HTC Incredible S – Almost true to its name! Review

HTC Incredible S – Almost true to its name! Review

The HTC Incredible S is a really good phone, and is one of those few devices we can call “well rounded”. Very good performance meets a great display, and good construction meets a great keypad. The 4-inch display is a great compromise between bulkier 4.3-inch units and the smaller 3.7-inch ones. We’re greedy though, and in lieu of dual core phones on the horizon, we’d like the Incredible S to be around 4,000 bucks cheaper, but all said and done, if you’re hunting for an Android phone in this price range today, the Incredible S should top your shopping list.

HTC Incredible S

The Incredible S walks the middle road in terms of dimensions. It’s not as blatant as something as large as an HTC Desire HD (reviewed here), while its got more display real estate than an HTC Desire S. With a 4-inch display, the Incredible S should be just what the doctor ordered for those who found the Desire HD too large, and the Desire S too small. It releases at an interesting time as well, with Sony Ericsson releasing their Xperia Arc which we’ve reviewed here, Nokia announcing the first batch of Windows Phone 7 devices, not to mention a slew of dual core phones that we’re still waiting to review. Throughout this review, we discovered, as you will see, that the Incredible S is a very well rounded phone, with the odd chink in an otherwise bulletproof package.

Look and feel

The HTC Incredible S could be termed as attractive, or really plain-jane with ugly curves depending on how you see it, and first opinions are likely to be the last in such matters. Being the open-minded blokes we’re reputed to be, we kind of like the slight contour and bulge on the battery cover – this makes the phone a bit thicker than if the battery cover were flat, but certainly helps the rest of the body being a bit slimmer, not to mention pack a more potent 1,450 mAh battery – a plus given HTCs penchant for wimpy power plants. Though plain plastic, and quite flexible, the battery cover doesn’t feel cheap, and has a matte rubberised grip that resists scratches and smudges, and should also wear better than glossy surfaces. It’s certainly better than the glossy, ultra thin cover on the Samsung Nexus S. The front bezel is aluminium, and imparts a solid feel to the phone. The front of the phone is completely dominated by a large slab of glass that covers the LCD display, serves as a bezel for this display, and incorporates capacitive touch buttons beneath the display. The only region where the aluminium is visible when viewed from the front is the top of the device, where the metal bezel curves on to the front of the phone. Between the metal and the glass is a rubberised insert, no doubt to protect from casual exposure to dust and humidity, and in this aspect the Incredible S is better than the Desire HD, though it is not perfect – there’s a smaller gap between these surfaces that catches smaller particles than the Desire HD did.

One of the little embellishments on the Incredible S is the addition of auto-rotating backlighting for the capacitive touch controls on the front. Tilt the phone to a landscape view and these re-orient. This is accomplished by using two arrays of LEDs – one each for each orientation – admitted this isn’t rocket science or deeply fascinating, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless, and quite eye catching when you notice it for the first time.

Moving on, we have an elongated black coloured earpiece grille, a deviation from the usual chrome, and a small front facing camera with a resolution of 1.3MP, which is good enough, but smaller than the 2MP secondary unit on the Samsung Galaxy S 2! The power button and 3.5mm jack are housed atop the phone, while the volume rocker (that is pretty intuitive to use) and micro USB port are located on the left side. The right side of the phone is devoid of any controls. The mouthpiece microphone and noise cancellation microphone have a small port each on the battery cover, near the bottom, and the noise cancellation feature really works as we discovered, but with one anomaly. Running ones fingernail on the bottom of the phone when on a call results in very little noise being transmitted to the other person, but, the noise is transferred to your earpiece instead, with slight magnification!

[RELATED_ARTICLE]Moving on to the display, it must be said that the Incredible S has a beautiful display, very close to the magical display on the original HTC Desire S-LCD. While we were enamoured with this display, we saw a lot of S-LCDs after it, that left a bad taste in our mouth, the Desire Z (reviewed here) in particular seemed to have a very substandard display, and the Incredible S cleans the slate, in a matter of speaking. It is pretty flawless when viewed front on, with good crisp colours, and a more than decent contrast. It’s no AMOLED, but we like our colours neutral rather than over-rich and saturated. The only area it’s deficient in, is contrast, visible when watching movies. Blackness levels are poorer than an AMOLED by around 20%, while contrast is poorer by around the same amount. Text is sharp, crisp and very readable, while the display has no visible lag. Viewing angles are decent without being great, there is brightness falloff as the angle becomes progessively more extreme, but the colour stays put (well almost), till around a 45 degree-tilt, which is quite good. Text readability at angles is also quite good. Sunlight legibility is poor, but better than the IPS display on the Apple iPhone 4, and slightly better than the S-LCD on the Samsung Nexus S that we’ll be reviewing shortly.

