HTC Vivid Review

November 7, 2011
23

The HTC Vivid has the distinction of being one of the first phones to take advantage of AT&T's fledgeling LTE network, a feature it shares with its launch partner the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. But the Vivid isn't relying on a single bullet point to make its purchase case - the dual-core Gingerbread phone has some high-end specs and a huge 4.5-inch qHD screen. Does the high-end featureset and a fancy new network connection make the Vivid a worthy buy?

Hardware

The first thing you notice upon picking up the Vivid is its heft. The thick plastic and metal construction makes it tip the scales at 6.24 ounces, about 30% heavier than phones of the same general dimensions from Motorola and Samsung. The weight gives the phone a definite high-end feel, but what it also gives is, well, weight. It's up to you whether or not that's an important statistic, but after carrying the Vivid around in my pocket for a few days, I was definitely wanting a lighter phone.

The phone has a distinctly angular style that's accented by a full metal backplate. Slide it off and you'll find a SIM card slot with a fancy new AT&T 4G LTE mini-SIM, and the battery, which must be removed to access the empty MicroSD card slot. The slim and unfortunately weak back speaker sits on top of the 8 megapixel rear camera, which is paired with a sharp 1.3 megapixel front shooter. The left side of the phone holds a standard MicroUSB port, the right a silver volume rocker and the top the power button, all without error or complaint. HTC's standard capacitive buttons reside below the screen.

The screen itself is a standard TFT LCD. It's sharp and clear, even at the high end of the size scale for Android phones. Unfortunately the brightness and viewing angles aren't anything to write home about - for that you'd be better to look to the Skyrocket's Super AMOLED panel - but resolution junkies will be happy. Reading and video were a little dark for my tastes. 16GB of internal memory should be enough for most, and those who require more can expand with MicroSD. Inside the retail packaging you'll find nothing but a wall-wart and a USB charge/data cable.

Over several days I had no issues with any of the hardware, include Bluetooth, which can sometimes be picky on HTC phones. The only real complaint I have besides the weight is that the all-metal back is unfinished, with the exception of an HTC logo and some grip dimples. It makes the phone all too easy to scratch, so expect the back to start looking considerably worn after a few weeks.

Software

HTC Sense is in its Sunday best on the Vivid. There's nothing really to say in addition to what's already been said on the software. On the generous 1.2Ghz dual-core processor there's no noticeable slowdown on the homescreen or when switching between apps, and heavy-hitting tasks like Flash, Netflix and the like don't phase the phone at all. AT&T's standard bloatware load is here, but unlike some recent phones including the Skyrocket, none of it can be removed - bummer. Still, to HTC's credit it doesn't appear to slow things down.

If you're tempted by the prospect of LTE, you probably want the latest and greatest software as well, and I'm happy to report that AT&T has confirmed the Vivid will be getting a tasty scoop of Ice Cream Sandwich. The upgrade won't come until the spring of next year however, probably owing to HTC's Sense skin itself. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have... manufacturer customizations. Until then, Gingerbread will have to satisfy.

Phone, Data and Battery

If you're lucky enough to live in one of AT&T's LTE coverage areas, you're in for a treat. Even with only three bars of LTE I got 16-18Mbps down consistently. That's likely to lower over the next year, but for now, the network is under low stress and you should see some great performance. Standard 3G/4G reception seemed in line with other AT&T phones.For a more in-depth look at the LTE network, check out our data speed tests.

Call quality was generally good, with one exception. The front speaker had some volume issues, and combined with a few long calls in the low-coverage area around my home, talking became a chore on more than one occasion. If you generally stick to AT&T's four or five bar locations - like pretty much all of their major metro LTE coverage zones - you should be fine. If you're in the habit of traveling outside of major cities, voice performance may suffer.

The 1650Mhz battery seems to do well on standard operations like browsing and music playback - if you never turned the phone off you'd think it was great. Unfortunately the standby performance isn't as great. Without some careful management of apps and usage, you're probably not going to see a full day's use out of the Vivid, and that's doubly true for LTE users.

Media

The camera and video were typical of HTC's later offerings, good but not great. In bright lighting your shots will be clear and distinct, but indoors or after sundown you'll see a familiar fuzzy lines and muted colors. On the plus side, the 1.3 megapixel front camera was noticeably sharper than others, or so I was told from the other end of the phone line.

