Motorola DROID X vs. HTC Droid Incredible

Introduction and Design

Two of the hottest smartphones for Verizon Wireless this season are the HTC Droid Incredible and the Motorola DROID X. One can say the HTC Droid Incredible is hotter than anyone anticipated, as Samsung is having a tough time recently keeping up with production demand for its AMOLED display that is used on the phone, thus causing a shipping delay of a few weeks. Even though the Motorola DROID X doesn’t officially go on sale until July 15th, there has been high interest in it too, as it surpasses the HTC Droid Incredible with a large 4.3” display, 720p video recording and HDMI output. So does the Motorola DROID X have what it takes to make people jump ship to it, or does the HTC Droid Incredible still have what it takes to peak customers' interests? Let’s take a closer look at each.


Both the Motorola DROID X and HTC Droid Incredible are black in color, but their design similarities end there. The DROID X is a larger phone in height and width (5.02” x 2.57”), but is still relatively thin at 0.39”, though there is a bit of a hump at the top, which houses the 8MP camera. The DROID X is constructed out of metal, which feels solid and durable in the hand, but still comfortable to hold, thanks to the soft-touch coating. Meanwhile, the Droid Incredible is more compact (4.63” x 2.3”) and comes in about 0.88oz less weight, but it has an all plastic construction and lacks the feeling of durability of the DROID X. It really comes down to personal preference here, if you prefer a more compact phone that is lighter weight, or want something a tad larger with a more solid construction.

One of the highlights of the HTC Droid Incredible is its WVGA resolution AMOLED display, though “only” coming in at 3.7” diagonal. The advantage of AMOLED is its high contrast ratio with complete black-levels and its excellent viewing angles. We found that colors on the Droid Incredible have plenty of “pop”, but were also warm, which was most noticeable in white areas, as they have a pinkish hue. The AMOLED display was also challenging to view outside in direct sunlight, even when turning the brightness all the way up. In comparison, the Motorola DROID X uses a traditional WVGA resolution TFT display, which however really dwarfs the 3.7” one of the Droid Incredible when placed next to it. Colors on the DROID X look more natural, instead of being over-saturated and warm like on the Droid Incredible, but contrast, black levels, and viewing angles do suffer a bit since it is TFT. Though when used outside in the sun, the display on the DROID X was brighter and easier to read, so this is a clear advantage. Between the two, we prefer the display on the Motorola DROID X, due to its larger size, accurate colors, excellent resolution, and usability in sunlight.

For the rest of the phone’s design, the HTC Droid Incredible uses touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom for accessing the home, menu, back, and search, and has an optical touchpad in the center, while the Motorola DROID X implies physical buttons that have to be pressed down and lacks any type of touchpad or d-pad. We prefer the physical buttons on the DROID X, as they are less likely to be pressed accidently, while the capacitive buttons on the Droid Incredible can easily be touched by mistake when using the handset. Both phones have a volume rocker, power/lock button, 3.5mm headset jack, and microUSB port along the sides, but the Motorola DROID X also adds a micro HDMI (type D) port and a 2-stop camera shutter button. The 8MP camera and flash are located on the back of each, and you have to remove the battery cover to access the microSDHC memory card slot.

Regarding the storage space, the Motorola DROID X includes a 16GB memory card (32GB is supported), which is used for saving pictures, videos, music, etc, and there is also 8GB of internal space on the phone, though it is not user accessible, as this is where apps, settings and contacts and stored. Meanwhile, the HTC Droid Incredible comes with a smaller 2GB memory card (32GB supported), and its 8GB of internal space is set up so that 748MB is for storing apps, and the remainder 6.6GB is accessible to the user for storing whatever they want. As you can see, the Motorola DROID X can allow more apps to be stored and also includes a larger memory card than the HTC Droid Incredible. For processing power, the HTC Droid Incredible comes with a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, while the Motorola DROID X uses a 1GHz OMAP 3630 CPU and a dedicated SFX530 GPU. We ran the Quadrant benchmark program on both, which tests the CPU, memory, I/O, 2D and 3D graphics, and got a score of 1263 on the DROID X, while the Droid Incredible got a significantly lower score of 523.

HTC Droid Incredible 360 Degrees View:

Motorola DROID X 360 Degrees View:


Both the Motorola DROID X and HTC Droid Incredible currently come with the Android 2.1 OS, though Google and Motorola announced that the DROID X would receive an update to Android 2.2 Froyo by late summer. The main difference between the two devices is that the Motorola DROID X is basically using stock Android with some MOTOBLUR elements (or features) added to it by Motorola (such as with the messaging and social networking), while the HTC Droid Incredible comes with the HTC Sense UI interface, which is tightly integrated into almost every aspect of the phone’s OS. Both devices have 7 home screens, with each device containing specific on-screen widgets provided by the manufacturer. One feature that is exclusive to the Droid Incredible is its seven Scenes (or themes) that you can easily change between or customize new ones whenever you like. This is nice, as it makes the Droid Incredible look more personalized.

