HTC's Head in the Clouds

While Google’s Nexus One is setup to immediately sync to Google services, the Incredible is much more provider agnostic. The first time you power on the phone you’re asked to provide it with any email accounts you want to sync with. You’re not actually forced to supply a Google account. Of course giving the HTC Incredible your Google login will immediately sync your email, calendar and contacts but it’s not required.

It’s not just about email though. The Incredible’s setup process will ask you for your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr logins. If you share them, all of your data from those services gets pulled down into your phone.

The obvious benefit is that moving to a new phone requires hardly any setup other than typing in your own login information. The downside, like on a webOS device, is that everything gets synced. My contact list on the Incredible is full of people who I seriously don’t know. I realize that’s my own fault for being too liberal in befriending people on Facebook, but it doesn’t change the situation. Just as I mentioned in my Palm Pre review however, it’s not that big of a deal. Finding the contacts I want to communicate with is relatively easy and at most I’m just risking accidentally calling someone I don’t know.

The cloud based syncing is nice for contacts because it means that you don’t have to keep up with everyone’s constantly changing contact information. If a friend updates his/her information on Facebook, it will automatically change on your phone as well. The limitation here being that if your friend’s privacy settings don’t give you access to information then you’re out of luck. There is something to be said for everyone making all information public, but I’m not quite willing to jump on the privacy is dead bandwagon just yet.

Cloud data from Facebook, Twitter, Google and Flickr is used in other ways on the phone. Everyone gets some sort of a profile pic, pulled from one of the aforementioned services, which is nice since I’m terrible about making my personal data all polished looking. Taking it one step further is the Photos app. While you get access to any photos you’ve synced with the Incredible or taken with its camera, you also get a list of all photos you have access to via Facebook or Flickr. Accessing these images is obviously slower since they all come over the cloud, but this is honestly how it has to be done. We’re one step away from having all of your photos, whether they reside in the cloud or on a personal device, all grouped together and sorted by location and faces.

HTC's supplied Friend Stream app groups together your Twitter and Facebook updates in one place. For me it meant that I had a copy of my Twitter stream with the promise of some Facebook updates mixed somewhere in there. It's still easier to view Facebook and Twitter updates independently but I get what HTC is trying to do here: pull you away from visiting websites, and using non-HTC apps and getting your experience entirely within HTC supplied software. It's HTC saying "come to my house" and under its breath adding "I will serve you ads there one day."

Organizing this data is important and luckily HTC’s mods to existing Android apps don’t disappoint. In the Phone app you can select a contact and get the same details you’d expect from any Android phone. The buttons along the bottom of the screen change everything though.

You have a single button to look at all messages you’ve exchanged with the contact. Another to see all of the emails between you and the contact. Another to look at their Facebook status updates and one to see all of their Facebook/Flickr photos.

The integration is duplicated across multiple apps. The Photos app for example, lets you view photos stored locally or in the cloud via Facebook/Flickr. The same functionality appears in the Camera app when you’re browsing pictures you’ve taken. This is also true for the People app and the Phone app, most functionality is duplicated with some differences in what each app can do.

While I like being able to do the same basic things in multiple apps, I feel like HTC needed to do a better job combining these apps so you don’t have so much duplication. For example why have a separate app for photos and the camera, or people and the phone. This may be a bit of my love for webOS coming out but unification really does work if done well.

HTC Sense Build Quality & Touchscreen Display: Worse and Better than the Nexus
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  • v12v12 - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - link

    *Sigh...* I hate to go off topic like this, but you obviously lack the ability to keep an open-mind/think for yourself... So here goes kid...

    "how did Apple find the guy, so fast"

    Because one of his roommates called the Police and told them where he was and what he had. But wait a minute, maybe the roommate is a mole planted by the CIA to keep tabs on the guy! Yeah, that's the ticket.

    How did the room mate know that it was "stolen," or that anything else was (assumed) wrong with the legality of phone, why would he assume? Just what would lead someone's (fucked up) roommate to purposefully call the police on someone who had a snazzy looking phone? There's much more detail to the story that's not being told... Why would the police get a search warrant over a “LOST” phone; remember there’s ZERO proof the phone was stolen in the 1st place. It’s 1 person’s word over another’s, and that doesn’t garner a very costly and hastily produced search warrant (they usually take many days to weeks to get, unless the crime was very serious; which it’s not, b/c there’s no proof of a crime committed, it’s still HEARSAY at that point in time, DUH?!).

    Hrmm… so the roommate thought, "man WTF I'll show him, for having that cool looking new phone, I’ll fscking call the cops, yeah they’ll come get him!” I'll completely wreck any kind of peaceful/civility I might have had with my now sworn enemy… Yeah I’m going to believe that… either way, so what if it turns out that my assertions about that particular detail of the alleged “crime,” (again there’s no proof he actually “stole:” as in he purposefully took the phone, while knowing it belonged to someone at the establishment; read the idiot engineer’s statement; it was LOST, then reported “stolen,” to cover his own ass.)
    __Okay so back to the point… ZOMG I proposed a scenario and might have been wrong… that MUST mean that the rest of my points and presented evidence is also wiped clean b/c of this newly found minute details of the case… The differences between (apparently) you and I are; I THINK, I ask more depth questions to a story that doesn’t even make legal sense, nor adds up to common sense… Then again I’m actually opened-minded and not another beak-fed nestling that’ll take whatever crap momma-mass-media will regurgitate down my throat. LOL!

