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Huawei Vitria review: Faster LTE makes this Android a good deal

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MSRP: $129.00

The Good Thanks to MetroPCS leaning on T-Mobile's 4G network, the Huawei Vitria is a pretty fast LTE smartphone (or can be). Its $130 prepaid price makes it an affordable entry-level option.

The Bad The Vitria was a little buggy in my tests, and its heavy body looks rather plain. Battery drains quickly. Data sometimes stutters.

The Bottom Line Consider the Huawei Vitria if you're looking for an affordable Android LTE phone, and aren't put off by entry-level specs.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

By most measurements, the thickset, plain-looking Vitria is hardly the catch, especially with last season's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, a 5-megapixel camera, and a slowish dual-core processor. The phone, too, has obvious performance flaws, like data and processing hiccups, and rapid battery drain.

However, the camera takes pleasing shots and video, the Android experience is still satisfying, and T-Mobile's control over Metro means that LTE speeds have never been faster.

Metro's Vitria isn't the carrier's least expensive smartphone, and it certainly isn't its best, but it offers up a decent package if you can look beyond some stability snags. For $20 more, it's also worth checking out the LG Optimus F3 and the LG Optimus L9, both comparable 4G options for $149 with MetroPCS.

Design and build
Though uninspiring, there's nothing inherently wrong with the Vitria's plain Jane looks. In fact, its rounded corners, matte gray perimeter, and soft-touch backing are comfortable enough, even if the phone tips the scale at a heavy 4.9 ounces.

Size wise, the handset's 5-inch height, 2.5-inch width, and 0.46-inch depth are pretty standard, though the Vitria is a bit taller (and weightier) than Samsung phones with 4-inch screens, like AT&T's Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and Cricket's Samsung Galaxy Admire 2. As a result, it isn't quite as compact, and may protrude a bit more from smaller pockets.

The Huawei Vitria is a basic Android smartphone that courts' 4G LTE. Josh Miller/CNET

As for that 4-inch screen, its 800x480-pixel resolution is par for the course. Colors don't look as bright or as saturated as some rivals, like the similarly specced-out Galaxy S3 Mini, and the viewing angle isn't as wide. However, when I compared detailed HD wallpaper side by side on the two devices (both at maximum brightness), the Vitria showed slightly greater detail throughout the scene, and higher contrast.

Build quality is nothing special on the Vitria, but edges seemed sealed and the heft gives it a feeling of solidity. Around the spines, you'll find the volume rocker, headset jack, power/lock button, and Micro-USB charging port. You take screenshots by simultaneously pressing Power and Volume Down. The front houses the speaker grille and VGA front-facing camera. On the back, there's the 5-megapixel camera and LED flash.

An indentation on the back cover is supposed to help you peel off the back panel, but for me, it was hard to find purchase unless I angled my fingernail just so. When it does, you can slide in up to 32GB in microSD storage.

OS and features
Huawei has added a few of its own design touches onto the Vitria, but it isn't the elaborate Emotion UI you'll see blanketing this Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device. However, an app called Themes does give you a taste of that UI with a total of five options. Instead, there's a circular lock screen that lets you unlock the phone to the dialer, home screen, camera, or messaging app.

You also get some quick-access toggles in the notification shade, some stylized icon designs, and a setting menu broken into a tab for general options and one for all settings. There's no gesture to pinch for an overview of the home screens, but the settings make up for that with easy access to font size, ringtone, and notification tone choices. There's also a fast boot setting that's turned on by default, and a choice to add a battery percentage meter to the home screen.

You'll have your choice of a few themes to customize the Vitria's interface. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Swype comes preloaded onto the Vitria's keyboard, along with a tutorial for the uninitiated. That helps keep the keyboard from feeling too cramped. A voice dictation microphone can also pitch in. I also like the built-in FM radio.

MetroPCS, Huawei, and Google together populate the Vitria with app presets, some of which are more useful than others. For example, beyond the Google suite of apps and essentials like a calculator and calendar are a ton of MetroPCS titles that take you to various storefronts and portals. Backup, and FM radio, a voice recorder, and a notes app are other useful tools. There's also one that will help you turn the phone into a mobile hot spot for up to eight devices (but keep an eye on those battery levels!)

Cameras and video
Photos were decent on the Vitria's 5-megapixel camera, thanks in part to autofocus and an LED flash. Outdoor shots taken with natural light worked better than indoor shots with competing light sources.

The Vitria offers up a fair number of shooting modes and settings, including HDR and panorama, low-light mode, and a burst shot. There's a hearty helping of filters as well, for the Instagram crowd. Goofy effects like Big Nose and Wide Smile are engineered to get cheap laughs. ISO, white balance, a grid, and red-eye reduction are all tucked away, along with other settings. A pop-out menu makes these easy to find, and onscreen controls handle toggling from camera to video, from front to rear camera, and the state of the flash.

The 5-megapixel camera takes fair shots; some are better than others. Josh Miller/CNET

After taking the photo, editing tools can crop, continue to adjust red eye, rotate, and flip. There are even more filters and effects.

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