The Incredible S differentiates itself from the rest of HTC’s Android stable with a soft-touch rubberised finish, allied to a 4in screen. There are almost no buttons: one on the top edge powers the handset on and off and there’s a volume rocker on the left side. The standard Home, Menu, Back and Search buttons are touch-sensitive lights beneath the screen – nothing new there, but when you rotate the phone, the lights turn with it, and that’s very cool.
We're running 2.2 Froyo here which is a little disappointing. By now all high-end Android handsets should be furnished with the 2.3 'Gingerbread' version of the OS, but the user experience is enhanced by HTC’s Sense overlay. You also get the usual range of high quality HTC widgets to pepper your homescreens with.
Where plain Android is slightly chaotic and geeky, HTC Sense is intuitive, attractive and built on excellent taste. So, for instance, in Locations it takes some of the best elements of Android mapping (Google Maps is sophisticated, comprehensive and free) and adds the facility to download maps in advance so there’s no wait for streets and names to load. The UK map is 532MB, so it’s worth downloading that over Wi-Fi unless you want to drive a coach and horses through your data allowance.
The ‘helicopter’ view where you zoom out of a home screen to view thumbnails of all the others is here once again, although this is no longer unique to HTC.
There’s also HTC’s fast-boot system. Turn on the iPhone 4 and you’ll be waiting for a minute and more before you can use the phone. Here, it is ready to go in under ten seconds.
There’s an 8MP camera that’ll do a reasonable job of documenting your exploits. Viewed up close there’s a lot of smudging and smearing, but overall image quality isn’t bad for a phone, and there’s a pair of LEDs on hand to illuminate indoor shots. The camera interface is highly likeable with a digital zoom slider onscreen, which also works in camcorder mode.
On paper, the specs of the Incredible S processor are nothing special, lacking the dual-core prowess of the latest handsets, but in use it’s fast and effective, rarely if ever leaving you waiting. And while many big-screened smartphones, including some by HTC, have been dogged by poor battery life, the Incredible S can keep going all day without a top-up. Overall, the Incredible S is a highly usable, enjoyable handset.