HTC One V £230
19th Apr 2012 | 15:20
A 5MP camera-toting Android 4.0-powered smartphone we can afford
Sibling of the quad-core powerhouse that is the HTC One X, the HTC One V might not boast the groundbreaking array of specs handed to its market-topping counterpart, but it is a handset that will push the boundaries of the lower mid-level smartphone sector.
Hosting a strong collection of innards that push the expectations of the mobile phone's modest SIM-free price point of £230 in the UK and $350 in the US, the HTC One V is the Taiwanese manufacturer's answer to the recent onslaught of boundary blurring mid-range smartphones from the likes of Samsung and Nokia.
The now standard 5MP rear-mounted camera and 720p HD video recording are bolstered by a vibrant display, strong design and Beats audio innards.
Although destined to fall in the shadows of its higher priced, higher specced namesakes, the HTC One V is an impressive pocket blower in its own right. It has a largely smooth, fluid and speedy interface paired with strong hardware and software, which offers an all-round pleasant user experience in an aesthetically pleasing package.
With certain hardware limitations an inevitable result of working a smartphone to such a competitive price point, HTC has ensured users of the One V are not left wanting more, with the handset coming packaged with 25GB of free cloud storage for two years, through Dropbox.
A welcome introduction to a handset that boasts just 4GB of internal storage, the free Dropbox access sees the HTC handset owners handed 23GB more fee-free storage than standard customers, with the system's easy to set up and manage features an added boost.
Highlighting the rampant level of progression within the smartphone sector, the newly launched lower end HTC One V hosts a near-identical selection of hardware as the iPhone, rivalling the HTC Desire with the 5MP camera, 512MB of RAM, 1GHz Qualcomm processor and even the 800 x 480p 3.7-inch display making the jump from the late 2010 must-have smartphone to the 2012 budget offering.
Further demonstrating the HTC One V's footing firmly in the modern era of smartphone development, the Samsung Galaxy Ace and Nokia Lumia 710 rival runs on the latest Google operating system, with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich taking pride of place alongside version 4.0 of HTC Sense UI, the brand's much-loved software skin.
Available on a variety of networks, the HTC One V is a new first smartphone challenger, with the pocket powerhouse available on a pay as you go basis for £230 in the UK or $350 in the US, or free on a variety of pay monthly contracts for as little as £13.50 per month in the UK.
Design and feel
Sporting a unibody design, the HTC One V has a form factor and aesthetic that arcs back to the hugely popular HTC Legend, with the kinked, curved chinned bottom helping differentiate the smartphone from its wide range of rivals. This quirk could well see it become one of the more coveted mobile phones in its price range.
Although sleek and arguably quite sexy in its appearance, the HTC One V's design and construction isn't without its flaws. The minimalist removable back plate, which helps to enhance the structural rigidity of the HTC One V, provides a definite chink in the brushed metal armour.
Leaving a noticeable seam once slotted into place, it forms a less than reassuring seal with the compact plastic panel. Although it didn't come loose during our time with the phone, it is cause for concern and a feature that failed to offer reassurance and peace of mind.
Despite an aesthetically pleasing kink at the base of the handset - a feature that helps separate the HTC One V from the mass of featureless black candybar handsets - the same elbowed design encourages a lower grip on the phone than normal, which results in a top-heavy feel that leaves it feeling unbalanced and almost disconcerting in the hand.
With a 3.7-inch touchscreen display onboard, the HTC One V is roughly the same size as an iPhone 4S, with this Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich-filled handset lining up at a slender 9.2mm thick and a very reasonable and sturdy 115g in weight.
Thanks to its unibody aluminium build, the HTC One V is by far one of the sturdiest mid-range mobile phones on the market, offering zero flex or distortion when put under unusually high levels of pressure.
This feature not only ensures against unwanted damage and breakages, but also helps distinguish the device as a range leader and sets it apart from the flimsily plastic-backed Samsung Galaxy offerings.
Following the trend of modern phones, the HTC One V, like its One branded siblings, features very few physical buttons, with just a sleep-come-power button featuring alongside a physical volume control. While the volume toggle does fall within the real estate of a comfortable grip, HTC has added enough resistance to the button to ensure that it doesn't become a nuisance and fall victim to irritating accidental presses.
One of the first handsets to come packing the latest edition of the HTC Sense UI direct from the box, the HTC One V boasts a smooth, seamless and ultimately pleasing interface that helpfully guides you through the handset on first use before offering a simplistic navigating style and system from then on.
