HTC One VX review

The HTC One VX is a solid Android smartphone for AT&T buyers on a budget, but it isn't your best bet available.
Photo of HTC One VX
399.99

A year ago, the $49.99 HTC One VX for AT&T would’ve been a top-of-the-line superphone. Today it’s just a beautiful smartphone with solid specs and a budget price. The HTC One VX gets you a lovely display, plenty of power, and good battery life, all wrapped up in a phone that’s very comfortable to use. Thing is, there are so many good phones out there right now that the HTC One VX isn’t quite good enough unseat the Pantech Discover, our current Editors’ Choice for budget smartphones.

Design and Call Quality
The HTC One VX may be inexpensive, but it looks like a million bucks. HTC’s eye for design is on full display here, from the silver plastic rim around the display, to the matte white polycarbonate backing. Peeling it off gives you access to the microSD and SIM card slots, but alas, the 1800mAh battery has been sealed in. There’s a volume rocker on the right side of the phone and a power button on top, but minimalism is the name of the game here.

The One VX measures 5.26 by 2.66 by 0.36 inches (HWD) and weighs just 4.37 ounces. Compared to many of the gargantuan new smartphones out there, it fits comfortably and naturally in the palm of my hand.

The 4.5-inch Super LCD 2 screen features 960-by-540-pixel resolution. It’s bright and sharp, though not quite as impressive as the 4.8-inch, 720p display on the Pantech Flex. Still, the One VX is easier to hold. There are haptic feedback-enabled touch buttons beneath the display, which I find a little easier to use than the onscreen buttons on many new phones.

The One VX runs on AT&T’s EDGE, HSPA+, and LTE networks. You also get 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, which includes support for the faster 5GHz band. I got very good reception and LTE data speeds in New York City, which has been true for most new AT&T phones. As we discovered in our Fastest Mobile Networks survey, AT&T’s LTE speeds can exceed Verizon’s, though Verizon and covers more of the nation. You can use the One VX as a mobile hotspot as long as you’re using (at minimum) AT&T’s $50 monthly 5GB data plan.

Call quality is pretty good. Voices sound full in the earpiece, though there’s some fuzz and hiss. Calls made with the phone are very loud and clear, with average noise cancellation. Calls were fine through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset and standard Android voice dialing worked well over Bluetooth. The speakerphone sounds good and is loud enough to hear outside. The 1800mAh battery was good for a whopping 14 hours and 21 minutes of talk time.

Hardware, Android, and Apps
Inside, the One VX is running on a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930 processor. That isn’t quite as fast as the 1.5GHz chip in phones like the Pantech Flex and Samsung Galaxy S III. But the One VX has a lower screen resolution, so it evened out in many of our gaming benchmarks, though the Flex is faster for browsing and in general. Still, at this level of processing power, you’ll be able to run any app from the Google Play app store.

The One VX is running Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which is a little disappointing, since other new HTC phones like the One X+ are running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). HTC promises an update, but as usual, there’s no timeline for when. You also get HTC’s Sense 4.1 overlay, which is a step behind Sense 4+, though it’s similar enough.

(Next page: Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions)

Sense 4.1 is a much lighter skin than you’ll be used to if you have an older HTC phone. You get three customizable home screens to swipe between, and you can add up to four more. Only two screens come preloaded with apps and widgets, so there’s plenty of room to customize. The phone is loaded with bloatware, mostly from AT&T, and unfortunately, none of it can be deleted.

NFC support is on board, which lets you easily share documents, music, and pictures with compatible devices. Unfortunately, there’s no DLNA or MHL support, so if you want to watch content from your phone on the big screen, you’re stuck with HTC’s buggy Media Link HD.

Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
You get 5.22GB of free internal storage, along with a microSD card underneath the battery cover. My 32 and 64GB SanDisk microSD cards worked fine.

The One VX was able to play all of our music test files except for FLAC, and sound quality was great over both wired earbuds as well as Altec Lansing BackBeat Bluetooth headphones. The phone uses Beats audio enhancement software to give your tunes an extra kick. Basically, all it does is punch up the bass, treble, and volume, but it does make most audio sound better.

Video support isn’t as strong. The One VX played H.264 and MPEG4 video files at resolutions up to 1080p, but it wouldn’t play AVI, DivX, or Xvid files.

The 5-megapixel, auto-focus, f/2.0 camera includes a 28mm wide-angle lens along with HTC’s dedicated ImageChip. That allows it to take photos instantaneously, with zero shutter lag, and you can fire off a round of 20 consecutive shots, then use the Best Shot feature to automatically choose the best picture. There’s also a bunch of built-in photo filters and options for HDR and panorama modes. The pictures themselves, however, are only okay. Pictures taken outside in good, natural lighting look reasonably crisp and detailed, but photos snapped indoors are somewhat soft, with colors that look faded.

Video capture is somewhat disappointing as well. The One VX records 1080p video at 23 frames per second indoors and 26 outside, but despite the decent frame rate, video is occasionally choppy, and a rolling shutter caused it to tear in spots. There’s also a serviceable VGA front-facing camera for video chat.

Quibbles aside, the HTC One VX is a very good phone for the price, and will make most average users happy, especially those that are sold on its lovely design. But for everyone else, the Pantech Flex offers you more phone for the same price. You get a bigger, higher resolution display, a faster processor, a better camera and video support, and DLNA, which earns it our Editors’ Choice for budget smartphones.

If you prefer HTC’s design and you’re willing to spend an extra $50, the HTC One X has a similar build to the One VX, with a faster processor, a nicer display, and a better camera, though it lacks a microSD card slot. The HTC One X+, meanwhile, also lacks a microSD card, but comes with a whopping 64GB of internal storage, along with a quad-core processor and Android 4.1. It has a similar look and feel to the One VX, but at $200, it’s a lot more expensive.  

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Specifications
Service Provider AT&T
Screen Details 960-by-540-pixel Super LCD 2
Bands 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700, 700
Physical Keyboard No
Operating System Android OS
Network GSM
High-Speed Data EDGE, LTE, HSPA+ 21
Form Factor Candy Bar
Megapixels 5 MP
Bluetooth Yes
Camera Yes
Battery Life (As Tested) 14 hours 21 minutes
Camera Flash Yes
microSD Slot Yes
802.11x 802.11 a/b/g
Processor Speed 1.2 GHz
Screen Size 4.5 inches
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 5.22 GB
GPS Yes

Verdict
The HTC One VX is a solid Android smartphone for AT&T buyers on a budget, but it isn't your best bet available.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc