Lots HTC Droid Incredibleof marketers who haven’t quite made the leap are considering upgrading to one of the top-performing smartphones, now that Verizon has the iPhone. After all, whether you’re in B2B or consumer marketing these days, your smartphone is an absolutely essential tool. You can’t really do your job if you’re stuck in 2005. I was looking forward to upgrading and last month our Verizon contract came up for renewal, meaning: discounts.

If you’re on Verizon (or are considering going there), the most obvious comparison to make is iPhone vs. the various Droid models. Since I knew a lot less about Droids than iPhone, I spent a lot of time IPhone4researching the various Droids so I could select just one model for a side-by-side faceoff against iPhone. The one I chose was the HTC Droid Incredible (sorry Moto!). This was a result of looking at editorial reviews, many, many user reviews and also  Consumer Reports‘ latest review of smartphones.

I went into the eval assuming that iPhone would be the hands-down winner. But I was wrong. In the end we chose the HTC Droid Incredible. Cost was definitely a factor–especially since we were getting two units–but it wasn’t the only one. It was one of the 5 top reasons we did not choose iPhone. I was looking for benefits from iPhone to justify the extra $230 expense ($430 if we chose 32GB models), and I just didn’t see them. For most users, these phones are very comparable in just about every way.

The other four reasons I gave the Droid the nod were not big ones. But you have to decide on some basis, and it ought to involve features you might actually use rather than shelfware or bragging rights. In my case, that included 1) a slightly more capable camera, 2) the LACK of the requirement to manage/sync all audio through iTunes (though I love it in some respects, iTunes is a royal PITA for managing and de-duping files when you have 124GB of audio like I do), and 3) though I’ll seldom use it, a nice-to-have is the FM radio. The final reason was the only “irrational” one I allowed myself. It is more an emotional/religious issue, and that is that Droids are built on Linux. Although I’m only a casual user, I like Linux. All my systems dual-boot Linux along side Windows 7. I think it’s important that we use and continue to build on Linux and support the open source community. (Some would argue this is a decidedly rational reason–but rational or not, it was one of my reasons.)

On the iPhone side, I also consulted my favorite electronic and tech source, David Pogue of The New York Times. @Pogue‘s iPhone on Verizon review was glowing. His three most important points? First, the sound quality of voice calls on Verizon was better than AT&T. Second, the data download on Verizon was slower than AT&T. Third, try though he might, he could not replicate the iPhone4 antenna problem on the Verizon network. That was great news, but still, his test was not exhaustive. Problems might still surface.** In any event, he said nothing to put Apple over the top for me. Apparently he has not reviewed the Droid Incredible; I could not find a review (if he has, my bad).

Droid-v-iPhone Chart

Some marketers will want to compare two factors that didn’t make my chart. If you travel outside North America fairly frequently, you’ll want to do your homework on what countries have network service that supports your smartphone. There’s a big difference between iPhone/AT&T (GSM), iPhone/Verizon (CDMA) and Droid, based on the network differences. For some people this might tilt you toward Droid. The other thing I did not list was battery life. Roughly speaking, HTC claims about 5.5 hours for Incredible and Apple claims about 6.5-7 hours on a single charge. The one less hour might matter for some people–but not to me. Either way you’re looking at charging it once a day and possibly, on a long, heavy use day, twice. The one hour difference doesn’t change that.

We’ve had them for about a week now and so far have not been disappointed. BREAKING: word is out that there will be an HTC Droid Incredible 2 soon, but it’s not yet available or announced, so we don’t know what new goodies it might offer. It’ll be interesting to see how this new version compares to the current iPhone, which itself may be upgraded mid-year.

** UPDATE: Consumer Reports said on Feb. 25 their tests found the iPhone on Verizon does in fact still have the antenna problems previously found in the AT&T version.