While there are many out there who have already argued how the HTC Droid Incredible is basically a re-branded HTC Desire when you look deep into what’s under the hood and found in its software, after taking an almost identical approach, we discovered the Droid Incredible’s 3.7” WVGA AMOLED touchscreen that will continue to be a staple of the current line of high-end Android handsets and its support for 16 million colors eloquently jumps out from all angles. We discovered its capacitive touchscreen to be quite responsive to the touch, but it continues to be an annoying magnet for those pesky finger prints and smudges. Aside from the lack of visibility when viewing the phone outdoors in direct sunlight, we found very few faults with the performance of its display where even fine text are detailed enough to read out from a zoomed out view. Both the light and proximity sensors are found next to one another above the screen and give the user the most optimal viewing experience when the display brightness is set to automatic. Which leads us to the conclusion that the display’s luminance is clearly one of its most attractive and prominent features.
Unlike the HTC Desire, the standard Android set of buttons have been changed back to being touch sensitive ones, which are built into the surface of the touchscreen and does blend well with the black finish to have an overall clean look. The only remaining physical buttons on the handset are the volume rocker and dedicated power button – both of which are slightly raised and are accompanied with a decent tactile response. The 3.5mm headset jack is located on the top edge while the microUSB port is on the left side. The 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash slightly protrudes from the rest of the phone on the back whereby laying it flat on its back will result in the camera coming in contact with the surface. The notch near the camera is used for the speaker phone.
Tapping the "Phone" button, centred in the bottom of any one of the 7 home screens pulls the dialler up which enables you to numerically enter a name (i.e. tom as 262), with the HTC Desire HD displaying it instantly. The phonebook works very well once you learn how to use it since HTC Sense pulls in ALL your contacts from EVERYWHERE by default. This may feel a bit overwhelming at first, however, open "People", press "Menu" and then tap "View" and you can select which contacts to display (Google, Facebook, SIM etc). Once you’re done, your contacts are a pleasure to browse through. As far as voice recognition goes, it works better than most, but still gets it wrong every so often.
Use the widgets wisely as they tend to lag if it syncs too much; however, managing your phone’s connections (to preserve battery) and it shouldn’t be an issue.
The camera is 8MP with autofocus, which the HTC Desire HD kicks things off to a solid set of specs, and with a dual LED flash, we’re expecting many good things. It includes a range of special modes: Distortion, Vignette Depth of Field, Vintage, Vintage Warm, Vintage Cold, Greyscale, Sepia, Negative, Solarize, Posterize and Aqua which work very nicely, although some are gimmicky, but others such as ‘Vintage’ are adding quality to the image we really like.
As for the standalone performance of the camera, it’s unfortunately not very clear-cut. Focusing is a bit of an issue, with shots out of focus (OOF) for roughly 10% of the time. Colour reproduction is fairly okay but inconsistent. The phone’s camera isn’t handling noise well at all which are evident even in daytime shots where the black visibly suffers from grain. The night shots were also quite shabby unless the subject is well lit. Macro shots weren’t too bad at all and there is a focusing distance of about 4 inches, and we found that this is one of the phones stronger points. Indoor shots, however, are entirely dependent on lighting. Suffice to say, the HTC Desire HD isn’t going to replace your digital camera.
The Dolby Mobile and SRS Wow HD offer a nice amount of roundness to the sound the HTC Desire HD can produce which is a great wow factor. Unfortunately, we were unable to activate these features for most audio and video players that aren’t the system’s standard.
The loudspeaker plays music quite well considering the sound’s being pushed through a tiny grill on the back, though it isn’t one that can be listened to comfortably for a lengthy amount of time. The HTC Desire HD plays DivX, H.264, MP4 and Xvid files out of the box but unfortunately, HTC hasn’t implemented the standard of video playback that can be found on the Nokia N8 or C7, with DivX and Xvid only playable up to 640×480 without audio sync issues. We discovered that it plays H.264 and MP4 up to 720p well.
The HTC Desire HD has a GPS on board to take full advantage of all HTC Sense has to offer, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and quad-band GSM, as well as dual band 3G. You also get the DLNA functionality, which should work with a Windows 7 PC or any another DLNA enabled device.
Email is quite typical for an Android phone. HTC have incorporated enhanced usability for its widgets and Sense immersion while the core emailing experience is very good. Setting up our Gmail account took mere minutes and Android brought all our Google contacts, emails and calendar information onto the phone very quickly.
The HTC Desire HD’s screen is also perfect for surfing the web. Having a responsive screen coupled with speedy responsive scrolling through even larger sites makes this an incredibly good, pocketable web browsing device. Thanks to Froyo, the real high point comes when browsing Flash sites, with the HTC Desire HD managing the challenge incredibly well, especially when playing embedded video(s).
While we’ve covered the feature set HTC Sense provides you with, it turbo-charges the phone’s standard connectivity features. Sense makes the GPS, for instance, more usable, caching maps and making the world revolve around you using the in-built compass. As for the network connectivity, it is useful on its own; with HTC Sense – unique, giving you connection to your phone, even when you don’t know where your phone is. We cannot stress this point enough, for every negative we get, the positives look much better.
The HTC Desire HD has a 1GHz processor which is the standard top-class processors. The HTC Sense widgets go pretty heavily on the phone. The fact that they’re useful means they’re worth it, but the phone does lag every once in a while.
Battery life is definitely the HTC Desire HD’s weakest area. With regular use and at mid to full brightness, the phone usually struggles to make it til evening before prompting us to put it into power saver mode which is a disappointment since it was quoted to be able to withstand 9.16 hours of talk time (5.3 hours 3G) and 18 days of standby time. However, if you have a HTC Desire HD, you will want to use it a lot, because it’s so useful. You will want to watch a movie and surf the web while listening to songs and getting directions when you’re all done. This usually means that your battery may not make it through a whole day if you don’t show some restraint (especially with screen brightness).
Pros and Cons
Its uninspiring design and somewhat cheap feel and the lack of headphones in the box (gasp) pull it down in our rankings.