Building on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich base, the aptly titled HTC Sense UI version 4.0 ensures a pleasant user experience at all times, kicking off with a range of shortcuts on the lock screen that enable you to unlock your handset direct into a selection of desired applications, programs and features such as the camera capture mode, email inbox or address book.
A former bugbear of smartphone users due to its glaring omission from the leading handsets of all the brands, multitasking is now an ever-present feature on the smartphone scene.
The HTC One V holds its own against any of the similarly attributed Android handsets, providing yet another prime example of the phones's user-friendly features. With a simple tap of the touch-sensitive base button, you're presented with a fluid flowing visual list of all the applications and programs that are open, enabling quick, hassle-free access to desired content with little faff or fuss.
Building on the strong Sense UI of previous generations, HTC has made version 4.0 of its TouchWiz and MotoBlur rival the most user friendly to date, with a host of smart software features enabling you to better navigate your way through lists and menus to find your desired content with minimal time wasting or unnecessary fanfare.
A good example of such abilities can be found in the handset's gallery application, where you can open selected image groupings and scroll through a quick thumbnail selection of shots as opposed to full scale snaps, simply by providing a vigorous swipe in the direction you wish to scroll in.
Enabling you to rattle through your smartphone-shot pics, downloaded images and screen shots at a faster, often more convenient rate, this Sense-enabled characteristic is just one example of the enhanced user friendliness of the HTC One V.
Contacts and calling
No matter how many new bells and whistles, funky features and groundbreaking specs are added to smartphone offerings, the device's fundamental function will remain its ability to make and receive calls, an area in which the HTC One V excels.
Accessible via a homescreen placed widget or through the standard Android app menus, the One V's contacts section is a joy to use with adding to the array of people you know a breeze thanks to the users friendly interface.
Occasionally overlooked in favour of fine-tuning the camera's capabilities or improving the interface of the media player, a smartphone's calling abilities are crucial to its success, with the HTC One V providing you with a friendly interface and selection of well-designed and laid out options.
These are backed up by impressive in-call audio that helps isolate the caller's voice and remove distorting and unwanted background noise.
With a well-spaced and easy to access contacts book, the HTC One V is a joy to use for its most basic and foundation-holding features, with a simple and intuitively designed interface enabling you to create, edit and delete contacts with zero hassle and little delay.
Further bolstering the HTC One V's calling and contact credentials, on-screen prompts following a call offer a seamless way to add new numbers to the contacts book.
This reactive functionality is a welcome and handy addition that runs a fine line between usefulness and irritant, fortunately falling on the side of favour.
With strong signal present across a variety of locations, the HTC handset is a more than impressive pocket blower with no dropping of calls or complete signal failure occurring during our time with the handset whilst in the midst of a conversation.
With a well spaced touchscreen dialler, the Sense enhanced ICS OS helps ensure calls can be placed in double quick time with little concern around misdialled numbers.
Again one of the core pillars of mobile phone success and an essential piece of functionality is its messaging abilities, with the HTC One V again providing a predominantly impressively user-friendly service and a selection of performance enhancing features that ensure you won't be left cursing the handset when attempting to craft an email or return a text message.
Firmly joining the advanced touchscreen revolution, the HTC One V doesn't feature a single physical input key, with the handset's full QWERTY keyboard taking on a touchscreen digital form that is a near identical replication of the QWERTY offerings found on many other Android handsets.
Typing messages can be a little tricky when holding the handset in standard portrait orientation, with the virtual keys feeling slightly fiddly and fingers often breeching the narrow borders between two letters.
But switch to a more spacious landscape stance and the HTC One V becomes a joy to use, with well-sized and located keys ensuring simple navigation through the keyboard input options, with relatively few accidental and unwanted key strokes.
As with most modern smartphones, email is a breeze to set up on the HTC One V. Gmail accounts are pushed heavily, thanks to the Android flavoured innards, but quick set up access to a variety of other account types ensures you are never without access to your latest incomings.
You can choose whether to have them pushed directly to the device or downloaded upon request to help eke out the longevity of the battery life.
With 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity options the One V provides plenty of browsing options for both users on the move and those holed up at home or in the work place.
Whilst not a severe issue 3G load times did fall slightly short of some of the handset's competitors whilst the Wi-Fi options kept the device on a level playing field with the rest of the market.
