HTC Droid Incredible 2 vs. Samsung Droid Charge : Battle of Verizon’s Single-Core DROIDs

July 12, 2011

Overview

Verizon Wireless scored a win with its popular DROID series of Android smartphones. With prudence and caution, the mobile carrier chose its flagship devices wisely, a strategy that has borne fruit today, with the DROID name automatically conjuring in people’s minds the images of mobile power and strength coupled with fun.

Such is still the case with two new members of Verizon’s DROID family–the Samsung Droid Charge and the HTC DROID Incredible 2. Of the many Android phones on Verizon Wireless today, the Samsung Droid Charge and the HTC DROID Incredible 2 have made it to the top of the popularity ladder–and it is not hard to understand why, as explained in the rest of this comparison review.

The DROID Incredible 2 by HTC–a sleek and svelte device less than a half-inch thin–is one of Verizon’s most popular 3G-capable Android smartphones. Its popularity can be attributed in big part to its powerful internals: 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8655 processor, 768 MB RAM, 8-megapixel camera, and a 4-inch S-LCD touchscreen.

Side by side the DROID Incredible 2 is the equally strong and equally popular 4G/LTE-capable Android phone that has been trumping the DROID Incredible 2′s sales–the Samsung Droid Charge. Aside from support for 4G connectivity, the Droid Charge has what it takes to challenge the DROID Incredible 2: 1-GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor, 512 MB RAM, insanely fast 4G network speed (on Verizon), and a relatively larger 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen.

What are the charming qualities of each? And, are those qualities strong enough to gain significant advantage over the other? Read on for a more detailed discussion

Physical design and build quality

One good thing about the difference in the Samsung Droid Charge’s and the HTC DROID Incredible 2′s appearance is that the former provides a bold and daring attempt at deviating from the usual and expected (read: classic or standard) shape and design of most smartphones today. On the other hand, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 has oozing appeal for those who yearn for a smartphone that looks classy, simple, and stylish.

Yet, interestingly, when it comes to navigation buttons, the roles are reversed. The Samsung Droid Charge retains the physical buttons for the main menu, home, back, and search functions. The HTC DROID Incredible 2 abandons the physical navigation buttons and goes for touch-sensitive buttons. As to which design decision is better for you–it all boils down to your personal taste and preference.

Between the two, the Droid Charge stands taller and has a wider body, yet it is also slightly thinner than the DROID Incredible 2. The Droid Charge is also heavier by 7.88 grams, owing to its bigger-capacity battery pack.

The Samsung Droid Charge’s body is a delight to the touch. Its matte black “leathery” surface gives it a texture pleasing to the fingers. But, seriously, we think it is a practical design because the texture also makes the phone easy to grasp. The Droid Charge’s hind side reminds us of the original DROID Incredible’s back, with its familiar bump housing the camera and battery. Though, we don’t feel the bump’s presence while holding the phone. Design-wise, we find the Samsung Droid Charge’s appearance sexier–and very pretty to look at, too.

The HTC DROID Incredible 2, on the other hand, has a different aura–but still pleasing to the senses, nonetheless. With its candybar form factor, its smokey gray case, and its fairly rectangular shape with rounded corners, the DROID Incredible 2 simply spells c-l-a-s-s-y and projects an image of sturdiness, firmness, and solidity. The DROID Incredible 2′s body is made of textured plastic, too, just like the Droid Charge’s.

The HTC DROID Incredible 2 feels less plasticky to us, in comparison to the Samsung Droid Charge. We also feel that the latter seems to be bulkier, too, but that’s probably because it is, in fact, a few grams heavier and a few millimeters bigger than the DROID Incredible 2.

Display

The Samsung Droid Charge has a larger screen (4.3 inches), and this may be a crowd drawer among those who have the hots for large-screened smartphones. Plus, with the Droid Charge’s Super AMOLED Plus display technology, the large screen can be put to very good use even under bright sunlight. The same display technology is used on Samsung’s other powerful smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II.

In contrast, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 has a smaller screen size (4 inches, S-LCD), but since its resolution is the same (800×480) as the Droid Charge’s, the DROID Incredible 2 practically has a higher pixel density, which results in a sharper and more vivid display.