Wrap-up

If you're a fan of HTC's solid design, you'll like the Vivid. Some cutting-edge internals and access to LTE speeds doesn't hurt, but a sub-par battery and weak speakers do. Still, at a new lower price of $99.99 on a new contract, it's a great deal for a fast, big-screened phone, even if the screen itself is merely OK. Make sure and get your hands on a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket before making your final decision.

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  • MOJO

    I have this phone in Canada, just got release on Bell and Rogers as the HTC Raider. I have to say after having the motorola atrix, which was an amazing phone that never got slowed down from anything and was just a beast, HTC Sense and HTC are truely the best. I have played with all the new galaxy S2′s here in Canada and they all feel cheap until you see the screen. But to be honest the Screen on the Raider is beautiful for its huge scale. The phone literally runs flash like its sitting on a bench waiting for a challenge. The phone is great and you were completely right about one thing the speaker is poor and could be louder, But by all means it is definitely not low enough for people in a small room to hear whats going on. 

    You said nothing on the camera which is phenomenal! Just amazing! Check out more reveiws and make sure you know what your personal preferences are. Kind of lopsided review here.

  • http://www.internationalpatentservice.com/trademarksearch.html Search For Trademark

    Most of HTC’s high-end phones in the months leading up to the Vivid and Raider have been examples of HTC’s best design: aluminum unibody phones like the Sensation or soft-touch phones like the Evo 3D. Compared to Samsung’s plastic phones, even the otherwise superb Galaxy S II, they’ve been a notch above.

  • DUTCH in Atlanta

    That $99 price is only good in some markets.  It’s $199.95 in Atlanta.

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Michael Crider
      • DUTCH in Atlanta

        Not in Atlanta.  The prices obviously varies by market.

        I also just stopped at an Atlanta ATT company store.  When I told them about the $99 price in NYC and other markets, their answer was “other markets must be running a promotion that we in Atlanta are not”; and they would not discuss anything other than the posted $199.99 price.

        I walked.

      • Cooka

        Looking at the website i was getting the 99 price for HTC and the 149 for the samsung, once I put in my upgrade infor the prices went back to 199 and 249 prices.

      • A Bunton

        When I was with ATT, they had promotions for new customers. People who were new to the smart phone world, or from a different carrier, were the only ones that were able to get the promotion price. Customers who were eligible for upgrades whould get a discount, but not as much as new customers. ATT used this to bring in new customers, but also to attract older customers to upgrade. Some of these customers would walk away after realizing they will have to pay more, but others didn’t notice the price hike.

      • Reidswitch

        I just got it for 99.00 in Los Angles and ive been with ATT for years. Just had an upgrade.

  • Neglector

    Merely ok screen? It has an IPS screen known for its wide viewing angles and rich accurate colors…

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

    On the screen:

    It’s Viewing angle is nearly 180 degrees… It’s spectacular!
    By contrast, the Samsung’s Super AMOLED viewing angle is about 5 degrees (after that the screen get’s a nasty blue tint)

    and don’t even get me started on how horribly over saturated and annoying the Samsung display is… I’ll sum it up quick: white should be white… not blue.

    The Vivid absolutely OWNS the Galaxy in the display department.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O5DT6YPMANAZ6WMAHS2FOO2C4E Robert

    I just picked up the HTC Vivid for my son tonight. Speed test at home was 30.20 down 6 up! Far north central San Antonio, TX, almost to Bulverde.

  • http://www.blurbpoint.com/directory-submission-service.php Directory Submission

    I can’t stand the chunky, heavy feeling of HTC devices and I’ve found the light, plastic builds of Samsung’s phones to stand drops and falls better (especially compared to HTC phones that don’t use Gorilla Glass, like the Evo). What many issues do the Skyrocket have? And I think you’d have a hard time convincing people that a SAMOLED+ screen sucks.

  • hallo wurld

    This or HTC Rezound? 

  • http://www.trafficbuilder.biz/ seo service provider

    I just picked up the HTC Vivid for myself

  • Janetyany

    It seems that every appt uses the data I bought mine on saturday by tuesday I received an e mail that my data is getting close to the limit on top of that the battery run out too fast does anyone know why AT&t doesn’t offer unlimited data anymore this android;s  phones run almost everithing tru data not fear

    • Rich

      A lot of us have started using a new thing called punctuation.  It’s pretty neat!

