HTC’s new range has been rolling out recently with some impressive handsets. The One series has so far seen the quad-core One X emerge to very positive reviews and the device is a flagship of which HTC can rightly be proud. Similarly, the mid-range One S is a good quality phone that is optimised for speed and performance and these are features that it delivers well.
The latest One series device to be released is the One V, the lower-priced cousin of the two higher-specced devices in the range. So far HTC’s new range has shown off great new Android software with quality design so does the One V follow suit?
- Android OS, v4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- HTC Sense UI v4.0
- Beats Audio
- 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
- 512 MB RAM
- 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches, 252 ppi display
- Capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors
- 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash
- Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, face and smile detection
- Video capture at 720p
- Standard Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery
Design and Build
Other phones in the One series differ slightly in design from one another while both still maintaining HTC’s style. The One V continues this lineage but adds a chin piece to the bottom of the phone that curves towards the front. The backpiece of the chin is removable and houses the SIM and microSD card slots but, unfortunately, doesn’t give any access to the battery.
Although some reviewers have praised the chin piece, likening it to HTC’s older Hero handset, we found it to be a little uncomfortable both when using the phone and when storing it in a pocket. Other than giving the One V a distinctive, identifying feature it seems to serve no purpose.
The backplate of the One V uses the same black ceramic coating seen on the One S which gives the handset a comfortable finish that makes it easy to grip. Even if the design maybe isn’t quite as sophisticated as its One series cousins overall build-quality is very good and the phone feels sturdy and solid. For a handset that is only 9.2mm thick it feels quite chunky and is nowhere near as sleek as the One X and One S.
The 3.7-inch screen puts the One V in the same size category as the likes of the iPhone 4S rather than the current slew of bigger touchscreen phones but the comparatively small display doesn’t make it any less functional than these handsets and the device is very easy to use with one hand. Considering the screen’s resolution is only 480×800 pixels with a density of 252ppi, it’s surprisingly clear and crisp.
Text on websites appears with just enough detail to be read without zooming in but reading a whole article would require you to enlarge what’s on screen. Colours are surprisingly bold and contrasting and the overall onscreen appearance isn’t too bad at all.
However, there is one annoying drawback about the screen that we noticed from using the phone. A surprising amount of grease builds up on the display, sometimes to a level that affects what is being displayed on screen.
Under the Hood
The 1GHz Qualcomm processor isn’t as powerful as the quad-core offering in the One X and it does show in the One V’s performance. Compared to other 1GHz phones such as Huawei’s Vision, the One V is sluggish, but it’s important to remember that it is running much more resource-sapping software which will put a greater strain on the processor. Using the One V doesn’t provide the lightning-fast experience that the One S has to offer but the compromise is worth it to get Ice Cream Sandwich.
4GB of storage is quite impressive for a low-priced phone and should see you able to store quite a large amount of music, films etc. The microSD card slot mentioned earlier supports the standard 32GB card so there’s plenty of room to upgrade the One V’s storage capabilities.
Operating System and User Interface
Google’s latest iteration of its mobile platform, Ice Cream Sandwich, is the standard for the One series and it’s pretty much a given that the One V is never going to run it as smoothly as its more powerful cousins. However, HTC should be commended for squeezing the big, new OS into a low-price phone and the use of ICS also creates continuity throughout the One series that gives the whole range a real identity.
On top of the latest Android software is version 4.0 of HTC’s Sense user interface, which provides some really good additions to the operating system. HTC have made some design tweaks such as removing the Google search bar from the homescreen (it’s now available as a widget that can be placed on any other screen on the phone) and providing a whole range of digital clock faces to choose from. Go further into the onboard apps and you’ll find things like the Car feature which brings up several important functions on the phone’s display in landscape mode – perfect for fixing to your dashboard.
HTC has also made the step of including Beats Audio on the One V, branding the phone’s backplate with the Beats logo. We were surprised to find that the sound quality wasn’t as good as it is on other Beats Audio devices such as the One S and HTC’s first Beats smartphone, the Sensation XE, even when using a pair of Beat Audio headphones. However, the sound quality is still impressive and better than that produced by higher-specced, non-Beats Audio devices such as Sony’s Xperia Arc S.
Camera and Video
Whilst the 5 megapixel camera may not sound particularly promising, it performs remarkably well. The lens has an aperture of f2.0 which means it is optimised for low-light conditions and the images it captures are certainly crisp and clear. Like any digital camera, it performs better under natural light than artificial but in the right conditions the One V’s camera is capable of producing some decent images.
A good-quality LED flash is also included in the package, along with HTC’s brilliant dual-capture buttons which allows the taking of a still image whilst recording video. Also worth a mention is the camera’s in-built HDR feature, which makes photographing subjects against a bright background easier. The function allows the camera to take three images in a short space of time (all at different exposures) before pasting them together to create a good-quality photograph. To find this sort of functionality on a low-end phone is impressive.
Performance and Verdict
HTC has rounded off the One series trio nicely with the One V. Comparing the low-priced phone to the quad-core powerhouse that is the One X is unfair as the One V is never going to match the power and performance of HTC’s new flagship. If you stand the One V next to other low-priced phones from the likes of Sony and Samsung then it performs very well indeed and packs a surprising punch at little cost.
The performance is a little sluggish but running Ice Cream Sandwich on a 1GHz processor will never yield lighting fast results and getting the latest Android software without paying through the nose is going to involve a compromise or two. Nevertheless, the One V offers a comprehensive experience for the user that is better than it would have been had HTC opted for an older version of Android.
The One series has shaped up well and the One V is a good addition to it. High-spec software in a low-cost package is something for HTC to be proud of and the Taiwanese firm has added some nice touches in the form of the camera’s extra functions and Beats Audio. All in all, the HTC One V can hold its head higher than the phones in several other manufacturers’ budget ranges.