HTC One VX

The HTC One VX looks to be a great (and cheap) way to get an entry-level LTE smartphone on AT&T

This may be one of those rare instances in which we know too much. For those of us who live and breathe smartphones all day long (and that includes many of you out there), it's tough to look at an HTC One phone without seeing the entire line in context. With regards for pecking order, there's the One V. The One S. The One S. (There's also the new One SV in Europe and Asia, and in the U.S. on Cricket.) And now, on AT&T, we have the HTC One VX.

Where the hell does this phone fit in?

To answer that question, you need to take it out of context a little bit. Instead of looking at where it sits in the HTC family, think about where the One VX sits in the AT&T lineup. Things start to make a little more sense in that respect, especially considering that as of this writing, the One VX is exclusive to the U.S. carrier.

As its name might imply (again, to those of us who live and breathe this stuff), and as the spec sheet spells out, the One VX picks and chooses from some of the best features of the other phones in the HTC One line. You can't help but compare it to its older siblings. But it's also important to remember where it stands for AT&T. This phone serves a purpose for AT&T -- filling a hole in its lineup -- more than it does for HTC. And that's OK. Because what we end up with is a really good entry-level phone.

So, with all that said, on to our HTC One VX review.

The HTC One VX video walkthrough

The hardware

HTC One VX.

Think of the One VX like this: It's got the white polycarbonte back like the original One X on AT&T. (That's since been supplanted by the One X+.) It's got the relative shape and stylings of the One S, just not quite as svelte. The internals are somewhere between the One V and One S, and the camera's the same as the One V. So, yeah. It's somewhere in the lower end of the middle of the line. (See why we stopped worrying about it?)

HTC One VX.

Let's start on the back of the phone. The One VX has a removable cover. It's done up in the same white plastic as the original One X (and least it looks and feels like it), and so it leaves us wondering if it'll be subject to the same marring we've seen on that phone. That's not a huge deal, just a slight cosmetic blemish -- and maybe it won't be an issue on the One VX.  Remove the cover and you can get to the SIM card and microSD card slot. There's no removable battery on the One VX. (Same as on the other HTC One phones.) You can pry up that black tape if you want, but we'll save you the trouble: There's nothing there for you.

There's an obvious seam where the rear cover meets the silver body, which happens when you're not dealing with a unibody design. But as often is the case with HTC phones, even the seam seems to have been done with design in mind. We're getting a little bit of creaking, specifically toward the top of the cover near the camera cut-outs, but that's a pretty small nit to pick.

HTC One VX.

Also out back: the 5-megapixel camera and flash (almost flush with the body), 72 decorative pinholes that let the rear speaker do its thing, and the HTC and Beats Audio logos.

The front of the phone, while being relatively benign in its design (display, with lighted back-home-task switcher buttons below), is probably the most exciting feature of the One VX. The display is 4.5 inches in diagonal, which is a little bigger than the One S. And it's switched from Super AMOLED to Super LCD2 -- and it's a noticeable difference. In fact, we didn't even have to put it side-by-side with the One S to declare the One VX the victor. And what's more, we're not bothered in the slightest by the qHD (540x960) display resolution. It's three steps down on the resolution evolutionary latter (behind the 1080p display of the Droid DNA and 720p of the One X), but you might not know it unless we told you.

The bottom line on the One VX hardware is that it's not nearly as powerful or sophisticated in design as the One S or the One X. But for an entry-level phone, it's darn good.

What's under the hood

By today's spec standards, the HTC One VX is somewhere a little south of middle. There's nothing here that really concerns us, given that the phone's not targeting the high-end market.  It's powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (MSM 8930) clocked at 1.2 GHz, with 1GB of RAM. On paper, the One VX has 8GB on on-board storage. In actuatlity, it's got around 4.5GB of space for you to install apps and save pictures and music. For most first-timers, that might be enough. If it's not, remember that you can pop up to a 32GB microSD card into the back of the phone.

Battery life has been decent. It's not going to blow anyone out of the water with its 1810 mAh cells, and if you're sucking down LTE data all day you'll run out of juice sooner than not. But we didn't see anything in casual use to cause concern, and standby time was excellent, meaning if you forget to plug it in overnight you should still have a charge in the morning. 

The software

There's not much new for us on the software side of the One VX. It's running Android 4.0.4 out of the box, and we'd expect a Jelly Bean update at some point in the phone's lifetime. The phone's got HTC's custom user interface, called Sense, and the One VX has Sense 4.1 in particular. You've got just three home screens on which to place apps shortcuts and widgets, but chance are that's all most casual users will need.

