At the beginning of the year, Google called a group of reporters and analysts to Google HQ to announce a new phone, the Nexus One. A joint effort of HTC and Google, the N1 was a slim device, running a speedy Snapdragon processor and an AMOLED display. Running the latest version of Android, 2.1, it was state of the art, at least for January.
The biggest problem of the Nexus One, in my opinion, is that it runs stock Android and while 2.1 was nice, it lacked so many things that vendors like HTC had brought to the market with their Sense UI built on top of Android. T-Mobile’s 3G network coverage also left much to be desired (there’s now an AT&T version of the N1 for sale as well.) Wouldn’t it be great if there were a version of the N1 that ran HTC Sense and perhaps was on the Verizon network as well. A super Droid if you will. Well, good things come to those who wait and over the last few days I’ve been testing the Droid Incredible by HTC, running on the Verizon network, and it delivers.
Like the Nexus One, the Incredible is among the speediest Android device I’ve ever used. Even running HTC’s Sense UI, there’s no lag and the interface is as fast and fluid as it was meant to be. Switching from panel to panel is smooth. The overall coverage and speed of Verizon’s network mean that information flows quickly as well so the screens are constantly updated in real time. Sense UI fixes many glaring issues of the Android platform, most notably Exchange integration. With full support of the ActiveSync protocol, it’s easy to get your contacts, calendar and mail on the device. Why Google still doesn’t offer real support for Exchange is a mystery to me but HTC delivers with the best support of the platform making their devices my recommendation for users who need that functionality. Support for full social media integration with Facebook and a built-in Twitter client make the device all that much more useful to me.
I still have issues overall with the Android platform. Applications are still limited to internal storage, which means there still are few, if any, Android games worth playing. Security remains an issue with no support for passwords or local encryption and there’s still no native PC sync to get my content on the device beyond the cloud. That’s disappointing and until these issues get resolved, it’s hard for me to see how Android makes the leap from the enthusiast to the mass market, even with all the HTC enhancements. The good news is the platform is getting better and better over time; the bad news, it’s not fast enough.
Android is now a force to reckoned with in the mobile space and the Incredible is currently what the state of the art looks like. If you’ve been waiting for the Verizon version of the Nexus One, wait no more, the Incredible provides a better experience with all the hardware and Android 2.1 goodness but now with the powerful addition of Sense UI layered on for good measure. This is now the flagship device for Verizon users.
Although Android still feels like an enthusiast platform the Incredible takes us one step closer to a true mass market and mainstream device.
Looking for a second-opinion? Check out our comparison review of the Verizon Droid Incredible by HTC.