Saturday, December 3, 2011

HTC Vivid

The HTC Vivid... the most advertised AT&T LTE phone to date. It's big, chunky, and heavy just like almost every other HTC phone I've ever had. People like the "heft" that comes with it being so chunky and say it feels "expensive." But what do I say about it? How does this LTE phone hold up to my tests? Did I end up liking it as much as I liked it's predecessor, the HTC Inspire 4G? All these questions and more will be answered in my full review.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system
- 8 MP Camera with 28 mm wide-angle lense, f22 Low-Light capacity, and dual LED flash
- 1.2 GHz dual-core process
- 4.5 inch qHD LCD display
- Up to 7.6 hours of talk time
- 16 GB internal memory with SD card slot for additional 32
- 4G LTE enabled
- Available in white or black
- AT&T Visual Voicemail for Android

"White or black?" is not something that I'm used to asking when talking about a phone other than the iPhone. This phone is an exception, and with a white or black version of the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket coming out on December 4th, I had better get used to it. The HTC Vivid brings a great smartphone to AT&T's line-up. It has the unique build-quality that HTC has (see this article for more on build quality), it has the bulky feeling that some people opt for, and it is VERY fast. It's about time we've had an HTC flagship phone. It's been since February 2011 that we've seen a really big flagship phone from HTC (the HTC Inspire 4G) be released on AT&T's network. It's bigger. It's faster. It has an even better camera than the last one (yes, it's possible!). It's battery life is (understandably) worse, but it's FASTER! So what's the full scoop?

The Micro-USB charging ports on the bottom left of the phone
We'll start out with the internet speeds because that's really the highlight of any LTE phone. Although LTE is not enabled in my neck of the woods yet, this phone is the fastest I've tested (by far). The max speeds I got while doing speed tests from the phone were 8.04 Mbps on the download and 2.50 Mbps on upload. The average was around 5 to 5.5 Mbps download and around 1.5-2.0 Mbps. That's stinkin' fast! It was consistently faster than the speed tests I pulled from my wireless internet in my house that runs off of cable DSL. It was also slightly faster than the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and the LG Nitro HD. When LTE comes, cable internet service providers had better be stepping up their game.

The camera on the back next the the dual-LED
flash and the speaker line above
The battery life on the HTC Vivid leaves something to be desired. The Skyrocket lasted longer with a bigger screen and a bigger processor, so this didn't make a ton of sense to me that HTC wouldn't be able to pull a couple more hours out of their phone. It is easily fixable with an available case that doubles as a battery pack, but if you don't want to spend the extra money on something like that, this isn't the phone for you. Talk time was great, but doing anything else that required data usage and the processor working a little harder drained the battery pretty fast.

The camera on the HTC Vivid is to die for, however. It takes VERY detailed up-close photos and very clear normal shots. I had nothing to complain about. Even the dual-LED flash that normally makes people look like zombies on camera phones didn't have as much of that effect on this phone. It was outstanding. It is not the best camera phone I've ever used because it wasn't easy enough for me to just point-and-shoot with it (the camera needed to be held up for quite a while and then you needed to make sure the shot was in-focus before shooting) but it is very close.

Sound quality while playing music was okay. Besides the iPhone, there hasn't been a company that's been able to figure out that if you put the speaker of a phone on the back, you can't hear it because it is facing away from you. The speaker on this phone is located on the back, just above the camera. That means that, just like all Samsung phones, if you're listening to music you need to put the phone down on it's screen *please don't scratch it, please don't scratch it* and then flip it over in order to change the song. It also means that while watching a video you either need to have headphones on or you need to awkwardly cup your hand around the back of the phone and redirect the sound towards you. It works, but it's... well... awkward.

The battery cover
The screen is comparable to the Motorola Atrix 2 when it comes to quality. It's great, but not the best. Samsung's smartphones are more vivid (weird, huh?) and more colorful. iPhone's screens are more colorful and more clear. The LG Nitro HD is more clear while watching HD videos. It's better than half the displays out there, but it's nothing to write home about.

The chunkiness of the phone is a plus for some and a minus for others - including me. I don't like fat, heavy phones. This phone literally made me feel like I had to hike up my pants all day long. I was, at all times, aware of it's presence in my pocket. Compared to a Samsung smartphone that I sometimes forget is even there, it's too bulky for me. The thing is, it's not due to build material. The outside edges of the phone are plastic and since I wasn't the first to use the review unit there was a nice big scratch in it from being dropped. The battery cover is a very thin metal cover. Comparing the width and build of the other two LTE phones I've seen, there is no reason for this phone to be so fat other than to please people who like fat phones. So, if you swing that way go for it. If you don't like bulk, this is not the phone for you.

The volume rocker on the upper-right
 This is going to be a small thing for most people and is, again, fixed with a case and a screen protector... but OMG this thing is good at showing fingerprints! The black one is the worst because, as you can see in the pictures above, I couldn't clean it off with just a dry cloth. The fingerprints are all over the place! The plastic on the sides and the screen show them worse than any other phone I've ever had. The white one is better because you just can't see them, but the screen is the same as the black.

It's a good thing that the battery cover is made of metal. It's a bad thing that it comes off so easily. By simply reaching for the phone in my pocket, I would undo the battery cover by sliding it down and it would come off on the way out of my pocket, falling to the floor. It was annoying. I would also often hit the volume buttons and the lock button by accident because they're extremely easy to press. I would constantly find my phone silenced or on vibrate when I intended to leave it on loud. I also found my home screens jumbled after I'd apparently unlocked the phone in my pocket and moved everything around in an unintentional game of musical chairs. A case on the phone would fix both the button problem and the battery cover problem, but it's worth mentioning.

*Generic Caption*
 The one thing that I like the most about HTC phones is HTC Sense, the User Interface (UI) that HTC uses as a skin on all their Android phones. They've taken Android and used it as a platform to create something unique whereas other companies simply slap Android on any old tablet or phone and call it a creation. HTC Sense brings another layer to the user experience by providing unique widgets, shortcuts, and applications that you can't get on any other phone and they provide you with more ways to customize your phone with skins, wallpapers, and ringtones that are exclusive to HTC Android users. I simply feel like I have more control over how my phone looks when I have an HTC smartphone.

The biggest annoyance I found with this phone is that when I used my bluetooth headset with it for voice dialing the phone didn't speak back to me... at all. If I activated voice dialing, it didn't even beep to let me know when I needed to speak. It also didn't repeat back to me who it was calling so I could verify who it was that I was calling. This ended up in some very embarrassing phone calls and the last straw for me was when I was trying to call my grandma and I called a customer of mine instead and asked for Grandma. For people who don't use bluetooth this isn't a problem. For people who do... I'd recommend a different phone.

I like HTC but one thing that I'd like to see from this is to shed a few pounds. As they've proved with the HTC Titan Windows 7 Phone, you don't need to be fat to be sturdy. It is possible to build a sturdy, heavy phone without creating a paperweight that makes calls. I'd also like to see a few holes filled or some tweaking done to the software. If they want to be a high-end phone manufacturer and realistically compete with companies like Apple, they're going to have to add in those extra little options that make the customer feel like they have a high-end handset. The phone works great over-all. If a normal, every-day user throws a case on it, there's no reason they wouldn't be perfectly happy with it. I picture teenagers and twenty-somethings being very happy with this phone's look and feel and the highly customizable UI. Make sure that if you're a super-user and demand more from your phone, you get a battery case and you're good to go!

The "typical-to-the-United States" four Android buttons at the bottom of the phone

The sensor and front-facing camera

The power/lock button and headphone jack


  1. Yeeessss , This Phone Is AMAZING (:

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