HTC Vivid Review

Introduction and Design

Let's not forget to give credit where credit is due, but after a long year of seeing plenty of top-notch smartphones, we've probably forgotten about the HTC Inspire 4G for AT&T. Well, we really can't forget about it, because it brought HSPA+ connectivity to the masses for AT&T –  priced competitively at $99.99 on-contract. Seeing that AT&T is on the verge of kicking things up with their 4G LTE network, it's naturally fitting for them to bring a device that showcases their network's potential. Seriously making it affordable on any budget, the $199.99 on-contract HTC Vivid seems remarkably priced to offer plenty of value for the dollar – while introducing us to the capability of AT&T's next-generation data network.

The package contains:

  • HTC Vivid
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide


Right off the bat, we're quickly reminded of the HTC EVO 4G because the Vivid sports some of the characteristic design traits found with the beloved smartphone. Specifically, it features a plastic exterior, beveled border that tapers towards the back, and a very similar overall size. Despite the plastic exterior, it still packs a noticeable amount of weight when it's held in hand – though, it's evenly distributed. Fortunately though, its body is reinforced with some strength thanks to the stainless steel back cover. Overall, it doesn't come off as something remarkably fresh in appearance, but instead, it takes the safe approach of improving an already established design.

You can compare the HTC Vivid with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

For something packing a 4.5 inch qHD S-LCD display, it's nice to see that it maintains a manageable size – that's because the bezels surrounding the display are kept to a minimum. Thanks to its qHD (540 x 960) resolution, resulting in 245 ppi, the detail is quite good, although not HD. Meanwhile, the S-LCD panel manages to produce some very deep and punchy color tones, which something we typically find with this type of display technology. However, we find its viewing angles to be less than desirable seeing that it washes out the display – plus, it doesn't help that its brightness output is rather weak. In fact, it's very prevalent when we're trying to see the display outdoors in the presence of the sun.

With some spacing between the bottom edge and the Android capacitive buttons, there are rarely moments when we find ourselves accidentally pressing them. On the opposite side, there's a narrow slit for the handset's earpiece – with the front facing 1.3-megapixel camera nearby.

Taking a peek on the left edge of the phone, the only thing we find there is the microUSB port, which also doubles as the MHL port to provide a mirrored experience on an HDMI screen. Furthering its close ties to the HTC EVO 4G, it sports the same exact volume rocker, 3.5mm headset jack, and dedicated power button. Even though the dedicated power button and volume rocker offer tactile responses when pressed, they're very difficult to make out with our finger because they're extremely flat and flush to the surface.

The Vivid packs a sizable 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with dual LED flash , which features backside illumination and a wide-angle F2.2 lens. Also, the speakerphone grill is barely seen and sticking out behind the stainless steel back cover. Sliding it off doesn't require that much force, but once it's off, we're given access to the SIM card slot, 1,620 mAh battery, and unoccupied microSD slot.

HTC Vivid 360-degree View:


Continuing the trend of offering a dual-core processor, the brains behind the scene is none other than a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060 processor, which is supplemented by 1GB of RAM. Using the third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, it's readily equipped to handle pretty much all tasks with relative ease – and it's blatantly obvious while navigating across its home screen with a live wallpaper activated. Still, there are few times when we notice just a little bit of delay with its operation, but it's not something that's widespread. Nonetheless, its overall performance is efficient enough to provide a responsive platform experience that's been so characteristic of most HTC smart phones we've checked out.

Certainly it's not something new to anyone who has checked out a very recent HTC smartphone, but AT&T customers will surely appreciate all of the depth of offerings available with the HTC Sense 3.0 experience running on top of Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread. Sure it's not the most up-to-date Sense experience, especially when the HTC Rhyme currently has version 3.5, but it's nevertheless a satisfying customized interface that's packed to the roof with plenty of personalization. From its vast array of useful widgets to the deeper set of available lock screens, the Sense experience continues to show us why it sets the bar in terms of customized experiences. Rather than just making a skin to modify the look and feel of the platform, sense is deemed as an organic experience on its own simply for the fact that it's engaging and interactive.


