By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
HTC has proven to be the most dynamic smartphone maker in terms of exploring form factors, pushing design boundaries and materials as well as refined skin overlays. For HTC, the smartphone experience begins with the look, feel and design of the devices and extends through the functionality. The new Incredible S is sports a bright 4" inch super LCD screen and a 8 megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording capability. How well does it stack up?
The HTC Incredible S is available starting today from Bell for $99.95 on a 3-year term with a minimum $50 voice/data plan or $499.95 with no term contract, it is also available on Virgin Mobile $499.99 on a 30-day agreement or as low as $99.99 on the Virgin Mobile SuperTab.
THe HTC Incredile S is a pleasure to hold. It features a sleek aluminum front bezel surrounding that expansive 4" inch screen. HTC has dropped the Samsung-made AMOLED screen for a Super LCD (made by Sony with VSPEC III technology providing an 800:1 contrast ratio and a viewing angle of up to 160 degrees).
The result is a reasonably bright and evenly saturated screen that won't dissapoint for movie playback, eBook reading and playing games. The challenge is using such a screen in direct sunlight since the reflective nature of the glass can make this difficult.
Another cool feature are the device's rotating touch-sensitive buttons for the home, back, menu and search quick keys that rotate to match the screen's orientation. It's a trippy effect.
The HTC Incredible S's rear case is made of matte black rubberized plastic which has a protruded area to cover the battery. On ther rear you see the large 8 megapixel camera, two LED flashes and the speaker grille. Dual noise cancelling microphones are below as are the surround sound via SRS WOW HD speakers which offer some of the best audio and voice playback we've seen in a candybar-styled smartphone.
The overall feel of the HTC Incredible S is that of ruggedness and high quality. Grip it tightly and you don't feel any looseness that's common in purely plastic smartphones. We love the fact that there's no glossy plastic to be seen anywhere on this device.
The 4" inch screen size is very easy to manage and even easier to get used to specially if you are the sort of user that does a lot of input such as email or short notes.
HTC's software keyboard, still one of the best implemented in the Android space, is fast and easy to type on in landscape and portrait mode. You do have the option of voice input which does work nicely provided you are 'voicing' in a quiet room with no ambient noise.
The HTC Incredible S is great for consuming content and its reasonably long battery life (it can get through a full day of about 5 calls and WiFi and data connected with moderate Internet and email use).
We found the camera's picture quality to be a disspointing. Sure, it promises 8 megapixels, which is great for large prints but the quality of photos from our pre-release review unit left a lot to be desired.
The HTC Incredible S does not have a dedicated camera shutter button which is unfortunate because it makes having to shoot stills and videos a bit harder when you need to interact with the screen.
Frankly, we felt the photo quality wasn't up to par with many of the smartphones we've tried recently. Photos felt lifeless and poorly focused even if we employed the touch-to-focus feature.
Still, you do get a pretty good range of picture taking features such as the ability to use either the front or rear camera (use the rear one), the ability to shoot video with the LED lights on (great for TMZ-styled celebrity paparazzi chasedowns)
The HTC Incredible S does record video in 720p HD resolution which, given a sizeable microSD expansion card, should make this a nice substitute to a Flip-type video recorder. There is no mini HDMI port for connecting to HDTVs which is surprising given this is a media-focused premium smartphone. It does have DLNA so it may be able to interface wirelessly with your DLNA enabled HDTV.
As a Android 2.2 device, the HTC Incredible offers the best that version of the OS has to offer. This includes the ability to act as a WiFI hotspot for up to 5 devices in its proximity. An increasingly important feature for smartphone users considering notebooks or WiFi tablets as companion devices. You only need one data plan on the smartphone and can share it ad hoc with any WiFi device you wish.
For fans of the HTC Sense skin and widgets, they will not be dissapointed as all the social, news and communication apps are present and running nice and large on that 4" inch screen.
An improvement of previous HTC Android smartphone, the HTC Incredible S is a relatively thin and surprisingly light 4" inch screen option that's powerful, versatile, thoroughly capable and well-designed. A very attractive option for users desiring a larger smartphone with all the latest features.
Rating: 4 out of 5