HTC's Vivid comes with a screen worthy of the word "vivid." As the cheaper of the two phones to run on AT&T's Speedy Gonzales-quick 4G LTE network, I can see why you're interested. I was intrigued, too. But the less-than-vivid design and awful software make it impossible to love.
When you see the Vivid, you'll do a double-take. Is this really a HTC device? It looks like a generic smartphone -- a tall 5.1-inch all-black body and slightly rounded edges. In fact, the glossy back plastic even resembles the Galaxy. I usually enjoy HTC's metal accents, but here, the only metal present is a razor-thin piece on the battery cover. But wait -- the design isn't completely generic. But it isn't good. Even with fairly normal dimensions, at over six ounces, it has a weight problem. Considering the flimsy plastic frame, I'm completely baffled. I guess HTC filled the insides with lead. Meanwhile, the bottom features four capacitive buttons -- menu, start, back and search -- which are easy to use, but not as up-to-date as a full-fledged touch screen.
The Vivid earns its name with a high-quality 4.5-inch display. The Super-LCD screen uses its 960-by-540 pixel resolution to produce clear and defined details. If you want to stream a music video in direct sunlight or sneak a peek at pictures in a shadowy corner, it'll hold up no matter the lighting conditions. The Vivid is even brighter than the excellent screen on the LG Nitro, besting the Nitro's 324-lux rating with an impressive 381-lux. But the Vivid isn't as bright as the Samsung Skyrocket, which has a 409-lux rating that blows the competition out of the water. But still, the Vivid's screen is a bright point.
The 8-megapixel dual-flash camera takes sharp photos, bolstered by its sophisticated f/2.2 lens, but the coloring isn't nearly as vibrant as you'd expect. The LED flashes are certainly strong enough, but they strip out color, leaving you as pale as a ghost. The auto-focus sensor slightly worse than other HTC phones, but I didn't have a problem zooming in on subjects. After you snap a picture, you can add some Instagram-esque effects, which is fun, but a poor substitute for the original. I did, however, like the volume button, and how they double as the zoom keys, making it easy to go for a close-up. And the 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera was a delightful surprise, too -- a rare secondary lens that actually makes you look human instead of a blurry zombie.
Unfortunately, the software washes away whatever charm it had. It runs on Gingerbread, which is nice, but HTC's Sense interface is more trouble than it's worth. I was disappointed it didn't ship with Sense 3.5, which isn't as good as vanilla Android, but still offers improvements over this version. Things I liked: the lock page is still useful -- with a big clock and access to widgets. I'm also impressed by the smoothness of the pinch-to-zoom feature during Web browsing -- it's better than past models. Meanwhile, the onscreen keyboard is easy to type on, but it felt a little cramped in portrait mode.
Unfortunately, that's a short list -- the catalog of software problems is much longer. For starters, webpages with a lot of flash, or full desktop versions, took forever to load. Next, the 4-by-5 grid layout is cluttered and just plain ugly -- app icons are crowded without much rhyme or reason. But at least AT&T and HTC went easy on the bloatware, so you don't get flooded with a ton of useless apps, though I could have gone without NFS Shift game demo and a seven-day trial of Mog Audio -- you can't uninstall them. HTC is often lauded for its contact integration, but frankly, it's nothing special. You can see contact information with Facebook and Twitter data, but it doesn't make up for the outdated software and lag. HTC promised to an ICS update, but don't hold your breath.
The dual-core 1.2-gigahertz chip is the best feature, but the powerful processor is wasted on the laggy software -- so you won't even notice a difference. The 1,620 mAh battery, meanwhile, will remind you of the weak hardware -- but in a good way: it doesn't drain the power as quickly, I got a whopping seven hours of talk time. For standby, you can expect over a day's worth of juice. Lastly, you'll have 16-gigabytes of memory, plenty for the average user to load up on movies and music. If you're a heavy user, pick up a microSD card up to 32-gigabytes -- you'll have to yank off the battery cover and dig for the slot, though.
Overall, the Vivid is a decent bargain through AT&T -- but it's not exceptional. The screen makes it worth considering, but I wouldn't recommend it over AT&T's other 4G LTE devices, like the Samsung Skyrocket, which is, frankly, a vastly superior product. Yes, the Vivid is cheaper, but well... you get what you pay for. ♦
Write a review and share you thoughts.