HTC One V (U.S. Cellular) review:

HTC One V (U.S. Cellular)

Tapping into the power of Android, the One V has the usual allotment of Google services installed, including Gmail, Google+, and Navigation, plus the Play Store for downloading apps from a catalog of over 700,000 titles. Additionally, Play serves up digital books, movies, games, and music to purchase. I couldn't find HTC's Watch app, however, which hawks its own library of TV shows and movies for rental or purchase.

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Easily create folders for neatly storing app shortcuts on any of the One V's home screens. Sarah Tew/CNET

Useful third-party software on the One V includes the Kindle e-book reader, the Audible audiobook subscription service, and TuneIn Internet radio (a personal favorite). U.S. Cellular injects the phone with its own selection of apps, such as Daily Perks for news and weather, and Mobile TV, which offers both live programming and full TV episodes and movies. Like similar services from other carriers, the service costs an extra $9.99 per month and is clearly designed to burn through your data minutes since it won't work over Wi-Fi.

HTC makes big bones about its One series phone's camera prowess. All three handsets (the One X, One S, and One V) rely on special electronics to improve speed and performance. As with the One X and One S, I found my One V test unit to focus on subjects quickly and capture pictures nearly instantly.

Of course, the One V's 5-megapixel shooter has lower resolution than the 8-megapixel sensors found in many of today's high-end smartphones. As a result, the camera produced images that were comparatively soft and lacked crisp detail. Indoor still-life shots weren't as clear as I would like either. On the whole they were dark and colors didn't have much punch. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator snapped crisper and more pleasing still-life images.

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Still-life shots were soft but color was accurate. Brian Bennett/CNET

The HTC One V, however, managed to perform well in low lighting. Thanks to its BSI (Back Side Illuminated) sensor and quick auto focus, I was able to shoot pictures of fast-moving children -- something that gives many phone cameras trouble.

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The One V was able to capture rowdy kids in low light. Brian Bennett/CNET

Video performance was less inspiring, though, and the One V had a hard time keeping subjects in focus. Similarly, despite its claim to capturing video in 720p HD quality, movies I made were grainy and soft. That said, the images I shot outdoors in strong to moderate sunlight were more pleasing, with bright, well-saturated colors.

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Colors were bright and saturated in strong sunshine. Brian Bennett/CNET

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In moderate morning sun, colors were still rich. Brian Bennett/CNET

Frequent phone photographers will certainly appreciate the HTC One V's feature-packed camera though. Just like the One X and One S, the handset's camera app boasts a wide range of shooting modes, scene settings, and fun filters. You can also fire off multiple shots continuously by pressing and holding the shutter icon on the screen, and you can nab stills while the video camera is rolling. Be sure to check out our Camera phone image gallery to see how the HTC One V stacks up against other handsets.

Just because HTC qualifies the HTC One V as a One series handset doesn't mean you should expect it to offer blazing application performance. Driving the One V's Android 4.0.3 operating system is an underpowered single-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor. As a result, the phone felt a bit slow on the uptake. Menus and applications appeared and opened without much delay but I did experience some hesitation on the One V's part.

Every so often the device would stutter while I swiped through various home screens, especially if the One V was preoccupied performing other tasks simultaneously such as downloading apps or syncing e-mail.

Linpack benchmark tests confirmed the One V's pokey processing with the phone notching a low score of 33.6 MFLOPs (Single-Thread) completed in a long 2.5 seconds. Still, that was enough to beat the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator's showing of 16.2 MFLOPs (5.17 seconds). HTC's top-of-the-line One X, however, turned in a nimble 99.3 MFLOPs (0.84 seconds) on the same test.

One bright spot is the HTC One V's call quality. When I tested it on the U.S. Cellular phone in New York, it was roaming on Sprint's CDMA voice network. Callers described my voice as extremely clear, almost pristine with no static, compression, or other audio artifacts. To my ears, voices piped through the phone's earpiece were warm, rich, and loud. Additionally, while the speakerphone doesn't produce much volume, I could easily hear people even in a medium-size conference room.

HTC One V (U.S. Cellular) call quality sample Listen now:

Don't expect much in the way of fast data throughput though. The HTC One V for U.S. Cellular is strictly a 3G device. Downloads I measured with the phone roaming on Sprint's network in New York barely cracked an average of 1Mbps (1.06Mbps to be exact). Upload speeds were slow as well, coming in on average at 0.61Mbps.

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Roaming on Sprint's 3G network, data speeds were slow. Brian Bennett/CNET

The HTC One V's 1,500mAh battery lasted decently long during anecdotal battery drain tests. The handset played an HD video file continuously for 6 hours and 4 minutes. By comparison, the HTC One X clung on for 6 hours and 35 minutes in the same situation.

For $129.99, the HTC One V certainly has a price that isn't unreasonably high considering its solid mix of features. It also has a distinctive style, and a premium unibody design that stands out from the crowd. That said, $99.99 would be a much more attractive price for this phone considering its outdated processor and lack of a swift 4G connection. I recommend spending a little more cash and splurging for Samsung's latest superphone, the $199.99 Galaxy S III. While we haven't reviewed the U.S. Cellular version, based on our reviews of the device on four other carriers it offers a truly impressive Android experience. I'm talking a massive screen, 4G LTE data where you can get it, plus a nimble dual-core processor...the clear choice for die-hard Android fans. For those who don't need all that horsepower and prefer a more compact size, the HTC One V is a sensible alternative.

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