Review: Droid X versus Droid Incredible (psst…slight edge to the latter)

What difference does an ounce make? When it comes to smartphones, a lot.

The Droid X made by Motorola and sold by Verizon Wireless is lot of smart phone for 200 bucks:  its big 4.3 inch display is brilliant and crisp. The X’s thin design is sleek and a major improvement upon the brick-like profile of its original Motorola Droid. Verizon Wireless loaned me a review unit late last week and I’ve been putting it through its paces.

Droid X

But I give the Droid Incredible (which TDR followers know I loved)  from HTC with its smaller 3.7 inch screen and profile a small edge.  Given, they are both $200 Verizon smartphones with the usual two year service contract, they beg comparison.

Here’s the weigh-in: The X weighs 5.47 ounces (49 ounces less than original Motorola Droid) versus 4.59 ounces for the Incredible (versus 3.7 ounces for my aging Blackberry Curve). Watching videos on the X, my hand tired holding it up while I was horizontal on the couch.

It feels a bit bulky in my pants pocket, too. It’s 5.02 inches tall, .039 inches at it thickest point and 2.57 inches wide versus. The Incredible is a touch thicker, a touch less wide and 4.63 inches tall.

Both are both based on the Android version 2.1 operating system, but that’s where the innards’ similarities end. The X comes with a different chipset known as OMAP from Texas Instruments,  long a mainstay in cell phones. And it has the Motorola application platform, whatever that is.

The Incredible phone is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor and is a heavily Google-ized phone. Verizon Wireless  calls the Incredible a “Google Experience Device (GED).” The X is a pure Android…the differences are subtle, but simply put, the GED is an Android-based phone with lots of Google apps built in.

So what does all this mean? I found some of X’s applications a bit funky and hard to use. For example, it was easy uploading photos from the Incredible to Facebook. It took some messing around to set it up on the X. The X’s camera had a pronounced shutter delay (maybe it was the lighting, but it never seemed fast in the 50 shots I took mostly in broad daylight) and it initially took me a few minutes to figure out that the shutter button was on the side.

Verizon’s Incredible from HTC

Speaking of buttons, the X does a lot more with physical controls on the phone itself. I was constantly using the go back button, which the third from the right in the photo. I prefer the Incredible’s heavier use of screen-resident controls. The Incredible also seemed a touch faster than the X.

My X’s camera also inexplicably defaulted to black and white shots and I still figuring out how to get color shots back. Mind you, they both have great video cams and 8 mega-pixel cameras. I just had better Kodak moments with the Incredible in the few days Verizon Wireless gave me a loaner.

I also took an instant liking to the Incredible, but had to warm up the X although it is great for watching videos and has excellent apps for texting, e-mail, speech recognition and a great voice phone (as in talk on the phone).

The X is DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified meaning it can wirelessly or wired share content with other DLNA devices of which I have none and I suspect there are few. So I could not test this app.

I noticed little differences between the Incredible and the X. The on-screen keyboard on the X is excellent, but the CAPS lock stayed on after a keystroke instead of automatically defaulting to lower case which was the Incredible did – a tiny but smart feature.

One edge for the X is that it comes with 16 GB of memory built in and can be upgraded 32 GB whereas the Incredible comes with eight and can only add another 16 GB via a MicroSD card, according to Verizon’s specs (a friend who works for Verizon tells me the Incredible does go up to 32 GB and that Verizon’s specs are wrong).

Grant you, both phones are good and reason enough to say screw Apple’s iPhone should Verizon Wireless ever carry it. I am not saying this just because Steve jobs last week arrogantly excused the antenna problems with the iPhone 4. The Droids are nearly as good as the iPhone and you get a more reliable network with Verizon Wireless than what iPhone users endure with AT&T.

One iPhone advantage I noticed is that many Android apps cannot be sized spreading/pinching thumb and fore finger on the touch sensitive displays. And the single Android New York Times app is pretty basic compared to the several NYT apps for the iPod touch and iPad. After all, the iPhone, introduced Jan. 9, 2007, enjoys a near three-year head start on Android smartphones.

I could spend months testing out the both phones and still find new things. I always get paranoid that when I say a phone lacks a particular feature because maybe I could not find it or turn it on. But that is the phone’s fault, isn’t it?

I haven’t made up my mind for sure given I am waiting until November when I get my discounted phone plus a another $50 off. By that time, the Incredible and X could be in the rear view mirror, supplanted by a raft of new Android smartphones. Verizon Wireless has five, now (six technically, but one is being phased out).

For those with either  the X or the Incredible, what do you think?

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