The iPhone 4 is now on Verizon’s network. But the Droid line of smartphones, running Google’s open-source Android operating system, is already there and it’s not going anywhere!
In an earlier article, I compared the iPhone 4 to the Droid X, Verizon’s top-of-the-line Android smartphone. Now let’s see how it compares to the Droid Incredible: Verizon’s budget Droid, at only $99.
HTC says that the Droid Incredible was inspired by an Italian sports car. It’s not as minimalist as the iPhone 4’s sleek, industrial design, but the ridges along the back help you grip the phone (per the Engadget review), and the extra buttons on the front serve a purpose. The menu is hidden in most apps until you tap the Droid’s Menu key, freeing you from distractions; and the optical trackpad seems useless at first glance, but when you need to position the cursor while working with text it’s a lifesaver.
Because the Droid Incredible is an Android phone, it can do things that the iPhone can’t. While you’re browsing the web, it reflows text to fit the screen width, so that you don’t have to scroll horizontally while you’re zoomed in. It can use a limited version of Flash, and the home screens can sport widgets, like the Mint finance one that lets you see your bank balance at a glance.
HTC’s Sense interface takes Android to a new level, with sleek custom apps and widgets that let you easily check Facebook and Twitter. It also lets you pinch the screen to zoom out, and see all of your home screens at once. HTC Sense is shiny, and the animated weather widget is a nice touch.
The Droid’s most obvious hardware deficiency, compared to the iPhone 4, is its lack of a front-facing camera. Its main camera has an 8 megapixel resolution, compared to the iPhone’s 5, but unlike the iPhone it can’t record HD video. The Droid also has a maximum of 40 GB of storage, Toshiba pa3533u-1brs battery compared to the iPhone’s 16 or 32 GB, but only if you buy a 32 GB memory card for it; it only has 8 GB built-in. And you’ll need at least a cheap 2 GB memory card, because some apps require it.
Speaking of apps, the Droid lets you buy them from Google’s Android Market, which has over 150,000 according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt. But what he doesn’t say is that one reason that number is growing so quickly is because it’s much easier to put an app on the Android Market than it is on the iTunes App Store. There’s no approval process, and many of the “apps” are just ringtones and wallpaper packs. The Droid does have access to the essentials, like eBay and Angry Birds … but it’s also loaded with garbage Verizon apps that you can’t uninstall, unlike the Verizon iPhone.
Finally, the Droid’s AMOLED display isn’t as sharp as the iPhone’s Retina Display, and looks washed-out when you’re outdoors.
The $100 savings over the iPhone doesn’t stack up to the cost of a data plan. If you like Android’s features, go with the Droid Incredible; otherwise, go for the iPhone. Keep in mind that both are going to go out of date soon, though, with 4G Android phones and this year’s new iPhone model on the way.