HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE review: In small packages
8MP camera does well
The HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE packs an 8MP camera that does stills of up to 3264x2448 pixels and records 1080p video @ 30fps. There's an LED flash / video light, but no dedicated camera button.
The camera interface is the same for both the still camera and the video camera - no they don't "look alike", the camera just has the UI shared between both functions.
The right-hand side features the Effects button, shutter key, camcorder record key and a shortcut to the gallery that shows the last photo taken. On the left is the flash setting toggle, general settings and shot mode (we'll get back to that in a moment).
To snap a photo, you tap the shutter key. To record video you tap the button below - and you can still tap the shutter key to take a full-res photo, even while recording video.
The effects button brings out a tab on the left with the usual set of color effects (sepia, solarize and so on). There's also some other cool effects such as shallow depth of field , which lets you blur parts of a photo that fall outside a predefined circular area. It's like having Instagram built right into the camera app UI.
All this is pretty cool, but we had one problem with this combined interface - if you want full 8MP resolution still shots, you have to disable the Widescreen option. But then it becomes hard to frame a 16:9 video in the 4:3 view finder. That's made even worse when shooting 720p video. The field of view in that mode is narrower than what the viewfinder shows and framing involves a lot of guesswork.
The DROID Incredible has touch focus and face detection; geotagging and smile shutter are also enabled.
The shot mode button offers some more cool stuff - HDR photos, Panorama (with a gyro horizon), portrait, group portrait, landscape, whiteboard, close-up and finally, low light.
The HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE takes photos with a decent level of resolved detail. Typically for HTC, images have artifacts caused by over sharpening. Colors are adequate and contrast is good, but dynamic range is limited. Overall, the DROID's camera does a decent job, but it has a way to go before it can butt heads with the best in the 8MP realm.
We've prepared a bunch of samples for you guys below, check them out.
HTC are bragging about the instant photo capture during video recording and we decided to give it a spin. The photos are taken in 16:9 aspects and arrive in 3264 x 1840 pixels resolution. The idea is that you can snap fast-paced pics while you're recording a video.
The DROID Incredible records 1080p or 720p videos at 30fps and it can snap photos while at it. You can also use touch focus and even toggle the video light - that's during recording!
The videos from the DROID Incredible are, just like the images, with slightly limited dynamic range. They are however nicely smooth, with pleasing colors and good amount of detail to them. Overall, they came out pretty good, if a tad too aggressively processed.
Here goes an untouched sample 1080p@30fps video clip.
And here's a video uploaded to YouTube for convenience. Don't forget to click 1080p on the FullHD video sample and open the video on full screen.
We've also prepped a 720p video sample taken with the HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE.
The HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE packs EV-DO CDMA/LTE network support. Sadly, the smartphone cannot be used with a carrier, other than Verizon Wireless in the United States.
LTE is undoubtedly the most important connectivity feature of the DROID Incredible. Verizon has the best established 4G network, so using the phone was a pleasure, although the carrier would much prefer if you take care of you data needs over Wi-Fi.
The local wireless connectivity has Wi-Fi b/g/n and full DLNA support (both client and server, for images, videos and music) and Bluetooth 4.0. NFC connectivity is on board as well.
As we already said the death grip problem haunting HTC devices of old is now taken care of and there's nothing to worry about. Wi-Fi reception is strong, as is the cell signal.
HTC has conveniently designed a special options screen, when you connect the handset to a PC. The long list of options includes PC Charge only, Disk drive (mass storage), HTC Sync, USB tethering (the phone becomes a modem) and Internet pass-through (the phone uses the computer's Internet connection). The Charge only and Disk Drive have large, easy-to-press icons, which comes in handy since they are used most often.
Last but not least is the HTC Portable Hotspot. It can support up to 8 devices, you can WEP, WPA or WPA2 encrypt the hotspot and you can enable "allowed users" only to connect or leave it open for all (unsecure, but the quickest setup).
The app can be set to power off automatically after 5 or 10 minutes of inactivity, saving your battery in case you forget to switch it off when you are done with it.
The HTC DROID Incredible 4G LTE comes with an MHL port, so if you plug a MHL dongle in, you can output HD video over a standard HDMI connection. The phone's UI is mirrored on the TV and with the HD resolution of the display, watching on an HDTV is a joyful experience.