- Review Date: 05/05/11
- Bottom line:
HTC's Droid Incredible 2 is a nice refresh of the original model, with a more rounded look, a larger screen, and global voice and data capability, but it's no longer a smartphone leader on Verizon.
Beautiful screen. Slim and fast. True world phone. Improved battery life.
No 4G. Bloatware-infested. A few minor bugs. Mixed camera and camcorder performance.
HTC had a success on its hands with the original Droid Incredible (4.5 stars). The Droid Incredible 2 carries on with the same formula, with a nip here, a tuck there, and some beefier specifications. It's also a true world phone this time around, with both CDMA and GSM compatibility. Overall, it's an evolutionary step, but one that easily keeps the Incredible 2 in the running. The thing is though, the smartphone competition on Verizon is brutal.
Design, Global Calling, and Voice Quality
Measuring 4.8 by 2.5 by 0.5 inches (HWD), the 4.8-ounce Droid Incredible 2 has a smoothed-out soft-touch case. With the rounded edges, it's now a dead ringer for the iPhone 3GS, albeit with soft touch gray rubber on the sides instead of chrome. The 4-inch, glass capacitive touch screen sports 480-by-800-pixel resolution. Typing on HTC's predictive text-enabled, on-screen keyboards is easy in both landscape and portrait modes. I credit the uptick in screen size.
The handset is a dual-band EV-DO Rev A (850/1900MHz), quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz), and dual-band HSDPA (900/2100MHz) device with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. This time around, the Incredible 2 is a global device, letting you receive voice and data signal in over 200 countries, 125 of which are at 3G speeds. There's also a Wi-Fi hotspot mode that lets you use the phone as a modem for up to five devices with the appropriate extra-cost plan.
In my tests, voice quality was clear, crisp, and loud in both directions. One caller complained that it didn't sound as good as with other Verizon phones, but a quick back-to-back check with a Casio G'zOne Ravine ($149.99, 4.5 stars) and even a 4G Samsung Droid Charge proved that something must have been up with Verizon's network that day, as none of them sounded as good as usual. Calls sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset ($99, 4 stars). Voice dialing worked fine over Bluetooth without training. The speakerphone sounded tinny, and was too weak to use outside. Battery life was excellent at 7 hours and 28 minutes of talk time, which is a nice bump over the original's sub-six-hour score.
HTC Sense and Apps
For the uninitiated, HTC Sense 2.0 is a beautiful UI layer for Android. It won't make power users looking for a stock experience happy, but it includes plenty of useful, smooth-running enhancements. There are seven home screens you can customize and swipe between. The Incredible 2 runs Android 2.2 (Froyo). (HTC promises an Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) upgrade by the end of the second quarter.) Some reviewers have dinged the Incredible 2 because of this. But I don't think Gingerbread is quite as big a deal as Froyo was, so I'm okay with it.
Either way, the Droid Incredible 2 is also compatible with more than 150,000 apps in Android Market. The phone packs a single-core, 1GHz, second-generation Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon processor, which is the same CPU found in the HTC Thunderbolt ($249, 4 stars). This makes it perfect for just about any task short of high-end gaming.
Mercifully, Verizon pulled the ridiculous Bing and VZ Navigator defaults from the Droid Incredible 2. Search requests default to Google, and although VZ Navigator is present, Google Maps Navigation is as well. Sadly, there's a boatload of non-removable bloatware cluttering up the menus, including the Blockbuster Movie Store, several games, and a few more useful apps like Kindle and TuneWiki. HTC's lightly modified WebKit browser supports Flash 10.1. For video chat, you get Verizon's Skype client, which offers choppy 3G video chats and somewhat smoother ones over Wi-Fi. While testing the Droid Incredible 2, I saw the occasional error message, but nothing that brought down the entire system.
Music and Video Playback
The standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack on top makes this a music-friendly phone. There's a microSD card slot beneath the battery cover. HTC throws in a 16GB card, and my 32GB SanDisk card worked fine. There is also a generous 1.06GB of free internal storage. Music tracks sounded clear and full through Samsung Modus HM6450 Bluetooth headphones ($99, 4 stars). HTC's upgraded music player is fun to use, and has a smooth jukebox-style album cover view in landscape mode.
Standalone videos played back smoothly in full screen mode, and the Incredible 2 transcoded my 720p videos on the fly. The SRS WOW HD enhancement beefs up the audio a bit from the tiny built-in speaker. But the HTC Thunderbolt still makes a better video player, thanks to its larger stereo speakers and integrated kickstand.
Camera, Camcorder, and Conclusions
The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera includes auto-focus, face detection, and a dual-LED flash. There's a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera for video chats, but we've yet to see smooth video chats on Android devices. My test photos exhibited average sharpness and color vibrancy, but still looked good even on a cloudy day outdoors and in dimmer rooms indoors. Shutter speeds were quick, but significant color noise intruded on indoor shots. The automatic light correction worked quickly, and the flash was powerful enough to help out as long as there was at least some light.
The Droid Incredible 2's camcorder is now HD capable, but its performance wasn't perfect. Recorded 1280-by-720-pixel videos looked a little flat and jerky at 20 frames per second, while 800-by-480-pixel videos were a bit smoother, averaging 24 frames per second. A bug trashed one 800-by-480-pixel video's audio track, though, with loud hiss and static ruining the file. Both frame rates were a few ticks off what the Thunderbolt is capable of, but test photos looked virtually identical between both phones. The Samsung Droid Charge's camera is superior to both, though.
Between an army of high-end Android phones and the Apple iPhone 4 ($199, 4 stars), Verizon has the top end of the smartphone market covered. That makes the Droid Incredible 2 less of an obvious choice than it might have been, say, six months ago. Our Editors' Choice smartphone on Verizon remains the HTC Thunderbolt; it's slightly larger and heavier than the Incredible 2, but adds super-fast 4G data speeds and a larger 4.3-inch screen. The Samsung Droid Charge is another solid alternative; it's thinner and lighter than the Thunderbolt, just like the Droid Incredible 2, but still has 4G and the larger screen. Both 4G phones cost more than the Droid Incredible 2. But between those two and the same-price iPhone 4, which has the best smartphone app collection and media performance on the market, the Droid Incredible 2 is still a good choice for some—just not the best one overall. Keep an eye on the prices at the retail counter; a $50 or $100 discount on the Incredible 2 could help make the decision for you, and you likely won't regret it.
Continuous talk time: 7 hours 28 minutes
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