Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to the world of 4G Communication! The HTC Vivid Smartphone Review 2012

Do we cancel the show if the star is not available? This one must've crossed some minds over at Sony Ericsson when the Xperia Neo had to be discontinued. But no, they didn't cancel it. The crew was told to take five instead while they skimmed the B-list for a possible substitute.

The Xperia neo V is not an upgrade of the original Neo. It’s actually a downgrade forced by circumstances. The only difference is the camera sensor - down from 8 to 5 megapixels - and the more recent Android version. Sounds so little, doesn't it? That's the price for saving the Neo.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V 
Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V official pictures

The deadly Japan earthquake took lives and brought the local electronics industry to a halt. Sony was affected too and, with a shortage of 8 megapixel camera sensors looming, someone had to take the hit. That someone was the Xperia neo. This is the story told by a company insider, who we have no reason to doubt.

It's the same phone, different camera and the lower price makes sense. And it should be clear by now the V is the Roman numeral for five, not a letter. Could there be a victory sign anywhere in the picture?

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM /GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
  • 3.7" 16M-color capacitive LED-backlit LCD touchscreen of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854 pixels) on Sony Mobile BRAVIA engine
  • Android OS v2.3.4 Gingerbread
  • 1 GHz Scorpion CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 chipset
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera, LED flash, geo-tagging, 3D Sweep Panorama
  • 720p video @ 30fps, continuous autofocus with continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • Front facing VGA camera, video chat (Google, Skype)
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • microSD slot (32GB supported, 2GB card included)
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Voice dialing
  • Adobe Flash 11 support
  • microHDMI port
  • Deep Xperia Facebook integration

Main disadvantages

  • Forced camera downgrade to 5MP
  • Display has poor viewing angles
  • The competition has dual-core CPUs, 1080p video
  • No smart dialing
  • Loudspeaker has below average performance
  • Very limited video codec support
  • Memory card slot under the battery cover

So, the Xperia Neo lives inside the Neo V. Patched up with band aid and mildly myopic but sill. The potential deal-breakers are identical, so if you had second thoughts about the original, you'll probably pass on this one too.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo V 
Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V live pictures

If you meet the Neo for the first time you are welcome to join us as we explore the hardware and build. Let's see if Sony Ericsson play a bad card poorly or make the most out of a situation they never meant to be in.

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. 

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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