The onscreen QWERTY works well, even in portrait mode, and the slightly extra spacing over 3.7-inch displays makes it a bit more usable, at least to our largish fingers. The capacitive touch is quite sensitive, and like the Desire HD, we were able to activate a control with bringing our hand very close (around 3 mm) away from the display. In landscape mode the keypad is huge, and tapping out long messages is a breeze, although (mandatory disclaimer follows), a hardware QWERTY like the one on the E72 is 100% better any day. However, as we discovered on the HTC Desire Z, hardware QWERTYs on some phones are an iffy affair, and just because a phone has a touchscreen in addition to a hardware keypad, doesn’t necessarily make it more usable than a phone that has either of the two.


The Incredible S comes with Android version 2.2 aka Froyo. A Gingerbread (2.3) patch has been released, but for some reason it wasn’t available for an “over the air” update till date. Otherwise, the Incredible S has a similar set of applications that mirrors all other HTC Android phones in recent times. We haven’t seen the new Sense UI 3.0, which is debuting on the HTC Sensation, but in our opinion, Sense UI is the best of the customised interfaces around. Applications are a snap, and the Incredible S comes with a good bunch of them, more than most other non-HTC Android-based handsets, and the Android store is but a finger away.

With a 1 GHz processor courtesy the Qualcomm MSM8255 SoC, and 768 MB of RAM, the Incredible S is no slouch. The Sense UI runs without any hiccups or slowdowns of any sort, although on one occasion we got the display to freeze between two home screens, with each screen sharing half a page. Turning the display off and on again solved this, and thankfully, its been a week without recurrences. Incidentally, the Incredible S ships with 1.1 GB of internal ROM, although this is usable by applications and for storing SMS’. Any multimedia files or even updates will mandate the use of a microSD card. Thankfully, there’s an 8 GB one in the retail package. The 8MP clicker has two LED flashes (similar to the Desire HD), and misses a dedicated camera button.


Click next to read on about its performance and our verdict 



First of all, as we discovered whilst travelling, the loudspeaker is quite loud for incoming calls, so you’re unlikely to miss one unless you’re outdoors, or have an MP3 player plugged in. The vibration is also strong, much stronger than on the Desire HD, and in silent mode, it is pretty easy to “feel” an incoming call. This itself scores brownie points in our books, as so many expensive, converged devices these days botch up something that is the very essence of any cellphone.

The Incredible S is a strong performer when it comes to signal quality and call clarity. While call clarity isn’t as good as some of the best Nokia phones we’ve tested, like the excellent Nokia N95 8 GB, it is a bit better than the Desire HD. The earpiece is loud enough for the other person to be heard even amidst a fair amount of background noise at your end. Even in zone three, we hardly faced any issues with quality, although the volume of the other persons voice seemed to dip and pick up only to dip again – the only indication that we were operating on one or two reception towers. The loud-ringing loudspeaker isn’t very loud when activated on a call, and it muffles and distorts the persons voice – stick to the great earpiece or the very good handsfree unit.

HTC Incredible S

Music quality on the handsfree unit is good, but we’d like to see HTC bundling earplugs that have a slightly stronger bass flavour, while isolating external sound. The handsfree unit is loud enough though, while the loudspeaker is inadequate for music. The 8MP clicker is quite good – kudos to HTC putting in some work on their cameras, which, if memory serves were fairly mediocre up to even a year back. 2 LED flashes aren’t really better than a Xenon flash, however, the flash is reasonably bright, and will illuminate a subject up to 4 feet away quite well. The camera is fairly mediocre indoors in dim lighting, but in daylight performs quite well, certainly at par with the better lot of other cellphone cameras, with the possible exception of the 12MP unit on the Nokia N8. The images have good exposure, with crisp, vibrant, (but not saturated), colour, and good detail. Obviously, on a per pixel level it’s not up to the mark compared to even a fair digital camera, but this is an unrealistic expectation.

[RELATED_ARTICLE]The Incredible S performed admirably in terms of responsiveness, and the one glitch apart, can be termed as quite speedy. 768 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz CPU are more than sufficient for whatever demands the Sense UI and Android collectively place on system resources. The last component we tested was the battery. HTC has faced criticism and rightly so about providing weak batteries with some of their phones. The best example was the HTC Desire HD – a great phone, but a paltry 1,230 mAh battery that needed two charges a day with heavy usage. The battery on the Incredible S seems to last around 30% longer. Meaning it will get you through a day of syncing mails, Facebook content and such, along with a good 2-3 hours of calls, on a single charge. The S-LCD is obviously consuming less power than the Desire HDs display, while being smaller too. While the battery life is good, it’s still piddly compared to say a Nokia E72, but sadly, with touchscreen phones, we’ve learned to (greatly) lower our expectations.

