The Veer ships running WebOS 2.1.2, so you get the platform's excellent Synergy contact, e-mail, and calendar management system. With Synergy, you can sync content from multiple accounts, including Microsoft Exchange, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In addition, with the release of WebOS 2.0, HP opened up Synergy to third-party developers, so now you can sync up even more accounts, such as Skype, YouTube, and Photobucket.
WebOS 2.0 also brought several other wonderful enhancements, including Stacks and Just Type. Stacks expands on the impressive multitasking capabilities of WebOS by grouping together similar tasks in the deck-of-cards view. Some tasks are automatically grouped together, but you can also manually stack cards together or reorder them by doing a long press and dragging one on top of the other. The feature helps you better manage your tasks, and we certainly found the organization to be better. Before you had to swipe through individual cards, which could get a bit unruly if you had a number of apps open, but stacks help reduce the clutter.
Just Type is just what it sounds like. From anywhere on your phone, you can simply start entering a search term and the phone will search through your contacts, e-mail, apps, the Web, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Twitter, and the Palm App Catalog. You're not restricted to search either. You can start typing a short note or a status update and use the built-in Quick Action function to post to Facebook or create a memo.
You can read more about Just Type and the other benefits of WebOS 2.x in our review of the Palm Pre 2.
Despite its small size, the HP Veer 4G has a decent amount of features. The quad-band world phone offers a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, airplane mode, and text and multimedia messaging, but no voice dialing. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS are all onboard, and AT&T also touts the Veer as a 4G device. With its HSDPA Category 10/HSUPA Category 6 radios, the smartphone is capable of maximum download speeds of 14.4Mbps and upload speeds of 5.7Mbps, but we saw nowhere near those speeds during our testing (see the Performance section for more). You might want to keep that in mind if you're interested in the smartphone's mobile hot-spot capabilities.
The Veer comes preloaded with a number of apps and personal information management tools, including the Quickoffice suite, a PDF viewer, a tasks list, a memo pad, and alarm clock. AT&T also throws in a couple of services onto the device, such as AT&T Navigator and YPmobile. You can download more apps from the Palm App Catalog, including many popular titles like Facebook, Yelp, Pandora, and Angry Birds, but you simply won't find the same sort of selection that you would in the Android Market or iTunes.
You do get access to the Amazon MP3 Store and a dedicated YouTube app for on-device multimedia options. You can also transfer media from your PC to the handset using the included connector cable and using the USB Drive mode to drag and drop your files. Be aware that while the Veer has 8GB of internal memory, only about 6GB of that is available to the user and there's no expansion option.
The Veer 4G comes with a 5-megapixel camera with video recording capabilities (no 720p HD), but like WebOS devices before it, it has no editing options. There isn't even a flash this time. Fortunately, the camera does a pretty decent job. Picture quality was sharp and colors were pretty bright, even on photos taken indoors. The lack of a flash did hurt nighttime shots, though. Also, video quality left much to be desired, as clips looked pixelated and murky.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HP Veer 4G in San Francisco using AT&T service, and call quality was decent. On our end of the conversation, the audio was clear without any background noise to distract us or muddy the sound. That said, voices were occasionally muffled, which made it slightly difficult to understand our callers. Friends were mostly happy with what they heard on their end of the call. There were a couple mentions of some echoing, but no major issues.
HP Veer 4G call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was passable. The audio was clear enough that we could understand our callers just fine, but we had to adjust the volume to high to hear the conversation, and at that level the audio sounded a bit blown out. We connected the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active headphones and had no problems making calls or listening to music wirelessly.
As we mentioned earlier, AT&T's 4G speeds were less than impressive. We averaged around 1.4Mbps down and 0.29Mbps up. Just as a comparison, we got 3.89Mbps down and 0.93Mbps up on the T-Mobile's HSPA+ network using the T-Mobile G2. As a result, browsing the Web on the Veer proved to be an exercise in patience. CNET's full site took 1 minute and 44 seconds to load, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 7 seconds and 24 seconds, respectively. Also, though the browser has Adobe Flash support, the small screen size and the slow data speeds didn't make it worth it to try to play video or games.
The Veer 4G is equipped with an 800MHz Qualcomm MSM7230 processor, and though we've seen other devices with the same processor and had no problems with general performance, the Veer 4G was a bit of a mixed bag. At times, it could be responsive, launching and switching between apps pretty quickly, and at other times there were noticeable delays. We never experienced any system freezes or crashes, but the sluggishness could get frustrating, and, not surprisingly, it only got worse as we opened more apps.
The HP Veer 4G ships with a 910mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and up to 12.5 hours of standby time. The Veer fell half an hour short of its rated talk time in our battery drain tests. But, anecdotally, we were able to get about a full day's use out of the smartphone on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Veer 4G has a digital SAR rating of 1.38W/kg.
We definitely see where HP was going with the Veer 4G. There are plenty of customers wanting to make the jump to a smartphone but not necessarily wanting to give up their compact feature phone for a bigger, bulkier design. In that sense, the Veer certainly seems like a good compromise, with the added bonus of a budget-friendly price tag. However, HP went a little too far in shrinking the phone's size, as it affects the usability and appeal of the device. Though some might still find it to be attractive, we say you'd get more out of AT&T's other smartphones in the $100 price range, such as the HTC Inspire 4G or the Samsung Focus.