    SEARCH those cases then come back talking smack; b/c in FACT they are nothing but FACTS from your own government, dunce… Apparently you’re not well versed in political history at all. Anyone that knows a shred of anything about the law, politics and or who thinks for themselves, knows the credibility and historical documentation of “the government,” that it as a ruling institution is deceitful, controlling, and authoritarian. Never mind, you’re obviously too zombified by games, TV and mass-media, to do your own simple fact checking/research. Enjoy your life serf/pleb/commoner…
  • artifex - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    Anand, thanks for the great review. I'd heard some negative things about the Sense UI interface from dedicated iPhone users that made me a little concerned, but you've helped me stay excited about the interface and Android in general. I'd be excited about this phone, too, except that I know the EVO is coming out this summer. I really hope you can review it also, to see if they fix some of the problems you noted with this one.
  • LaughingTarget - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    I had purchased a Droid Incredible last week. However, it has this unpleasant problem with the optical joystick. It simply activates itself and randomly flicks the screen and moves the cursor around while typing in fields. The flicking even happens when the phone is left on a flat surface and nothing is near it. It basically made the phone unusable. I had the phone replaced three times over the weekend and all of them had the same problem.

    I really wanted to like the Incredible. It was a solid phone. However, I moved over to Verizon from AT&T to get the phone and because of number portability, I can't go back to my old phone and decided to downgrade to the Motorola Droid. It's a shame, but I won't attempt the Incredible again until I've got some level of certainty that the problem with the optical joystick is fixed.
  • Someguyperson - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link


    In order to obtain a better look at how an individual phone's hardware effects the speed of the web page loading, you should use the same browser on all devices, namely Opera Mini, to reduce one of the variables and get a better result.

  • Shawn C. - Thursday, May 13, 2010 - link

    Hey Anand love the review. I was under the impression that the iPhone 3GS only had 256MB RAM. I believe that's what iFixit determined it to be. I just wanted some clarification since in one of your comparison tables you have it listed as having 512MB of RAM. Thanks
  • T2k - Thursday, May 13, 2010 - link any other modern phone that embraces mobile-digital lifestyle - a one megabit link is simply just way too slow for that.
  • falko2904 - Friday, May 14, 2010 - link

    What we need are phones that will simply work on any network we choose to connect to. Having seen the variety of CDMA/GSM combo phones available, esp from Verizon, this has got to be possible. I want to buy the best phone possible, and use it with the best carrier possible, or even be able to easily switch carriers and phones however I want. The carriers have entirely too much control over the devices we spend money on and how we are allowed to use them. The carriers also seem to be way too interested in using phones and subsidies to compete, rather than competing on the quality of their network and service they provide.

    Some points on the N1/Incredible comparison:

    Animations: In the review it was mentioned that the Incredible seems more responsive because of UI tweaks, especially eliminating some of the animations. The N1 lets has a setting for animations that gives you a choice of all, some or no animations. It is one of the first things I changed on the phone, and it does make it much more responsive.

    Delete Multiple Emails: Both GMail and the regular Email app have check boxes next to the emails for batch operations. Both provide batch deletes, Gmail provides for Archive and Labels, Email provides for Mark Unread and Add Stars.

    Case Design. Overall I like both the N1 and the Incredible. The front of the Incredible looks fantastic, but the back of the Incredible looks unfinished. While the N1 may seem bland in comparison, to me it seems rather elegant both in design and construction.

    Controls: The N1 is the first phone, including the iPhone, that I have been able to use a touch screen keyboard on. The iPhone keyboard is not informative enough for me. I dislike the fact that it displays caps when in lowercase mode. Multi touch functionality on the keyboard is a non issue for me. And then there is always the Swype keyboard replacement. Trackball versus Optical Joystic - On the one hand, I like the light up trackball, and hopefully we will get multi color notifications with Froyo. On the other hand I am concerned about it's long term reliability, if it is anything like the Blackberry trackballs which tend to get flaky after some use. I like the solid state optical joystick for it's no moving parts to fail design. What I would ideally like is a optical joystick that protrudes a bit like the track ball so I can feel it, and also lights up like the track ball.

    UI Design: I love HTC Sense, and I also love the straight Google Experience phones. What I would love even more is, that when Froyo comes out and modularizes the Android OS, that we could get whatever shell or skin we want, on any Android Phone, or remove it to get the Google Experience. After all, it should be our choice. I would love for HTC to make Sense available on the Android Market, even for a cost at that point. Would it not be great to be able to get the latest Android Updates without concern for whatever shell is installed, or going forward be able to get the latest updates to Sense without having to root the phone?

    I am disappointed that the N1 will not be available on more networks. I was hoping that there would be at least one phone that I like, that would be available on all the major carriers.

    On a final note, carriers need to stop customizing their smartphones. They just have no clue how badly they are screwing them up. Admittedly you could always load a ROM of your choice, but that is not for everybody. My last phone was an AT&T Tilt2. Lets start with over 30MB of unusable, uninstallable, game demos. REALLY? On what is advertised to be a premium business class smartphone? And we used to be able to bypass the AT&T customization script, and they "fixed" that on this phone. But before anyone says something about AT&T, I have seen this sort of thing on all the carriers smartphones, and Verizon in particular is known to lock some of their phones features so you can only use them with their pay for services. Don't get me started.

  • bobny1 - Monday, July 26, 2010 - link

    I have both the HTC Incredible and the Apple IPhone 3gs. My conclution is that Apple is more sophisticated but the Incredible is more fun to work with.
  • coolfx35 - Saturday, October 2, 2010 - link

    I had a Blackberry for 2 yrs b4 converting to the Incredible & even then it took me a few weeks to decide if I really wanted to go back to a touch screen ( I had a Samsung Glyde, the 1st touch screen VZW came out w/ & it was horrible). Now I am sooo glad I did, because I love it.

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