Announced at the same time as HTC’s One X and One S at February’s Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, the One V is the low-cost alternative to HTC’s higher-end offerings. While obviously not in the same league as the quad-core One X, the single-core 1GHz One V still has features worth considering.
Editors’ note: This in-depth hands-on article is based on our companion site CNET Asia’s experience with the unlocked HTC One V. Be advised that we have reviewed the U.S. Cellular version of HTC One V.
If you’re a fan of HTC’s design of the Hero from 2009, the aluminum-clad One V’s return to a similar look with its bent “chin” would no doubt be attractive. I like that HTC is paying homage to one of its more-unique models, which makes the One V stands out compared with the One X, which has a more generic HTC design.
I like the feel of the handset, and while it’s small compared with the larger One X, somehow the One V feels “just right” for one-handed use. It’s roughly the same size as the iPhone 4S.
The One V sports a 3.7-inch WVGA (800×480-pixel) Super LCD 2 display with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass for protection. Viewing angles are generally good, but I don’t like the fact that the screen isn’t flush with the phone. The edges at the bottom tend stick to out, which mars the overall appearance of the handset. Like the One X, HTC has decided to use physical touch-sensitive buttons instead of the onscreen keys, and these are found at the bottom of the display. I don’t mind the buttons, but would have preferred the One V to use software-based keys like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Weighing just 4.06 ounces, the One V is light despite its aluminum chassis. The smartphone is thin at 0.36 inch, and just slightly thicker than the 0.35-inch One X. The iPhone 4, in comparison, is heavier at 4.9 ounces and has a depth of 0.37 inch.
The 1,500mAh battery is nonremovable — you’re only allowed to slide out the cover located at the back of the “chin,” and this gives you access to the microSD port (for storage expansion) and the normal SIM card slot.
Located at the right side are the volume buttons; at the top you’ll find the power button and 3.5mm audio jack. The Micro-USB port is found on the left.
Despite being billed as a low-cost handset, the One V comes running Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) with the HTC Sense 4.0 UI layer. Like the HTC Wildfire S, which offered a cheap way to explore Gingerbread, the One V can be a good phone to get started on ICS. If you want to find out more about Sense 4.0, feel free to give our feature a read.
Despite only having a 5-megapixel camera, the One V has a backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor. The One V also as an aperture of f2.0, which should help take better pictures in low-light conditions and should also come in handy with fast action shots. Like the One X, the One V is capable of taking burst images and capturing still images during video recording.
Camera quality was generally not as good as the One X, and while the shutter was fast, the display didn’t seem able to keep up — perhaps it’s because of the single-core 1GHz processor. Color balance also was inaccurate under strong incandescent lighting. The sensor didn’t seem able to adjust the white balance even when we manually changed to the correct light settings.
While I can’t say the One V takes fantastic pictures, it doesn’t take terrible pictures, either. The BSI sensor does help with low-light pictures, but we recommend using the flash, which manages to fill up the entire picture easily.
The handset also has Beats Audio built-in, which sounds like a pretty good deal. Like the One X, Beats Audio is now enabled across the board — the equalizer will turn on when headphones are plugged in and an audio/video track is playing.
Lastly, connectivity options aren’t lacking despite the One V being a low-cost device; there’s HSPA, Bluetooth 4.0, and Wi-Fi. With only 4GB of onboard storage, you’ll also be pleased to know that the microSD card slot allows you up to 32GB more storage.
The single-core 1GHz processor doesn’t feel like it’s capable of handling the load. While the handset performs smoothly most of the time, I experienced slowdowns and random freezes even while I was doing processor-light stuff like bringing up/hiding the keyboard in WhatsApp. Also, the camera has shutter lag at times, but it is more often the case of the display being unable to catch up. Upon reviewing the images, it seems that the phone managed to snap the picture.
With our usual battery test settings with two Gmail accounts set on push and Facebook and Twitter on push, the One V’s nonremovable battery managed to last a full day. Be sure to keep a charger in the office, as you won’t be able to swap a fresh battery if you run dry.
There were no issues with voice quality and call reception. Speaker volume was loud enough to be heard.
The HTC One V may be a low-cost handset, but it does have enough incentives such as the BSI sensor and ICS that make it worth considering. Sadly, the single-core processor is a little dated and not up to par, so you may encounter some lag if you like to play games. With a retail price of $317 without an operator contract, the One V seems to be good value for money if you want a cheap Ice Cream Sandwich device that can take semi-decent images.