HTC Droid Incredible – The Rest of the Story (Spoiler Alert!)

What Droid Incredible Really Does – and Does Not (Unofficial Review)

After resisting Droid-Rage during the holiday season, I succumbed to the uber- hyped latest Android super phone – the HTC Incredible.  My venerable Blackberry Curve just was not as sleek or sexy and clearly did not have the cool robot graphics.

There are numerous blog reviews and YouTube videos that will espouse all the virtues of Verizon’s number 1 smartphone.  While they are largely correct, they do not tell the whole story.  Yes it is fast, works on a great network, has more features that a human can possibly comprehend, or use – and even makes phone calls.   I will provide another article with my fav Droid features – this article is about the other side.

To quote Paul Harvey  – “And now the rest of the story….”  Here are my top six issues with my Droid.

1. Speed comes at a cost – The Achilles Heal of the Incredible

All the blazing application response and connectivity comes at a cost in battery utilization.  The first day I had my Droid I had to charge it 2 times.  What good is all that capability if the phone is dead?  If you get a Droid you must stay close to a charging source and become an active energy manager.  You should turn-off the GPS when not needed, limit the number of running applications and even re-consider all of those really cool active widgets which use periodic connectivity to update themselves.   If you need an icon of the sun to let you know its sunny outside, perhaps you need more than a new phone.

2. The display rocks – unless you want to use it outside during the day

The AMOLED technology used in the HTC screen is the latest, but not quite the greatest.  The display is great when used inside.  I just got back from a round of golf and the phone was practically unusable in the sunlight.  The bigger issue is using the super Google driving directions app with a map view.  The map will not be viewable in a car during the day!

3. Its not the number of Apps that matters – its having the right ones and ones that actually work

I never got that impressed with the claims of absolute number of apps on device platforms.  If the iPhone has 300K and the Android 30K , what does that really mean?  It’s a little like counting the number of Nukes that the U.S. and Russia have in their arsenals. .  Quality, not quantity really matters. Android has the basic Facebook and Skype apps.  Its the other 30K that may need some help.  My impression is that the apps on the iPhone are not just more numerous, but are generally of higher quality.   Perhaps the Android platform chased absolute numbers to claim lots of apps without as much quality consideration.  Several apps just did not work at all and others just stopped working.  I tried to download the linkedIn app and had a failure.  This is an area that the Android platform will likely get right at some point.

I want quality apps for the handful I will actually use.  Android has to close the app quality gap with Apple.

4. iTunes Integration – Music and Video – ???

The iPhone clearly excels at music and video desktop integration.  The challenge for any other platform is to create seamless integration for their platforms with the defacto standard for online music. Given the critical nature of this feature, one might assume that HTC or Verizon would provide a solution that makes this happen.

And you would assume wrong.  There are a couple of solutions that purported to achieve this function.  I tried both SailingMedia and DoubleTwist.  Both of these third-party solutions did not work.  While I could probably play with them for another hour or so and figure out what the issue is – why should I have to do that?  I did load my music directly by dragging my music to the mp3 folder on my device.  The music plays fine and the external speaker is loud –if that matters to you.  There does not appear to be a pre-loaded video player and I have yet to get a video, other than YouTube to play successfully.  Again, I’m sure I will figure it out – but why should I have to?

5. Gmail Good – Gmail Bad

I use gmail for my personal email domain, I figured that the Android platform would be a good choice for my use.  For the record my Blackberry worked perfectly with my gmail account.  As expected my gmail account integrated easily with my Droid.  My issue with email is the rather poor gmail app on the device.  I tried to use the HTC mail app and for whatever reason it does not seem to work when my gmail application is active.  As with my other issues, I am sure with a little time I can get it to work.

