HTC One V review: HTC One V

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

3 stars 10 user reviews
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Ice Cream Sandwich; Gorgeous, distinctive design; Bright, brilliant screen; Fast, fairly decent snapper; slot for microSD card.

The Bad sluggish at times, especially for web browsing; Typing can be cramped.

The Bottom Line The HTC One V is an attractive addition to Android's mid-range. It looks good, feels great, has a reasonable camera and apps aplenty. The con? Slightly sluggish web browsing.

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Cast your peepers over the HTC One V and you'd be forgiven for experiencing a spot of déjà vu. That's because the One V recycles the look of past classic the HTC Legend .

While the basic shape is the same, including the distinctive chin at the base, it's not a carbon copy. The One V is thinner, sleeker and more moodily coloured than its predecessor. Under the hood it's beefier and the screen is a smidge bigger.

The phone is fully refreshed on the software front though, running the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), and packing HTC's newest Sense software overlay, Sense 4.0.

The One V has been overshadowed by its two bigger and flashier brothers -- the One S and One X. But if you're on a modest budget, or if you have small hands, it's worth a look.

The One V will set you back around £250 SIM-free or it's free from £13.50 a month on a two-year contract.

Should I buy the HTC One V?

The One V is sitting pretty in the mid-range of Android smart phones. It's not a phone for those chasing the biggest bragging rights. But if you have less cash to splash and more modest mobile needs, then this phone should catch your eye -- not least because it looks very fine indeed. It also comes with ICS as standard -- something that sets it apart from its mid-range Android fellows.

HTC One V
Unlike the Gingerbread-flavoured mob that makes up Android's mid-range, the One V packs Ice Cream Sandwich.

Large-handed folk may find the One V's relatively small size -- certainly in these days of enormo-phones -- a little cramped for poking and prodding. For anyone with small or average-sized hands and pockets, it's perfectly proportioned.

The One V isn't the fastest phone around. Web browsing especially taxes its single-core chip. So if you're after a hyper-responsive phone, you should splash your cash elsewhere.

Alternative Android devices to consider at this SIM-free price range include the Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus, the Samsung Galaxy W , the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray and the Motorola Motoluxe -- none of which can boast ICS out of the box.

If you're not a dyed-in-the-wool Android lover, you could also consider Apple's iPhone 3GS -- which is free on contract for around the same price as the One V.

Software

It may be the budget option in HTC's new One Series but the V doesn't stint on software. It features both ICS and HTC's latest Android topper, Sense 4.0. HTC's overlay makes Android really simple and straightforward to use, with a friendly feel and some handy widgets to pimp out your home screens.

Just don't expect to get every software bell and whistle that owners of the other two One Series devices enjoy. This incarnation of Sense 4.0 has been pared back to fit more modest hardware.

For example, the One V's Recent Apps menu is not the 3D deck of cards you'll find on the One S and One X. Instead, you get Google's vanilla ICS take, with flat, square thumbnails that stack up vertically. This is really just a cosmetic change -- the thumbnail menu is slightly less fancy to look at but no less useful. You can still flick thumbnails off screen to delete and it's easy to view and scroll back through your recent apps.

Ice Cream Sandwich has been cut down slightly -- specifically, you don't get Face Unlock on the One V because it doesn't have a front-facing camera, which is a shame. But other ICS features, such being able to flick notifications out of the notifications tray and having the option to encrypt the data on your device, are present and correct.

HTC One V
Because the One V packs Ice Cream Sandwich, you can enjoy Google's Chrome for Android browser.

Another Sense 4.0 feature that isn't on the One V is the ability to pinch on a home screen to jump into a thumbnail overview of all your home screens. Without this overview option, you're stuck with swiping back and forth to get around. HTC also appears to have removed the option to expand or reduce your number of home screens. Plus, the One V has a lot fewer preloaded widgets than its brothers.

Similarly, there's no pinching into an overview of all your app screens on the apps menu. And don't expect fancy lock screen widgets or live wallpapers either. On the lock screen, you can opt to display the apps or folders that are on the home screen launcher bar, where you can then pull an app or folder into the ring to dive straight into it. But that's as interesting as the One V's lock screen gets.

In my view, these trimmings are all sensible tweaks -- aimed at ensuring the software isn't let down by the V's more modest engine. Overall, Sense 4.0 on the One V is still a great Android overlay that adds more than it takes away.

Processor and performance

The One V has considerably more grunt than the phone it was modelled on. While the Legend had a 600MHz chip, the One V has a single-core 1GHz processor powering its engines.

I found performance to be a mixed bag. As you'd expect, it's nowhere near as blisteringly quick as its more expensive sibling, the HTC One S (which has a dual-core chip), nor was it blighted by awful sluggishness. Menus are fairly nippy, the gallery loads pretty quickly and the camera is super-speedy at snapping.

It's not all good though -- the One V can keep you waiting around. The biggest snooze is for apps to download, which can take minutes, depending on the size of the app. Apps won't load up instantly either, especially heavy-duty ones. And the software keyboard tends to be a tad slow to fire up.

HTC One V keyboard
The keyboard is fine in landscape mode but gets cramped in portrait. It's also a touch slow to open up.

When it comes to full-fat HTML5 websites, the One V starts to seriously chug. Even browsing desktop versions of less taxing websites appears to cause the One V problems -- with a noticeable lag and stuttery scrolling raining on your browsing parade. Still, at this price in Androidland, some performance judders are par for the course.

The One V did relatively well in the GL Benchmark standard Egypt test, running at 32 frames per second. In Antutu's benchmark it achieved as much as 2,736 and in Quadrant's test it scored a high of 2,044.

HTC One V benchmarked
The HTC One V is not an Android powerhouse -- but you knew that already, right?

Sealed inside this chinny slab is a 1,500mAh battery. During my testing, battery life was very good -- I reckon you'll easily get a day's use without needing to charge it. The One V is certainly not afflicted with the battery issues that have dogged its big brother, the One X . Doubtless, the V's single-core chip and smaller screen help keep battery drain at bay.

Design and build quality

The HTC Legend won all manner of plaudits for its sexy looks. CNET UK's past mobile master Flora Graham dubbed it "a stone-cold fox" in her 2010 review . So has HTC pulled a design blinder again with the One V?

HTC One V
The HTC One V's chin will divide opinion. Love it or hate it, it's certainly a talking point.

In a word: yes. Although the One V isn't as instantly dazzlingly as the Legend, thanks to more muted colour choices, I've grown to prefer its sleek form over the original. My review sample was black but there are two other moody shades to choose from -- grey or brown.

Size wise, the One V is the smallest of the three One Series devices by far, with a 3.7-inch display. The handset feels sturdy yet lightweight and its hand-friendly size makes it effortlessly pocketable. It's also slender -- only a smidge chunkier than a biro -- and this svelte aspect lends it a premium, classy feel.

The V's distinctive chin inherited from the Legend (and before that the HTC Hero), is likely to polarise opinion. I definitely sit in the 'love it' camp. In my view it turns what would otherwise be a fairly standard rectangular slab into something quirky. But if you didn't like the Legend's pointed chin, you'll at least be pleased to learn that HTC has softened the angle so the One V is slightly less 'Jimmy Hill' than its parent.

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Where to Buy

HTC One V (U.S. Cellular)

Part Number: ONEVUSC
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Talk Time Up to 360 min
  • Technology CDMA2000 1X
  • Combined with With digital camera / digital player
  • Service Provider U. S. Cellular
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