HTC Vivid vs Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Now that AT&T’s 4G LTE network is finally sprouting up in small pockets around the country, it’s naturally fitting for them to finally bring forth smartphones packing support for its next-generation data network. Rather than laying out the red carpet for their arrival, both the HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket came out of nowhere in a relatively low key manner to offer AT&T customers the ability to surf the waves of 4G LTE goodness – and the timing couldn’t have been sooner! Knowing that these two high-end smartphones offer 4G LTE connectivity, it begs the question as to which one is the preferred choice between the two.

Design:

Quickly looking at the two, there’s nothing particularly amazing about their designs, mainly because they boast distinguishable design characteristic that we’ve seen already in use by previous devices – like the HTC EVO 4G and Samsung Galaxy S II. If we really have to pick between the two, we’d have to give it to the HTC Vivid thanks to its classy industrial design and considerably more solid feel. Well, it’s not say that the Skyrocket is entirely tasteless, especially when it’s the thinner and more lightweight between the two.


On paper, some are led to believe that the HTC Vivid’s 4.5” qHD (540 x 960) S-LCD display is going the better one due to its higher resolution/pixel density, but in actuality, it doesn’t quite capture our attention because of its low brightness output. At the same time though, the Skyrocket’s 4.5” WVGA (480 x 800) resolution is undoubtedly behind the times at this point – though, it’s able to appeal  considerably more thanks to being a Super AMOLED Plus display. In all honestly, our eyes are mesmerized by its polarizing color production, high contrast, and wide viewing angles to maintain its clarity in almost any condition.


Since the capacitive buttons on the Skyrocket are placed closer to the bottom edge, we’re more prone to accidentally pressing them – whereas, it’s not a problem on the Vivid.

Sporting a more pronounced look and springy response, we easily prefer the volume rocker and dedicated power button on the Skyrocket. Honestly, they’re much easier to activate over the flat and indistinct feel with the Vivid’s physical buttons.

Above their displays, they both feature front-facing cameras for video chat and shooting self-portraits, but the Skyrocket packs the one with the higher resolution at 2-megapixels, while the Vivid packs a 1.3-megapixel one.

Luckily, the microUSB ports on both smartphones also offer video-out functionality with the aid of an optional MHL adapter – plus, they also provide the usefulness of a mirrored experience.




Interface and Functionality:

Even though the two 4G LTE smartphones are utilizing the same third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon (S3) processor coupled with 1GB of RAM, the difference is that the Skyrocket has its dual-core CPU running at the higher clocked speed of 1.5GHz – whereas, the Vivid is only running at 1.2GHz. With that in mind, we can see that the Skyrocket exhibiting the more fluid performance, as some subtle choppiness is seen with the Vivid. Clearly, there’s no denying that Sense is more graphically intensive than the TouchWiz UI on the Skyrocket, which probably contributes to its slightly less responsiveness. Nonetheless, we’re not saying that it’s painfully slow, instead, it doesn’t exhibit the same level of fluidity and spot-on responsiveness that we see on the Skyrocket.

Continually showing us why they’re a major player in the Android landscape, HTC has always taken pride in constantly improving its Sense user interface – and it’s clearly evident when we compare it to Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. Visually, TouchWiz still embodies some of the traits of a UI that’s still in its infancy because of its cartoony appearance, but that’s not the case with HTC’s Sense UI. In fact, everything about it feels as though a lot of thought has been put behind every widget, animation, and gesture. And to tell you the truth, it’s almost night and day between the two as every aspect of Sense is deeper and more refined to not only offer a pearly customized look, but rather, a tangible experience that’s embodies the complete package.





Thanks to their ginormous 4.5” displays and mighty dual-core processors, there’s nothing to stop us from quickly and effortlessly writing up messages with minimal mistakes. Spacious enough to accommodate even the biggest of thumbs, we don’t have much of an issue using any of the keyboard options found on both devices. On one hand, the Vivid only packs the Sense keyboard, but the Skyrocket provides plenty of options with its stock, Samsung, and Swype keyboards. Plus, with their instantaneous response, it’s difficult to not mention that they’re able to keep up with our swift rate.




Internet and Connectivity:

Needless to say, the biggest standout with both phones are their 4G LTE connections, but since we’re not in an area blessed with that coverage, we’re left to rely on good old HSPA+ connections. Still, we’re amazed by the results, as they’re able to get maximum download and upload speeds of 11Mbits/s and 1.5Mbits/s respectively. As much as we’re content with their similar results in the data speed department, we have to give the overall web browsing experience to the Skyrocket seeing that it’s more fluid and gracious with its navigational controls.