  • Janet

    The thing is that this is a beautiful phone shamme on AT&T

  • Salhartzell

    The only, and I mean ONLY bad thing about this phone that I have encountered with this phone is the video recording. The picture is AMAZING but the voice is awful. If you make youtube videos and want good sound quality, don’t get this phone. I am a huge youtuber and I have to almost whisper in my videos to get average sound quality.

  • Littlebitshier

    My complaint with this phone is it shuts it’s self off when ever it wants to. When this happens no calls, no texts, no alarms work. I have no idea who called or texted even when I turn it back on. This is my thrid phone in less than 2 months. Just got another new one yesterday and woke up late this morning becuase this new phone shut off in the night.

    • John

      I have the same issue with my phone as well. Have you figured out a way to fix it?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YVVZ2RR34HLDK475AAXZOBQQUQ chantel

    This phone is only one cent! On att.com. That is a steal in itself! I am a newcomer to smart phones and to htc. I’m into new inventive technology, just like the next young person (cant afford ipad). But this phone is for everyone. Especially if you appreciate great graphics and would like to customize the phone to your taste. This is really a unique phone for individuals! If you’re an artist, a designer, a businessman, a teenager, a teacher or anyone who wants to have a phone that’s made for you – get this one. The price should sell you alone. I gave it FIVE STARS because it’s a great first phone, if you’re new to smart phones. And it’s not a bad choice to go from the iphone, if you’re in love with itunes. Because there are still ways to get your music (itunes included) onto your htc vivid and play it offline or stream it online. Plus, my dad has the iphone 3gs and he loves my phone! I can customize my homepage but his remains the same, boring, cluttered thing. . .

    This is a 4G LTE phone, and most americans dont live in those areas yet (its spreading though). Look at the coverage map before getting this phone. I’m in a 4g area, as you probably are too, which is ridiculously fast. I’m not disappointed. And really people – do you need things to load at the speed of light? Are you late for a shuttle to the moon? You can WAIT a few seconds.

    I like that you don’t have to press hard on the keys of this phone for it to activate. You can lock the screen with a code, if you don’t want someone being nosy on your phone or if you have small kids. If you don’t lock it, then when you press the wake button on the top, it will have a notice along the top of the phone, like a running headline on cnn, it will give you a preview of your texts you’re checking. Which is pretty cool.

    I wish the battery life was longer. But its a smartphone folks, it’s pulling energy out of no where. Give it a break. My last phone was a lg xenon and it would be “dying” for like 2 days lol so I’m definitely having to readjust. All you have to do is when you put it down, manage your applications and close what you’re not using. Like facebook, your calender, music and other stuff. There are also apps in the market that I hear make your battery life increase. The volume is low to me. My last phone it could be ringing on the other side of the house and id run to get it. This phone is more gentle, i’ll pick it up and be like “oh i have a text” lol, so i use a real alarm clock now and the alarm on my old cellphone, not sure if this one could wake me up.But then again, i havent tried it.

    Also, you can load music from your computer and make it a ringtone! Or record music and make it a ringtone, love that. I’m photo obsessed and love to edit, so i wish the phone had more options. It’s okay. I’ll load them on the computer and use picasa. No problem. Well… hmm, I wonder what I haven’t covered. . .

    It going to take a couple weeks to get the phone down. i’m still finding hidden features. there’s no “menu” page. There’s an app for everything, so theses an app page. and it will hold everything from your settings/tools all the way to games and navigation apps. you can alphabetize it or have it going in order from what you use the most to the least. The phone has a “homepage” but many other pages as well. You just slide the “page” on the screen to the left and another pops up. This can go on for like, five, six, seven times. I can’t remember. On each new “homepage” you can add different apps and organize what you want on each screen. like “things that require internet” “music apps” “games” “most used”, you can group what you like together.

    The live weather report is awesome! I love watching it move across the screen. The storage is nice. You can use the sd card and micro sd card. Any kind of earplugs work. I have a pair i’ve had for four years, and they work.

