Getting to the actual phone on the Incredible is easier than on the Droid, where “phone” is treated as another app rather than as a permanent part of the bottom of all the home screens. While the Incredible doesn’t merge Facebook data (such as a photo of the contact and profile info) in the address book as Droid does, you do conveniently get designated favorite callers atop the dialpad and a scrollable contact list that has to be clicked through separately on the Droid.
The Incredible’s phone quality is not good. Voices sound scratchy and filtered at both ends of calls, a far cry from the Droid’s clean, landline-like reception quality. The phone’s volume toggle is also nearly too flush to the phone, making it difficult to manipulate by feel while on a call.
In sort of a mini take-off on Motorola’s Motoblur, the Incredible includes something called Friend Stream, which unifies your Flickr, Facebook and Twitter streams in one place. But these three streams are so disparate, we’re not sure this is as handy as it sounds.
Although both phones offer the same intuitive browser, the Incredible’s pages are presented against a strange, low-contrast blue-gray-white background, while the Droid’s egg white platform. But the Incredible’s pages snap into view around twice as fast as Droid’s. Articles pop up in around two seconds from CNN’s home page, for instance, and The New York Times home page loaded in three seconds flat, two or three seconds faster than on the Droid.
While an 8-megapixel camera may sound impressive, the Incredible continues the stupid tradition of tiny plastic lenses and digital interpolation, which spoil what could be reasonable replacements for a standalone digital camera. Not that the Incredible doesn’t take bright, colorful – and big – pictures, but details are digitally smudgy, Exhibit A why measuring photo results by resolution is dumb.
Although it has a dual-LED flash bright enough to overpower indoor subjects that wander too close to the lens, a dedicated external camera shutter button would have been nice; it’s hard to keep from blurring indoor shots having to touch the screen or optical mouse to take a shot.
Better is the Incredible’s video recorder, which captures 800-by-480-pixel MPEG-4 footage. While not HD, clips blow up full screen a bit smudgy, but remarkably clean of the usual excessive pixelation.
Even though AMOLED technology is supposed to result in, among other things, better battery life, Droid shockingly trumps Incredible by more than an hour in rated talk time (6.4 hours for Droid, although we got a lot more than that in our informal tests, vs. 5.2 hours for Incredible, which we surpassed by around an hour), and nearly twice as much standby time (270 vs. 149 hours). That’s an amazing and disappointing disparity, and means a higher chance of your Incredible not making it through a day without needing a boost.
The Incredible is a superbly executed amalgamation of nearly every technology a cell phone buyer might want. It’s light, it avoids overdosing on external controls, it’s got a big and beautiful AMOLED screen, it’s intuitive without any glaring annoyances, it’s got a good-to-great camera, a wicked quick Web browser, and Android’s most state-of-the-art OS. But the Incredible’s poor voice quality and unexceptional battery life makes it a tough choice over the heavier, but far better-sounding and longer-lasting Motorola Droid.
- Bright, colourful, 3.7-inch AMOLED screen
- Google Android 2.1
- 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash
- 8GB built-in memory
- Light, sleek, uncluttered exterior
- Poor voice quality at both ends of calls
- Below-average battery life
- No dedicated camera shutter button