HTC has been in the Android smartphone business since the very beginning. They’ve managed to keep themselves at the top of the game and their latest smartphone, the HTC Incredible S, aims at pushing their stock a few steps ahead of the pack. So if you’re wondering if the Incredible S is a smartphone that you should consider shelling out your hard earned money on, here’s a closer look at the device that should help you make a calculated decision one way or the other.
The Incredible S is right up there with the slick looking handsets in the Android community. It’s all black contoured design looks very polished and even a bit rugged. The slightly protruding rear panel, although quite unusual does give the handset a better grip and a certain feel-good-factor about it. A subtle but very interesting aspect about the Incredible S are the touch sensitive backlit keys under the 4-inch S-LCD display (480 x 800 pixels, 16 million color, gorilla glass encased) that change orientation along with the UI. These keys look seriously funky and are easily visible from all angles and in all lighting conditions. The same goes for the display. Very innovative.
Unusual rear panel but adds to overall styling
A 3.5mm handsfree socket is located at the top of the handset right near the power/screen lock button. A set of volume/zoom keys along with a universal (charge PC interfacing) micro USB port are located on the left side of the device. A hot swap slot for a microSD card (32Gb supported) is located under the rear panel. Incidentally the Incredible S features 1GB of internal storage. An 8 megapixel AF/Touchfocus camera with Dual LED flash is strapped onto the rear while a secondary 1.3megapixel camera is located in front to support video calling.
Features and Performance
The Incredible S is equipped with a 1 GHz Scorpion processor and an Adreno 205 GPU but is, for now, not loaded up with Gingerbread so you’ll have to suffice with FroYo. Speed is however a non issue as everything from accessing menus and apps to multitasking is fluid. Android still hasn’t been able to offer users a smoother orientation transition from Landscape to portrait and vice versa. The iPhone has them all beat overall UI fluidity.
Super Clear LCD with Gorilla Glass, Sweet!
HTC’s Sense UI with SenseUI.com are truly designed to offer users a very hands on experience with an Android handset. Normally I’d swap the existing UI for something like LauncherPro to simplify usability and speed up overall functioning, but there was really no reason to do so with HTC Sense. It’s smooth and very layered with plenty of options like HTC Scenes that are preset version of the UI designed for a variety of uses – Work, Play, Travel, Social Networking etc. There’s also an option get more. Of course you can create your own according to your own preferences. HTC scenes are essentially themes for Sense UI. Specialised HTC Sense UI widgets, sound sets etc. are also available pre-loaded and downloadable make the interface extremely customizable.
Another interesting thing I noticed about HTC was the UI’s ability to remember and recall data like usernames, email address etc. making retyping them in some places quicker. This is what one expects from a ‘Smart’ phone. Simple things like pre-inserting ‘gmail.com’ when typing ‘g’ immediately after the ‘@’ symbol makes you appreciate the UI more. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to use on the whole.
I’ve never had an issue with HTC’s audio quality for both calls as well as media. When it comes to media the Incredible S offers a wide range of services. From a very receptive FM radio that took less than 12 seconds to locate all 9 of our available stations and store them as presets to a video player equipped to handle DivX and XviD encoded files and enhance audio with virtual surround sound via SRS WOW HD effect settings, you’ll want for nothing. Well almost nothing. In this particular case the lack of Video Out via HDMI is sorely missed.
Audio quality via the native music player is excellent. Tones are quite in-depth with a resound thump in the bass line and well balanced higher and mid levels as well. EQ presets are also available for those looking to customise their experience to an extent. The player also allows you to connect to YouTube to watch videos of a track you’re currently listening to. With DLNA support you can also hook up the handset to a media server or other DLNA certified devices to stream media or share media.
Supports DivX and XviD playback with SRS enhancement
The Media Gallery is designed to let you easily switch between your images and albums stored on your handset or memory card or those stored on cloud services like FB (YOURS AND YOUR FRIENDS albums), Picasa and Flickr. HTC has preloaded a very user friendly and easy on the eyes, ebook reader that includes quite a few titles pre-loaded and the ability to sign up, create and account and download more.
There are plenty of connectivity settings built into the Incredible S. Firstly it’s a 3G enabled (HSDPA, up to 14.4 Mbps) handset that works just fine on slower connections like EDGE or GPRS. You can also tether the handset to other devices or create a 3G Wi-Fi hotspot. I already mentioned DLNA support. GPS capabilities offer all of Google’s pre-loaded content from Maps and directions to Places and Latitude and more. HTC has also thrown in a ‘Car Panel’ app that also has a host of handy GPS enabled functions (integrates) to offer that include maps for India and other locations with directions, a digital compass and plenty more sub-options inside. Data might need to be downloaded so I suggest using Wi-Fi and not eating into data usage.
Full browsing with Adobe Flash support as well
Social networking functionality is also very evident with HTC’s Friend Stream app and widget that combine FB and Twitter for am amalgamated listing of updates and simultaneous posting to both your accounts. Standalone apps for Facebook and Twitter (Peep) can also be used. HTC has also thrown in Plurk which is a consolidated app that pulls feeds, news updates and social updates into one neat app. HTC’s Hub and HTC Likes offer applications from the App Market and HTC’s online services that HTC believes would help enhance your Incredible S experience. It’s a bit redundant but doesn’t really hurt.
Plenty of navigation options
Bluetooth with 2.1 with A2DP + EDR and USB 2.0 make up the rest of the handsets fundamental connectivity solutions.
In the extras I found that all the basics – Calendar (syncs with Google and FB), calculator, Alarm, world Clock, Adobe Reader and QuickOffice (editing and creating Word and Excel sheets allowed) are all present. A Stock Market application and News readers are also provided. Weather apps, Teeter (HTC’s favourite game), a Voice recorder and Sound Hound for music details are also thrown in. HTC has also included a Data Transfer application that allows you to transfer all of your important details from any phone to this one. It took unusually long though to transfer just the contacts from the Motorola MILESTONE to the Incredible S so it was much easier to just download it off of Google’s servers. Social networking integration between your contacts and your networks was a simple, noontime consuming and uncomplicated process.
Rear eBooks with ease
HTC has started adding quite a bit of additional functionality to their cameras. A little special features option provides features like - Depth of Field settings, Distortion, Vignetting, Vintage options and more effects. Touch focus for both the still and video camera are also available. Face detection, Geotagging and other simple settings are all included. Image quality was quite good with focus that was quite sharp wherever selected or normally.
Better than average image quality
Depth of field option for close ups
Depth of field option for distant surroundings
720p video recording @30fps with touch focus also worked out quite well and quality was once again, nothing to complain about.
The Incredible S’ battery was just one more asset with an average talk time of almost 7 hours on a single charge. I was able to use the handset for a good two days with a few calls, social networking, music, messages, web browsing and emailing.
It' Slim, it's Sleek, probbaly whay it's got the 'S' tag
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 28,000 (MOP), I can highlight just one issue with the HTC Incredible S and that’s the absence of HDMI and TV Out. At this price, HTC should have considered including it over and above DLNA. Other than that, the handset is loaded to the hilt with all kinds of useful and very relevant functionality, all packed away into a very appealing shell. But the lack of video out could be deal breaker for some. If you can get passed it, the Incredible S is a superb handset and defiantly worth the money.