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Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket vs. HTC Vivid Comparison Smackdown
      11/25/11 04:53 PM

ATT recently released their first two true 4G LTE smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and the HTC Vivid. Two top brands with similar specs and LTE...unless you're a devotee of Samsung or HTC, it's not easy to pick. Both have 4.5" displays, dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs, very good 8 megapixel rear cameras that shoot 1080p video, run Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread and are promised upgrades to Android OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Skyrocket costs $50 more with contract, but at $199 vs. $249 for a phone you might have to live with for 2 years, $50 shouldn't be the deciding factor. Especially when your monthly contract costs dwarf your phone investment.


The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket has a high contrast, more vivid than life Super AMOLED Plus display. The "Plus" is the latest in Samsung's AMOLED arsenal, and it doesn't use the much maligned Pentile Matrix technology as did the non-Plus version that preceded it. That's good because you won't see individual pixels and will see and sharper text. Besides looking really super-colorful, it's a very low power consumption display for improved battery life. The drawbacks? At this panel size, max resolution is 800 x 480, and that feels a little last year when today's high end phones have qHD 960 x 540 or 1280 x 720 displays. Menu text is rather large, which is a good thing if your eyes aren't the best, but can look like billboard text if your eyes are good. It's great for video playback, but not so sharp for eBook reading and web pages that are text heavy, given the lower resolution. Super AMOLED Plus displays have a blue color cast, but this can be corrected using downloadable utilities from the Android Market. Correcting the color cast reduces the vivid colors, though.

The HTC Vivid has a qHD 960 x 540 Super LCD. Sony makes many of the Super LCDs used in phones, and it has a more neutral color cast, which means whites look white or slightly (ever so slightly) purple. The Vivid's colors are very bold and bright, and the display is very sharp. It's well suited to text and reading. Videos look great, but they don't have the supernatural glow that Super AMOLED Plus does. Super LCD uses an RGB pixel arrangement rather than Pentile.

Tie: Super AMOLED Plus for super-enhanced colors and contrast, Super LCD for better sharpness and clarity, especially for text.

Performance: CPU and Related

The Samsung GS II Skyrocket has a 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon CPU vs. the 1.2GHz version of the same CPU in the HTC Vivid. 0.3GHz isn't a huge divide in terms of clock speed, but nonetheless the Skyrocket seriously shows up the Vivid in synthetic benchmark tests. Experientially it feels a bit faster too when navigating the app drawer, running apps and interacting with widgets. That's not the say the Vivid is slow, because it's not; rather the Skyrocket is simply a little bit faster.

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket: 3346
HTC Vivid: 2159

Sunspider JavaScript Test:
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket: 2878
HTC Vivid: 4526

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

Calling and Data

The Skyrocket gets the technical thumbs up here again for it's faster 21Mbps HSPA+ vs. 14.4Mbps for the HTC Vivid. That said, in our area we saw nearly identical download speeds when connected to AT&T's HSPA+ network for both on-device tests and mobile hotspot tethering using LTE speeds were likewise identical (we're fortunate to be in one of AT&T's first LTE markets and it's strong here).

For calling, the Samsung wins with better incoming and outgoing voice. The HTC Vivid isn't bad by any means, but incoming voice is quieter and outgoing voice sounds slightly digitized, while the Skyrocket sounds loud and clear on both ends. Both worked well with a variety of Bluetooth headsets and our car's built-in Bluetooth.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

Battery Life

The Skyrocket has an 1850 mAh battery vs. the HTC Vivid's 1620 mAh battery. As you might guess, the Skyrocket lasts longer on LTE and HSPA+. Both have pretty decent battery life for fast, big-screen phones with 4G, but the Skyrocket lasted us about 1.5 to 2 hours longer for actual use time. Both managed to last through a work day on a charge in our stable and constant LTE market with Google push services on, email set to check on a 15 minute schedule, Twitter and Facebook updates on and 30 minutes of calls plus 45 minutes of web use.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

Build and Design

Looks are subjective, but the more commonly available black HTC Vivid isn't one of HTC's best looking phones. In fact, it's one of the few HTC phones we really don't like to look at. It's also slippery and not terribly comfy in hand. The white version is a better bet from a looks perspective. The Skyrocket is typical light Samsung: it's made of plastics with a wafer-thin battery door. AT&T's version of the phone mimics metal finishes and looks a bit better than some GS II versions. But Samsung has yet to exude a sense of quality materials with their GS II line.

Tie: Samsung for looks, HTC for having more heft and a metal battery door.


The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket wins for better performance, better call quality and better battery life. That doesn't mean the HTC Vivid isn't a fine smartphone--it is. We particularly like the Vivid's better color accuracy and sharp fonts. And for those of you who are HTC or Samsung fans, or TouchWiz vs. HTC Sense fans, let that be your guide. If you don't like the everyday software experience, a faster CPU or an extra hour or two of battery life pale in comparison. Both smartphones have identical reception, excellent LTE performance, excellent displays, acceptable battery life and promised upgrades to Ice Cream Sandwich.

HTC Vivid vs. Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Comparison Smackdown Video

And don't forget to check out our:
HTC Vivid review

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket review


Lisa Gade
Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview

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* Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket vs. HTC Vivid Comparison Smackdown LisaGModerator 11/25/11 04:53 PM
. * * Re: Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket vs. HTC Vivid Comparison Smackdown marvin02   03/11/12 07:26 AM
. * * Re: Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket vs. HTC Vivid Comparison Smackdown LisaGModerator   03/11/12 03:40 PM

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