Droid Incredible 2 review

Why mess with a good thing, right? Verizon struck smartphone gold a year ago with the Droid Incredible, a version of the European HTC Desire tweaked for the U.S. market. And so not a whole lot has changed with the follow-up, the Droid Incredible 2.

It actually was an interesting turn of events -- a U.S.-only phone (and one with Verizon's exclusive "Droid" branding at that) -- took its name and design back overseas and was unveiled at Mobile World Congress as the Incredible S. Needless to say, it was a welcome sight for those looking for something a little different from HTC. (Even if it is still a black slab.)

So what's new in the Incredible 2? And is it enough to warrant a purchase? Or does last year's model still have what it takes? Let's find out, after the break.

Droid Incredible 2 Specs | Droid Incredible 2 Forums | Droid Incredible 2 Accessories

Initial hands-on

Youtube link for mobile viewing

The hardware

If you've had, held or just been in the same room as the original Droid Incredible, its new sibling will look and feel very familiar. You've got an HTC black slab with the usual rounded corners, and the rear of the phone has the same plateau design.

It's on front where we find the biggest changes. The DInc 2 now sports a 4-inch display, up from 3.7 inches. It's a SLCD display, which hopefully will help avoid any production shortages like we saw last year when there simply weren't enough AMOLED screens to go around. We're happy with the bump up to 4 inches -- it really is the sweet spot. And as much as we're enjoying some of the newer display types, the LCD screen at 480x800 still gets the job done nicely.

As we noted in our initial review and hands-on, there's a tiny lip between the display and the case that bothered us ever so slightly -- maybe a little more than it should. If you didn't notice it until now, our apologies.

The earpiece houses the notification light, which we're more than happy to see included. Too many phones are doing without notification lights now. But the earpiece has lost its trademark red color, and we're sad to see that go. It's just boring old black now.

Size-wise, the new DInc 2 is 4.75 x 2.52 x .48 inches. That's just a tad bigger in all dimensions than the original Droid Incredible.

A 1.3MP front-facing camera has been added, too, at the top right of the display. If you never need video chat, you'll have little use for the front camera. (It's pretty lousy for self-portraits, even if it is easier to use.)

The Droid Incredible 2 has gotten a pretty big makeover below the screen, too. The optical trackpad and button are both gone. We're a little sorry to see them go, but they've been replaced by a neat little trick. The DInc 2 has lighted capacitive buttons in the home-menu-back-search configuration. And when you rotate the phone to landscape (horizontal) mode, the buttons rotate with you. Sorcery, indeed! But note that they currently only change when you rotate the phone to the left. So if you're one of those people (weirdos!) who rotates the phone to the right, you're out of luck.

And one little niggle we had with our review unit's buttons was apparent inconsistent lighting. It seemed that we had to look straight on the buttons, or they'd go a bit dim -- but only the first three buttons. The search button stayed consistent.

The design on the rest of the phone remains pretty clean. You've got a pinhole mic on the bottom bezel, and another on the top (flanked by the 3.5mm headphone jack and power button for noise-cancellation. The volume rocker and microUSB port are on the left-hand bezel.

Flip the DInc 2 over and ... there's that iconic battery cover! You've got the same plateau effect as on the original Droid Incredible, and we're glad it's stayed. On the rear is where you'll also find the 8MP camera with dual flashes, plus the rear speaker. You'll also find a trio of pinholes -- one next to the camera lens, and two down toward the bottom. They may look like microphones, but open up the battery cover and you'll see they're used for antenna connections.

And speaking of opening up the battery cover, inside you'll find the 1450mAh battery and microSD card (it's spring-loaded and you can remove it without removing the battery). And underneath the battery is a Verizon/Vodafone SIM card. The Droid Incredible 2 is a world phone, meaning you can use it outside the United States on a GSM network.

What's under the hood

The Droid Incredible 2 is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon processor running at 1 GHz. It's got 768MB of RAM, and 1GB of program storage for apps and what-not. It's lost the extra 8GB of internal memory that its predecessor had, which is a shame, but it also alleviates some confusion. To make up for that, it'll come with a 16GB microSD card.

That's pretty much par for the course these days. The DInc 2 doesn't have one of the newer dual-core Snapdragon processors that are on the way. But this is your normal, work-a-day phone, and it's plenty fast for anything you're likely to throw at it.

As for battery life, that certainly depends on your usage pattern. But for us -- a whole lot of e-mail, some browsing, search and the occasional phone call -- we were able to eke out nearly a full day's use. You might want to keep a charger handy, or you might make it until you get home.

A quick reminder that this is a 3G phone, and it doesn't work on Verizon's 4G LTE network (despite that it also has a SIM card). And so it doesn't have the same sort of battery drain as you'll see when you're using LTE data.

The software

The Droid Incredible 2 doesn't have the brand-new version of the Sense user interface, and we're not holding our breath for an upgrade. But Sense on the DInc 2 is, well, Sense. If you've used another HTC phone, you'll be right at home. If you're new to Sense, welcome to a wonderful, colorful world of widgets, icons and apps.

You have a series of home screens, grouped into "Scenes." There are seven home screens in each Scene, and the homescreens are preloaded with widgets and icons. The scenes are designed around different uses. The Verizon scene is set by default. There's also an HTC scene, social, work, play and travel.

Droid Incredible 2 apps

This version of Sense has most of the settings you'll need to personalize your phone in the aptly named "Personalize" menu. You get to it by tapping the artist easel on the bottom right of the home screen. Another change form other sense phones is that the app drawer doesn't scroll continuously. Rather, it goes page by page.

All of this runs atop Android 2.2.1. No, it's not Gingerbread. It's not even the newest version of Froyo. But for the most part, you'll never notice. Next question, however, is will it be upgraded to Gingerbread in the new future? We certainly hope so, especially because Android 2.3.4, which was only recently released, has support for video chat in Google Talk, and the DInc 2 can take advantage of that with its front-facing camera.

Another train of thought is that carriers and manufacturers will hold off for the "I" version of Android, which will incorporate bits of the Honeycomb version Android. Trust us when we say we'd rather see Gingerbread now then wait on a yet-unannounced version of Android.

Apps, apps and more apps

As always is the case with Verizon phones, the Droid Incredible 2 is laden with pre-loaded applications, and you have full access to the Android Market (and any other Android app markets) to download more. On the phone by default, in addition to the usual Google apps, are:

  • 3G Mobile hotspot (use your phone as a Wifi point for five other devices)
  • Adobe Reader
  • Backup Assistant
  • Blockbuster
  • City ID
  • Flashlight
  • FM Radio
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Let's Golf 2
  • Mobile IM
  • My Verizon Mobile
  • NFL Mobile
  • Need for Speed Shift
  • Quickoffice
  • Skype Mobile (which does not yet support video chat)
  • Slacker Radio
  • VCAST Apps
  • VCAST Media
  • VCAST Music
  • VCAST Tones
  • VCAST Videos
  • VZ Navigator

So some of those you might use, and most of them you probably won't. That's just the trade-off for having a carrier-subsidized phone.

Location services


Droid Incredible 2 location services

Droid Incredible 2 location services

Yes. The Droid Incredible 2 is a smartphone. And one shining feature of smartphones is the ability to know where they are in the world. (Or at least to be told where they are in the world.) But just like every other Android smartphone, you have to give it permission to do so.

Droid Incredible 2 location services

Droid Incredible 2 location services

The Droid Incredible 2's location services are not turned on by default. You'll have to tell it to use them, either on initial setup, or later in the settings menu. And the DInc 2 goes an extra step, actually explaining which each selection means. That's a nice touch.

The camera(s)

Not a whole lot to say about the Droid Incredible 2's camera. It's an 8MP shooter, and pretty good, at that. HTC's camera software is excellent as well. You have one-touch access to switch between video and still shots, and a host of effects you can apply.

But the proof is in the pudding. The images below open in a new window.

The DInc 2 can shoot video in full 720, though it's set to 480p by default.

720 video test

Front-facing camera (1MP)

Other odds and ends

  • GPS? Yes, please. It works just fine.
  • The speakerphone is surprisingly loud. This makes us happy.
  • Web browsing is done on the standard Webkit-based browser and works just fine.
  • Hackability? Not so much, yet. But we've got faith.

