The HTC Incredible S Android phone is a successor to the HTC Droid Incredible; a smartphone that launched in the US exclusively with the Verizon network. The Incredible S is slick, fast and very well constructed, making it a highly recommended choice for anyone looking for a competent and well equipped Android smartphone.
UPDATE: HTC has announced that the Incredible S will be available exclusively through Optus for three months when it launches in Australia on 1 May.
HTC Incredible S: Design and display
Like HTC's other new Android phones, the Desire S and the Wildfire S, the HTC Incredible S is a slight upgrade rather than a thorough overhaul of the original Incredible. The main point of difference is the aluminium unibody design, which HTC says gives it a tougher and more elegant feel than the original model — it is a very industrial looking design that uses black matte plastic, and its surface feels rubbery and very durable. The Incredible S definitely feels like it could take its fair share of knocks and bumps without showing much wear and tear. Best of all, it feels superbly constructed — everything seems put together with a great level of craftsmanship, and it still manages to remain lightweight.
The HTC Incredible S has four touch-sensitive buttons below the display, but you wouldn't know it at first glance — the buttons only light up when the screen is activated. Thoughtfully, the home, menu, back and search keys rotate into landscape orientation when you tilt the phone sideways in a compatible application. It's a small but ingenious touch that we loved, and one that is typical of HTC.
The HTC Incredible S has a 4in, capacitive SLCD touchscreen with a 480x800-pixel resolution. Its one of the best displays we've seen on a smartphone, even if it may lack the sharpness of Apple's retina display on the iPhone 4 and the vivid colour of the Samsung Galaxy S' Super AMOLED screen. However, the Incredible S is hard to see in direct sunlight.
HTC Incredible S: Software
The HTC Incredible S currently ships with the latest 2.3 (Gingerbread) version of Google's Android platform. Like HTC's other Android phones, the Incredible S also comes with HTC's Sense UI suite which adds a number of features mainly centred on interactive home screen widgets.
Sense also offers "skins" that change the look of windows and the dock, an "HTC Likes" widget for recommended app downloads, the "My Shelf" app for storing and reading e-books, a universal search function, a unified messaging inbox, and instant maps through the "Locations" app, which doesn't require network coverage once downloaded. A range of maps can be downloaded and stored on the SD card; the Australian map is a 345MB download that will work without the need to access mobile data. Browsing the map isn't technically "instant" as HTC claims it is, but it is noticeably speedier than using your data connection with Google Maps, even if we prefer the latter for day-to-day use. We also love the fact that your eight most recently opened applications appear at the top of the notifications panel in a horizontal scroll bar.
The HTC Incredible S' Web browser is one of the best we've used on a smartphone. It supports Flash video and multitouch zooming, and it loads and renders pages quickly and smoothly. The Incredible S also handles media efficiently; we loaded a 720p AVI file onto our microSD card, and played back the file through the standard video player without any issues. It is a shame, then, that HTC hasn't equipped the Incredible S with a HDMI-out port.
Despite not running the latest version of Android, the HTC Incredible S is an incredibly (no pun intended) snappy and fast smartphone. We didn't experience any hint of slowdown or lag during general use, and it has a very quick boot up-time. HTC has also added some small but very nifty touches; the Incredible S can be set to reduce its ringtone when it detects movement (i.e. when you pick it up), it can mute the ringtone if the phone is flipped over face down, it will ring louder when it senses it is in a pocket or a handbag, and it will activate the hands-free speakerphone while on a call if the phone is flipped over face down.
The Incredible S also works with HTCSense.com, a set of desktop-based services largely centred on backup and security. Once you've created an account and logged in, you can locate your phone on a map if it is stolen, remotely lock or wipe the handset, redirect calls and messages to an alternative phone number and archive contacts, text messages and call history — all through your PC. You can also access the Android market from HTCSense.com, including a list of third-party applications recommended by HTC.
HTC Incredible S: Camera and battery life
The HTC Incredible S has an 8-megapixel camera with a dual LED flash, and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calling. The rear camera also doubles as a 720p HD video recorder. The flash works reasonably well in dim lighting, and video recording is of a good quality. The camera has a wealth of settings, including image effects like solarise and sepia, along with the ability to adjust ISO, sharpness, saturation, contrast and exposure. We also loved the fact you can use the external volume controls as zoom keys.
Battery life on the HTC Incredible S is much improved over recent HTC models, particularly the battery-hungry Desire HD. The Incredible S manages to last more than a full day on most occasions, though you will obviously get more use by fine tuning the synchronisation settings; e-mail, Facebook and Twitter regularly access the Internet in the background to deliver live updates.
The HTC Incredible S will be sold exclusively through Optus and is available for $0 upfront on the $49 Optus cap over 24 months. The plan includes $500 worth of calls and text, and 1.5GB of data, along with free Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, eBay, LinkedIn and FourSquare access.
The HTC Incredible S is also outright and unlocked through online store MobiCity.
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