HTC EVO 4G and HTC DROID Incredible: side by side

Introduction and Design

Which would win in a fight, a lion or a bear?  A great white or an orca?  Jackie Chan or Jet Li?  HTC’s DROID Incredible or its EVO 4G?  These two phones represent the best of the best right now, so naturally we’re going to pit them against each other and see who comes out ahead.  Both super-devices are powered by Qualcomm’s lightning-fast 1GHz Snapdragon processor and feature HTC’s superb Sense UI running over Android 2.1.  Both offer 8 megapixel cameras with dual-LED flash, microSD expansion up to 32GB and follow similar design philosophies, so how exactly do these similar devices differentiate themselves?  Read on to find out…


Not too long ago we called the Nexus One’s 3.7” display “massive and beautiful,” but my how times have changed.  The DROID Incredible features a similar AMOLED display, also at 3.7” inches, but it looks downright tiny when sitting next to the EVO 4G’s 4.3” TFT panel.  Never has such a big screen seemed as inadequate as it does on the DROID Incredible.  As we mentioned in our HTC EVO 4G review everything is just better on the big screen.  EVO owners are really going to be spoiled; even going from the EVO to the Incredible makes things like web browsing feel cramped.

In terms of technology, AMOLED should have the edge, but in the eye test we generally found the EVO’s TFT display to outperform the Incredible.  The AMOLED display has much better black levels, but as we’ve seen with the Nexus One and Samsung Moment the whites on the DROID Incredible are very blue.  The EVO’s display was actually brighter and held up well in direct sunlight, thought the Incredible was better to read off-angle.  This is probably software related, but when using the auto-brightness setting the EVO was consistently brighter and easier to read than the Incredible.  The one thing that annoyed us the more we used it was that you could see each pixel on the Incredible’s screen.  While the Incredible’s display pops a bit more, the EVO’s is smoother and more realistic.

For such a big difference in screen size the EVO 4G isn’t really much bigger than the HTC DROID Incredible when the two are sized up.  The Incredible is noticeably narrower, which makes it more comfortable to hold one-handed, but there is a lot of wasted space around the display (plus the addition of an optical joystick) which makes it nearly as tall as the EVO.  The Incredible is marginally thinner, but the blocky back feels a bit awkward especially compared to the smooth, tapered lines of the EVO.  The wideness of the EVO is what will turn some people off, and for those people the Incredible is probably the way to go.  The Incredible is likely a better choice for the ladies because it is a bit more chic than the masculine EVO, but we really can’t see going back to a smaller display after experiencing the EVO.  Held two-handed the HTC EVO 4G's wideness now feels perfectly natural, whereas the Incredible feels too narrow and small.

Both are very solidly built phones, though between the two the EVO 4G feels better.  There are a few creaks on the HTC DROID Incredible and the soft-touch paint on the EVO is a little bit softer and the plastic used feels a bit cheaper on the Incredible.  The EVO 4G is 1.4oz heavier than the DROID Incredible but the weight is distributed well without feeling overly heavy; the Incredible also spreads its weight well and feels good in the hands and pocket.  The EVO 4G gets bonus points for its super-cool and handy kickstand.

HTC EVO 4G 360 Degrees View:

HTC Droid Incredible 360 Degrees View:

Software and System Performance:

With both the EVO 4G and DROID Incredible running Android 2.1 with HTC’s latest version of Sense, there is little difference between the two.  With no joystick and more screen real estate the keyboards on the EVO 4G offer cursor buttons, and the messaging app on the Incredible integrates voicemail, but for all intents and purposes the two are identical on the software front.  The EVO’s larger screen makes everything more pleasant to use, especially the keyboard and web browser.  Sorry Verizon users, bigger is simply better in this case.

The guts are also very similar as both devices are powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.  The EVO 4G gets the slight nod here because it features 1GB of ROM, double that of the DROID Incredible.  The Incredible has 6.6GB of usable internal storage and early owners are getting a 2GB microSD card thrown in by Verizon, but officially it ships with no extra storage whereas the EVO 4G ships with an 8GB microSD chip.  Keep in mind that there are a number of apps out there which require a memory card to run either to their full extent (for example Pure Calendar widget) or in some cases at all (like Homerun Battle 3D.)  The Incredible’s internal storage may otherwise be ample for most, but many apps were unable to recognize that as usable space and therefore would not run.

Both devices are super quick when navigating through the operating system, but the EVO had a slight edge when it comes to things like opening applications and loading webpages.  Using Quadrant’s benchmark app we ran seven tests on each device and threw out the high and low scores for each, giving us five scores to work with.  The EVO was noticeably quicker; the EVO finished the benchmarks significantly faster than the Incredible and on average the results for the EVO were 18% higher than the Incredible.  In fact, even if we take the Incredible’s high score and the EVO’s low score (both of which we threw out for our averages), the EVO ran 8% faster (and for those curious if we take the EVO’s high score and Incredible’s low the EVO is an astounding 24% faster.)

Even as a 3G device the EVO outperforms anything else on the market, but when you throw in 4G, web speeds get even faster.  Page loads are better, videos are smoother and downloads are quicker.  It simply doesn’t compare with anything else right now for those few blessed with Sprint’s 4G coverage.


Both devices boast an 8 megapixel shooter with dual flash, and both cameras load, focus and capture very quickly.  The similarities end there; in addition to the main sensor, the EVO 4G puts a 1.3 megapixel camera up front for self shots or video chat, and despite the same specifications for the main camera the EVO took much better pictures than the Incredible.  The HTC EVO 4G produced more natural colors and detail was also much better with the EVO.  The pink roses were well represented by the EVO, but turned red with the Incredible.  The Incredible had an especially hard time focusing on close-up shots and images turned out blurry even from a few feet away.  Both of them only performed so-so on indoor images, with noticeable graining and loss of detail as the light deteriorated.

In terms of video performance it’s not even a contest.  While the EVO compresses videos more than we’d like, it is still capable of shooting HD videos at 720p (1280x720), while the Incredible maxes out at 800x480.

HTC EVO 4G sample video at 1280x720 pixels resolution.

Droid Incredible sample video at 800x480 pixels resolution

Call Performance:

The HTC Droid Incredible managed to slightly edge the EVO when it came to phone performance.  Callers rated us an 8/10 with the EVO, saying that we sounded slightly distant but good overall.  With the Incredible we sounded “slightly better” and crisper, garnering an 8.5 rating.  To us voice reproduction was good with both devices, but again the Incredible had a slight edge thanks to a cozier tone of the caller.

The EVO uses a 1500mAh battery, while the Incredible uses a 1300mAh battery.  The Incredible gave us five and a half hours of continuous talk time, slightly better than the rated 5h12m but the EVO gave us 6h18m, up a bit from the rated six hours.


With a name like Incredible there is a lot to live up to, and HTC did a very good job with its second DROID device for Verizon.  For a brief period of time it may have been the best Android phone on the market, but in the back of their minds the engineers at HTC had to know that the EVO 4G would be their flagship device.  It was accordingly made bigger, better and faster.  The DROID Incredible is a mighty fine phone, but when it comes down to it can’t quite keep up with its big brother.  The HTC EVO 4G is simply an incredible phone.

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