Motorola DROID and HTC Droid Incredible: side by side

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Introduction, Design and Hardware
Introduction:

With the ever growing population of Android based smartphones for Verizon, many of you may be wondering which is the best high-end device…the Motorola DROID A855 or the new HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300. We’re here to help and will be directly comparing the two in several key areas, including the design, hardware, software, and performance. The Motorola DROID has been king of the hill for the past few months, as it’s been the most popular smartphone for Verizon in recent history, sporting a large 3.7” display, QWERTY keyboard, 5MP camera, and has recently updated to Android 2.1, but the HTC Droid Incredible is upping the ante with an AMOLED display, 8MP camera, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and 8GB of internal storage. To paraphrase from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Two phones enter, one Droid leaves.

Design and Hardware:

Other than their overall color being black, the Motorola DROID A855 and HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300 are quite different when it comes to their design. The Motorola DROID is relatively large and with a noticeable weight of almost 6oz, but this is due to its metal construction, which gives it a feeling of durability and quality. The HTC Droid Incredible is almost the same height and width as the Motorola, through not as thick, as you lose the sliding QWERTY keyboard. However its weight is 1.4oz less, making the HTC Droid Incredible easier to carry around and to hold, though you give up the metal body for a plastic one that doesn’t feel as durable.


Since the HTC Droid Incredible doesn’t have a physical keyboard, you’re stuck with having to use an on-screen virtual QWERTY, but it is large enough to use (even with big fingers) and we didn’t experience any issue. Even though the Motorola DROID doesn’t have the best designed physical keyboard that we’ve seen (we like the one on the Motorola DEVOUR more), it’s still nice to have the option to use it when you want and we kind of wish there was one on the HTC as well. Both units retain the four function keys at the bottom of the screen for home, menu, back, and search, but the HTC Droid Incredible adds an optical pad that can be used for navigation.


The Motorola DROID A855 and HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300 both have the same screen size at 3.7-inches, but the Motorola uses a TFT display with a resolution of 480x854, while the HTC has an AMOLED display with a slightly lower resolution of 480x800. We noticed that small text (such as in the web browser) was sharper on the Motorola DROID, but this only part of the story, as images and most standard-sized text look better on the HTC because it has an AMOLED display, which is capable of higher contrast and better viewing angles. But when used in direct sunlight, both displays appear darker than we would like, regardless of using the auto brightness or manually selecting the highest setting.


For connectivity, both devices use a standard microUSB port and have a microSDHC memory card slot, through the Motorola DROID comes with a 16GB card pre-installed and the HTC Droid Incredible has 8GB of internal storage for music, pictures, videos, etc. We would have liked to have seen a 16GB card included with the HTC as well, but that isn’t a major concern. What makes more of a difference is that the HTC Droid Incredible comes with 576MB RAM (more than twice the amount of the Motorola DROID), and has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, while the Motorola has a 600MHz processor. The faster processing speed and more RAM is apparent in most tasks, such as swiping between the home screens, installing and running apps, and scrolling web pages with the browser.



Software:

When the Motorola DROID A855 was introduced last year it came with Android 2.0, but has recently been updated to Android 2.1, which also comes on the HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300. The key difference is that the Motorola DROID keeps the user interface as stock Android “Google experience”, but the HTC Droid Incredible includes the HTC Sense UI (very similar to the one on the HTC DROID ERIS) which adds extra functionality and personalization to the device. For starters, the Motorola DROID only has 3 homes screens that you can swipe between, but the HTC Droid Incredible has 7 home screens to allow for more desktop widgets and program shortcuts. Also, the HTC Droid Incredible includes 7 scenes, which alter the overall appearance of the home screens to allow for even greater customization, which you can change between or save a current scene at any time. We also like that the HTC Droid Incredible includes more desktop widgets than what’s found on the Motorola DROID, including Friend Stream, which continually pulls updates from your social networking sites. Additional software benefits that the HTC Sense UI includes is better integration with your contacts, as you can view details, messages, emails, updates and events, photos, and call history for each one separately. Unfortunately, neither device comes with the slick 3D Program Launcher that is included on the Google Nexus One.



The web experience is also pretty similar between the two devices, as they use a WebKit based browser that has support for multitouch pinch-to-zoom. The only benefit is that the browser on the HTC Droid Incredible also includes Adobe Flash Lite 4.1, which allows for some embedded Flash files to work in web pages, but it is still quite limited. Future support for Flash 10.1 is included on either browser.



Multimedia:

Both the Motorola DROID A855 and HTC Incredible ADR6300 are well equipped when it comes to their multimedia capabilities. Image viewing and video playback is standard, which we tested using a H.264 encoded MP4 file with 720x306 resolution and 1500kbps sample rate. The HTC Droid Incredible also supports TV out with a wide variety of formats (NTSC-M, NTSC-J, PAL-BDGHIN, PAL-M and PAL-N) but a cable is not included, so we guess that it will be available as an accessory.