Our take

The MOP for the Incredible S is Rs. 28,900, but one of our office blokes rushed out and bought one for Rs. 26,500 in Delhi. At this price, the Incredible S makes a fairly good buy and given its good battery and slightly compact dimensions makes a better deal than the Desire HD, unless you need the extra display size. Unfortunately, the cloud of future proofing looms over current phones, especially when one considers dual core phones making an entry at 5,000 bucks or so more. We’re also seeing higher resolution displays, like 540 x 960 pixels on the HTC Sensation, making an appearance in the market, and this makes the Incredible S lose a bit of its charm. However, let it be said that in lieu of the current devices available, the Incredible S is a good phone, available at a reasonably fair price and one of the best all round Android devices we’ve tested.

Specifications: Display: 4-inch, 480 x 800 pixels, S-LCD; OS: Android 2.2; SoC: Qualcomm MSM8255; RAM: 768 MB; Camera: 8 MP; battery: 1,450 mAh; weight: 135.5 grams

Features: 7.5
Performance: 8
Build: 7.75
Value: 7
Overall: 7.5


Incredible S
Street Prices (Rs)
Price (MRP, Rs)
28900 (MOP)
Physical Specs
Form Factor
2G Network Bands
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network Bands
HSDPA 900 / 2100
Screen Resolution
480 x 800 pixels
Screen Size (inches)
4.0 inches
Maximum Screen colours
Touchscreen / Dual Screen (Y/N)
Battery Rating
1450 mAh
Dimensions (L x W x H)
120 x 64 x 11.7 mm
135.5 grams
Expandable Memory Type
RAM (in MB)
768 MB
Qualcomm MSM 8255
CPU Clock speed
1 GHz
No. of CPU cores
Memory card Hot Swappable (Y/N)
Available Colours
Black, Red
Other Features
Operating System (Tested with)
Android 2.2
Charging via USB (Y/N)
Hardware Keypad (Regular/QWERTY)
Accelerometer (For auto rotate)
Address Book Capacity
No of calls in register
Talk Time / Standby Time (3G) *
6 hrs, 20 min / 370 hrs
No of Profiles # / Customisable
NA / Y
Offline Opearability (Y/N)
Inbuilt GPS / A-GPS support (Y / N)
Y / Y
Browsing (GPRS/EDGE/3G)
Y / Y / Y
EDGE max speed (in kbps)
560 kbps
3G max speed (in mbps)
14.4 mbps (HSDPA)
Connectivity (WiFi/Bluetooth/IR/USB)
Y / Y / N / Y
Bluetooth Version/A2DP support
2.1 / Y
Camera Specs
Camera Resolution (Mega Pixels)
Video Capture Resolution
1280 x 720
Auto focus / flash
Y / Y
Type of flash
Dual LED
Secondary camera for video chat
Resolution of secondary camera
1.3 MP
Camera Settings (So 10)
Music Formats supported
Video formats supported
DivX, XviD, MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV
FM Radio / RDS (Y/N)
Y / Y
Bundled Accessories
Charger, handsfree, data cable
Size of memory card provided
8 GB
Build and Ergonomics (So 10)
Surface materials used
Overall build and in-hand feel
Quality of moving parts
Design and ergonomics
Keypad design (on-screen or hardware)
Menu and interface
Settings and ease of navigating menus
Signal Reception and Voice Clarity (So 10)
Zone 1
Zone 2
Zone 3
Handsfree Clarity
Loudspeaker Clarity
Earpiece Clarity
Handsfree Volume
Loudspeaker Volume
Earpiece Volume
Bluetooth Transfer Speed (in KBps)
Imaging and multimedia tests
Captured Photo Colour
Captured Photo Crispness
Captuted Photo Detail
Captured Video Quality
Effectiveness of integrated flash
Music Quality (loudspeaker)
Music Quality (handsfree)
Volume levels (loudspeaker)
Volume levels (handsfree)
Display (So 10)
Font rendition
Legibility in bright sunlight
Video playback
* Manufacturer Rated


Contact: Bright Point India
Phone No: 9910821100
E-mail ID:
Price: Rs. 28,900 (MOP)

Michael Browne
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