However, owing to Super AMOLED Plus, the Droid Charge gets our vote for the brighter, more brilliant display–and on a larger screen at that. But, that doesn’t mean we are not enamored by the DROID Incredible 2′s sharper display.

Both phone’s displays are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass–and that’s very tough cover, if you ask us. That gives both smartphones a thin and lightweight protective cover against scratches and chips. Pretty neat, huh?

Specs and Performance

General Performance

Computing performance on a smartphone relies on several interdependent hardware factors, the most critical of which are processor, RAM, operating system, storage, and battery power.

Although the Samsung Droid Charge and the HTC DROID Incredible 2 have different processors, they practically are peers in terms of CPU clock speed (both at 1.0 GHz and both single-core) and operating system (Android 2.2 Froyo). The two diverge in significant areas: RAM, storage, and battery power.

The HTC DROID Incredible 2 simply has 256 megabytes more RAM than the Samsung Droid Charge, and the extra megabytes make the DROID Incredible 2 snappier and smoother than the Droid Charge. The DROID Incredible 2 has 768 megabytes of RAM, while the Samsung Droid Charge only has 512 megabytes.

In benchmarking tests conducted by AnandTech, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 bested the Samsung Droid Charge in several tests for general and overall performance, namely:

  • SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9
  • RightWare BrowserMark
  • GUIMark 2 Mobile Vector Charting Test (Flash performance)
  • Linpack – Single-threaded
  • RightWare BaseMark ES 2.0 V1 – Taiji





The Samsung Droid Charge, however, fared better in several graphics rendering benchmarking tests:

  • GLBenchmark 2.0 – Egypt (OpenGL ES 2.0 Test – Native Resolution)
  • GLBenchmark 2.0 – PRO (OpenGL ES 2.0 PRO – Native Resolution)
  • RightWare BaseMark ES 2.0 V1 – Hoverjet (the difference is very small, though, at 0.1 fps)



In terms of general performance and processing speed, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 has swifter feet for Web browsing and app running–not just according to benchmark tests but also to reviews and unofficial u201cbenchmarkingu201d done by users in the field. The difference, however, is arguably not very great between the two, but it is there and it is noticeable. Meanwhile, the Samsung Droid Charge gets the golden laurel for quicker video loading as validated by benchmark tests and unofficial u201cspeed tests.u201d

Storage

The HTC DROID Incredible 2 has 8 times more built-in storage (16 GB, compared to the Droid Charge’s 2 GB). This saddens us a bit, precisely because disk space tends to be a crucial factor when considering high-speed data connections and high-end photo/video capture hardware.

The irony here is that the Samsung Droid Charge has smaller inbuilt storage capacity than the HTC DROID Incredible 2, yet the Droid Charge has the quicker speed for data access.

Battery Performance

Capacity-wise, the Samsung Droid Charge has the better battery over the HTC DROID Incredible 2. The Droid Charge’s 1600-mAh Li-ion battery provides up to 11 hours of continuous use–nearly twice the HTC DROID Incredible 2′s published talk-time of 6.5 hours. On the other hand, the DROID Incredible 2 lasts longer on standby–up to 361 hours–compared to the Droid Charge (280 hours).

For some users, however, battery power is not such a big deal because the more important bottom line seems to be the need for network speed, in which the Droid Charge obviously wins hands down. Despite the additional 0.3 inches on the Droid Charge’s screen, it consumes less power–thanks to its Super AMOLED Plus technology.

Although, performance-wise, the DROID Incredible 2 is moderately better, it is not enough to make a substantial difference in day-to-day experience. In the end, it all comes down to how you plan on using the device. If you are a Webaholic, then go for the Droid Charge, which will last longer on a single charge, albeit with slower 3G connectivity. If you plan on using the phone primarily for making calls and the occasional visit to a web page, then the DROID Incredible 2 is the way to go.

Multimedia Power

The Samsung Droid Charge and the HTC DROID Incredible 2 are equals when it comes to multimedia capabilities–as far as the spec sheet tells us. Both have 8-megapixel primary (rear) cameras capable of 3264×2448 images and 720p HD (1280×720) videos. Both also have 1.3-megapixel secondary (front) cameras capable of video calls at 640×480 pixels.