AT&T's got quite a few of its own apps preloaded onto the One VX, including its own QR code scanner, Family Map, Locker, Navigator and Ready2Go (which is a quick set-up app and worth a look). Plus there's myAT&T for handling your account, and YPmobile for Yellow Pages lookup. The usual suite of Google apps are on board, and you've also got Amazon Kindle, Facebook, SoundHound and Twitter preloaded. There's an FM radio as well, which we're always happy to see. Adobe Flash is preloaded as well, which is a bit of a head-scratcher because as it's not supported in Android 4.1. So if the One VX does get an update to Jelly Bean (as we hope it does), that could cause some confusion on down the road.

The cameras

The HTC One VX is one of the latest phones to benefit from HTC's relatively newfound love of photography. It's got a 5-megapixel shooter out back with an f/2.0 lens. There's a VGA shooter out front. Both use HTC's new image processing software and excellent camera app. See for yourself:

Warning: Images open in full resolution in a new window

The rear camera

The front camera

Other odds and ends

  • No worries with data on the One VX. Wifi works as it should, and AT&T's LTE is fast, Fast, FAST.
  • Oh, and this thing's a phone, too. Phone calls were fine.
  • Bluetooth, GPS and NFC -- no worries.
  • The rear speaker is surprisingly loud, though tinny.
  • The microUSB port is on the bottom of the phone, instead of the side, like most of the HTC One phones.
  • There's a hidden notification light in the black area above the display to the far left of the logo.
  • For some reason you can't change the function of the recent apps button to a menu button, which was a nice option in other HTC phones.

The wrap-up

HTC One VX.

It's easy to dismiss the HTC One VX as just another mid- to low-end phone, but don't. It's a surprisingly good one, created specifically to fill a void in AT&T's lineup. It's currently listed at $49 with a two year contract, or $399 outright., which, frankly, isn't horrible for the type of phone this is. HTC's and AT&T's customizations help make things easier on first-time owners.

And the One VX continues to say something about HTC as a smartphone manufacturer. When your most lowly phones are this well done, you're doing things right. 

 
There are 20 comments

15israellai says:

This thing is entry-level? At least mid-range dude. It's a S4 chip and an HTC camera - it at least beats early 2012's high-end GNex.

benthe1 says:

I know right. Better specs than ALL phones from 2011, better specs than most high-end phones from 2012 yet it's entry level? Lol.

On a side note, a removable back cover but no removable battery? FAIL!

JobiWan144 says:

Well, put it this way: for $50 on contract, this thing is a steal. This is the kind of smartphone I would get my mom, who doesn't need a quad-core CPU and shouldn't spend $200 on a phone.

mikeru says:

After the Nexus 4's $299 without contract, nothing is a steal anymore.

If you can buy one. Still sold out:(

crxssi says:

That would be true if it were in the running, but it isn't for lots of us because it has an unacceptably low amount of storage and with no way to add more.

If that screen was on my One S, my One S would be close to perfect for me.

JobiWan144 says:

You said "the One S" twice at the beginning. Did you mean the One X by any chance?

It's very apparent that the styling and shape of this phone is far closer to the S than X. Of course I think I do see what you mean when he did state the order of htc's line, I think he really did mean to include the One X there as well as top of the line.

npco543 says:

Great, another nice phone from HTC exclusive to a carrier I'm not on.

and this is why htc is tanking. Not because of the quality of its products(which is stellar), but because of its distribution methods.

crxssi says:

I agree. HTC makes some first-class phones. But until they can push at least one high-end (same) model on all (or at least most) carriers and add some effective marketing, they are just not going to get the consumers' mindshare.

Suntan says:

But the original HOX is 99 cents with contract on ATT right now?

Am I missing something?

-Suntan

crxssi says:

Does seem odd. This has a slower processor, possibly worse camera, lower resolution screen, smaller battery, and smaller screen. It is certainly not a high-end phone when compared to the One X..

But like the Evo LTE, they did add an SD slot. Hmmm...

F123D says:

Removable back with microsd slot but no removable battery.. halfway there HTC..

crxssi says:

Don't hold your breath. They made it clear that quick swap batteries are just not in the picture anymore (which is finally practical in 2012 due to the lower power chips).

Pranay Gawas says:

do it have the face detection unlock feature like one x ??

Bunnie87 says:

Yes it does.

Joey Vaughn says:

Just got mine today with the red back and only paid 99 cents with my upgrade

KAY ATCHISON says:

So why do reviews on HTC one vx say it has expandable memory, and supports micro sd card,because I've not been able to use sd card I'm about out of memory