AT&T LTE Shootout: HTC Vivid vs Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

November 7, 2011
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AT&T customers in one of their new LTE network coverage areas have a choice to make if they want a smartphone that takes advantage of the higher speeds. Only two phones have launched with AT&T LTE capability: the HTC Vivid and the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Sure, you could read our extensive reviews on the Vivid or Skyrocket, but you're busy. We've tallied up the pros and cons of each one in one handy-dandy article.

Hardware

Both phones reach towards the high end of the Android spectrum, with 4.5-inch screens, dual core processors and a full gigabyte of RAM. The Skyrocket's processor wins out in a head to head bout: its 1.5Ghz speed rating is demonstrated in a benchmark score that's nearly 50% higher than the Vivid's. Both have an equal 16GB of memory and an empty MicroSD slot, though once again the Samsung phone has the advantage in that it's accessible without removing the battery and restarting the phone.

HTC is the clear winner in build quality. The Vivid feels a lot more solid than the Skyrocket, in just about every way. While the phones share almost exactly the same footprint, the Skyrocket is slightly thinner and just feels a lot more fragile. The Vivid pays for this solid feeling in weight: it's about 30% heavier than the Skyrocket, a fact that's very noticeable when I slipped both phones into opposite pockets. Both phones feature 8 megapixel cameras with front-facing secondary cameras as well, though the performance of the Samsung camera seems to be noticeably better.

Screen

When it comes to the phone's screen, you've got a real hum-dinger of a decision to make: go with the Skyrocket's rather pedestrian 800 x 480 resolution on a gorgeous Super AMOLED panel, or the Vivid's more appropriate 960 x 540 res on a dimmer and duller LCD screen. It's a tough decision, to be sure. I tend to prefer as much resolution as I can get, especially on newer super-sized screens. But the appeal of that AMOLED display is hard to deny, even then the pixels are considerably stretched. All I can say is that if you're used to an AMOLED display, you probably won't want to go back to LCD, but if you haven't been swayed so far, you'll appreciate the Vivid's extra resolution.

Software

 

Sense or TouchWiz: pick your poison. Both the custom UIs on these phones are functional and useful, at least to some degree, though I tend to prefer HTC's Sense. The Skyrocket's implementation of TouchWiz was also jittery and tended to lag - surprising, on the more powerful processor. However, this lag didn't extend into regular apps. The Skyrocket and Vivid both have an annoying amount of pre-installed bloatware, but on the former at least you can remove some of it. AT&T has confirmed plans to update both phones to Ice Cream Sandwich early next year.

Battery

 

The Skyrocket is the clear winner when it comes to battery. Between the larger 1850 mAh battery and the more efficient screen I was able to clock a full day of usage out of the Samsung phone with almost 30% battery left. The Vivid barely made it through the day. That said, if you're in the habit of charging your phone at your desk, in your car, et cetera, the Vivid will probably be fine - just don't forget where your charger cable is.

Phone and Data

When testing AT&T''s LTE speeds on both phones, they each averaged in the 16-17Mbps range. That's not outstanding considering what kind of performance we see from Verizon LTE on a regular basis, but it's an appreciable bump up from HSPA+. Calls on both phones were clear so long as I stayed in a high coverage area, but the Vivid seemed to fare better on one or two bars, giving a slightly better conversation with fewer complaints on the other end.

Extras and Price

The HTC phone came with just the charger and a data cable, while the Samsung phone also included a basic earbud headset - a nice touch. Neither have a MicroSD card included, but odds are that if you've got more media than the 16GB of on-board storage can accommodate you've already got a card lying around. It's worth noting that the Skyrocket has NFC, which could get a lot more important once Ice Cream Sandwich and Android Beam are available.

The Skyrocket is pretty expensive at $249, $50 more than the generic AT&T Galaxy S II. The Vivid isn't exactly a bargain either at $199. In some markets, AT&T is offering $100 off both phones, though that seems to be a here-or-there deal depending upon your ZIP code. If you're definitely planning buying either one, call AT&T up and see if you can get that discount with a little customer service support.

Wrap-up

The Skyrocket is clearly the superior phone, with a much faster processor, longer battery life, NFC and an easily accessible MicroSD card slot. The Vivid is no slouch either, and it's also $50 cheaper wherever you are. I'm going to recommend springing for the Galaxy S II Skyrocket, with three exceptions. If you're a fan of HTC's hardware or Sense software, if you must have a higher resolution (albeit on a poorer panel) or if you just want to save 50 greenbacks, go with the Vivid.

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  • Service Buyer

    in fact i love HTC STYLE phone,

  • Anonymous

    The HTC Vivid’s specs at the bottom of the page expand just fine, but the Skyrocket’s option to expand specs just expands the Vivid’s instead.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1457586076 Jason Todrick

      It’s trying to tell you something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1457586076 Jason Todrick

    Please people, look at these phones person…

    I’m not sure why anyone likes the Samasung Super AMOLED… the only color that is true on it is Black… colors are cartoonishly bright and white is blue…

    I like white to be white on my displays.

