HTC Vivid

The HTC Vivid is HTC's latest phone, built for AT&T's fledgling LTE network.  There's a lot here that makes us feel right at home -- the Vivid is a combination of the best HTC had to offer for 2011 with HSPA+ and LTE radios thrown in for good measure.  This makes it pretty easy for everyone involved, because there's not a lot to surprise any of us.  It's a solid smartphone, with HTC's popular Sense software, and worth a close look.  Let's do so, after the break.


The Good

The Vivid is a well-built device with a snappy dual-core processor.  AT&T's hybrid 4G network works well, and the Vivid has the horsepower to do something with those network speeds. 

The Bad

HTC Sense means the phone will take longer to get any software updates.  The angular design makes it a bit uncomfortable to use one-handed. 

Conclusion

It's not the phone for everyone, but the HTC Vivid is a solid offering with the speed to make many users very happy.  AT&T's use of LTE and HSPA is an excellent way to manage the handoff from high-speeds to not so high speeds, and HTC Sense offers more than the standard build of Android would.
 

Inside this review

More info

Hands-on


Youtube link for mobile viewing

Two things to take away from this -- it's fast, and it felt a bit uncomfortable to hold and use.  Sense is still Sense, and while it may not be for everyone, it works very well on the Vivid.

Hardware

  HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

You've got your black slabs, and you've got your black slabs.  HTC makes a bunch of them, and they're usually done very well.  The HTC Vivid is no exception.  It's solid, has the right amount of heft, and looks unique.  It's fairly big (128.8mm tall, 67.1mm wide), fairly thin (11.2mm), and does just about anything you would want it to do.  The 4.5-inch qHD (540x960) S-LCD is bright, responsive, and has great viewing angles.  We can;t say one display technology is better than others, but if you were to pick the Vivid based on how nice the screen looks nobody could argue with you. 

HTC Vivid   HTC vivid

The front of the phone has the four standard capacitive buttons that will probably soon go the way of the Dodo (some of us will miss them), an earpiece to use when you're on a call, and a 1.3MP front-facing video camera for video chatting and the all-important Google+ hangout.  Like the rest of the phone, it's well built with no gaps or cracks to catch lint and dirt.  It looks great, and it works great.

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid

You have the standard array of ports, holes, and various ways to interact with the phone -- up top you have a 3.5mm headphone jack and the power switch, on the right side you have the volume rocker, and on the left you have the micro USB port.  The connections all feel solid, and the controls are easy to operate, although the power switch could be raised just a tad higher for my tastes.

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid

Around back, you have the 8MP camera with dual LED flashes, and a metal battery cover that fits in well with the rest of the phone.  Imagine the metal battery cover that the MyTouch 4G had, then imagine it if it didn't feel so out of place.  It looks and works just fine.  Pop it open, and you have (surprise, surprise) a 1620 mAh battery, a SIM card slot (full size, thank you very much), and a microSD card slot.  Again -- everything is as it should be.

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

The only issue I have with the hardware is the shape of the casing itself.  As I mentioned in the hands-on video, I appreciate the angular design -- it looks very nice.  But I don't appreciate the way it feels in my hand.  It just feels like there is a sharp (and in harsh, not the cutting kind of sharp) edge that fits right where my hand curves around the phone itself.  This is pretty subjective, and you may or may not notice it.  I did, so i wanted to pass it along.  Grab one and hold it a few minutes in the store before you lay out the plastic.

Impressions

Calls and data usage went just fine.  I know it's trendy to knock AT&T, but where I live, work, and play the network works pretty doggone well.  More on speeds in a bit, but both the quality of calls and speed of data transfers gave no complaint.  GPS locked on as it should, and navigation worked well enough to get me through rush-hour traffic inside the capitol beltway on Christmas eve after I forgot my super-secret shortcuts.  Bluetooth worked with my headset and my wife's in car unit (Chevrolet).  Everything worked, just like we would want it to work, every time. 

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

Around my house, I'm not blessed with LTE from anyone, but AT&T's HSPA+ network was more than acceptable.  In places where LTE was available (that'd be around Washington, D.C. and the picture on the right) things were fast, even on a busy night in a busy city.  The fallback to HSPA+ is really damn nice when you move out of LTE coverage.  I know I keep saying that, but it really does make for a seamless (almost) experience, and AT&T deserves praise for how well it works.  If I ever meet Ralph on my travels, I'm buying him a beer.

Specs

  • Android 2.3.4
  • 128.8mm x 67.1mm x 11.2mm
  • 4.5-inch qHD (540x960) S-LCD
  • 1620 mAh battery
  • 1.2Ghz dual-core Qualcomm APQ8060 CPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot
  • 8MP rear camera with 1080p full HD video capture
  • 1.3MP front facing camera
  • GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
  • UMTS 850, 1900, 2100 MHz
  • LTE 700 MHz Class 17, 1700/2100 MHz


The software

HTC Vivid

The Vivid sports HTC Sense 3.0.  It's HTC Sense, with all the good and bad that goes along with it.  Experienced Android users may prefer something a bit lighter, but many people love Sense just the way it is.  It offers just about anything the average user would want, and of course the full Android Market is available to fill in the rest.  If you're not a fan of Sense, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. 

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid

It's a full version of "new" HTC Sense, including things like the wonderful lock screen and it's widgets, the full customizations, and HTC Hub -- HTC's online cloud service.  AT&T also has placed their footprint on the Vivid, bringing (for better or worse) a slew of pre-installed applications.

  • Adobe Reader
  • Amazon Kindle
  • AT&T Code Scanner
  • AT&T Family Map
  • AT&T Navigator
  • Featured Apps
  • HTC Hub
  • HTC Likes
  • Live TV
  • MOG Music
  • myAT&T
  • NFS Shift
  • Polaris Office
  • Qik Lite
  • Visual Voicemail
  • YP Mobile

If you were to say that's a bit excessive, we wouldn't argue.  If you were to say that's a lot of apps that you would use and love it, we wouldn't argue that either.  It's all in the eye of the beholder.

HTC Vivid

One really cool feature of HTC Sense's app drawer gets a second look, because I love it.  You can change the view from all apps to most used apps or downloaded apps by tapping an icon.  When (not if) you have a hundred or so downloaded apps on your phone, you'll appreciate it.

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

 

The camera

HTC Vivid

The camera isn't anything to write home about, once again pretty much what we're used to from HTC.  With the right light and enough fiddling around you can take decent enough pictures, but there's nothing there that makes you say "wow." 

And that's just fine.

It's a camera, on a cell phone.  Something you always carry with you, and can take quick pictures of what may happen, and they look more than good enough.  For pictures to share on Facebook or Google+, they work just great.  If you want to take a family portrait, use a real camera. 

The video camera is both beautiful and horrible at the same time.  At 1080p, the video is shaky but very crisp with great color.  The sound is another story, it's horrid.  Have a peek:

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Here's a handful of stills, from Christmas at my daughter's and from assorted junk in the office.  Warning, they get big if you click them.

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid   HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid

HTC Vivid

The wrap-up

You now have a choice of LTE Android phones on AT&T, and all of them are a good choice.  Specs are similar, performance is similar, hell they even look similar.  If you're a fan of HTC Sense, it's a no brainer -- get the Vivid.  If you're not, look at one of the others.  OEM's have really learned how to build Android, and like the rest of 2011's dual-core Sense phones, the Vivid shows it.  If you're buying for someone else, the Vivid would be a great choice for someone new to Android or even new to smartphones.