The HTC DROID Incredible 2, however, has a slight advantage–its dual-LED flash. The Droid Charge only has a single-LED flash. When taking still photos and videos, the extra LED on the DROID Incredible 2 can make a significant difference, especially in dim environments.

Yet, in real-world use, the Samsung Droid Charge seems to capture videos having better quality. Here’s a comparison of sample videos:

Here are some sample photos snapped on the Samsung Droid Charge:

And, here are two sample photos taken using the HTC DROID Incredible 2′s camera:

Network and connectivity

Here’s where the Samsung Droid Charge shines more brightly than the HTC DROID Incredible 2. The latter is capable only of up to 3G speeds on the Verizon network. The Droid Charge, on the other hand, burns rubber with 4G LTE speeds on Verizon–a very tempting feature paralleled only by the LG Revolution and the HTC Thunderbolt (also on Verizon). As far as network speed is concerned, the DROID Incredible 2 eats the Droid Charge’s dust.

Meanwhile, the main attraction of HTC DROID Incredible 2 is its being global-ready, allowing consumers to enjoy wireless voice and data service in more than 200 countries, and 3G-speed data service in more than 125 countries.

Verizon’s 4G LTE network is insanely fast–so fast, in fact, that we had no problems consuming 10 GB in less than a week, thanks to its ridiculous download and upload speeds. Comparing the HTC DROID Incredible 2 with the Samsung Droid Charge, you can expect network speeds up to 10 times faster with the Samsung Droid Charge, and all because it’s on Verizon’s 4G network.

In considering network speed, the Samsung Droid Charge clearly has the upper hand with its support for 4G LTE. We almost got tempted to belittle the HTC DROID Incredible 2′s 3G speed but then realized that Web browsing was smoother and less jittery on it than on the Droid Charge. The DROID Incredible 2 gave us buttery smoothness when we scrolled web pages and used pinch-to-zoom. We also noticed page rendering and text reflow to be much quicker and smoother on the DROID Incredible 2.

The Droid Charge’s ability for superfast network speeds is very alluring indeed, but the DROID Incredible 2′s buttery smooth Web browsing capability–despite only having 3G speeds–is hard to turn a blind eye to either.

Other considerations

Custom User Interface

Samsung packed its Droid Charge with TouchWiz, and HTC packed its DROID Incredible 2 with its Sense UI. Both custom user interfaces are stable and hardly create performance jams which many third-party launchers do. Regardless of anyone’s opinion about whether to use vanilla Android or a custom UI overlay, HTC’s Sense UI on the DROID Incredible 2 seems to give us more breathing space for customization. TouchWiz has lovely widgets and amazing live wallpapers, though, but we still prefer HTC’s Sense UI. But, that’s just us.

Audio Performance

We also thought of mentioning this, as audio quality is a chief cause of grief–or elation, depending on which side of the coin you’re on–among many smartphone users. In this area, the Samsung Droid Charge has a very big weapon under its belt–the Wolfson Microelectronics WM8994 multichannel audio hub codec, which is also present in the Samsung Galaxy S and the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Conclusion

In today’s world of dual-core (and soon-to-arrive quad-core) Android devices, the DROID Incredible 2 is, er, anything but incredible. It is a good device. It is a well-rounded, feature packed phone that performs well according to what can be reasonably expected from its components. No doubt about that at all. The same can be said of the Samsung Droid Charge.

Sadly, Verizon’s insane 4G LTE capability is matched by an equally insane dearth of dual-core Android smartphones. Among Verizon’s single-core Android smartphones in the DROID series, though, the HTC DROID Incredible 2 and the Samsung Droid Charge are your best bets, each with comparatively alluring charms that the other just doesn’t have:

HTC DROID Incredible 2 Samsung Droid Charge
  • better battery life
  • slightly smoother Web browsing experience
  • world phone (i.e., wider compatibility with non-Verizon networks when used overseas)
  • ridiculously fast data speed on Verizon’s 4G LTE network
  • eye-popping, brilliant display (thanks to Super AMOLED Plus)
  • substantially better video quality with higher frame rate

Which phone is better?

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