Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Welcome to the 4G World: HTC Vivid Review (Google, Android, Repair, Unlocking, North Shore, Takapuna)

The final member of AT&T’s LTE smartphone 2011 lineup is at the start line, ready to impress. The HTC Vivid is joining the company of the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and LG Nitro HD in a bid to defend the reputation of the Taiwanese company.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
HTC Vivid official photos

Hardware wise, the HTC Vivid is a familiar sight. The smartphone is essentially put together from the parts’ bin of the HTC Sensation 4G and HTC EVO 3D, save for its 4.5“ screen and beefed up built-in memory - it packs a well familiar dual-core CPU, clocked at 1.2GHz and a Snapdragon S3 chipset.

We do suspect that HTC has intentionally omitted features such as an HD screen and a beefed up CPU in order to maintain the flagship status of the Beats Audio sporting, HTC Rezound for Verizon Wireless. Thankfully, the Vivid is priced accordingly as well.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
  • 21 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • LTE network compatibility
  • 4.5" capacitive LCD touchscreen with qHD resolution (540 x 960 pixels); Gorilla glass
  • Android OS v2.3.4 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.0
  • 1.2 GHz dual Scorpion CPUs, Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 chipset
  • 1GB RAM and 16 GB built-in storage; microSD slot up to 32GB
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash; 1.3MP front-facing unit
  • 1080p and 720p video recording
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • Accelerometer, proximity sensor and an auto-brightness sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack (SRS enhancement)
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v3.0
  • MHL TV-out (requires MHL-to-HDMI adapter)
  • Smart dialing, voice dialing
  • DivX/XviD video support
  • HTCSense.com integration
  • HTC Portable Hotspot
  • Office document editor

Main Disadvantages

  • Screen performance is not on par with the best offerings
  • At 177 grams, the device is downright heavy
  • The glossy finish plastic is fingerprint and dust magnet; especially on the black version
  • No dedicated camera button

As you can notice above, the spec sheet of the HTC Vivid is mostly a familiar sight. HTC have grown the screen to put it in line with the rest of the LTE offerings from AT&T.

We are not sure however, how the feeling of familiarity will bode for the smartphone – it simply does not feel like a brand new product. It is the end of 2011 now – a good eight months since HTC took the wraps off the similarly equipped Sensation 4G.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
HTC Vivid live shots

We are now going to try and find out whether the HTC has what it takes to sway potential consumers away from the impressive Samsung and LG offerings.

A stripped-down retail package

In the relatively big retail box of the HTC Vivid, you will find nothing but a microUSB cable and a charger, which are being kept company by a couple of booklets.

HTC Vivid 
The retail package is modest to say the least

While we are willing to overlook the memory card omission (the HTC Vivid packs plenty of built-in storage), we can’t help but wonder for the reason why the headphones were omitted.

Design and build quality

The HTC Vivid surely isn’t a design statement. The smartphone is certainly not the best looking offering we’ve seen from the Taiwanese company. It does however, look unmistakably like an HTC and we believe that this fact will appeal to plenty of people.

The build quality of the smartphone is solid. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about the choice of materials. The HTC Vivid is predominantly dressed in glossy plastic. While we didn’t find any flaws in its quality, it proved to be a massive dust and fingerprint magnet – that was especially the case with our black review unit.

This is highly unusual showing for HTC. We were always impressed by the materials and their implementation on the actual devices. Sadly, this is not the case with the HTC Vivid.

The measures of the HTC Vivid are 128.8 x 67.1 x 11.2 mm, while its weight is the whopping 177 grams. The smartphone is certainly not the most pocket-friendly offering you will encounter – even among the 4.5” Android devices. Once again however, this has never been an issue for the HTC loving crowd.

HTC Vivid 
HTC Vivid measured against Samsung Galaxy Nexus

The smartphone is available in black and white color schemes – a fact, which should help it appeal to a seriously wide audience.

The 4.5” LCD screen of the HTC Vivid has the familiar qHD resolution. The display has the flaws of all its predecessors to date. Its viewing angles and outdoor legibility simply do not cut it in this price range. The unit is no match for the Galaxy S II’s Super AMOLED Plus unit or the award winning AH-IPS screen of the LG Nitro HD.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
The screen of the HTC Vivid leaves a lot to be desired • next to Galaxy Nexus’s Super AMOLED unit

Below the screen are the typical four touch-sensitive buttons. Above the display is where the earpiece, ambient light and proximity sensors, the LED notification light, and front-facing camera unit can be found.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
The view below and above the display of the HTC Vivid

There is nothing but the microUSB port on the left side of the smartphone. On the right is where the volume rocker resides.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
The microUSB port on the left • the volume rocker on the right

The power/lock key and the 3.5mm audio jack keep each other company on top of the HTC Vivid. There is nothing but a mouthpiece on the bottom of the device.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
No surprises on the top of the device • the mouthpiece on the bottom

The back of the HTC Vivid is covered by a great looking, matte black metal cover, which has tiny dots etched to it to give it texture. There, you will find the 8MP shooter with its LED flash, as well as the speaker grille.

HTC Vivid 
The back of the device looks great

There are no surprises under the battery cover of the HTC Vivid. The SIM card and microSD card slots are not hot-swappable.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
Typical sight under the battery cover

The 1620mAh battery of the HTC Vivid, despite appearing modest in capacity, achieved impressive overall score in our battery test. It needed a recharge every 42 hours when used for an hour each of phone calls, web browsing, and video playback. 

The smartphone handled well for its size. It is narrower than a Galaxy S II Skyrocket for example, so even single-handed operation is possible.

HTC Vivid HTC Vivid 
The phone handles well for its size

Overall, we came out fairly disappointed from both the design and the build quality of the HTC Vivid. We do not recall when the last time we had such feelings for an HTC made handset was – they have always been among the benchmarks for high quality materials and solid feel. The glossy plastic of the Vivid however, is too much to handle. It collects dust and fingerprints, while looking seriously cheap - a really annoying combination.

Following next is a look at the software department of the HTC Vivid. There are less unpleasant surprises to be had here, as we’ve seen it on previous HTC smartphones.
_life
 

This post sponsored by:
Dr Mobiles Limited
1 Huron Street, Takapuna, North Shore 0622
Tel: (09) 551-5344 and Mob: (021) 264-0000
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