Thanks to the now common array of pinch-to-zoom and single swipe scrolling options, the handset's browser is simple to navigate with zoomed content retaining its crisp edges and pleasant, easy on the eye reading options.
With the standard search tool and simple bookmarking features, the HTC One V's web browser has a few new tricks up its metaphorical sleeves compared to its past Android 2.3 Gingerbread-rocking rivals.
In-page searching lands alongside forward navigation, tabbed browsing and the option to forgo mobile sites and skip direct to the desktop view.
A feature not included on many handsets to date, but one that offers the opportunity of quick, instant access to desired pages, content and featured terms, the in-page search features found on the HTC One V are simple and effective to use, with the quick, responsive access helping to enhance the user experience and further bolster the friendliness of the device's web browser.
An omission on a number of Android handsets to date, the HTC One V, thanks to its ICS innards and Sense UI, enables you to not only scroll back through previously viewed web pages but also then jump forward again through pages at will, thanks to a newly included dedicated 'Forward' button, available through an easily accessed drop-down menu.
While this might seem an inclusion of relatively little importance, its availability makes a marked improvement to the flow of the browsing experience.
While Google's Android operating system has long lauded its iOS trumping Flash capabilities over bitter rival Apple, the HTC One V's lack of Flash direct from the box is a slight irritant.
As with many of the handset's online and offline features, bookmarking web pages is a simple, hassle free task with a tabbed drop down menu leaving users just two taps away from quick access to their favourite and most visited online locations.
Despite many of the web's big players having already moved to the HTML5 format, and with a Flash download available for many Android users, having it ready to use direct from the wrapper would provide HTC One V users with a more comprehensive and immersive web experience off the bat, filled with interactive and multimedia content and with little unwanted delay and faff.
Boasting the new minimum camera requirement of the smartphone sector, the HTC One V's inbuilt 5 megapixel snapper is capable of capturing shots with a 2592 x 1944p image resolution, with snaps further enhanced by the phone's incorporated autofocus and LED flash capabilities.
Far more than your standard point and shoot snapper, the HTC One V, like its similarly branded counterparts, has a wide selection of image enhancing software features, with a simple drop-down menu enabling you to give your images a bevy of tweaks and in-shot alterations.
You can choose between greyscale, negative or vintage filters or opt to have snaps distorted, with enhanced depth of field or a pop art-mimicking dots look.
Although capable of producing a selection of visually impressive images, the HTC One V's inbuilt snapper is often a little over-eager, with the handset's touchscreen capture button proving slightly quick on the draw and barely offering the camera time to determine the perfect levels of focus before snapping shut to capture what can at times be less than pin sharp images.
This minor pitfall could quite easily be corrected with the use of a physical shutter button that focuses shots on a half depression before capturing images with a full click, like a standalone camera. But in looking for a sleek, untainted form factor, HTC has overlooked this potentially simple inclusion.
While the lack of a second, forward-facing might, on paper, look like a glaring omission on HTC's part, in reality its only for using VoIP applications such as Skype when such a feature is truly missed.
Although this hardware omission is sure to put some potential users off plumping for the HTC smartphone, on the whole the decision not to plump for the little used second camera is one that has helped keep the cost of the HTC One V low and in a competitive area of the market.
While the video recording capabilities of the HTC One V are nothing to be sniffed at, the handset fails to hit the lofty heights of some, with light management and zoom options just two aspects that fall slightly below expectations.
Featuring the now seemingly prerequisite smartphone standard 720p HD video recording, the HTC One V falls slightly short of backing up its largely impressive camera offering, with a selection of video capabilities that are distinctly run of the mill.
Struggling to offer a smooth transition when moving the camera through varying light conditions, instead providing chopping and drastic switches between under and over exposed contrasts, the HTC One V's video abilities are further let down by the inbuilt digital zoom.
Far from the desired smooth flowing gradual transition required for strong quality video creation, the HTC One V's digital zoom offers up blocks of ever nearing and increasingly distorted images that move in a stilted set of transitions that fail to inspire any future use of the zooming functionality.
While the HTC One V's 4GB of internal storage does not attune itself to heavy bouts of video recording and media playing, the 25GB worth of free Dropbox storage makes video a viable option, with all captured content able to be automatically backed up and saved via the more expansive remote storage option.
Pushing media to the fore users are offered a selection of app shortcuts and homescreen widgets to gain instant access to their coveted content with the inbuilt media player lining up as a homescreen option for speedy tune playback.