    The Vivid owns the Galaxy S II (Never mind the lower pixel density Skyrocket) in the display department… So between the Vivid and Skyrocket, it’s not even close.

  • Dwill1209

    checked out both phones at the att store, i wnet with the vivid. i used to love the super amoled display when i had a captivate but then went to an atrix and when i saw theskyrocket i wasnt impressed by the low res screen..

  • guest

    I got the skyrocket on oct 6 after getting 2 GS2’s and 1 Atrix 2. the gs2 was a great phone, and the Atrix 2 was ok. The skyrocket is amazing. i live in DC and during the day i get about 25 down and 15 up, and at night i get 45-50 down and 20 up. after using the Atrix 2’s qHD screen and the skyrocket sAMOLED+ i felt that for some reason the sAMOLED+ covered up the lower res because on the atrix 2 i thought the pixel’s were more noticable. the only problem on the skyrocket is the stock browser wouldn’t load many web pages for some reason, a software issue maybe, but once i downloaded opera and dolphin browser it was smooth sailing. the 4G LTE makes a huge difference in speed, and i had a smoother youtube experience than i get on wifi, and on my past iPhone, atrix, and gs2, youtube was almost unusable without wifi. i am so glad i traded in my GS2 for this phone, and i would recommend it to anyone, even if you currently do not live in an LTE city, chances are you’ll get LTE sometime in the next 2 years you have with this wonderful phone.

  • Josh Burns

    FYI the specs on the Vivid are not quite correct.  The Vivid is also running a Qualcomm CPU.

  • Kknn

    i don’t know why people like Samsung Super Amoled Plus display. the Super Amoled Plus’s color is not true at all. All the color we mainly see on the SS2 is the GREEN color. just open google website on iphone, HTC, Motorola and open google web on SS2, you may understand what I’m mentioning. Super Amoled give us false color, oversaturated. Furthermore, SS2 is too dark compared to the other phone. The brightness is not bright enough. 

  • Iguess

    Agreed, look at the screens in person, there will be no contest. Stop believing what everyone tells you and judge by your own i.

  • Cgc4200

    went with the Vivid, I dont understand why the review refers to the vivid qHD as dull??? The resolution is freakishly clear, it feels like a much better made product in your hand as Samsung usually feels like a cheapy to me… HTC Sense is a legitimately nice UI plus it was $50 cheaper….the super Amoled screen just seems a mess to me I don’t get why the all blue gets such great reviews….someone explain to me why the reviewers like that screen so much….

  • GaazeeetBoy

    I went to ATT retail shop 2 days to play with Samsung Galaxy 2 Skyrocket and HTC Vivid. After checking  all pros and cons I liked Vivid. I just bout HRC Vivid. Primary reasons are ;
    1. I liked high resolution of Vivid, display of Skyrocket id not that crisp like Vivid.
    2. Camera is superior in vivid focus is accurate, also you can zoom while recording 1080p HD, whereas Skyrocket disabled zooming. However I did not like 3gp recording format for Vivid, HTC HDR ability is cool.
    3. Performance wise I did not see any noticeable difference. Both are very responsive.
    4. I dialed 611 to find call quality. Not much diff.But Skyrockets speakers are marginally better.
    5. HTC UI is much better than samsung.
    6.I found GPS signal was lost 2 times for Skyrocket. I dont the reason but I think radio may be weak for Sky rocket.
    7. HTC has a hardware FM radio, which wont eat internet data to listen local FM radio.

    To summaries, Vivid won for the display and UI. I would have taken Skyrocket at least if it had equal or better screen resolution and camera.

    I hope this will help you guys to decide which one to buy..

  • rich

    Went for a white Vivid. Screen far better than what the reviewer states.

  • brittnee

    I just returned my vivid for the Samsung and I do have to sag I miss my vivid,besidea a couple reasons. My vivid kept turning off on me and restarting which is the reason I got a new phone in the first place since my iPhone off three years did just that. It also would freeze and kick me off the net. I also didn’t care for the battery life. It was weak,but I did love that phone if there was a fix for the glitches I would have kept it,but I had read there was a major problem with them. So I went forthe Samsung which I do like,but doesn’t meet with the HTC.they both have pros and cons,but if I could I would have kept my HTC

  • Bobby

    Wow! I’m glad that I read these customer reviews. I’ve ordered the HTC Vivid over the phone on the false pretense that the Vivid was the only LTE capable phone from AT&T with a front facing camera. Assuming that I got good LTE signal with the Vivid when I activated it, I was gonna exchange it for the Skyrocket because all the reviews that I’ve read say that the Skyrocket is the superior device. That surprised me a lot because I’ve always felt that Samsung was just cheap junk. Here’s to hoping that they send the right color phone (black) and I get a strong, steady LTE signal at home.

  • Paul

    Was steered toward Vivid and seem to be having troubles nobody else is.  Am on my second Vivid and it also makes a weird noise on connect heard by person you are calling, believe it is caused by a vibrate alert that can’t be turned off as per HTC.  Also am experiencing low volume from speaker(about half what my Bold had)  Except for these problems I like most everything else with the phone.  Can’t live with them, so AT&T is going to have to do something or lose a long time customer!