Sunday, June 24, 2012

AT&T HTC Vivid review

The HTC Vivid launched side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket two months ago as the first LTE phones available on AT&T. Currently it’s available in both black and white for $199.99, which isn’t a bad price considering Verizon is selling most LTE phones at $299.99. The only issue with the Vivid is that AT&T’s LTE service is only available in 15 markets. For those Sense lovers wanting something future proof, this could be the device for you. This is my full review, but you can also checkout my initial hands on video.

HTC made a solid phone, and at first I thought the design was a little quirky, but after a day or so, I liked the feel. The finish is shiny and glossy much like a lot of phones today, but it’s not as slippery as others. Its very comfortable in the hand, and I never feel like I’m going to drop it. The back has pyramid style contours  from all four sides so the thickest part of the phone is the center of the back which makes up the battery cover. This is where I thought it was quirky, but it feels comfortable and I can’t stress enough that the non-slippery feel is a huge plus. The downside is it’s a little thick at 11.2mm and a little heavy at 176 grams. In comparison the Galaxy Nexus comes in a 9.4mm and 144 grams respectively.


The Vivid features a 4.5-inch qHD (960 x 540) Super LCD display, 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 1GB RAM, 8MP rear camera with 1080p recording, 1.3MP front camera, 16GB internal memory, expandable memory to an additional 32GB with microSD card, 1620mAh battery, DLNA, Bluetooth, HDMI via USB with an MHL adapter.


If there is one big downside to the Vivid, it’s the 1620mAh battery. I’m not sure why HTC cut corners on this, but it’s simply not enough. The similar Galaxy S II Skyrocket comes with an 1850mAh battery and the recently released LG Nitro HD has an 1830mAh battery. Unfortunately I can’t say a whole lot when it comes to battery life in LTE areas because I was not in one during the review period, but I don’t expect it to be good. As to non LTE areas, the battery is adequate as you will easily get through a day, but if you’re buying this phone, you are buying it for LTE, and the size of this battery has to be alarming.


The performance on the Vivid is really nice, and I didn’t experience any lag in my day to day uses. The AnTuTu Benchmark came in at 4636, which is much lower that the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II, and the DROID RAZR. In fact, it’s just below the Kindle Fire. The quadrant score came in at 1890, which again is well below other high end phones as well. If these tests are important to you, it might be better to go with the Skyrocket. Fortunately these tests don’t always represent what the average consumer is going to notice, and to me the Vivid performs very well in real life.
The Super LCD qHD display is very nice, but the black level is a little low. Overall, I feel it’s on par with the Skyrocket and the DROID RAZR.


The Vivid has Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, and since this is a typical HTC phone, it means you will get a heavy dose of Sense. It seems as though people either love or hate Sense. The Vivid has version 3.0 of Sense onboard, and it definitely adds a lot of nice features to Gingerbread. The lockscreen is probably the sweetest thing about Sense in my opinion as you can unlock your Vivid directly to certain applications like the camera app, mail, or messaging. Quick and easy access to settings and latest apps from the notification screen is also very nice. Of course there are minuses like the keyboard and the fact that it really is the most dramatic UI of the bunch. If you’re someone who leans towards stock Android, the Vivid isn’t for you.


HTC has been doing an awesome job with cameras lately, and the Vivid is no exception. The 8MP shooter is fast and takes high quality photos. The only complaint would be a little too much color, but I prefer that myself.


If you’re on AT&T and really want to get a LTE phone, you only have three choices – The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, the LG Nitro HD, or the HTC Vivid. Unless you’re a big Sense fan, I would go with the Skyrocket. I have not reviewed the Nitro HD, but I would stick to Samsung over LG. I also think Samsung will be quicker in upgrading to Ice Cream Sandwich since TouchWiz is a minor UI as compared to Sense. If you are Sense fan, then your decision is also easy – Go with the Vivid.


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