HTC Incredible Bests the BlackBerry Bold 9650, Nexus One

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-01

HTC Incredible Bests the BlackBerry Bold 9650, Nexus One

Verizon Wireless launched the HTC Droid Incredible smartphone April 29, offering it for $199 with a $100 rebate and a two-year contract.

Unlike its Android predecessors, there was no fancy launch event, but it didn't need one. The early reviews helped in a big way and the devices have sold out and won't be available until May 4.

The new Android 2.1-based gadget comes with a fraction of the plaudits of the Nexus One, which Google launched in January with half the buzz of the Motorola Droid, which Verizon launched with a blitzkrieg, Terminator-style marketing campaign last November.

You get the idea. Unless there is a major breakthrough in hardware, processor or operating system design, the best we may have to look forward to from Google's Android OS is Android 2.2, the Froyo version that is slated to support Flash and could possibly mitigate the gross fragmentation surrounding Android.

For now, we turn an eager eye to the Incredible, which is a fine, fine device for browsing the Web and using Web applications. eWEEK provided a detailed run-through here, along with pictures of the device here.

I've had the Incredible for nearly a week now, and the best thing that I can compare it to is the Nexus One. In fact, they are much the same.

The Incredible is black, cased in plastic; the Nexus One is gray, coated in Teflon. But they share the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor, which makes them both load Web pages nearly as fast as my Asus EEE PC netbook.

At least it feels that way; the Incredible is fast. I don't remember the Nexus One being this fast. Maybe it was a slow test unit?

I'm not kidding. The Web rendering capabilities of these devices alone make them worth buying if you're the type who needs to take your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and other Web apps with you on the road.

If you're an amateur photographer or simply need a fine camera, the Incredible is a great choice. The device sports an 8-megapixel camera-the first of its kind from Verizon-making the Nexus One's 5-megapixel offering seem pedestrian by comparison.

The Incredible also employs HTC Sense's user experience, with seven customizable home screens. What does anyone want with seven home screens? If you need a phone to be an extension of your desktop or laptop, where you're accustomed to opening in several browser tabs, the Incredible is a nice fit.

I posted Google Buzz from the device with ease and searched the new Google Place Pages, which have been optimized for mobile, making the feature a nice little personal assistant for the pocket.   

Calls on the device were crisp and clear. It could have been my imagination, but the speech-to-text capability seems to have improved a bit from just a few short months ago. The battery held up well over the course of the day with a handful of phone calls and some considerable Web browsing-12 hours before dying.

Incredible Beats the Bold 9650

The Nexus One offered a great mobile Web experience. But with the same OS, pretty much the same apps, same processor and other details, it's no surprise that Verizon and/or Google opted not to offer the Nexus One on the Verizon network.

Offering the Nexus One solely through a virtual store and subsidized by the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier in T-Mobile is not a recipe for success. Whoever nixed the Nexus One on Verizon's network-some say Verizon, some say Google-proved the point. The Incredible could easily cannibalize the Nexus One and it wouldn't be a shame. 

It's not a technology issue; it's a go-to-market obstacle. Why would Verizon get behind the Nexus One with a similar, yet superior device in the fold?

I won't yet predict the Incredible will sell more than 1 million-plus units like the Motorola Droid. How do we know the Froyo phones won't come out in May to blow everyone away? But the Incredible will certainly sell more than the reported 200,000 to 250,000 Nexus One devices Google has sold.

I took the Incredible with me to Research In Motion's Wireless Enterprise Symposium this week. What better way to field test the latest high-end Android gadget than against the latest and greatest gadget the leading smartphone maker in the United States has to offer?

I took the Incredible to the BlackBerry booth and measured its Web browsing capabilities versus the forthcoming BlackBerry Bold 9650, RIM's latest high-end smartphone. See them side-by-side here.

The Bold 9650 is a sweet gadget. It's small, sleek and powerful, boasting the optical trackpad that makes the trackball seem like an 8-track player and the full QWERTY keyboard road warriors have grown to know and love.

Navigating the many applications-RIM is getting more media-happy-on the Bold 9650 was a snap, and typing long e-mails was a dream.

But, and this is a big but for a heavy Web user, the Bold 9650 rendered most Web pages I tested against the Incredible in about half the time.

Whether it was just the Best Buy Website, or the media-intensive, I watched the Bold 9650 parse, mull and churn its way to surface content. The Incredible rendered the same Websites with greater efficiency.

I know, I know. The BlackBerry is meant to be a messaging device and in that vein it is clearly the superior gadget. But having tested the original Droid, its baby brother the Droid Eris, the Nexus One and now the Incredible, I've gotten comfortable with typing e-mails and doing manual searches on the Android virtual keyboards.

It's funny because when I type on the Android virtual keyboards, it feels as though I'm not hitting the right keys because they are so narrow, yet the technology picks up my little taps with surprising accuracy-and I'm not a novice typist on a virtual keyboard.

When it comes down to it, I'd choose an Incredible over the 9650 because I can e-mail on both (obviously much better typing on the Bold keyboard), but get much faster Web results from the Droid.

Putting the Incredible and Bold 9650 toe-to-toe, browsing speed wins the day. If e-mailing is more important for you, the Bold is a better bet.


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