC DROID Incredible 2 is much more vastly preferred – even though it tallies in at the normal one day of normal usage. At that level, heavy users can expect to get by a solid working day without the need to recharge it, while light users will benefit the most.

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Conclusion:

When it comes down to successive devices, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 manages to do everything correctly to make it a fruitful and fitting offering. Seeing marked improvements in various categories, it’s still one great all around handset at $200 on-contract, but its arrival on the scene feels ever so late and seems as though it’s past its prime already. Trying to follow after the mighty HTC ThunderBolt is one feat on its own, however, it’s already feeling as though it’s dated when you see smartphones packing worthwhile features like 4G LTE support, HDMI out, and dual-core processors out of the box. In all honestly, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 would’ve gotten some headway if it were released earlier in the year, way before the rash of next-gen competition, but it might be overlooked now in favor of those other fully packed modernized devices. Sure it’ll still get some notoriety primarily because of the Incredible branding that people are familiar with, but in the end, it might not be enough to keep people affixed to it in the long term.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android 2.2.1
Software number: 1.36.605.1
Build number: 1.34.605.4 CL341571

HTC DROID Incredible 2 Video Review:





Pros

  • Brilliant Super LCD display
  • Fast and stable platform experience
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Horrendous signal strength
  • Not quite a modern “high-end” smartphone

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

User Rating:

8.6
16 Reviews

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