HTC One VX review

A quirky but above average mid-range smartphone


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If you sign up for a two-year contract with AT&T, the One VX is yours for a penny, one red cent. You can't argue with that price, but off contract it's a lot steeper, $400 steep, to be precise.

So it's affordable, but has too much been sacrificed to make it affordable?

We liked

As we mentioned, the on-contract price. Enter into a two-year agreement with AT&T and the One VX is basically free, but that doesn't mean you have to use it for two years. If you need a phone right now and can't afford much, the One VX is a fine stop gap until you can afford something better, but your bank account would be better served by using that new contract discount on a higher end device, like the HTC One X+, Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5.

Battery life on the One VX is perfectly respectable. With moderate use it had no trouble reaching the making it through the day and the next morning. Heavy use still won't have you reaching for the charger until well after the sun has set. This is a phone with an all day battery, something that can't be said for HTC devices like the One X+, One X or Windows Phone 8X. If you value battery life over snappy performance, the One VX is a solid choice for you.

HTC One VX review

Then there's microSD support, another feature few HTC phones can claim. The One VX only has 8GB of onboard memory, so the phone would be worthless for apps and media if not for the 32GB SD card support.

And nothing goes better with ample storage space than nice music support. Beats Audio provides a solid mix, ensuring that your music is loud and bassy. It's not professional level audio engineering, no matter what Dre says, but it's on par with the iPhone 5.

Next, the display on the phone is nice, for the price. 540 x 960 is not HD, but images and videos on the One VX are less pixelated than on other phones of the same resolution, like the Ativ Odyssey. Score one for HTC engineering!

We were also impressed with the One VX's receiver, which did a very good job of canceling out ambient noise. We made phone calls at busy intersections and our friends on the line could only the loudest junkers rolling by. We were impressed.

While we're not crazy about the look of it, HTC's Sense UI has some nice features. It does an excellent job of juggling contacts from multiple sources, and its keyboard has a pretty good predictive text function. We still recommend a third-party keyboard though.

Lastly, the 5-megapixel camera is surprisingly competent outdoors. Low or uneven light gives it trouble, but otherwise it takes colorful and detailed shots, and the imaging software provides some fun options.

We disliked

Well, it's a dual-core. While we have dual-core devices like the iPhone 5 and Droid Razr Maxx HD that can call themselves flagship devices, the One VX isn't one of them. We has some sizeable load times with games, thanks to just 1GB of RAM, and multitasking made for stuttering and occasionally unresponsive applications. However, having dual rather than quad-core is likely why the One VX outperforms the One X+ in battery life, so pick your poison.

We mentioned that the display is sharp. It's also bright... to a fault. The auto-brightness controls routinely failed to bring the display down to a less than retina-searing level in dark restaurants and bars. This forces you to use manual adjustment, which is annoying and shouldn't even be an issue.

HTC One VX review

The One VX also exhibited a few quirks that we're chalking up to the aging Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich OS. We had issues with our Facebook 'likes' not showing up. That's a problem, because if we can't throw our hat in the ring over whether or not someone's pictures of tacos is "totally yum," then what good is a smartphone? We also frequently received doubles of incoming text, which might be a carrier side issue.

Speaking of carriers, AT&T has become downright annoying with its lack of Android 4.1: Jelly Bean upgrades for HTC devices. The One VX is one of several devices AT&T has promised to update, and then shrugged as its own deadline whooshed by. We find this lack of support disturbing, AT&T.

Finally, the One VX just feels kind of cheap. We've often complained about overly-plastic phones, and the One VX is definitely pushing it. The worse part of the build would have to be the on/wake switch and the volume rocker. They're both way too flat, making them hard to find and press.

Final verdict

The HTC One VX is a great option for someone who wants just the basic functionality of a smartphone. Email, web access, light media and gaming on the go are all well within its reach. AT&T's coverage isn't blazing fast everywhere, but we never had to search for a signal. That combined with respectable battery life makes the One VX a dependable, if bland, device.

If you can pick up the HTC One VX as a free phone with your two-year agreement, and what we described above is how you intend to use your phone, then you're a perfect One VX contender. However, If you're looking at a $400 price tag, or need a phone with more muscle, we implore you to spend the extra scratch on a quad-core device, or an iPhone 5.

The One VX is a good deal, but it's not future proof. The fact that its been out for months and is still running Ice Cream Sandwich, not Jelly Bean, doesn't bode well for its future. This is a phone for smartphone dabblers, not smartphone enthusiasts.