6. Steve Jobs is right – One button is enough

The Incredible Droid has 7 physical buttons -Home, Menu, Back, Search, optical trackball with click, volume and power/wake-up.  In addition to these physical inputs the standard screen has four soft keys – an up arrow to access all programs, a phone button (yes it can make a phone call!), a “+” key for adding widgets, programs and folders to a screen, and lastly a hidden slide down at the top of the screen that gives a list of alerts and running programs.  Wow – that’s a lot of things to keep straight!.  The really annoying input is the totally useless optical track ball and click selector that just happens to occupy the same spot as the single “home” key on the iPhone.  Needless to say, I have been pushing that click selector by accident through pure muscle memory from my iPhone and iTouch.  An optical trackball on a touch screen device?  Why?

Despite these issues, I am sure I will get around the downsides of this device and make it into a very useful tool for business and personal use.  However, how many customers will take the time to become an I.T. manager for their phone?

For the past several years I carried my Blackberry for phone use and light Internet use and an iTouch for fun.  The true test will be if I go to one device.

The iPhone, like all Apple products – just works out of the box.  The Droid can work, and even do more, but you have to know what you are doing and be willing to investigate the necessary solutions.  The Droid is clearly still rough around the edges.


Filed under Apple, Droid, HTC, Incredible, Incredible, iPad, iphone, Ipod, iTunes, mobile, Mobile Application Stores, mobile commerce, skype, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, Steve Jobs, Verizon, wireless

3 responses to “HTC Droid Incredible – The Rest of the Story (Spoiler Alert!)

  1. After reading this I am sticking with my current HTC phone.

  2. Taylor Washington

    Clearly an Apple bias. I don’t even know where to begin. iTunes’ method of synching is hardly superior to drag-and-drop unless you’re really just too lazy or too much of an idiot to manually add music to your device. Not to mention Android doesn’t REQUIRE you to use a certain media player, and, surprising as it may be, not everyone uses iTunes.

    The Android Market certainly isn’t fantastic or anything and obviously can’t compete with the App Store in terms of sheer volume, but the quality of the App Store is just as questionable as that of the Android Market if not more so. For every practical app you have 10 useless noise makers and other novelties that serve no real purpose. Not to mention the restrictions placed on developers.

    The Gmail app on the Incredible is one of the best on any platform. I really don’t know what you’re talking about with that.

    The battery life of the Incredible is paltry, but you can get a nice Sendo 1750mAh battery for only $40 which SIGNIFICANTLY improves its lifespan. It puts it at least on equal ground with the 3GS, which is pretty good considering it has a much faster processor, a better screen and is capable of true multitasking. As for the AMOLED screen, its visibility is certainly greatly reduced in direct sunlight, but unless the sun is beaming right on it I don’t have much problem seeing it. And it undeniably looks better than TFT; I’ve compared it side by side with my 2G iPhone.

    Now onto the buttons. First of all, the bottom row of buttons aren’t physical, they’re capacitive. Second of all, they are all very functional and useful. And they’re not even intrusive. Are you honestly bashing the Incredible because it has more than one dedicated face button? The one thing I will agree with is the uselessness of the track pad. The only thing I even use it for is navigating text input fields.

    Now for the last thing you said about the iPhone “just working” out of the box. The only way it “just works” any better than the Incredible is from it being oversimplified and restrictive. Anything can “just work” if you take away enough functionality and options. I had to jailbreak my iPhone to be able to do even basic customization that should be available on modern smartphone. I was able to do everything I wanted with my Incredible right out of the box and everything is much more intuitive than with my iPhone.

  3. Taylor-

    Firstly – Thanks for the comments! You should check out my second article on the Android and you will see the aspects I really like. I was not initially as impressed with the Incredible – maybe because of the Incredible Hype. After a month – I can’t imagine not having it. I have adapted and learned to get around the shortcomings and enjoy the positives. I’ve tried out about 100 apps and still have around 50 – most of which are free on my phone.

    The Android is still a work in process. If you are willing to put in the extra effort you can get much more functionality than an iPhone – So for some it may not be quite right….. yet. For others it is the superphone that has been awaited for years.

    It will be interesting to see if any customer service call stats get released as a comparison with the iPhone.

    So generally I am very positive on the Incredible – it is just not yet as refined as it will be