It seems that every high-end smartphone gets touted as an “iPhone killer” these days. The HTC Incredible, which has just been released on Verizon with a last minute name upgrade to the HTC Droid Incredible, is one of the newest contenders. So how does the HTC Incredible stack up vs the Apple iPhone? Read on for some points of comparison.
Quality of the User Interface
Quality of user interfaces is necessarily somewhat of a matter of opinion. Ever since the release of the original iPhone the rough consensus has been that Apple produces the most polished smartphone UI. HTC has Sense UI, which they layer on top of both Android and Windows Mobile phones, and makes a huge difference in the usability of these phone platforms for many people. While most instances of Sense UI are not felt to be as polished as iPhone OS, many users say that they would not find Android or especially Windows Mobile to be worthwhile without Sense UI. The version of Sense UI which ships on the Droid Incredible is the smoothest, most polished yet HTC has produced- one which I think can truly lay claim to being a peer of iPhone OS. Hell, even the Apple fanclub over at Engadget thinks it just may be superior.
The iPhone has long been noted for being good to use in direct sunlight. Most touchscreens tend to become illegible in bright, direct sunlight. The iPhone is a happy exception to this. The Incredible, having an AMOLED display, is frequently unreadable in bright daylight. The iPhone is enormously superior if you need to use a phone outside a lot. The upside of an AMOLED display is that in indoor lighting conditions it displays colors with a brilliance you must see to believe.
Smartphones are notorious for often having problems with making it through a day of heavy usage. There are various accessories available for the iPhone, such as the Mophie Juice Pack, to strap on for some extra power supply. The Incredible, so far, has the standard smartphone battery life issues. Users of the Incredible should definitely look into external batteries and software developments to extend battery life.
If you value access to multitasking on a current, unhacked device the Incredible is the hands-down winner. Multitasking is coming to the iPhone with the release of iPhone OS 4.0 in June. There is currently a developer beta of the latest iPhone OS out and opinions vary on whether or not the new multitasking features will be satisfying. It is of course possible to multitask on a jailbroken iPhone right now, but this involves risks of instability, voided warranties and missing out on firmware updates unless you restore to an unjailbroken state. If and when a new jailbreak will appear for any new firmware update is uncertain.
Ready access to multitasking is not the whole story, however. Android is designed to multitask and autonomously decide when to actually shut down processes the user has exited. This sometimes works very smoothly- and sometimes does not work so smoothly. Whether or not to install a task killer program is a matter of somewhat heated debate among Android users. The stability of multitasking on Android really does seem to vary with individual usage patterns. In the question of HTC Incredible vs the Apple iPhone, the unjailbroken iPhone is the best bet if you want to minimize the possibility of crashes.
Android phones have a notification bar on top where links to new messages appear. You can pull down a “windowshade” to see all the new messages. The iPhone has push notifications. Notifications on the iPhone interrupt whatever else you were doing at the time and also wipe out any previous notifications that you missed. This is the reason I would hate to use an iPhone in any situation that involved a lot of background messaging. For some, it obviously more than worth the annoyance.
Android phones are much more open to modification by default than unjailbroken iPhones. For that matter, installing custom ROMs on Android phones generally offers more choices than are available to users of jailbroken iPhones.
Here in the U.S.A., the iPhone is sold locked to AT&T exclusively and the Droid Incredible runs only on Verizon. Which network is better for you is a matter of how well they work in your location. Anecdotally, there seem to be more complaints about iPhones becoming dysfunctional on AT&T’s network than other phones. These issues tend to be worst in San Francisco and New York. The Incredible, so far, has generally been found to do wonderfully on Verizon’s network. On the other hand the HTC Incredible is brand new and it is very early to say how well it will hold up in time.