Verizon Wireless on Thursday will roll out the third incarnation of HTC's Droid Incredible, the first version to run on the carrier's high-speed, 4G LTE data network .
It's also the first smartphone released by Verizon since the carrier's new pricing plan went into effect last week. The new plan sets a flat rate for voice and text, with shared data plans based on data use ranging from $50 for two gigabytes per month to $100 for 10 GB.
Available for a medium-priced $149.99 (after a mail-in rebate) the Droid Incredible 4G LTE (Verizon is no longer releasing new 3G smartphones) runs Android 4.0. For differentiation, the phone features Beats Audio, an "enhanced auto tuning technology that allows users to hear music the way the artist intended." Beats Audio also enhances sound quality for videos and games.
Like its immediate predecessor released last February, the Incredible S, the Incredible 4G LTE has a 4-inch super LCD HD display. The original Droid Incredible, released in April 2010, had a 3.7-inch screen.
The newcomer Incredible packs an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash and a 28-millimeter lens, and a front-facing camera for video chatting. It's the first dual-core Incredible, with a 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor , and it also has a mobile hotspot feature to share LTE with as many as 10 Wi-Fi -enabled devices.
Android Beam allows users to share videos and other content by tapping compatible phones together, while Read Later allows users to save online content for when they are offline.
The Incredible 4G LTE joins the stable of Verizon's branded Droid devices, powered by Google's Android operating system, that the carrier says offer a superior user experience compared with other phones. Samsung and Motorola also make Droid phones.
Neil Shah, a wireless industry analyst for Strategy Analytics, told us that "apart from Beats Audio and a $149.99 price point, the LTE enabled HTC Droid Incredible doesn't set itself apart from a normal Android superphone."
He said the Incredible will face "tough competition" from coming top-shelf smartphones such as Samsung's signature Galaxy S III and the top-selling Motorola Droid Razr series, which is expected to drop in price during the summer.
"HTC has lost mindshare for its Incredible franchise and it would have been better if the model was based on the attractive One X design and sub-branding which has recently won accolades," Shah said.
HTC's dual-core, LTE, 4.7-inch One X was released by AT&T early last month.
Other phones by the Taiwan-based manufacturer, founded in 1997, haven't been as successful: The company's global market share fell from 8.9 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to 4.8 percent in the same quarter this year, according to IDC Research.
The company, which lowered second-quarter earnings expectations last month, is challenged by patent lawsuits from Apple, and Microsoft recently announced it will not partner with HTC on Windows 8 devices.
Posted: 2012-07-03 @ 7:14am PT
To say this phone will face stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S III or any other Android isn't a fair comparison. The smaller iPhoneish size of this phone and its screen land it in a different category. It's a niche device. And with this 3rd iteration of the Incredible, it's finally my near perfect Android. (If only it had a kickstand and slightly bigger battery.)