Name: HTC Droid Incredible 2

Carrier: Verizon

Price: $200 w/Two-year contract

The Back Story: Great software, a responsive touchscreen, stunning display, high-speed performance, and cool fit and finish—with the Droid Incredible, HTC practically set the mold for today’s Google-powered phones when it released what was arguably known, at the time, as the best Android phone. Since then, however, the company and the industry have evolved. Dual-core processing, fast operating systems, and 4G service now represent the smartphone zenith, with many customers expecting at least a 1 GHz chip, hi-res display, and dual-camera funtionality. Considering HTC’s track record has been nothing short of outstanding lately, especially with Verizon’s first-ever 4G phone, the Thunderbolt 4G, many experts would say the odds of the Droid Incredible 2 surpassing its predecessor seem favorable. So does it hold as much weight as the original?

Dope

• New design and updated features: HTC ditches the plastic-like sheath of the original and incorporates a new unibody case with a soft rubbery finish that feels smooth in your hands. Out goes the optical pointer and in comes enhanced haptic touchscreen keys that rotate 90-degrees when the display is tilted horizontally. A 4-inch SLCD screen replaces the 3.7-inch AMOLED display and generates resonant colors and brighter screen output. Text, games, and videos—everything looks dynamic in 800x480 pixel resolution. The latest 1GHz Snapdragon processor powers the device and is both responsive and fast to all touchscreen commands. RAM is also increased to 768MB.

• Good media and communication tools: A variety of pre-installed apps are at your disposal with Skype Mobile leading the way. HTC’s Friend Stream widget compiles all Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter updates, plus there’s a separate Twitter widget for hardcore tweeters. Several e-mail clients are supported and the Mobile IM app combines all AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and Windows Live messages into one platform. The Incredible 2 also covers a wide range of media outlets, giving you a YouTube widget as well as Amazon Kindle, Slacker, NFL Mobile, and different VCAST apps.

• Upgraded Sense UI: Like the Inspire 4G, HTC’s latest user-interface boasts advanced graphics, faster booting times, and improved personalization tools. There are seven profile customizations under the Scenes setup, each offering different homescreen layouts depending on the user (Work, Social, Play, etc.). Flash videos can be viewed directly from the web browser, and the virtual keyboard is larger and registers accurate typing inputs. Best of all, if you’ve setup an account under HTC’s cloud service, HTCSesnse.com, the phone will automatically import your Favorites list.

• Great dual-camera action: The rear 8MP camera does an awesome job of producing sharp outdoor pics and the supporting dual LED flash is bright enough to make indoor shots look rich and vibrant. The front-facing 1.3MP camera serves its purpose for quality headshots and video conferencing à la Skype. Videos are shot in 720p and look good as well. But the coolest features here lie in the ability to toggle with the flash and touch focus when recording videos.

• Call quality and wireless features: The phone sports an improved microphone system with noise cancellation, which issued little to no background noise and distortion during our calls. In addition, global connectivity lets users take advantage of Verizon’s wireless and data services in over 200 countries with HSPA, CDMA, and EVDO Rev.A compatibility. There’s also wi-fi, Bluetooth, and mobile hotspot support for up to five devices.

Nope

• 3G-only and lagging speeds: As the successor to Verizon’s most prominent Android phone, we’re nearly baffled that the carrier didn’t make this handset 4G-enabled. The carrier’s 3G network was spotty and slow at times, as we experienced reception issues throughout New York City. 

• No Gingerbread: Another up-to-date Android landmark is MIA with the absence of Gingerbread. Users must settle with the standard Froyo OS for the time being, as Verizon announced it would not divulge any future update plans concerning Android 2.3.

• Weak battery: Enabling wireless features and having several apps running in the background depletes battery life within less than 3 hours, while moderate use can give up to 6 to 8 hours of usage. 

• Little included memory: For a social- and media-heavy smartphone, you’re only looking at 1GB of storage and a 8GB MicroSD card installed below the battery slot on the side. Heavy Android Market users and mediaphiles should invest in larger external memory.

Final Say: The Droid Incredible 2 does a great job of incorporating new software and hardware upgrades like HTC’s refined Sense UI and dual cameras. The design even tackles a more solid and sleek look. But in the end, it doesn’t leave the same impact the original left on us. Again, we're not sure why Verizon chose not to give the Incredible 2 the 4G-treatment. When you include its undetermined Gingerbread future, consumers might show impatience and place their focus on more powerful, equally priced Verizon phones like the Thunderbolt or iPhone 4. Still, the Incredible 2 is a good mid-level device that offers first-rate communication and multimedia features.