The plug sure looks like any old micro USB plug. Will another cable (like the one from my digital camera) work to charge the battery, or do I need one specifically designed for my phone (incredible)
Any Micro USB cable that has the capability of charging your phone does excactly that.
I found a link on USB powering. The source is from 2005 but the issue remains the same.
Some cables do charge your device due to a sufficient power flow through the cable while others don't.
My un-technical answer is no. I have a microUSB AC Adapter for a bluetooth headset that charges my headset just fine but won't charge my phone for some reason. I also have a retractable miniUSB cable to connect to the computer with and it is fine for data but it also fails to charge my phone.
I'd say it depends on the cable, but you have a fair chance to get your phoned charged.
I've tested HTC Hero with 3 types of USB cable (universal, bought with my pocket hdd and bough with my dvd-drive), 2 types of a GPS charger and one type of a GPS car charger. All worked well. :)
Edit: Proof of theory is in testing it, so the reults are right on top to encourage making an informed decision while shopping for USB charging cables.
Of late, I noticed that my Huawei Honor 6 device was charging slower and decided to replace USB charging cable. I bought these Tronsmart cables at a price comparable with budget cables. These are 20 AWG thickness for charging (provide best charging) 28 AWG for data (thinner thickness doesn't affect data transfer speeds). Picture below from product
Performance: I have two devices Samsung Note 2 and Huawei Honor 6 both with OEM chargers and OEM cables (nearly a year old). Charging current as measured using OEM cables and Tronsmart cables is very encouraging
Caution: Please make sure you don't end up buying CCA (Copper Clad Aluminum Cables) instead of Copper cables. Former are comparatively brittle and have lower conductivity compared to Copper conductors
These standards are to ensure that appropriate Voltage and Current are available to the device being charged and selection of right USB cable is based on these to deliver right amount of Power to charge
This is applicable for all Android phones- OP's device is taken as an example ( see Notes at end )
All USB cables are NOT the same when it comes to charging
Selection of USB cables depends on:
Before we get into details of how to select based on these factors, a quick recap of basic electrify would help:
What do those equations mean?
Current carrying capacity depends on resistance, for the same Voltage.
Resistance is inversely proportional to the area of the wire ( Less area = Thinner Wire = More Resistance = Less Current )
Resistance is directly proportional to length (Longer cable = More resistance and vice versa )
Power in turn is therefore dependent on length and thickness of cable (affecting resistance) and Voltage
In a nut shell, quoting from USB Cable Resistance: Why your phone/tablet might be charging slow
Power (Voltage times Current), thickness, short lengths are qualitative and need to be in numbers to choose the right cable. For this you need to know, firstly, Power- Refers to the charger rating of your device . Your device as mentioned is "incredible" and Charger for HTC Droid Incredible shows it to be rated for 1A
Next, is Voltage- For a 5V output, the USB specification demands that the voltage remains within 5% (i.e. an acceptable voltage drop of 0.25V). Some vendors provide a slightly higher Voltage rating
Choosing the right cable
You know the Power and Voltage , only thing left is to know the thickness and length of USB cable. For that refer to the tables (choose under the current rating of table With Contact Resistance, which is real life, without contact resistance is to give the effect of cable alone) and look for maximum cable length / thickness combinations by choosing "non red" color (green or yellow) which tell you that you can safely choose, as indicated by arrows:
Google for this cable specs (normally cables are commonly sold as 24/28 AWG ,in which case select maximum 1 meter length ) and buy from a reputed vendor. Done!!
For what it's worth, I purchased a generic MicroUSB cable on Amazon for like $2, which was advertised as being for BlackBerry users, and it works just fine on my Incredible. I use it as my charger at the office.