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printed November 23, 2014
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Review: ZTE Vital for Sprint

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  2  

Screen

The Vital's display measures 5 inches across the diagonal and it has 1280 x 720 pixels. Sprint will only say that the display is "break resistant," so we assume it employs some competitor to Gorilla Glass. The screen is very nice. I found it to be sharp and clear, with good-looking colors and easy-to-read text. It's not quite as impressive as today's best Full-HD screens, but it still looks really good. Viewing angles are excellent, and there's no color shift or brightness loss with it is viewed from the side. I found it hard to use the Vital outdoors, though, unless you set the brightness all the way up.

Signal

The Vital performs a bit below par when compared to other Sprint devices I've tested in the greater New York City area. In my home office, most Sprint phones collect two bars of service; the Vital collected none. In my basement, Sprint phones typically drop to zero bars, but maintain a connection; the Vital lost Sprint's network entirely in my basement. I saw the same behavior from the VItal in other areas around northern New Jersey. It often took more than one attempt to connect calls, and the the Vital dropped a handful of calls. It was a bit better at maintaining data connections, but web sites were slow to load over Sprint's EVDO 3G network. Sprint's LTE network isn't yet available in the NYC region, so we were unable to test that.

Sound

The Vital is acceptable as a voice phone, but barely. The quality of calls was decent, but voices in the earpiece often sounded muffled or dull. There wasn't any interference, such as hissing, scratchiness, or echoes, though. Further, the earpiece produces barely enough volume to hear calls in quiet environments. If you're somewhere with any amount of background noise, forget it. Setting the volume all the way up doesn't help. The same is true of the speakerphone. The quality is dull and lifeless, and the volume isn't anywhere close to being loud enough. People who I spoke to through the Vital said I sounded good, however. Ringers and alert tones are OK, but not great. I'd have preferred if they were much louder. The vibrate alert was nice and strong.

Battery

I was pleased with the Vital's battery performance. The Vital's 2500 mAh power cell kept it functioning throughout a full day, which didn't surprise me one bit. If I unplugged the device first thing in the morning, it would still be going at night, though it often had less than 20% battery remaining by about 11PM. The Vital does not have any battery-saving apps or features, so it is up to you to keep an eye on the battery indicator and adjust your usage accordingly.

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