Well, after reading about and even critiquing smartphones for the past few years, I finally got one of my own, the Droid Incredible 2 by HTC on Verizon. I’ve played around with it for a few weeks now so I feel like I can give a fair assessment of the device. I admit the name is a bit pretentious, but bottom line you’re getting great value for the price you’re paying. If only they were a little more modest and called it the Droid Really Really Good.
For various philosophical and financial reasons, I do not own any Apple devices and I wasn’t going to start with an iPhone 4. Android may not be as neat and clean as iOS, but it’s better for people who want to tinker with their phones and customize it for their own needs. It has great integration with Google services like Gmail and Voice and in many ways the Incredible 2 is better than the iPhone 4 both in terms of hardware (better camera) and software (iOS5 just got notifications).
If you’re going with Android on Verizon, you have a lot of choices. The Incredible 2 certainly isn’t the most flashy option. It doesn’t have 4G LTE like the Droid Charge or Thunderbolt. It doesn’t have a dual core processor like the Droid X2. However, what you do get is reliable performance in a lean, mean package. Unlike the 4G phones, the Incredible’s battery life is solid and won’t die after a few hours. I can get through a day of regular use (some phone/texting, 1-2 hours of music/podcasting, some web, social networking, and Youtube) without recharging. Unlike the X2, it won’t look (too) ridiculous in your pocket because the screen is only 4″ but that’s all you really need. If you really want to do heavy duty reading/watching, get a tablet. I wanted a phone that could make calls, browse the web, play music and casual games. The Incredible 2 does it beautifully without breaking the bank ($199.99 with contract right now).
That being said, there are some downsides. The biggest problem is Verizon. They’ve loaded it up with free trials and their crappy VCast apps. It’s like buying a PC back in 2000, except you can’t delete these. There’s also the issue of media management. Whatever criticisms I may have of the iPhone, its media management system via iTunes is the best out there. On Android, I’ve tried several options from the default HTC music player to DoubleTwist to Google Music (Yes I got a Beta invite! Look for a post about it!). All of these have their strengths and weaknesses but none of them work as well as iTunes on iPhone. Maybe as Google Music gets better Android will have something comparable. Lastly, I upgraded from a keyboard phone and the touchscreen typing initially took some getting used to. I’m okay with the onscreen keyboard now and Android does give you other options like voice input if you hate typing, but I still miss blazing across a full QWERTY keyboard sometimes.
Finally, I have to address the 3G v. 4G debate a little more. My choice ultimately came down to the Incredible 2 and the Droid Charge. The two phones have very similar specs. The big difference is one is 4G and one is not. We’re currently in a stage of development where there isn’t a clear cut better choice between the two. Let me be clear: LTE can be very fast and it certainly is the future. Also, Verizon’s 3G and 4G data plans cost the same so if you live in a 4G area it can be a pretty good deal. However, LTE is still a very new technology. A lot of these new phones are very expensive ($300 for the Charge) but have terrible battery life. In 2 years everything will be 4G, but right now it’s a tossup. Many places still do not have 4G coverage and the places that do may suffer outages. It really depends on where you live and how you use your phone.
So to recap, I’m really happy with the Incredible 2. It isn’t state of the art but the technology behind it is proven. You’re getting great bang for your buck. I would argue it’s the best 3G Android phone on Verizon, and perhaps even better than the iPhone 4. Don’t take my word for it though. Go read other reviews and go to your local store to play around with one.