For managing your social networking contacts, each device offers added features over and above what comes standard in Android. Both devices will connect and integrate with your GMail/Google Talk, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, with Flickr supported by the Droid Incredible, and MySpace, Photobucket, Skype, and Yahoo! Mail supported by the DROID X. Naturally, you can also setup both devices to work with your POP/IMAP Email and MS Exchange accounts. After your accounts are set up on the Motorola DROID X, you can then go into the Messaging app, which will show all your accounts there, including text messages, which can be viewed all together in the Universal Inbox, or separately by clicking on the account name. On the DROID X homescreens you can add the Messages widget, which will show new text and email messages, as well as the Social Networking widget that is fed with status updates from all your friends, and a Social Status widget to update your own status. The HTC Droid Incredible handles your messages a bit differently, as there is a separate text messaging and email program, which can show emails by all received, conversations, VIP groups, unread, and attachments. There is also a Friend Stream widget on the Droid Incredible’s homescreen that will show updates from your social networking contacts.

For sending a message, neither device comes with a physical QWERTY keyboard, so you are left to use the on-screen virtual one. This is one area where the larger 4.3” screen on the Motorola DROID X really comes in handy, as the on-screen buttons are large and easy to use, even with big hands. It also supports multitouch, which means you can press and hold the shift key while at the same time pressing a letter to capitalize it.  Even though the HTC Droid Incredible has a smaller screen, we still found its keyboard easy to use, though the buttons are smaller and are cramped closer together. We feel that big hands will be more comfortable using the larger on-screen keyboard on the DROID X, while smaller hands may find it too big, and might want to consider the Droid incredible.

Data and Connectivity:

The web experience is pretty similar between the two devices, as they use a WebKit based browser that can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode and with support for multitouch pinch-to-zoom. We did notice that small text on web sites can at times appear jagged (or pixelated) on the Motorola DROID X, while the HTC Droid Incredible was less so. At this time, the only added benefit with the browser on the HTC Droid Incredible is that it includes Adobe Flash Lite, which allows for some embedded Flash files to work in web pages, but it is still quite limited. But once the Android 2.2 update is made available for the Motorola DROID X, it will include Flash 10.1, which will offer even better support. For testing internet speeds, we used the program and were able to get 1.5Mbps download and 0.40Mbps upload on each device using Verizon’s EVDO Rev A network, though both also support Wi-Fi.

Naturally you can download and install apps from the Android Market, but there are quite a few apps already present on the Motorola DROID X and HTC Droid Incredible, including Google Talk, GMail, Google Maps 4 with Navigation, QuickOffice for viewing Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Acrobat files, Skype Mobile, City ID, and VCast Video. The DROID X is also one of the first Android smartphones to support Verizon’s 3G Mobile Hotspot app, which will allow you to connect up to 5 devices to it via Wi-Fi, which intern get connected to Verizon’s data network through the phone. This service costs $20 per month, but is limited to 2GB of data. It has been reported that the HTC Droid Incredible will also get Verizon’s 3G Mobile Hotspot app during its next firmware update.

Camera and Multimedia:

Even though the Motorola DROID X and HTC Droid Incredible both come equipped with an 8MP autofocus camera and dual LED flash, images could not look more different between them. For starters, the camera interface is a bit different on the devices, as is the way you actually take the image. The DROID X uses a traditional 2-stop camera shutter button that you press half way down to focus on the center of the image, and then press all the way down to take the picture. You can also move the focusing square around on the screen if the subject isn’t in the center. On the other hand, the Droid Incredible will continue to automatically refocus on whatever is in the center square (and you move the focus square around), then you press down on the optical touchpad to take the image. The total time to capture an image on both is about a second, which is quite respectful. Images taken by the Motorola DROID X outside in bright sunlight were properly exposed and have accurate color representation and saturation. There is also a lot of detail in the images, but we found them to look a bit soft. When using the HTC Droid Incredible, images were a bit sharper, but lacked the accurate colors and tonal balance that is present on the DROID X. It may come down to personal preference here, but we prefer the outside images produced by the Motorola DROID X more. While indoors, the DROID X continues to produces accurate colors, even when using the flash (which also does a decent job at illuminating the scene), while the Droid Incredible has more of a green hue with the flash.

