With MetroPCS transitioning to GSM smartphones that run on T-Mobile’s network, you’d expect the two carriers to have near-identical offerings, but MetroPCS’s larger roster of affordable smartphones is more robust. The Huawei Vitria ($129 up front) is a solid Android smartphone, and the least expensive MetroPCS phone with LTE. It doesn’t compete with the carrier’s flagship Android smartphone (and our Editors’ Choice), the Samsung Galaxy S4, though it isn’t meant to. The Vitria’s display could be a little better, the camera could be faster, and it could have a little more storage, but it’s an inexpensive device that performs well enough in its price class.
Design and Display
For such a small device the Vitria is pretty hefty. It measures 4.99 by 2.51 by 0.46 (HWD) inches and weighs 4.94 ounces, 0.94 ounces more than the LG Optimus F3, another 4-inch smartphone, now available on MetroPCS.
The Vitria’s enclosure is smooth, with rounded corners, and the bottom comes to a very slight point. It’s pretty plain looking, and doesn’t stand out among the crowd of slimmer smartphones. On the back is the 5-megapixel camera and LED flash, which is flush with the soft touch exterior. Remove the matte black plastic back and you’ll gain access to the 1750mAh battery, SIM card, and microSD card slot. Pulling the battery lets you remove the SIM card; the microSD card is accessible without powering down your phone, and located right next to the camera lens.
On the left side is the micro USB port for charging and connecting to a PC. It’s an awkward placement when using the phone in landscape mode. On the other side is a faux-metal plastic volume rocker. The same plastic wraps around the edge of the phone, making it seem a little cheap, but still feel sturdy. On top is the Power button on the left and headphone jack on the right. Included with the Vitria is a small wall charger and a micro USB cable.
For this price you’re not getting an HD screen. The Vitria has a 4-inch Gorilla Glass 2 LCD with 800 by 480 resolution. That’s about 233 pixels per inch. Not bad, but not stellar either. Text and images aren’t especially clear, but colors look vibrant. Viewing angles is adequate, but the display begins to wash out at more extreme angles. There’s a set of Back, Home, and Menu buttons below the screen. Though it has a low-resolution display, typing on the on-screen keyboard is incredibly easy. The Vitria has Swype’s keyboard installed at launch, making it a breeze to slide your finger over the letters you need and have the phone spell the right word for you, and eliminating the annoying smartphone hunt-and-peck typing.
Connectivity and Call Quality
The Huawei Vitria is pretty well-connected for the price. Under the hood is Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi calling, A-GPS, and DLNA support for media streaming to the few and far between DLNA-capable devices.
The Vitria may be inexpensive, but it’s one of the few sub-$150 phones with LTE. The next LTE-capable phone on MetroPCS is the $149 Optimus F3. It’s running on T-Mobile’s network, and as such doesn’t support any of MetroPCS’ CDMA bands. For $40 per month you get unlimited voice, texting, and data (with 500MB worth of LTE speeds). $50 gets you 2.5GB of high-speed data, and $60 gets you unlimited high-speed data.
Call quality on the phone was remarkably good, at least on my end. The other person’s voice was clear and loud thanks to the earpiece. My voice came through more muddied and muffled than I would have liked. Noise cancellation was also an issue whenever a truck or car would pass by. The caller on the other end would hear every sound outside. My tests with a Jabra Stone 3 Bluetooth headset yielded the same results. The speakerphone was very quiet and barely audible in the streets of New York City.
The Vitria’s 1750mAh cell was a boon during battery testing. The phone lasted a solid 9 hours and 23 minutes in our talk time test.
Hardware, OS, and Apps
The Vitria contains a Snapdragon MSM8930 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM; old hardware, but fine for an entry-level smartphone. In Nenamark’s graphical performance test, the Vitria scored 59 frames per second. It trounces its similarly priced competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit, which scored a meager 38.6 frames. In the Taiji graphics test it beats the more expensive LG Optimus L9, with 42.8 versus LG’s 13.6. When you remember it isn’t pushing too many pixels, all that speed makes more sense. As a result, the Vitria is an affordable casual gaming machine, though it routinely runs out of space needed to download the games and apps without a microSD card. Our tests showed that a 64GB card was too large, but a 32GB one worked just fine. You’re going to need that card, however, as the Vitria only has 1.72GB of available storage.
Huawei’s Android 4.1.2 is carrying a lot more bloatware than I’d like. It’s too gratuitous, even coming with a theming app that customizes the interface with new sets of icons that doesn’t look as great as stock Android. A few of the apps are simply shortcuts to settings like mobile hotspots or visual voicemail, but with apps like Rhapsody ($5/month), MetroPCS Screen-It ($5/month) for screening calls, and Metro Block-It ($1/month) for blocking calls, all I see is my phone trying to nickel-and-dime me. In total there are 16 nonstandard apps, none of which are removable.
One interesting app is Profiles, which allows you to tie a group of settings together into a phone “profile” of sorts. For example, the preloaded Sleep profile has brightness at 7 percent, all data services off, and alarm sound at around 60 percent. It’s useful for quickly turning on or off a group of related settings when in a movie, meeting, or other environment where you can’t miss an alert.
Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
The Vitria played most video formats except any AVI files, whether encoded in MPEG-4, Xvid, or DivX. As for audio, it played everything except FLAC. Video looks passable, but darker scenes become muddled and contrast is quite low.
Many low-end Android phones have a built-in FM radio, and the Vitria is no exception; you’ll need to plug in headphones, which double as an antenna; you can then toggle the sound output from headphone to phone speaker. You can’t record what you’re listening to, but bookmarking and searching for stations with two large arrow buttons is very convenient. As for purchasing content, the Vitria is equipped with the full suite of Play Store apps, including Play Movies & TV, and Play Music.
The 5-megapixel camera on the Vitria isn’t a great shooter. Most of the images are washed out and noisy indoors, or overexposed outdoors. It takes almost a full second for the phone to capture each the photo and process it. Video recording is poor in low light; the frame rate drops dramatically and there’s no image stabilization. Every step was a tremor to the phone and screwed with the autofocus while recording. The front-facing VGA camera snaps low-resolution photos.
The Huawei Vitria is in the sweet spot of price for performance on MetroPCS. If you’re willing to spend a little more, $149 gets you the LG Optimus F3, a similar 4-inch touch-screen Android phone with LTE and better battery life. If you’re on a shoestring budget you can save $20 with the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit, though it lacks LTE and has a slightly smaller display. The Huawei Vitria doesn’t have a great screen, but at under $150, and with 4G LTE, it’s a solid value.
|Phone Capability / Network||GSM, UMTS, LTE|
|Screen Resolution||800 x 480 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.99 x 2.51 x 0.46 (HWD) inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||720p Rear|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||9 hours, 23 minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||1.72 GB|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930|
|Total Integrated Storage||4 GB|
|High-Speed Data||UMTS, LTE|
|Screen Type||TFT LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.1.2|
|Camera Resolution||5-Megapixel Rear|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||233 ppi|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||4 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc