I’m working on the Droid Incredible 4G LTE review (there’s a delay resulting from a signal issue where I do battery testing), but in the interim let’s talk about something that seems to have come up about this phone. We don’t often discuss what’s happening on other review sites, even as they get their reviews out much faster than we, but the Incredible 4G LTE has been hit in many reviews for its display, and this surprised me. Let’s take a look at some numbers. 

Anonymized Display Data
Contrast Ratio 951 1418 746 n/a
Brightness - White (nits) 571 427 484 318
Brightness - Black (nits) 0.6 0.3 0.6 0

Panel Technology



Pixel density (ppi) 330 265 275 305

These charts are our display test data, anonymized so we can do a little experiment. The phone data above includes the iPhone 4S, the Galaxy S 3, the original Motorola Droid and the Droid Incredible 4G LTE. Can you tell which is which? Just take a second. The original Droid was lauded for its IPS display and high pixel density, it was even described in some materials and reviews as ‘large’ at an iPhone besting 3.7 inches. It’s the second one from the left. The Galaxy S 3 is the current king of Android phone displays, and is massive at 4.8 inches, and with an excellent pixel density and picture quality, despite its PenTile roots; it’s the one far to the right. The iPhone 4 premiered with the highest pixel density in a mobile device we’d ever seen, and leveraged its IPS panel for excellent picture quality and viewing angles, and is rarely derided for being small; it’s the one to the far left. That leaves the Incredible 4G whose display isn't being dinged for the data above, but rather being hit for its size and resolution.

Brightness (White)

Brightness (Black)

Contrast Ratio

The Incredible 4G has better pixel density than the OG Droid (not so far off from the GS 3), is larger than the iPhone by a half an inch, and has excellent colors and viewing angles. So, why does it get so much grief? I’m not sure, but the disdain for it brings us to consider something else: Is there room for a 4” mid-range phone in today’s mobile market?

The sweet spot for cellphones in the US is $199, all thanks to the carrier subsidized model; MSRP’s of $649 are entirely concealed from the consumer, and every phone worth owning exists between $99 and $199. This price compression means that when you’re considering buying a new phone the difference between a mid-range phone and the top-of-the-line ‘halo’ device is usually just $50. Of course, this conceals the reality that the MSRP delta is often upwards of $149. So, how do you make a mid-range smartphone sell in this market? I’m not sure there’s a good answer, but here’s how Verizon is going about it. First they’re using branding that’s familiar to earlier buyers (whose contracts just came-up). Second, they’re including feature and spec deltas that provide a real world experience difference between the mid-range and ‘halo’ devices. Third, they’re not holding back on the advertising. The claims in their advertising are just as bold and brash as in any prior Droid campaign. 

S4 Performance at 1.2 GHz
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  • Thud2 - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    326 PPI not a big impact in use. Larger font size, big impact in use.
  • JasonInofuentes - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    I appreciate your frankness and think there's real strength in your statement. There are people out there with bad vision that don't wear their glasses and want to use a smartphone. There are people out there with chunky fingers that would really like the icons bigger and more spaced apart. I hate that on the iPhone when I'm typing I can't see the keys once my thumbs are over the keyboard, it slows down my typing.
  • KitsuneKnight - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    Apparently, you're the only type of person anyone in the smart phone industry (and reviewers) care about.

    So how long until 5.x devices drop the claim of being 'hybrid' phone/tablets and are just phones? With the way things are going, ones like the Note are going to be on the smaller side for high end phones by the end of next year.
  • coolhardware - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    The iPhone 4 was released June 24, 2010, in the United States which was before the HTC Rezound (approx Nov 2011) and the Sony Xperia S (approx Feb 2012).
    More info: http://pixensity.com/list/
    So Anandtech's statement:
    "The iPhone 4 premiered with the highest pixel density in a mobile device we’d ever seen"
    was totally legit :-)
  • blanarahul - Thursday, July 12, 2012 - link

    Honestly. I prefer 3.7 inch screens but i hate keeping a big phone near my ears when i talk. I have a phone with 3.2 inch screen and i find it a little small. But as a phone, its perfect size.

    The stupid manufacturers should take advantage of androids on screen buttons to reduce phone size. But large smartphones are all the rage these days. The phones are moving towards being only media consuption devices. Manufactures should understand that smartphone or thisphone ir thatphone, it is still a phone and peope are gonna talk with it. Who likes keeping monsters near their ears?

    I honestly would love to have a phone with Snapdragon s4 and a very high resolution 3.2-3.7 inch screen. But who cares about people like me, who use their phone as a phone?
  • EnerJi - Friday, July 13, 2012 - link

    I hear you, larger phones are often less comfortable to hold up to the ear. You may want to try using a wired or bluetooth headset. I use a bluetooth headset the majority of the time that I use the phone and so am rarely bothered by the size.
  • shady28 - Sunday, July 15, 2012 - link

    Same as many other posters, I don't get the screen size going up ad infinitum. The iPhone screen is on the low end of what I think is ok, 3.7 - 4.3 is a good range depending on finger size / user. Anything bigger than that is an annoyance, but that's me.

    What I don't get is technophile article writers who think of smaller screen size being a negative. It isn't a negative, it's a choice. The single best selling phone in the world has a 3.7" screen and commands top dollar. Use some critical thinking skills and get a clue (I have a 4.3" Droid Bionic BTW, so Apple haters piss off).

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