HTC One SV review: HTC One SV

Software

With Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich installed, the One SV is behind the curve when it comes to Google’s mobile OS. Android 4.1 -- codenamed Jelly Bean -- launched last year, and while there’s a chance that the One SV may receive an update in the future, it seems silly to purchase a phone running old software when so many other handsets are more up to date already. The Nexus 4, for example, is rocking Android 4.2.

Image description
The One SV isn't the thinnest phone around, but it won't cause your pocket to bulge, either.

HTC’s own Sense user interface is also installed, and makes several changes to the core appearance of the Android OS. I particularly like the way it unifies all of your media and allows you to connect several social networks within the UI itself. It also includes some of HTC’s own apps, such as a custom browser, task manager and mapping program. A couple of years back, these alternatives were welcome, but these days Google has upped its game and its own offerings are unquestionably superior. This means there’s little reason to favour HTC’s bespoke apps, leaving them largely redundant.

Connectivity

4G LTE connectivity is the One SV’s biggest selling point, and if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where there’s a solid signal, you’ll be blown away by the speed. File transfers and uploads are lightning-fast and streaming video and audio presents no problems. However, if you’re on the cheapest EE contract -- which is still £36 a month, don’t forget -- then you’ll only have a paltry 500MB to play with. That’s likely to get swallowed up very quickly if you become too download-happy, leaving you searching for a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot - which renders the whole speed thing a bit pointless.

 

Image description
NFC support allows you to make contactless payments - providing you can find a retailer which accepts them, of course.

4G coverage isn’t fantastic at present -- hardly a shock when you consider that many parts of the UK don’t even have reliable 3G yet -- so be sure to check that your area is well served before committing yourself to an expensive 24-month contract. You might find that you’re better off opting for a cheaper 3G handset with another network, and doing without 4G until the coverage improves.

Like so many new Android phones, the One SV features a near field communication (NFC) chip, which means you can transfer information just by holding your phone next to a compatible device. It also means you can use clever NFC tags to automate many functions on the phone, such as silencing your ringer or opening an application.

Camera and video recording

The One SV’s 5-megapixel camera isn’t going to win any awards when it comes to picture quality. While colour replication is reasonably good, there’s heavy compression when you zoom in close on snaps. Macro shooting is generally good, but the autofocus sometimes gets confused if you're looking at bold colours in awkward lighting conditions. If you only intend to upload your photographs to Twitter or Facebook then there’s little reason to grumble, but treasured images deserve better.

HTC One SV test photo
A 5-megapixel camera is never going to produce mind-blowing shots (click image to enlarge).
HTC One SV test photo
Blue-sky shooting: colour replication is fairly decent (click image to enlarge).

Video recording is available at 1080p, and the results are generally decent. The usual problems with fast-moving objects remain, but if you keep your hand steady and avoid exaggerated, Michael Bay-style panning shots, the resultant footage will be acceptable enough. Don’t bother using the zoom function, either -- all it does it make the videos look hopelessly blocky and pixel-heavy. 

Battery life and storage

Battery stamina is one area where the One SV scores points over its more powerful rivals. The 1,800mAh power cell isn’t taxed unduly by the relatively humble CPU, and as a result you’ll easily get through an entire day without having to concern yourself with locating a plug socket. If you plan on hitting the 4G heavily then you can expect the phone’s staying power to drop, though. For those times when you’re away from home, you can always pick up a spare battery, as unlike so many recent devices, the One SV has a user-serviceable power cell.

Image description
The One SV's 1,800mAh battery is replaceable, which means you can carry a spare with you on long trips.

There’s 8GB of storage on offer, of which 4.15GB is available to the end user. Unlike the Nexus 4, which allows access to all of its internal memory for application storage, the One SV limits you to just 1.11GB. Thankfully many apps and games will allow you to copy some data over to the microSD card. There wasn’t one included with the phone I reviewed, but the One SV supports cards up to 32GB in size -- something the aforementioned Nexus 4 does not.

Conclusion

It’s good to see that the selection of 4G phones available in the UK is growing, but the One SV is a very peculiar addition to the roster. Those who crave faster download speeds are likely to be individuals who wish to position themselves at the cutting edge, yet this phone feels like something from 12 months ago. The dual-core processor is weak when compared to rival Android devices, there’s no Jelly Bean on board and the screen is disappointingly low-res.

Image description
The top of the phone features the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack.

If you’re massively concerned with getting fast data transfer on your mobile then you’d be much better off investing in a more powerful 4G device, like the Galaxy S3 LTE or HTC One . If 4G doesn’t bother you all that much then you can pick up the very similar HTC One S for less cash, or better still, the brilliant Nexus 4 -- again, for less money than this handset.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Editors' Top PicksSee All

     

    Discuss HTC One SV

    Conversation powered by Livefyre