Horsepower and Performance
The phone has a gig of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage with 8.83 gigs available for your use. Like all recent HTC phones, it has a protected bootloader (important for those who want to root and install custom ROMs), but we assume HTC will offer a way to unlock the bootloader at the possible expense of your warranty.
Higher numbers are better in Quadrant and Linpack, lower numbers are better in Sunspider.
Phone and Data
The HTC Vivid has HSPA+ 14.4 for those of you (most of you right now) who aren't in an AT&T LTE coverage area. The carrier now has 15 markets covered, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Boston. New York City will come by year's end. Though the Samsung GS II has a faster 21Mbps HSPA+ radio, we got the same speedtest.net results on the phones themselves and when tethering on AT&T's HSPA network. The Vivid averaged 6Mbps down and 1.2Mbps up on HSPA and got absolutely amazing results on 4G LTE as we noted earlier in our review. If you're in an LTE market or one that soon will have AT&T LTE, you're in for a treat, especially if you want to use the mobile hotspot feature that's included in the $45/month 4 gig plan. Speeds rival and currently surpass many home broadband connections; but beware using up your monthly data allotment quickly if you tether to watch streaming video on your PC or download a host of Windows updates. Should you go over your allowance, AT&T, like Verizon, will bill you $10 for each additional gig you use in a given month.
Reception was good in our tests, and the Vivid and Skyrocket had identical LTE reception as measured in -db. Call quality is good but not stellar. Like the Rezound on Verizon, we noted digitized voice and a less sharp and clear quality to voice. That said, we had no trouble understanding our callers and they understood us. When AT&T LTE phones are in a call, they use the HSPA network rather than LTE for voice. So don't be alarmed if you see the little "LTE" icon go away at the top of your screen. In our tests, the phone hopped back on the LTE network a minute after we ended calls.
Display and Multimedia
The aptly named HTC Vivid has a colorful and sharp qHD 960 x 540 pixel display. We appreciate the color accuracy and white whites that are Super AMOLED Plus' Achilles' heel. I know many of you love Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus displays for their better than life colors and high contrast, but there's something to be said for HTC's Super LCD displays, especially if you spend much time reading eBooks and reading web pages with primarily dark text on white backgrounds. The Vivid has pleasing whites that lack Super AMOLED Plus' blue color cast, and the higher resolution makes for sharper fonts. It might not be as flashy a display as the Skyrocket's, but you get greater pixel density and clarity as well as menu fonts that aren't huge like Samsung's on their 800 x 480 jumbo screen phones. If you're over 45 and don't have the best eyes though, Samsung's large fonts and high contrast might suit you better, even if fonts aren't as crisp.
These days all smartphones are miniature multimedia powerhouses, and the dual core, graphics accelerated Vivid is no exception. It can play 1080p MPEG4 videos well, and it can do HDMI out with an optional MHL adapter dongle that typically sells for around $20. The phone has an FM radio, AT&T Live TV for streaming TV shows ($10/month and powered by MobiTV), MOG Music, Google's Music app, mSpot Movies (video rentals, a partner of AT&T), YouTube, Adobe Flash Player and HTC Watch (more movie rentals with purchase options). The Vivid comes bundled with a playable demo of Need for Speed Shift that performs perfectly.
The speakerphone is full and doesn't distort at higher volumes, but it's not terribly loud. Those of you who like to use the speakerphone to make calls in noisy haunts might have better luck with a headset. It is adequate for calmer locations and both game audio and video tracks have pleasing bass and clear trebles by speaker standards. Like all modern phones, the HTC Vivid supports mono Bluetooth headsets, stereo A2DP headphones and speakers and car kits.
Like many recent top tier HTC phones, the Vivid has an 8 megapixel rear camera with a backside illuminated sensor and fast f2.2 lens for improved low light photography. It's a relatively wide aperture lens with a 28mm equivalent, and like the HTC Amaze 4G and HTC Rezound, it takes very pleasing shots that are sharp, colorful and well exposed. There's a dual LED flash to blind your friends and illuminate dark hallways, and it also helps with low light photos without whiting out your subject. HTC offers a variety of scene settings, ISO, white balance, face detection, geotagging and focus modes. 1080p video capture is slightly less impressive with some sense of haze over cloudy outdoor scenes (the cheap clear plastic cover over the lens may cause this), and motion blur, but it's not bad stuff by any means. For photos, we prefer the Vivid, but for video capture we prefer the Samsung Galaxy S II and Skyrocket.
The phone has a 1.3MP front video chat camera and comes with Qik Lite for video chat. You can also use Gtalk video chat and install Skype.
Less impressive is the oddly low capacity 1620 mAh Lithium Ion battery. We're surprised that HTC couldn't fit a larger battery inside this not terribly thin phone. Still, it's not as bad as you might think; unlike Verizon LTE phones that punish their batteries, AT&T's network goes easier on power, and the Vivid lasted us to the end of the work day with moderate use. Our phone stayed on a steady -90db, 2 bar LTE 4G signal all day, and dropped to HSPA+ only when making calls. If you're in an area with weak LTE coverage, you might see radio ping-ponging that could diminish battery life. Unfortunately, AT&T doesn't offer a setting to disable LTE. The Skyrocket has an 1850 mAh battery in comparison, and a more power frugal Super AMOLED Plus display, and thus it lasted 2 to 3 hours longer in our tests.
The HTC Vivid is in every way a high end phone with a solid dual core CPU, qHD display that we really like, a good 8 megapixel camera and true LTE 4G. The market is absolutely flooded with top tier Android smartphones, and the Vivid does little to stand out though. Thankfully its LTE radio will get it some deserved attention, even if its physical design won't win hearts and minds. The Vivid has stable reception, decent but not stellar voice quality and a sharp camera. If only the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket didn't give it such fierce competition!
Price: $199 with 2 year contract, $549 without contract
Websites: wireless.att.com, www.htc.com/us/
The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, HTC Vivid and iPhone 4S.
The Skyrocket and Vivid.