Name: HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Carrier: Verizon

Price: $150 (w/two-year contract)

The Back Story:  When the original Droid Incredible hit Verizon back in 2010, every critic tagged it the best Android smartphone at the time. One year later, the company released its successor, the Droid Incredible 2, which failed to meet the high expectations and left many to question whether the franchise could ever recover and regain its top spot on the Verizon network. Having found great success on the other three carriers, HTC hopes to channel that same energy and resurrect its most acclaimed mobile phone with the launch of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Now equipped with Big Red’s LTE service, as well as the most updated Android software and HTC’s dynamic camera technology—the new Incredible bears most of the elements we expect to see in a premium smartphone. But is that enough to regain our faith in the once prominent Android series or will a few imperfections doom its legacy for good? 

Dope

Updated software and features: Anyone who owns a Rezound or Droid Incredible 2 can finally get a taste of ICS and Sense 4.0. HTC has done a remarkable job of polishing up its UI by making the real estate less cluttered and performing menu tweaks. The experience feels more refined and smoother. Additions like Beats Audio and Android Beam technology, which you can read more about in our 12 Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Tips You Should Know list, add more flavor the the smartphone.

 Great camera: Even though HTC wasn’t able to squeeze in the same image chip featured in the One series, mobile photogs will still have the opportunity to toy with its amazing ImageSense software. Photos look bright and vivid, plus the shutter speeds and auto focus are on the money. The same shooting modes (Panorama, HDR) and filters are present, making it a dream for those addicted to Instagram. Like other Android 4.0 handsets, the video recording software now enables you to do more like snap stills like recording; and the audio quality is second to none. 

• Impressive LTE connection: After failing to utilize Verizon's LTE network with the  Incredible 2, HTC has finally produced a handset capable of taking advantage of Big Red's lightening quick 4G service. And the data speeds are really fast. Downloads clocked max readings of up to 16mbps, while uploads held strong at 2.1Mpbs. We found ourselves downloading up to five apps simultaneously and having the entire set reach download completions in no less than 10 seconds. 

• Good call: Voice calling is one of the Incredible 4G LTE’s strongest points. The phone picks up vocals really well and pairs great with a Bluetooth headset. Even the speakerphone manages to deliver good sound and take advantage of the handset's solid noise cancellation technology. Call quality was also on-point thanks to the strong signal reception in the Tri-State area. No dropped calls here.

• Affordability: When taking into account ICS and HTC’s phenomenal software, you’re getting a notable package at an unbeatable launch price.

 

Nope

Underwhelming spec sheet: For a phone billed as Verizon’s One variant, one would expect the same or similar hardware. Guess again. The Snapdragon dual-core does pull fast benchmarks, but it’s noticeably slower than the One X’s 1.5GHz Qualcomm chip. The 4-inch Super LCD (275ppi) lacks the vibrancy and pixel density of the latter’s Super LCD 2 display (312ppi).

Unoriginal design: HTC has built some of the the most attractive handsets on 2012 thus far, with the One series and EVO 4G LTE. Yet, the manufacturer chose to drape its next big Verizon phone with the exact same rubbery back case found on the Rezound, which adds extra bulk and looks far less attractive than the unibody casing on the One phones.

 Bloatware galore and limited memory: An abundance of preloaded apps doesn't usually bother us, but the Incredible 4G LTE takes on too much. You’re stuck with a number of useless carrier-based apps and some game demos that can’t be uninstalled. That obviously takes away from phone’s 5.12GB of available memory, forcing you to load a memory card into its built-in microSD slot.

 

Final Say: HTC’s third-gen Incredible phone redeems the franchise by tackling the opportunities its predecessor failed to bank on, while taking advantage of Androind 4.0 and Sense 4.0. LTE speeds were impressive, and so was the call quality and the 8MP shooter. But it’s quite bewildering to see HTC diminish one of its most revered mobile franchises, let alone its biggest Verizon one, by releasing a mid-level device. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen a premium HTC phone on Verizon, and we might have to hold our breath till the holiday season to see one. But for anyone seeking a smaller-sized handset carrying the latest software and LTE support at a bargain value, the Incredible 4G LTE is calling you.