The HTC One V is a budget smartphone currently offered by HTC. It is currently the cheapest device from HTC’s One range of Android phones and is the spiritual successor to the HTC Hero and Legend smartphones.
Physical Design of the HTC One V
The One V borrows a lot of its aesthetic design from the HTC Legend and HTC Hero. It’s a fairly small device, coming in with just a 3.7 inch display and 9.2mm profile.
The casing is metal, which we definitely like on a phone in this price range, and has been treated to provide pretty good grip on the metal finish without the need for a rubberised coating.
It’s essentially a single-piece design, with the only removable part being the tab at the bottom of the rear if the device. The rubberised tab houses the SIM card and MicroSD slot. The battery is not removable.
For a budget smartphone the One V has a reassuring weight. This is more likely due to its metallic construction, rather than being jam-packed with goodies, but it still gives a better impression than a more plastic-oriented approach. That being said there isn’t any inference of sturdiness; this is not a phone that feels like it could take more than a short fall on to a hard surface.
The iconic chin at the bottom has always added an element of interest to the finished product to HTC’s budget handsets. It’s not particularly useful these days, as where it was once handy for preventing screen scratches that duty has been taken over by scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, but it doesn’t really get in the way, either. What we end up with is a device that looks different for no reason other than it can. We don’t really have a problem with that, as far too many gadgets in the mobile market look still look very similar, despite the growing trend for unique and out-there designs.
Display and UI
The small 3.7 inch display of the One V is fairly standard for a modern low-end phone. The 480×800 (WVGA) resolution offers a pixel density of 252ppi that, while hardly amazing, is definitely acceptable for this price range. Streamed videos came through with decent quality and with fairly good contrast.
Colours were bright, if not incredibly vibrant, and blacks were pretty good. Whites definitely weren’t as clear as we’ve seen on other HTC devices but once again not offensively so.
There was a bit of lag in the user interface (UI). This is most likely because of the low-powered CPU/RAM combo struggling to handle a modern OS like Android 4.0. The lag was usually minor, but still noticeable. Every once in a while we’d get more than a few second which could be frustrating, but for the most part it was a standard low-end experience. Basically the One V got the job done, even if the ride was a little bumpy at times.
One of the great things about HTC devices is their lock screens. HTC’s Sense UI offers the user 5 options when unlocking a device: standard unlock, phone, email, messages and camera. Standard unlock speaks for itself, while the other four allow the user to jump straight to their linked functionalities without first going through a Home Screen. This kind lock screen functionality is becoming increasingly common, but we still fee that HTC does it best. While we’re happy to see it becoming popular in other brands we’d like to see HTC’s competitors offer as many options, if not more, as HTC has been for some time now when unlocking a device.
Camera and Battery Life
The 5MP camera didn’t wow us. Don’t go comparing this shooter with that of the iPhone 4 just because they have the same MP rating. The One V’s camera was passable, but couldn’t offer the kind of experienced that the more avid photo-snapper could appreciate.
Photos during the day were of an acceptable quality, taking in to account the phone’s price. In low-light areas the One V definitely struggled with both colour saturation and focus.
The video camera wasn’t much better, but it’s likely to be an issue as the on-board storage of the One V is barely enough to record anything anyway.
Memory, Music and Media
By far the HTC One V’s weakest point is its lack of on-board storage. The 4G hard drive offers just 1GB of free space for the user. This fills up remarkably quickly with modern media content. After snapping off just a few photos and downloading all our regular apps we couldn’t even cram an entire album of music on to the One V.
Of course there’s the MicroSD slot for expandable storage up to 32GB, but that’s an added cost that many of this phone’s target audience may not wish to pick up. Folk looking for the lowest-end smartphones are usually doing so to limit spending, rather than because they prefer a more trimmed-down user experience.
Once we actually did manage to load music on to the device it was a bit of an odd experience. The standard HTC Music app had been replaced with a new variant that offered little in the way of visual appeal. Our artists and albums were unaccompanied by display pictures, making for a very uniformed and stagnant look. It honestly seemed more like a 3rd party app shoved on their retroactively by a carrier than something included at the manufacturer’s level. However, try as we might we couldn’t locate the HTC Music app that we’ve come to be familiar with.
Loading video on to the HTC One V is tough, once again due to the limitations of the storage space. Streaming video was fine, as the WVGA resolution worked well with the smaller 3.7 inch display to create a crispness of image not often found in lower-end devices. However, we still feel that users will have to opt for taking the MicroSD expansion route if they want to get a proper video experience out of the One V.
Text and Browsing on the HTC One V
The keyboard on the One V is a mixed bag. It still sports a lot of that easy-access Android functionality whereby the user can access a whole set of different symbols simply by holding a key down, but it lacks some of the speed we’ve become used to in modern keypads.
It’s actually been a while since we’ve used a keyboard that couldn’t always keep up with our fast-paced typing, but the One V definitely had difficulty at times. It wasn’t so bad that it made typing a constant frustration and the average typist shouldn’t really notice. Those at the faster end of the scale, however, might have to tone back their fingers in order for the One V to keep up.
The browser wasn’t especially fast, but it lived up to our expectations. Web pages loaded quickly enough and the WVGA resolution allowed for crisp text for easy reading. As we’ve often stated, we tend to prefer larger screens when it comes to browsing as they allow for more text and image real-estate and limit the need for zooming in and out. That’s not to say that the screen on the One V is too small; it’s actually bigger than any iPhone model predating the iPhone 5, but users who have become accustomed to larger displays should be mindful of this.
The WhistleOut Opinion
Overall the One V didn’t really wow us, but it got the job done for an affordable price. It was nice to use such an affordable device that supported Android 4.0 and therefore a more aesthetically appealing UI than we’ve traditionally seen on low-end Androids.
Overall we’d recommend that anyone shopping for a budget phone give some consideration to including the HTC One V in their comparison list. At the end of the day, while imperfect, it was certainly a reliable smartphone experience, if somewhat trimmed-down.