Another day, another Android phone. I originally debuted my phone reviews with the HTC Incredible back in February, and I found it a pretty enjoyable Android device. Now, Verizon has thrown the sequel to the market: the Incredible 2 (what an original name!). Does this phone stand out from the plethora of Android offerings available on the market, and does it have it’s own niche? Or is it just another Android phone? Let’s take a look.
Design and Tech Specs
The Incredible 2 is very similar in design to the original Incredible. In fact, the dimensions for the device are nearly identical (4.75 x 2.52 x .48 for the I2, 4.63 x 2.30 x 0.47 for the original). The screen for the sequel is visibly upgraded – a 4 inch super LCD WVGA capacitive touchscreen. It’s also just SLIGHTLY heavier than the original – by a whole .17 ounces. The phone sports a nicely updated Qualcomm MSM8655 1GHz Snapdragon processor, but it’s sad to see a non-dual core Incredible. The phone comes with built-in Android 2.2 (sorry – no Gingerbread yet…) and the HTC Sense 2.0 UI, which users either love or hate. The RAM has been upgraded from the original – from 512 MB to 768 MB – and the phone comes with more internal storage than the original at 16 GB preinstalled on an SD card.
The camera has been upgraded – though the specs won’t tell you that: it’s still an 8 MP camera, in addition to the newly added 1.3 MP front-facing camera for video chat (did I mention Google needs to push that a little harder in their phones?). The other improvement here is the battery. While they’ve only increased talk time by an hour (and that is the theoretical spec), the stand by time is impressive – a full 361 hours. That’s six days – in comparison to the original, which only got between two and three days of standby time. That will vary with application usage of course, but it’s still a nice improvement.
If you’ve seen my video for the original Incredible, then you’ll find your experience with the Incredible 2 is exactly how it should be: better, faster and stronger (but not harder – unless you find the Sense UI difficult to manage!). The upgraded Snapdragon processor, while still clocked at a reasonable 1 GHz, is definitely a speed improvement over the original. It affects the battery life only slightly – it had roughly the same life as the original Incredible (about a full day before hitting the lower yellow/red). I’ve never seen the HTC Sense UI flow so flawlessly on a phone, except on the Thunderbolt. The screen definitely enhances the experience – I was really impressed with the clarity of app shortcuts and some of the more graphics-intensive apps that I downloaded (like AirAttack). The screen did fingerprint rather easily, but it was pretty easy to clean off and didn’t keep smudges.
There’s also the phone itself to talk about. I’m going to go back to the Sense UI again – because it really makes or breaks the phone. Honestly, if you like it, then you’ll like this phone. If you don’t, don’t buy an HTC phone. I wish HTC would make Sense optional (here’s to hoping they’re reading this review) or at least push out the latest Android updates to the phone. I feel like this latest batch of phones (anything release from May 1st onward) should be running Gingerbread, but HTC has been relatively slow throwing out the newest version of Android to its phones. Thus, if you compare a Froyo-based phone like the Incredible 2 to a Gingerbread phone, you immediately notice the difference and want more out of the Froyo device. That being said, the Froyo edition of Sense isn’t BAD… it just isn’t cutting edge, which you might expect from a new device.
Let me hit on a few other things. The camera was notably improved over the original Incredible – I found it comparable to an iPhone 4, but Apple’s HDR photos give the iPhone the advantage. The video recording was good at best. It’s not going to be your go-to device for shooting a movie anytime soon, but if you want to catch something cool happening right then and there, you’ve got the means to do so. The speakers on the back side were good; nothing compared to the HTC Surround, but surprisingly clear without much of that ‘tinny’ effect you get from some smartphones. YouTube video streaming over Verizon’s network was solid, and the bright (sometimes too bright) screen made it that much nicer to watch them. Finally, the 3G Mobile Hotspot functionality worked great – it was quick to set up and surprisingly fast. I spent a lot of time with it because our internet has been spotty the last few weeks, and I’m pleased to say that it works pretty well. The range is a bit short, but come on, cell phones aren’t exactly meant to broadcast long range WiFi signals. It’s also notable that the phone got pretty steamy after using it as a hotspot – so don’t leave it on your lap if you can avoid it.
Another solid offering from HTC. It’s definitely an incremental upgrade from the original Incredible, but don’t let the wording push you away. This “incremental” upgrade brings some much needed speed enhancements and spec upgrades to an already solid Android device. The lack of Gingerbread is noticeable and, again, it comes with HTC Sense, but if you’re in the market for a CDMA Android phone, this definitely has its place next to the Thunderbolt as one of the top Android offerings from Verizon.
Pros: Improved Camera, Good Build Quality, HTC Sense, Fast Overall
Cons: HTC Sense, Okay Battery, No Gingerbread