Verizon’s 4-inch Droid Incredible is a return to yesterday — without enough jazz

I was excited when the Verizon folks in Greenville, S.C., sent me the new Droid Incredible smartphone this week. As many Android phones are nearly five inches big now, and probably too big for many consumers to use with one hand effectively, here we have a return to yesteryear (or in smartphone years, a return to last week):

The HTC Droid Incredible is a 4-inch handset with a nice rubberized feel to the back which is easy to grip. Everyone I let use the phone loved how it felt it in the hand, loved how their thumbs could cover the entire screen, even if the overwhelming opinion was the screen wasn’t quite wide enough. The 8 megapixel camera takes some gorgeous shots, on par with many phones we’ve tested this year. There’s a camera on the front for video calls.

Holding it and using it feels like using an old friend. We need smaller smartphones. Has anyone held the new Galaxy S III? Great device, but for some people, like me, it’s just too big and I have larger than normal hands.

Now that not-so-good. I’m not sure why the Incredible uses a 1.2 gigahertz processor when other top phones from HTC like the One use 1.5s. I’m not complaining too much because the Incredible breezed through most stuff I tried to throw at it. It ran the Ice Cream Sandwich software well, even with another layer of operating system on top of it, HTC’s Sense.

The thing that got me, though, was the screen. It’s just not sharp enough. Specs wise it has 960 x 540 resolution. That’s not high-def or retina or whatever term we’re using these days. Bottom line? It just doesn’t look as good as the other phones you can spend your $200 on (plus two-year contract). It looks like the old Droids from yesteryear. That’s not a good thing.

Everything else is groovy. It’s a great size and it looks good and we’ve not talked about Verizon’s (still) screaming 4G LTE network. I was getting download speeds of 17 megabits per second and uploads of nearly 7. Most people don’t get that on their home cable or DSL networks, and we’re fans of Verizon’s new shared data usage plans, too, so long as you have more than one phone in service.

So if the larger phones aren’t your thing and you want Android, this could be an option for you. The only thing you’re really giving up is that pretty screen that so much of the competition has. If that’s too much, just grab a big Android and use two hands.

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