The music player on the HTC Droid Incredible is laid out slightly different than the one used by the Motorola DROID, but offers similar features, such as viewing audio files by artists, albums, playlists, songs, genres, composers and purchased. Music playback through the rear speaker on the Motorola DROID is a bit louder than the HTC Droid Incredible, but both sound good and distortion free. The HTC also adds an FM Radio Tuner, but it requires you to use a wired set of headphones, which is used as the radio antenna. We tested it out with two sets of earbuds, and most radio stations would not come in, and the ones that did had a large amount of static, which is uncommon as south FL has dozens of strong-signal radio stations.




Camera:

A picture is worth a thousand words…but the image quality says a lot too. One area that is lacking on the Motorola DROID is the camera program, as it only has a handful of settings, such as for the resolution, flash mode, scenes, autofocus, etc. Thankfully the HTC Droid Incredible includes more options like the ISO, metering mode, and review duration, which make it more advanced. Also, when capturing an image with the Motorola DROID you use the two-stop shutter button on the side: pressing it down half-way to first focus, then all the way to snap the picture. The HTC Droid Incredible continually focuses on the center of the image, but you can tap anywhere on the screen to change your focus point to another area (which is nice if the subject is off-center), then press the optical pad to capture the image. Since the Motorola DROID comes with a 5MP camera, and the HTC Droid Incredible has an 8MP camera, we were eager to see which device captured the best images. (You can also check out our Q4 Cameraphone Comparison.) Images that were taken by the HTC Droid Incredible outside on a sunny day are sharper and clearer than ones taken by the Motorola DROID, but the HTC has a tendency to overexpose some areas while the Motorola will look a bit dull in its colors. When moving indoors the differences became less apparent, as both show a lot of grain and have difficulty focusing in low-light conditions. Each camera is paired with a dual-LED flash, and as we discovered, the one on the HTC Droid Incredible is brighter and has a larger effective range, but you’ll need to make sure the subject is at least 4 feet away; otherwise it will come out overexposed by the flash.





Video recording is supported by each device. The Motorola Droid can record at 720x480 resolution at 25FPS, with embedded audio at 16kHz, and with a total data rate of 3Mbps. While the HTC Droid Incredible records video at 800x480 resolution at 28FPS, with embedded audio at 8kHz, and with a total data rate of 2Mbps. So what does all this mean? Simply put, the HTC is capable of recording at a slightly higher resolution than the Motorola, but when viewing them on a PC, the video recorded by the Motorola DROID looks sharper and overall better than the video recorded by the HTC.

Motorola Droid sample video at 720x480 pixels resolution.
HTC Droid Incredible sample video at 800x480 pixels resolution.

We believe that the HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300 captures the best overall pictures, but the videos recorded by the Motorola DROID A855 look a bit better. So you’ll have to ask yourself which is the most important to you.



Performance:

As we mentioned earlier, the Motorola DROID comes with a 600MHz processor and 256MB of RAM, while the HTC Droid Incredible features a beefier 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 576MB of RAM. Because of this, the HTC is noticeably faster and smoother when using the interface, as well as running apps and performing different tasks.

The call quality of the Motorola DROID and HTC Droid Incredible are quite good, but we could hear some differences. First off, the slight “background static” that we heard while using the Motorola is not present on the HTC, as it is clear and lacks any background noise. However, voices on our end sounded more true-to-life while using the Motorola DROID, as the HTC Droid Incredible sounding a bit flat. People that we called said our voice sounded nearly the same on their end regardless of which phone we were using. Signal reception was also about equal with both the Motorola DROID A855 and HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300 showing 2-3 bars in high-coverage areas around south FL. When going into the software menus, both had between -89dB and -91dB of signal strength (numbers closer to 0 are better).

The Motorola DROID comes with a 1400mAh battery that is rated to provide up to 6.4 hours of talk time, while the HTC Droid Incredible has a lower capacity 1300mAh battery that is rated at 5.2 hours of talk time. During our testing we were able to get an amazing 7hr 30min of continuous talk time on the Motorola DROID, but only 5hr 30min of talk time on the HTC Droid Incredible. For normal mixed usage, which includes some talk, text, web, and standby, we were able to get nearly a day on the Motorola DROID before needing to connect the charger, but the HTC Droid Incredible was only able to last about 18 hours. So it appears that the extra processing power of the HTC does eat-up the battery faster.

Conclusion:

So which Android device is best for you? It basically comes down to which features you believe to be the most important. The Motorola DROID has been around for nearly six months and has a large following. It was recently updated to Android 2.1 and has a nice TFT display, as well as a QWERTY keyboard (though not the best designed), and is constructed out of metal. On the other hand, the HTC Droid Incredible is hot off the plastic presses and comes with a beautiful AMOLED display, faster processor, HTC Sense UI, and an 8MP camera. Our advice is that if you are considering purchasing either one, try them both out in a store first, as heavy texters may gravitate to the Motorola due to the physical keyboard, but power-users may prefer the HTC because it is faster and has more personalization. But if you’re one of the thousands of current Motorola DROID owners, is it worth replacing it with the HTC Droid Incredible? Probably not, unless there is something about the HTC Droid Incredible that is a must-have for you.

For more details, please see our full in-depth reviews of the Motorola DROID A855 and HTC Droid Incredible ADR6300.

Motorola DROID Review
Motorola DROID
HTC Droid Incredible Review
HTC Droid Incredible
Click on the photos above for in-depth reviews



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