Saturday, May 1

Review: HTC Incredible

*inaccurate mockup pic removed :)*

HTC Incredible - sexy on both faces! HTC Incredible - super shiny screen. Too shiny? HTC Incredible - LOVING that AMOLED!

I have had the HTC Incredible from Verizon in my grubby little hands for about 20 hours now, approximately 15 of them waking. Here's my first impression.

As an AT&T refugee, the experience with Verizon to date has been EXCELLENT. Everything went smoothly and quickly and slickly. I was originally told a ship date of May 4th -- then an hour after I placed my 7:30am order, I got a shipping notification. Phone showed up at 1:15pm the next day. Activation and porting were both painless. Reception is excellent, the broadband experience is superb.

Now, let's get to the phone itself. Packaging was minimal. No extraordinary efforts required to open. I unboxed it at the Apprenda office, where our sales guy, Bob, former telecom guy, could hardly wait for me to get my own look at it before he virtually snatched it out of my hands for his own examination. Our CEO, Sinclair, who has had a Droid for six months or so now, was eager to check out the Incredible of course, though I think Bob was really the most eager out of the three of us.

The phone: incredibly light and compact. Battery came half-charged; case snaps open to install battery. Almost-perfect weight: I won't feel like I am holding a cinder block to my ear, nor will it blow away in the wind. (Remember the Motorola Q anybody?) It could be a tad lighter, but my beer muscles are in good shape, this phone should not present any fatigue issues when I choose not to use my Bluetooth headset. And, the screen? BEAUTIFUL. No other word for it. Great resolution and color and responsiveness. The phone takes a fair amount of time to startup, but it is certainly still an improvement over WinMo 6.1 boot times on my old TyTn II / HTC Kaiser.

Every one of my pain points with a six or seven year history of using WinCE/WinMo phones, almost all of them HTC along the way, seem to have been addressed. The power button has a great click -- no irritating, flakey power-off pushes like my HTC Kaiser and Hermes. Getting where I need to go, and getting "back," are perfectly enabled with the back or return physical button on the bottom/righthand side of the phone. The camera is fast -- fast to start, super fast to focus, fast to take a shot, fast to return to shooting. Just plain fast. And the pics are FANTASTIC! 8MP of awesomeness. And the optical joystick is a super clean way of triggering your shot -- none of those overly-tough buttons HTC used in the past that almost inevitably led to you jiggling the phone when trying to take a slow-to-shoot shot.

A shot from my morning dogwalk My lab-mix, Nick

I'm not sure what I think of the optical joystick yet. Still getting used to it. The touch typing, however, was a HUGE concern of mine. I'd stuck it out with physical keyboards for years, but I have grown tired of making the compromises that come with a physical keyboard. I wanted a big, beautiful screen in a slim-as-possible profile. No more physical keyboard.

So, how is the touch typing? Pretty darn good. I'm still making a few more mistakes on average than I would with my old physical keyboard HTC devices, but I suspect, especially when autocomplete is better trained, to be flying along at something a lot closer to my standard PC keyboard 95WAM.

Loose ends: GPS. EXCELLENT!!! Super fast to get your position, and it seems to track in near-realtime at a walking pace. Bluetooth: smooth. No contortions required for use. Everything. Just. Works.

Battery life? Don't know yet.

Apps: great pre-load, and a huge set of awesome free apps readily downloadable from the Market. I'll review specific apps sometime down the line, when I'm more familiar and have some standout favorites. Everything seems to run very smoothly and quickly with the right amount of OS and cross-app integration. Again: Everything. Just. Works.

EDIT: I almost forgot Exchange integration. So far, so good, but I have yet to test notorious calendar invite and attachment issues. Also, HTC Sync does not seem to play nicely with Outlook 2010. GMail integration however is awesome, so maybe I don't need to sync my PCs at all, since GMail/GApps drive all my non-Exchange mail already.

I think that about covers it for now, thanks for reading. Any specific questions, hit me up in the comments, I'm happy to follow-up!

EDIT2: Well, I just gave it a full workout in bright sunlight. My conclusions:

1. When you're shining a spotlight, or the sun, at it, yes, it's unreadable, as is any other screen, gloss or matte. A few angles tend to produce this effect, but it wasn't horrible.

2. In bright direct sunlight, reflection is present but not horrible; the bigger downfall for me was that the camera loses detail on-screen. However, I found that reading email and writing on the touch keyboard were still pretty easy. Visibility in sunlight really not a huge issue for non-video apps it seems to me. No, it's not eye-popping wow like it is indoors, but I find it to be very usable, at least in comparison to two older HTC smartphones I've owned.