HTC One V Review

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Choice is good, and HTC is offering three of them for those wanting to take home one of their new One series of devices. HTC’s One line represents a refreshed focus on the software experience and build quality. Essentially, HTC wants to reclaim the ground it lost in 2011 to Samsung and others, and its One series is its strategy for doing so. Its flagship One X is one of the most beautiful pieces of technology to come to market in a long time, but it’s not inexpensive. For the budget-minded, HTC also has the One V, which incorporates the keystone features of the flagship, but at a much lower price. Is the One V a good value? Read on to find out!

VIDEO REVIEW

HARDWARE

The HTC One V ships with Android 4.0.3 and has a 1.0GHz, single-core Qualcomm S2 MSM8255 Snapdragon CPU with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage (with microSD expansion). There is no front-facing camera, and the rear camera is a 5MP shooter with flash which can record 720p video. The display is 3.70 inches at 800×480 resolution (making for a respectable DPI of 252), and is of the Super LCD 2 variety (which has a preferred RGB sub-pixel configuration versus pentile on the Galaxy Nexus). The phone is triband UMTS (850/900/2100) allowing it to work on AT&T in the US. You also get Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and aGPS. The phone weighs 115 grams, and is just 9.24mm in depth. Powering everything is a 1500mAh battery.

front


The HTC One V is a good-looking device and is cast from a solid block of aluminum. It’s available in both brown (shown here) and gray. It reminds us very much of the HTC Legend, thanks to the “chin”, which is a design element that HTC has utilized on multiple devices.

chin2


The chin has no functional value except to make the device feel more like a phone in-hand when you’re holding it against your head while on a call. As you can see from this shot, the border of the screen has a sharp edge, providing a ledge that you can feel for if you want to interact with the three Android buttons.

pixels


The display, a Super LCD 2 panel at 800×480 resolution, is a huge improvement over the low-res HVGA 480×320 screen found on the HTC Legend. That said, it’s a far cry from the incredible quality of the One X’s display. With a pixel density of 252 dots per inch, text and images appear sharp on the One V’s display, and color saturation and contrast is very good. Outdoor visibility is also very good. The only downside is that the screen is just 3.7 inches.

earpiece


The One V lacks a front-facing camera, which is unfortunate.

rear


The back is aluminum, which provides a pleasantly cool-touch if you haven’t had the phone in your pocket or in your hand. The metal backing makes the One V have a very high quality feel. What’s more, the brown metallic finish of the One V has almost a “pearly” quality to it in sunlight, allowing it to glisten. Back here we can see the 5MP camera, plus the removable panel on the bottom.

micro


Removing the back panel we reveal the SIM slot (which can fit a microSIM if you’re willing to poke it around with a paperclip to just the right spot), and a microSD slot which can take up to a 32GB card.

top


And here on the top we have the 3.5mm headphone jack, an LED notification light, and the power button.

tilt


At 9.24mm, the One V isn’t the thinnest handset around, but it sure feels it, thanks to a sharp edge along the perimeter of the device.

SENSE 4.0

HTC has made a lot of changes to Sense in version 4.0. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about its merits and its problems, and we encourage you to read Dear HTC: Here’s How to Fix Sense for background. That said, HTC has tuned down certain elements of Sense to compensate for the slower CPU found on the One V. Here’s a look at what has changed.

multiask


Many will rejoice at the sight of the stock Android Ice Cream Sandwich task switcher, because on the One X, HTC replaced it with a webOS-like-panel-switcher-3D-thing that adds too much weight to something that should be light and simple.

keyboard


Another change in Sense is the keyboard: it’s lacking the directional buttons on the bottom, which is good because with only 800 lines of vertical resolution, we need all the screen space we can get to see content.

homescreens


One place where we wish HTC had toned Sense down for the One V is in the widget-adding screen. The One V sputters at this task, often showing strange artifacts on the screen as you try to add widgets to your various homescreens. And speaking of homescreens, HTC has removed the helpful Leap feature that lets you pinch to see a zoomed-out view of all of your panels. Even the Legend, with its 600MHz CPU, had this feature.