There isn't anything really new found with the HTC Sense experience that we haven't seen before, and in fact, it's the same thing that we find on the HTC Amaze 4G and EVO 3D right now. Core organizer apps are very functional and deep with their offerings, thus, giving us nearly complete control in all aspects with the calendar, calculator, clock, weather, and voice recorder. Unlike some other customized experiences, Sense goes beyond the normal spectrum by providing us an unprecedented amount of selection with core organizer functionality.

With even more room for our fingers to move around with, the messaging experience is undoubtedly satisfying since the Sense keyboard is very spacious. Not surprisingly again, we find it to be one of the more convenient options for inputting text – thanks to the usefulness of having most things available to us with the main keyboard layout. Add in the fact that it's wickedly responsive, it essentially provides for an exceptional experience in inputting text with minimal accidents along the way.

Whether you end up using either the HTC mail or Gmail apps, both are resoundingly useful since the large display is able to show a lot of content – thus, minimizing the need for us to scroll to read its contents in its entirety. On top of that, the HTC mail widgets provide the task of allowing us to preview our emails without having the need to run the dedicated application. And finally, the setup process couldn't be any simpler, which isn't anything particularly new seeing that we've been accustomed to seeing that for a while now.


Photo buffs, listen up! That’s because this photo-centric smartphone has a boatload of features in its arsenal to reel in anyone from afar. Peeking at its camera interface, it’s your standard fanfare with its column of settings icons on the right edge along with the on-screen shutter key. Boasting a variety of shooting modes, we find things that include auto, portrait, action, close up, beach, snow, and much more. Moreover, there are manual controls to adjust its ISO, exposure, contrast, saturation, white balance, and sharpness. All in all, you know that this is targeting individuals that want to surround themselves with a respectable point and shoot replacement.

Clearly, the HTC Vivid is geared to replace your typical point and shoot camera, thanks to its serious 8-megapixel auto-focus camera. As a whole, we're not disappointed by the results, although they are not as good as what we saw with the Amaze 4G for T-Mobile. In outdoor conditions, detail is good but not great. Colors are slightly oversaturated and unfortuantely there is a hint of purple cast over some of the photos. Strangely, noise is also easily seen in darker areas of the photos, although the   good lightning conditions. On the other hand,  it takes some killer looking macro shots!

Low lighting shots are decent and noise and detail are at good levels. Thankfully, the dual-LED flash is remarkably strong in casting sufficient light to balance low lighting shots perfectly.  We're not disappointed to tell you the truth.

The 1080p high-definition video recording sounds great as specs, however, the real life performance is not so good. Due to the awful .3gp format, there are heavy image artifacts and great loss of detail. This is sad, as otherwise the video moves swimmingly with its frame rate of 30 frames per second and punchy color reproduction. Audio recording is also mediocre, with lots of noise picked up by the microphone. Interestingly enough, the HTC Vivid offers a slow-motion mode that gives us a neat effect with recording that we don't typically see – though, its capture resolution is set at 720p at the most. It captures at 60 frames per second, but the final video is 30fps, thus making it 2x slower.

HTC Vivid Sample Video 1:

HTC Vivid Sample Video 2:

HTC Vivid Slow Motion Sample Video:


Finding the usual Sense music player featured on other phones, its practical interface might not be filled with any noteworthy visual cues, but it’s nevertheless more than functional at heart. Enabling SRS Enhancement, its volume output is rather average, which enables it to be balanced without sounding distorted. Luckily, there are a variety of equalizer settings to choose from – albeit, they're only available if you plug in your own set of headphones.

Playing our test video that's encoded in MPEG-4 1920 x 1080 resolution, the Vivid doesn't have any issues in playing it to its entirety. Not only does the S-LCD panel make things pop with its vibrant color tones, but its dual-core processor allows it to play swimmingly with zero lag or slow down. Either way, our eyes are exposed to a wonderful video watching experience – and it helps that the screen size is large enough to enjoy them in full fidelity.

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Don't be fooled by the Vivid simply because it lacks a dedicated microHDMI port. Well, that's because its microUSB port doubles as an MHL port to quickly get a mirrored experience onto your high-definition television set. Naturally, it's a quick and painless way to share various multimedia content on the go.

Outs of the box, the HTC Vivid packs 8.8GB of phone storage, which you can use for things like storing multimedia content. Meanwhile, there is another 3.71 GB of space reserved for apps. If you simply require more memory, you can always throw in a microSD card up to 32GB in size into the available slot.

Internet and Connectivity:

Alright, easily the biggest thing about HTC Vivid is the fact that's one of the very first smart phones for AT&T to offer 4G LTE connectivity. Needless to say, that can be one driving factor for some people, but it's probably more pronounced for those who happen to live in the areas that are fortunate enough to have coverage – like in Dallas or Boston. Nevertheless, we're astounded by the HSPA+ speeds we're able to achieve using the handset. Naturally, it doesn't have any issues in quickly loading complex web sites like ours, but equally as compelling, is the responsive web browsing experience that we have the pleasure of checking out. In fact, it's able to maintain its buttery smooth operation even in the wake of having Flash content being loaded.

Just like all other AT&T devices before it, you can use the HTC Vivid in almost any portion around the world – since it's at GSM enabled smart phone. In testing out its data speeds via HSPA, we're utterly blown away to find download speeds hitting up to as much as 12Mbits/s -  with average upload speeds around 1.5Mbits/s. Without a doubt, our eyes manage to open up even with those speeds, but we can only imagine what it can do when it's connected to AT&T's 4G LTE network. Furthermore, it features all the usual set of connectivity items we tend to see with almost everything - like aGPS, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11 b/g/n, and mobile hotspot functionality.


If you happen to like having complete control with your device, you'll find that the HTC Vivid Will offer you just that seeing that it's enabled to work with Meaning, you can have some remote fun by doing things like locking the phone, making it ring, wipe it, and even find out where it is on a map – all through the portal online. Besides that, AT&T's presence is well established in apps like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, Live TV, AT&T Navigator, and myAT&T. In addition, we find other third-party applications preloaded on the phone like Amazon Kindle, MOG Music, Need For Speed Shift, Polaris Office, Qik Lite, and YPmobile.


Evidently, calling quality isn't necessarily one of the strong aspects of the HTC Vivid, but at least it's not downright terrible. Unfortunately, the earpiece is rather weak with its overall volume, which makes it difficult to hear out conversations – and things are compounded by the hollowness we hear with voices. However, the speakerphone is extremely boisterous with its volume output, but when it's set to the highest volume level, its tone begins to sound a little bit squeaky.

During our time testing out the handset,  it exhibits a really solid connection to network - while not dropping a single call. Strangely, we did notice some inconsistent data connections when we first started using the handset, but it soon quickly disappeared after a couple of days. Since then, we haven't experienced any anomalies with that.

If previous 4G LTE smartphones have any bearing on what to expect with battery life, our legs are nationally going to quiver in fear. So yeah, we're curious to see how it handles when surfing the waves on AT&T's 4G LTE network. In the meantime, we tested out the handset in areas that have HSPA coverage. Honestly, it still seems inept in delivering a reasonable amount of juice, as we're able to get 12 hours of normal usage. Frankly, the 5.75 hours of talk time we're able to get on a single charge is rather low, but it's still better than the 4.6 hours of talk time rated by the manufacturer. As we're pumped to see how it'll perform under 4G LTE, it's rather unnerving knowing that there is no option to disable 4G LTE connectivity in the settings menu, which would lead most people to believe that it'll be automatically handled. Still, it would've been handy to offer a choice on which network it should connect.


Knowing that there are plenty of killer Android smartphones on the horizon, one would suspect the HTC Vivid to be lost among the juggernauts that are expected to come very shortly. To tell you the truth, it might be written off as an underappreciated handset since there are no glamorous advertising campaigns behind it – though, it's rather hard to do that when AT&T's 4G LTE footprint is still severely limited. Nonetheless, the HTC Vivid packs a punch with its hardware specs and support for AT&T's 4G LTE network, while offering plenty of value for the dollar. At $199.99 on-contract, it's undoubtedly a tempting price point for a capable device like this, but it goes to show that AT&T is doing whatever it can to make it affordable to experience the goodness of its next-generation data network. Therefore, don't be afraid to even add the HTC Vivid to your list of potential prospects.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 2.3.4
HTC Sense Version: 3.0
Software Number: 1.63.502.4
Build Number: 1.63.502.4 CL172546
Kernel Version:

HTC Vivid Video Review:


  • 4G LTE support
  • Fast HSPA speeds
  • Shoots some good photos


  • Sub-par calling quality
  • Weak battery life
  • No stand out feature, except LTE
  • Poor video recording quality

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

9 Reviews

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