    People complain bout the phone being slippery. IT’S NOT. NOT UNLESS YOUR HANDS ARE COVERED IN I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER!! yes, its a different design, but it feels sleek in your hand. the back is flat, metal, and sturdy. And you can grip the sides of the phone, use your hands people, this phone isn’t a magic trick! I got the agf case cuz it was half price on at&t and not as expensive as outerbox. I will prolly get outerbox eventually, but am in no hurry. The case is flexibile enough. Your phone will end up looking simple, sleek, and professional, black and white (if you get white vivid). You can change it up later. The wake button on the case is made of that harder rubbery leather so you have to push on it but you get used to it. I’m fine with it. You decide what you can and can’t live without. All in all, I’m in love with this phone. I like the drop down menu, I was scared to part with my lg xenon cuz i luved that feature. You hold down the top of the htc vivd screen and slide it down, and a menu drops down and lists your latest used apps that are still open or can easily be opened and your notifications. So you can use it to open emails/texts/ims. Whatever. there are several ways to do ONE thing on this phone.

    Phone is a little heavy. But I like it. I mean, it’s a solid smartphone with a huge screen. You dont want a beautiful huge screen and a hollow plastic, scruffy looking outside. Without a case also, it is extremely light but secure in your hand, and i’m a girl. The only time i get tired of holding it is when I’m on my back playing angry birds lol. That’s because I usually play for half an hour. Every phone has a drawback at times. It’s frozed on me only a couple times. But you can report that to htc, under “tell htc’. one of the options requires you to let them have access to your data, but i havent let them do that yet. too much like big brother, for now. but i can report any error without them having my info. neither option is a bad one.

    Surprise feature! when you text if you hold down gently on a letter and slide to each letter of the word, continuing to press down on each letter you need, you can use the lighting bolt texting thing. I thought you had to download that, but it’s built in! It’s text predicting, but instead of “typing” you move from letter to letter and it draws a line, ends up looking like a cross word puzzle, and you can choose any color you wish.

    I hope this review is helpful!

    Overall, battery leaks if you use it constantly. But there are apps to preserve what slides through the cracks, unused, and puts it back in the battery. Remember, the entire phone is made up of “running apps” not closed icons, it takes energy to sustain it. Volume is low, meaning “alerts” for texts may seem low if your last phone sounded like a high school head cheerleader. Volume for music is not low. Phone is also compatible with different “stereo boxes” whatever its called that it plays your music when you sit the phone in it (kinda expensive). Earplugs also make the music much louder. If you get the phone and decide to get another, that’s okay. Just try it. You’ll love the phone and will overlook the bad.

    That galaxy phone, that ppl say is better than this one? Honestly, the screen freaks me out. I ordered this phone online without ever holding it. When i pulled it out of the box, i was in love. Didn’t even feel heavy when I took it out.

    I had it in two business days. Happy shopping! You can change your data plan online if you dont have one. I have 3G. which is 3,072 mb. I think. you have an app on the phone called “my att” and you can always check to see where you are on your usage or go online here to check if you’re paranoid. No need to worry People!

    p.s. – the screen takes up 95% of the phone, with the four main buttons on the bottom. Screen feels sure, like glass, but its hard plastic. Be prepared when you open the box and you’re like “omg, this screen is huge”. it will look glamorous but simple at the same time b/c there’s no clutter or clunky buttons. oh yeah, i didn’t put “continuous sufer” b/c im not on the net 24/7, but i do use it alot. I i didn’t check “heavy talker” cuz i havent talked alot on in yet, but when i have it was fine. i havent dialed ppl enough to give details on it. But I love tango a.k.a. kinda like skype for android.  Also, the white htc vivid doesn’t seem to show fingerprints or dust.

  • clam

    do you have to pay to use youtube and stuff like that if you have the unlimited plan?

  • LJC11

    The only thing I can’t stand with this phone is the fact that I have had to hard reset it 3 times since I have gotten it. I have to reset it because I attempt to open up a text message and the conversation does not load. the first time this happened I left the screen open for 5 hours and the conversation never loaded. I attempted to restart and shut down my phone, but to no avail. I have had this phone for 5 months and have lost all of my contacts 3 times. idk if this is just my problem or if anyone else has run into this problem but I think others should know about this problem I have encountered