Since they’re both meant to work with AT&T’s network (4G LTE included), neither one has an advantage over the other, but it’s nice to know that they’re compatible to work on other GSM networks around the world. In addition, they both sport the same exact connections like aGPS, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.


Camera :

Sizing up evenly with 8-megapixel auto-focus cameras in the rear, the Vivid actually complements its camera with a dual-LED flash – while the Skyrocket is accompanied with only a single one. However, it would seem that the Vivid is more equipped on paper in the photo-taking department because it features backside illumination and a wide-angle F2.2 lens for wider aperture.

Looking over both sunny and nighttime samples, we need to give the HTC Vivid the slight advantage in terms of overall photo quality with its 8-megapixel auto-focus camera – albeit, the two are still able to take some decent looking shots. Despite the purplish hue that’ evident with the Vivid’s outdoor and indoor shots, it packs the sharper looking visuals between the two. However, it’s able to clearly establish itself as the better one mainly because the Skyrocket’s low lighting/nighttime shots are diminished by the noise and graininess that clutter its production.






In the battle for 1080p high-definition video capture supremacy, the Skyrocket’s results are  better for the simple reason that the Vivid opts for 3GP format for its recording. Despite the fact that the two capture video at 30 frames per second, the 3GP format of the Vivid regretfully strains our eyes with its apparent artifacting, loss of detail, and distorted audio recording. As much as we’re pleased with the Skyrocket’s quality under good lighting, which is decent at the very least, its fallacies are profoundly exposed as its low lighting recordings are painfully filled with noise and grainy details.

HTC Vivid Sample Video 1:



Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Sample Video 1:



HTC Vivid Sample Video 2:



Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Sample Video 2 :



Multimedia:

Presentation-wise, the music players on both devices are nearly identical with their layouts – as they display the common set of items on-screen. However, when we look at the total package, the Vivid sports some added benefits with its music player widget and better access with its lock screen. Cranking their volumes to their maximum settings, the Skyrocket has the slightly stronger audio output with its speaker – though, it’s very minimal. Nevertheless, they both produce robust and strain-free tones with their speakers.



There’s no kidding that the two are more than equipped to play our test video that’s encoded in DivX 1920 x 1080 resolution, but the Skyrocket’s Super AMOLED Plus display is able to enchant us more with its punchy color production.

Fortunately, their microSD card slots are unoccupied, which means that we can insert cards up to 32GB in size to supplement their respective internal storage. With the Vivid, it offers 8.83GB of total internal storage out of the box – with another 3.7GB reserved for apps. On the other hand, the Skyrocket’s internal memory is broken down to 11.25GB for storage and 1.78GB strictly for apps.


Performance:

Sadly, neither handset really manages to impress our ears in the calling quality department – well, the blame can be found with their earpiece. Specifically, their volume outputs are desperately low to the point of making it difficult to hear our callers, which meant having to jam them close to our ear in order to hear a decent tone. Moreover, we’re left to deal with some hollow and mute sounding voices. Consoling our troubles, at least their speakerphones resonate with some powerful tones.

Signal strength appears to be solid on both smartphones, though, we did experience some inconsistent data issues early on with them. Thankfully, the problems soon disappeared.

We can only imagine the kind of stress that 4G LTE connectivity can bestow upon these two smartphones, but in testing them out with HSPA+ connectivity instead, we find battery life to be better on the Skyrocket – but not by much. Using them concurrently with all tasks and functions, the Skyrocket is able to push 14 hours of battery life on normal usage, while the Vivid taps out only after 12 hours.

Conclusion:

Crunching down the numbers, pricing is one of those driving factors that always has some weight to the overall allure of a particular handset. Obviously, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is priced $50 more than the HTC Vivid, but it’s absolutely warranted in this case as we find it to be the better performer. Sure it might not have the solid industrial design of the Vivid, but there is a delightful listing as to why it’s the favorable one – like its iridescent Super AMOLED Plus display, fluid platform experience, and better battery life. Of course, these two smartphones do justice in help launching AT&T into the 4G LTE spectrum, but if you want something that will perfectly accompany the network’s potential, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is essentially the one you’ll want in your hands.

HTC Vivid vs Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Video Comparison:




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