Great performance and features for price; Slim and sleek design; Fast camera; Blazing 4G LTE speeds; Bright display; Strong battery life
Battery not user replaceable; Not yet running Android Jelly Bean
The HTC One VX offers budget smartphone shoppers a bright display, eye-popping 4G speeds and a fast camera inside a sleek design.
Bargain hunters may be shocked by the HTC One VX's price tag. For just $49, this attractive Android smartphone features a fairly large 4.5-inch display, impressive 4G LTE speeds and a camera that's so fast that you'll never miss a moment. As you might expect from an HTC handset, the One VX also has Beats Audio on board and Sense software--although in this case it's running atop the older Ice Cream Sandwich OS. Find out why this sub-$50 phone truly is a steal.
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The white plastic back cover, decorated with a silver HTC logo and smaller Beats Audio logo, was easy to remove, providing quick access to microSD Card slot and SIM Card. Unfortunately, the battery is sealed and is not user-replaceable.
The One VX is more compact than the One X+, which makes sense given that the latter phone has a larger 4.7-inch screen. The VX measures 5.2 x 2.6 x 0.36 inches and weighs 4.4 ounces, compared to 5.3 x 2.8 x 0.36 inches and 4.8 ounces for the One X+. The Motorola Atrix HD (5.25 x 2.7 x 0.3 inches, 4.9 ounces) is noticeably heavier than the VX despite having the same size display, but it also sports a stronger Kevlar backside.
Overall, the One VX is sleek, but those with smaller hands may prefer a smaller screen. We had to stretch our index finger a bit to reach the power button, as well as our thumb to reach the left edge of the keyboard when typing with one hand.
When viewing websites such as NYTimes.com, text was sharp, but the One VX's screen didn't wow when viewing the same high-quality "Iron Man 3" trailer on both this phone and the One X+. Robert Downey's skin looked smoother on the latter phone, and his gloved metal hand showed more detail.
On the plus side, the One VX's display is even brighter than the One X+, registering 471 on our light meter compared to 451 lux. The Atrix HD notched an even higher 561 lux, but the VX still runs circles around the Galaxy S III in terms of luminosity (210 lux).
Software and Interface
For now, VX owners are stuck with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, with HTC's Sense 4 software running on top. We're pretty bummed that HTC and AT&T didn't ship the One VX with the latest Jelly Bean OS, especially since both this handset and the One X+ hit the carrier at around the same time. Because the VX runs the older ICS software, you won't be able to enjoy features such as Google Now (a supercharged, voice-enabled search tool and personal assistant) and offline voice typing. Jelly Bean also offers performance enhancements.
Too bad HTC's Sense software buries most of the settings. While Samsung's Galaxy S III and LG's Optimus G let you toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more from the notification area, on the VX you must enter the settings menu and then find what you want to tweak. Alternatively, you can place a Power control or Power dashboard widget on one of the home screens.
We've said this before, but the App Screen on HTC Sense phones looks almost too simple, though the large text is easy to read.
Once AT&T and HTC upgrade the VX to Jelly Bean, users will also be able to enjoy the latest Sense 4+ software. New features will include a Tap and Go function for connecting the phone to Beats speakers with a tap and a video hub for getting all of your video apps in one place.
The 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 CPU in the One VX turned in solid results in benchmark testing. For example, this HTC phone notched 3,977 on the CPU portion of the Benchmark app, compared to 3,055 for the category average. However, the $49 LG Escape for AT&T, which has the same CPU, scored 4,756. The 1.5-GHz Snapdragon chip inside the Atrix HD registered 4,856.
On the Quadrant benchmark, which measures CPU, graphics and I/O performance, the One VX outpaced the Escape and Atrix HD, scoring 5,333 versus 5,069 and 4,581, respectively. The smartphone average is 3,336. The quad-core One X+ is in a different league, scoring 7,568, but it should be for its $199 price.
In everyday use, the One VX offered mostly snappy performance. The camera app opened in about a second, and we quickly paged through home screens--though it wasn't as buttery smooth as the Jelly Bean-infused One X+. The One VX was also a tad slower than the One X+ when changing screen orientations in the browser when we flipped the phones around, but not enough that you'd likely notice when using the handset by itself.
The One VX had no problem handling the graphics-intensive "Dead Trigger" game. Even with multiple flesh-eating zombies on the screen, controls remained responsive as we blasted many a head to gory smithereens.
4G and Web
The bundled browser includes AT&T's Browser Bar, which slides up from the bottom of the display to let you share articles on Facebook and Twitter, as well as share via other apps. Swiping to the left presents another set of options, including shortcuts to popular pages, as well as links to Yahoo News, Sports and Entertainment. You'll also find a shortcut to "special offers" by Blue Kangaroo. Those annoyed with this bar can either disable it or load an alternative browser such as Chrome.
HTC's app selection includes some useful options, such as the Evernote-compatible Notes app, which supports voice recording. You'll also find a Music Hub that integrates multiple music apps, including SoundHound, TuneIn Radio and other apps you download, such as Spotify. HTC Watch provides more entertainment goodness in the form of premium movies and TV show downloads. During our testing we found such recent titles as "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Trouble with the Curve" for $3.99 (rent) or $14.99 (buy).
All the usual Google apps are on board here as well, from Google+ and and Gmail to Maps and YouTube. And, of course, there's hundreds of thousands of apps available in the Google Play store.
Camera and Camcorder
We'd call the One VX's 1080p camcorder just fair. While the yellow taxis we captured in New York city popped, we noticed some pixelation when panning around, as well as slight stuttering as cars moved towards us. Wind noise proved slightly distracting, but at least the mic is sensitive. VideoPic lets you shoot stills while you're recording video.
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Annoyingly, the VX wouldn't let us make Google Talk video calls over 4G LTE. Over Wi-Fi, our caller said our skin tones looked warm and that we were well lit, even though video occasionally froze.
Battery Life and Call Quality
When using the phone periodically to surf the web, download apps, run Speedtest.net and test the camera, we were down to 40 percent juice remaining at 4 PM after unplugging the handset at 7 AM. That's pretty good staying power.
During test calls to both mobile phones and landlines, the One VX proved to be an average performer. While the sweet spot on the earpiece could be broader, we could easily hear another caller while on a noisy moving bus. Some words got cut off, but for the most part voices sounded natural on both ends of the line.
VerdictLG Escape, which looks plain by comparison and has a dimmer display. Those with more to spend should step up to the quad-core $199 One X+ on AT&T, which runs the latest Android OS and has a sharper 720p screen, but if you're on a budget the VX is a superb choice.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|CPU||1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4.5 inch qHD super LCD2|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||VGA|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||OGG|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||AAC+|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Size||5.2 x 2.7 x 0.36 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|