On the One V you get five homescreens; no more, no less. On the One X, you’re able to add or remove homescreens, which is nice. Too bad the One V didn’t get this helpful capability.

Other Stuff

Like the other HTC One devices, the One V has Beats audio, which is essentially a third-party audio equalizer. It becomes available when you plug in headphones. While it does improve the quality of the audio, it doesn’t do it to a dramatic degree.

The One V has just 4GB of storage space, while is hardly enough once you add a bunch of apps and especially multimedia. You can expand it with up to a 32GB microSD card or you can take advantage of cloud storage and get 25GB of Dropbox free for two years. Like iCloud, Dropbox will automatically upload your images (and videos too!) to the cloud, making them available across all devices that have the Dropbox app (which is available for literally every platform now). The catch here is that after the two years is up, if you’re using the space, you’ll have to pay Dropbox for the storage.

As another test note, the omission of a digital compass is a real issue. Many rely on the digital compass in Google Maps to help navigate, and the One V lacks this important feature.

SPEED

The HTC One V is a budget phone, and as such, we have to keep our expectations in check. With a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and 512MB of RAM, we didn’t expect the One V to be great with gaming or even fervent multi-tasking. But, at the minimum, we expected it to be an all-around capable smartphone. We were wrong.

The One V seems to have trouble with even the simplest of tasks. At times, emails, settings, and even basic applications can take 2-3 seconds to load. In the browser, the story gets worse: panning, zooming, and navigating desktop websites on the One V is a frustrating experience. Since people use their smartphones more for the web than probably anything else, it’s just not acceptable that this phone has such trouble browsing.

Here’s a look at benchmarks, which are unsurprisingly on the weak side:

Quadrant: 2024

Smartbench 2012: Productivity 722, Games 1202

LinPack Pro: 24.656 MFLOP, 5.76 Seconds

CAMERA





HTC describes the One V as having an “amazing camera”, and we think that’s false advertising. The camera on the One V is mediocre at best: colors tend to be oversaturated when you photograph scenes with a lot of color, and macro shots are fuzzy around all edges.

HTC has done some cool things with the camera software, though. You can take photos while you’re recording video, there’s a great burst mode that lets you choose the “best shot” out of many, and there are on-the-fly video effects.



We wish that the One V could do 1080p video, but in most cases, 720p is enough resolution. In this video, we can see that the camera, at times, has trouble focusing, which can be a problem when you’re trying to capture a special moment.

CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED

We tested the HTC One V on AT&T in the US, even though the One V is intended for Europe. Over HSDPA we were able to clock download speeds of about 2mpbs and upload speeds a bit over 1mbps. Not amazing, but again, this phone was not intended to work on AT&T.

In terms of call quality, the One V fairs especially well as a phone thanks to its phone-like shape. Calls were clear. That said, we wish the volume on the earpiece and speakerphone was louder.

BATTERY LIFE

The HTC One V has above-average battery life thanks to the smaller screen and power-sipping CPU. It also helps that the battery size is 1500mAh. It’ll last a day and a half with moderate use. With light use, you’ll get through two days before needing a recharge.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

The One V is available in both Brown and Gray from Negri Electronics for around $350.

PROS

+ Aluminum unibody feels fantastic in-hand

+ Good battery life

+ Camera software is innovative

+ Relatively inexpensive

CONS

– Performance is sub-part, especially in the browser

– Camera is mediocre

– No digital compass, NFC

REVIEW CONCLUSION

The HTC One V has wonderful hardware. It’s made from real aluminum, it feels wonderful in-hand, and it looks high quality. We hoped that with the power of the tried-and-true 1GHz Snapdragon chip plus Ice Cream Sandwich underpinnings, the One V would be a capable smartphone. Sadly, that is not the case.

With major performance issues in the browser and in other areas of the operating system, we can’t help but to not recommend the One V until HTC offers a software update to fix these issues. Alternatively, keep an eye on the Android development communities where we might see better-optimized software for HTC’s One V. Maybe stock ICS would fare well on this device. We’ll keep an eye out.

We rate the HTC One V a 3/5.

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman

Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He’s been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He’s so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a “new electronics” scent. They didn’t.