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Huawei Vitria review:

Faster LTE makes this Android a good deal

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720p HD video capture was also good, faithfully capturing street scenes and an indoor basketball shooting match between coworkers. Keep in mind that while the microphone picks up your voice and general ambient noise, it isn't good at recording the voices of people you may be talking to.

Images taken from the VGA front-facing camera are extremely noisy and indistinct. They get the point across, but I wouldn't use the Vitria for creating head shots or video chatting, unless I had no other choice.

Storage space for photos and video is scarce -- you only have about 2GB to use for your own devices, including apps. Luckily, the phone takes up to 32GB in external storage.

Colors are lifelike on this motorcycle. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Detail and clarity are both a little sparse, but the photo is still pleasing. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
The colors here could have been a little brighter and the details a little crisper. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
This photo, taken with the front-facing camera, is noticeably noisy, but coloring is mostly correct. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
This studio shot takes on a bizarre, eerie blue light. I like it, but it certainly doesn't belong here. Click to enlarge. Josh Miller/CNET

Call quality
I tested the Vitria in San Francisco. Since this is an HSPA+/LTE phone, the Vitria uses T-Mobile's GSM network with GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz bands, rather than Metro's usual CDMA. Call quality was above average, with round, rich voices that sounded natural. My two areas of concern were the persistent white noise in the background, like a soft shhhh, and the fact that I needed to raise the volume just short of the maximum allowance in order to comfortably hear in my fairly quiet office.

My main phone tester said he heard a slight unnaturalness to my voice, a little gravel, but said that the call quality was overall very good. I came across loud and clear, with absolutely no noise.

Huawei Vitria call quality sample Listen now:

When I tested speakerphone at hip level, I had to strain to hear, even with volume at the highest setting. Speakerphone solved the background noise issue, and voices, while a little buzzy, weren't hollow or echoey. Unfortunately, it just wasn't loud enough. According to my main calling partner, speakerphone sounded clear and loud, but a little echoey. Quality was strong overall.

Performance: Speeds, processor, battery
One trade-off with the Vitria's low price is its iffy performance. Most of the time, everything worked fine on the 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8930 processor. Apps opened quickly enough, and there wasn't any major stalling with navigation. However, my test unit started and stuttered at times, which made the screen blink once, forced a game to crash, and caused a video to stutter on playback. Rebooting the phone cleared up the issue.

Data speeds get a major boost here in San Francisco, where the Vitria is riding on T-Mobile's 4G LTE network. On average, T-Mobile says that speeds that are seven times faster than previous MetroPCS LTE speeds within these T-Mobile areas. While that's certainly the case with scores captured from the app, in the real world, it still took long minutes to download large apps, and I sometimes saw network connection issues. These eventually smoothed themselves out, and disappeared of course when I turned on Wi-Fi, but there were some frustrations with interrupted data.

For instance, after 7 minutes, the Vitria had downloaded 20 percent of Riptide GP2 (46.37MB) over LTE. I canceled the download and started it again later, where the game completely installed a few minutes later.

Although the processor is middling (L), diagnostic data speeds were the fastest I've seen on a MetroPCS smartphone. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

As I mentioned before, the Vitria has only 4GB of internal storage, about 1.9GB of which is user-accessible. Customers should consider buying a microSD card if they want to store photos, videos, music, and games on the device. It can hold up to 32GB. The Vitria has 1GB of RAM.

According to Huawei, this phone scored a talk time of 11 hours and a standby time of 15.8 days on its 1,750mAh battery. Anecdotally, it seemed to drain quickly, dropping to 50 percent down from 100 after half a work day. You'll definitely need to charge the phone daily. However, using a video playback loop test, the Vitria ran 10.2 hours on a single charge.

FCC tests measured a digital SAR of 1.49 watts per kilogram.

Final thoughts
The Huawei Vitria is a basic, but mostly capable Android phone that justifies its $130 all-in cost with faster LTE (thanks to T-Mobile's network in its MetroPCS buyout) and a good 5-megapixel camera. I experienced a few inconsistencies with speed and processor performance in my tests, but all in all, the good outweighed the bad.

That said, for $20 more, the LG Optimus F3 and the LG Optimus L9, are comparable 4G MetroPCS choices that are also more attractive, and take advantage of T-Mobile's faster LTE speeds.

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