For recording videos, the Motorola DROID X supports up to 1280x720 resolution at 24 fps, with embedded audio at 44.100 kHz, and with a total data rate of 12 Mbps, while the HTC Droid Incredible can currently only go as high as 800x480 resolution at 28 fps, with embedded audio at 8.0 kHz, and with a total data rate of 2 Mbps. (The upcoming firmware update for the Droid Incredible is said to enable 1280x720 recording). With the DROID X there are also four different scenes: everyday – for capturing audio from all directions, outdoors – for reducing wind noise, narrative – for commenting on the scene, and subject – that records audio from the front of the camera. Playing back the videos on the phone’s display look OK, but when viewed on a large 24” PC monitor, neither one is jaw-dropping DVD quality. Though we could tell the higher-resolution video captured by the DROID X looked slightly better than the Droid Incredible, and that the audio quality was also much better due to the higher sampling rate.

Motorola DROID X Everyday Scene sample video at 1280x720 pixels resolution.
Motorola DROID X Outdoors Scene sample video at 1280x720 pixels resolution.
HTC Droid Incredible sample video at 800x480 pixels resolution.

We also tested some of our own ripped videos with both devices and had no problems playing H.264 encoded MP4 video at 720x306 resolution, though the DROID X also supported WMV files and DivX encoded AVI videos. Once again the larger screen on the DROID X is a plus when watching videos.

Regarding the HDMI output on the Motorola DROID X, it requires a micro Type D cable (not included) and can be used to show your pictures and videos on a HDTV, as well as ripped videos (not copy protected), and streaming videos from VCast, but it will not work with the included Blockbuster app.

A lot of people like to use their phones as music players so they don’t have to carry around a separate device. The Motorola DROID X continues to use the basic Android 2.1 player, while the HTC Droid Incredible uses its own Sense UI style player, which looks a little better visually, included showing the album art on the desktop widget. Both devices’ music players offer pretty much the same features, but the one on the DROID X does include a few equalizer presets. Our MP3 music that was played through the rear speaker on both devices was equally loud, but it sounded a bit ‘thin’ on the Motorola DROID X, where the HTC Droid Incredible had a fuller sound. But if you use 3.5mm headphones or a Bluetooth stereo headset, it sounds great regardless of which phone you’re using. Furthermore, when using a wired headset, you can also use the FM radios on the DROID X and Droid Incredible. Our local FM stations came in clear on the Motorola DROID X with better reception than the HTC Droid Incredible. There is also the option to play the FM stations through the phone’s rear speaker, but you still have to keep the headset connected, as it uses the wires as an antenna.


Even though the call quality of the HTC Droid Incredible is quite good, we found that calls on the Motorola DROID X sounded noticeably better on our end as voices were clearer and more natural sounding, and we were able to hear low to high tones through the earpiece speaker without any distortion, even with the volume turned all the way up. The rear speakerphone was also more distortion-free. People that we called said we sounded very clear on their end when using the Motorola DROID X, more so than when using the HTC Droid Incredible, which is most likely due to the noise cancellation mic on the DROID X. The signal reception was nearly identical on both devices as it didn’t drop any calls, and we had 3-4 bars showing in high-coverage areas with -87dB of signal strength.

The smartphone’s battery is its life-line and can either make or break the device. The included 1540mAh battery with the Motorola DROID X was able to provide us a remarkable 9 hours and 30 minutes of continuous talk time on a full charge, or up to 30 hours of mixed usage (which includes some talk, text, email, web, app usage, and standby). Meanwhile, the HTC Droid Incredible comes with a smaller 1300mAh battery, which we could only get up to 5 hours and 30 minutes of talk time on a full charge, or about 20 hours of mixed usage. Once again, it is proven that a higher capacity battery is key to having a smartphone one can use when needed, without the worry of having the battery die.


The clear winner here for most people is the Motorola DROID X, as it offers a larger, 4.3” display, excellent call quality, better looking camera images and video with HDMI out, and has overall faster performance with better battery life. Though the HTC Droid Incredible is better suited for those individuals looking for a more compact smartphone with a smaller screen and are fond of HTC Sense UI. If it were up to us, we’d like to see a Motorola DROID X running Sense UI, as that would be the best of both worlds (hardware and software), but since that isn’t going to happen, we’ll have to make do with the DROID X as-is and await the Android 2.2 update.

The HTC Droid Incredible is currently available through Verizon Wireless with a price of $199.99, after a $100 rebate and with a 2-year contract agreement. Just keep in mind that it may take up to a month for you to get your Droid Incredible order. Starting on July 15th the Motorola DROID X will also be available through Verizon Wireless for $199.99, after a $100 rebate and with a 2-year contract agreement. Both smartphones require a minimum Talk plan of $39.99/month and a Data plan of $29.99/month.

Motorola DROID X vs. HTC Droid Incredible Video Comparison:

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