The wrap up

And that brings us to the following questions: The Droid Incredible 2 is a solid phone, for sure, but it's not a giant leap above its predecessor. That's not to say we're not happy with the larger 4-inch screen and front-facing camera, because we are. But we're left wondering just where the DInc 2 fits into Verizon's lineup.

It doesn't have the largest screen. It doesn't have the fastest processor (Verizon's dual-core Droid Bionic is still coming in one form or another, plus the Droid X 2). It doesn't have 4G LTE data. It is a world phone with GSM capability, but we have to wonder just how large a market that is.

Ask yourself what Verizon's intention was with this phone. As we stated at the outset, Verizon found a winner in the original Droid Incredible, so iteration makes more sense than reinvention. And that's a double-edge sword. If you're content with the original Droid Incredible, there's not much need to go running to the store for this one. But if you're just getting into the Android game you could do a lot worse. Verizon's taken a good thing, tweaked it, and made it that much better.

Phil Nickinson
  • Nice review!
  • Mia is extremely cute!
  • haha I totally agree, you beat me to commenting it! btw phil, you look sunburnt in the 720p video test.
  • "That's just the trade-off for having a carrier-subsidized phone." Not entirely accurate. If you go to the store and buy one at full retail price you'll still have all of that crap on it, and you still won't be able to remove it.
  • Great review, as usual:) BUT, I have the first incredible and LOVE it... easily rooted and many Great ROMS... I will just have to pass on this phone too, I have an upgrade and got the thunderbolt (which because of the cosmetic defects) I sent back to keep my Hinc, so that says something about the Hinc... I am going keep my upgrade until something better comes along... I like the charge but I am not sure how I feel about it yet... who knows what will come along... like you said, if your new to android, this is a great phone to snag... :)
  • Joe Patties Seafood. Any Cobia? Nice phone too. Happy with my TBolt. Almost got an INC2 for the moms, but passed.
  • Looks like a solid package all around. One thing I'm learning about Android phones... It's become a game of who has the fastest processor or best screen etc, etc, etc. Somewhere along the line we forget that these are just phones first & foremost. This race for the best most powerful phone is going to hurt this platform real soon. A nice phone like this will be soon forgotten in just a few months & that is a shame.
  • They can release as many boring identical slab handsets as they want as long as at some point there's a keyboard version on Verizon Wireless. I'm convinced at this point that VZW hates keyboards on phones. It's the only explanation I can think of for why they release dozens of similar slab phones. I'm so sick and tired of pounding like a retard on a piece of glass that I will switch to a Blackberry soon if there is not a decent Droid with keyboard phone on VZW.
  • Adorable little girl....and a so-so little phone. The Mia ftw over the Dinc 2.
  • why doesnt my thunderbolt have that app drawer??? anyone know why?
  • Yours has Sense 2.0, Dinc has 2.1
  • What a cute kid, that can't be Phil's daughter? Only kidding, very lucky guy.
  • You seem to have warmed up to the DINC 2,Phil. You sound more positive about it now as opposed to the Initial Review.Not every phone needs to be LTE yet.
  • I'm starting to feel like it's just me, but I will never buy another phone that doesn't have noise canceling. IMO I can't understand why it isn't expected or is a standard at this point.
  • the most important part of this review (and any htc review) is missing: the battery life.
  • I am recalling my purchase last year of the original DInc. I remember all problems they had keeping them in stock due to AMOLED screen shortage from Samsung. Imagine how many more they could have sold if not for this, component issue. It was/is such a solid and popular phone that did not reach it's potential. PS: I miss the red accents and the third tier that made it unique.
  • I'm not exactly THAT tech savy, but I still think there will be a lot of consumers that would like this phone(heck, I'd grab one myself if I had Verizon). The phone isn't HUGE, so it's easy to fit in the pocket. HTC Sense is very user friendly. 3G means that I could still manage an entire day, starting at 7AM, into a long evening, probably ending at 3:30AM earliest, without charging my phone. Plus a front facing camera. If you're brand new to Android, or you have a basic/entry-level Android already and want to upgrade, or if you're just constantly on the go-I imagine that this would be the phone for you. What I do miss are the red accents. They added a sense of style and fun to a phone.
  • I liked the OG Incredible (We have an new OG in town ! , to join the OG DROID) more
    Don't get me wrong , its a cool phone , but it looks like a Desire HD with an OG Incredible look-a-like cover
  • Phil, Can you check if the compass feature in Google Maps gets North / South correct if you sit still for awhile and force it to use the magnetometer? Thanks!
  • 4" is indeed the sweet spot. I wish some high end phones would come out with 4" screens. Not everyone wants a 4.3" screen. Seems like manufacturers are in the more is better mindset like they are with megapixels on cameras.
  • Man the OG Incredible was/is the best phone I've ever owned. I came to it from an OG Droid and haven't looked back. I'm planning on replacing it in July when my new every two is up but I think I will pass on this phone and maybe look towards the Bionic or Xperia Play if either of those are out at the time.
  • Flashes for the camera are placed differently.
    They are now horizontal as opposed to vertical on the original.
    If I was buying new, I would pick this up, but having the original this seems a bit late to the party. I don't mind LTE if I can get good battery life.
    4" is the sweet spot. If and when it comes the Dinc3 I think will not be a world phone but have LTE and that will fly off the shelves.
  • I think it's a good starter Android phone but having an original DInc that I've already tweaked up to Gingerbread with CyanogenMod 7, I really can't see any burning need to trade up to this. Next phone has to be at least Gingerbread, rootable, 4G with a 4 inch screen for me to pay attention. Sense is one of those things that I liked but didn't love.
  • I have the original Incredible and love it. I am staying with it, no need for me to make the switch to the Incredible 2. I don't think the "2" is enough for me to make a switch. I am disappointed in the build quality. I really think the original is a much better build and more stylish as well. I am pleased with it. Referencing the OP who wants a keyboard, the touchscreen on the Android devices are so nice to type on and very easy, comfortable.
    If you are wanting a keyboard there is the Droid2 or like you said, go back to Blackberry. I find this so much easier and there are many people who also agree.
  • got the inc1 and love it, but 2 comes out with no dual processors?! VZW lets me down again, not surprised. they roll out the x2 with a dual core, but i can't fit a remote control in my pocket. VZW you got 4g that goes out, phone that get delayed, crap no one wants, when are you going to pull your head out and get with it?
  • I have only had my Incredible-2 for a week and so far, so good. Overall, it's an INCREDIBLE phone, but I do have ONE complaint -- are you listening developers?? The charger plug couldn't be in a worse place! It's located smack dab where the palm of your hand is, so using the phone while it's charging is awkward and uncomfortable for a right-handed person who holds the phone in their left hand while using their right hand to utilize the phone's functions. And of course, since it's a smart phone, the battery drains pretty quickly, so the liklihood of needing to use the phone while it's charging is pretty great. Put this fix on your list for the rollout of future Incredible phones.
  • Awesome phone. I've been with HTC since the HTC Dream, and have been impressed with the way that the company has stepped up to the plate on their smartphone offerings. I had the original Droid Incredible, and got this through an upgrade, and one thing that surprises me about it is how good the battery life is. Throw in the fact that it is a world phone, it was a no brainer that I got this one.
  • You say the speakerphone is "surprisingly loud", but I find it to be weaker than that of the OG Incredible. This seems to be a common complaint on the forums.
  • "But we're left wondering just where the DInc 2 fits into Verizon's lineup." For people like me - I live in the desert, where there is no hope of 4G for the next 100 years. I also love the longer battery life associated with a non-4G phone as well. "It doesn't have the largest screen." Good. Cellphones are getting bigger and bigger. The newer droids are almost as big as the BB playbook it seems... "It doesn't have the fastest processor" You make it seem like it's NOT fast... It's still blazin compared to many phones out there... Yes, there are other phones that have better specs than the Incredible 2, but don't think of it as a flagship device. It was "outdated" within a month or two of being released. I'm extremely happy with this phone. The only thing that would make it better, is if it was running webOS...