Similarly simple to access, the easy to locate picture gallery also offers users a small selection of editing options with casual image rotation and cropping on offer.
As with the majority of current handsets, the HTC One V comes packing its own inbuilt media player that is tasked with competing with the likes of the mighty iPod.
Despite the widespread ownership and intense popularity of the iPod, however, this Beats audio-packing device more than holds its own on the PMP front, with its near faultless user interface continuing across the musical means and combining with a selection of strong audio output offerings.
A slightly disappointing omission from the HTC One V is that the handset filled with Beats audio software doesn't come packaged with a pair of Beats headphones to match its internal audio potential.
While the included earbuds are of the cheap and cheerful nature, they do work well with the Beats audio enhancements available when using headphones to offer a more diverse, deep, varying sound than expected that highlights the intricacies of a song.
For those looking to take their choice in music to a more public audience, the HTC One V's inbuilt speaker is of a more than acceptable nature, with the kinked bottom producing the audio output and ensuring that sounds aren't muffled when the handset is placed on a surface during playback.
In terms of video, the 3.7-inch 800 x 480p display gives what you would expect from a mid-range handset, with smooth, strong, clear playback that fails to offer the pop and intricate colour breakdown associated with its larger, higher specced, pricier rivals.
One area where the phone's screen does excel, however, is when combining with the device's ambient light sensor to perfectly attune the display's brightness to the optimal levels based on location lighting to ensure images remain crisp and enjoyable with as little amount of glare as possible.
Battery life and connectivity
With HTC yet to offer any expected standby and usage battery times for the One V, the 1,500 mAh battery that features inside the curved chin design of the phone writes its own expectations.
It offers a reasonable amount of on-the-go juice, with standby times running into the days. But heavy usage will, as with most recent smartphones, have the HTC One V on its knees well before the end of the day.
Charged via a standard micro USB connector, HTC has failed to make the One V user-friendly while charging, since the cable running into the lower left side of the phone prevents you from getting any sort of comfortable, well balanced or manageable grip on either side.
A complete oversight on the part of the manufacturer, this seemingly small faux pas quickly becomes a major irritant, with the charging cable severely restricting the usability of the handset during its required daily power boost.
More successful on the connectivity front, the smaller sibling to the HTC One X boasts impressive 3G and Wi-Fi connection prowess.
The handset offers strong signal across a broad range of locations when using a cellular network and solid access to the web and a host of internet-dependent applications when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Running a lot of the connectivity controls behind the scenes, the smartphone enables you to connect to pre-registered Wi-Fi networks with virtually no fuss.
Maps and apps
Thanks to the handset's Android operating system, the HTC One V comes pre-installed with a hearty array of applications - the majority of them noticeably of the Google ilk - such as the Google-branded Places, Gmail, YouTube and Google+.
Thanks once again to its Android branded innards, the One V plays host to Google's much loved and ever present Google Maps software with free to utilise navigation options landing to get you from A to B.
Whilst not the quickest handset on the market to lock on to GPS signals, once connected the Google filled device continues to impress with simple to follow route and accurate location details.
Far from limited to Google-owned and branded apps, however, the HTC handset sports the more popular app-based services as standard, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter featuring from the box to fulfill the likely needs of consumers and remove any fuss around getting the device fully attuned to your wants and needs.
With an expansive array of app-based content available to download via the newly named Google Play Store, formerly the Android Market, HTC One V owners are presented with a hearty array of tools, games, ebooks and utilities, both free and paid for, that can rival the formerly dominant iOS App Store.
Again with the many plus points let down by a few small niggling irritations, the HTC One V's Android-based app services and features are not without fault.
A few apps cause an unnecessary fuss if left to their own devices when the handset falls into sleep mode following a period of inactivity.
A prime example of this is the much loved and free to download game Temple Run.
While running smoothly, if a little sluggish at the start, during the game if left open with the handset not being used, waking the phone from its sleep mode will see users greeted with a combination of blank screen issues, freezing and a stilted recovery that can take a prolonged and infuriating period of time.
Hands on gallery
Bringing impressive specs to a more entry-level friendly price point, the HTC One V is a smartphone that will help push user expectations of competitively priced handsets to new, ever advancing levels.
Far from a beige device that will simply blend into the highly competitive crowd, the HTC One V features enough standout specs and impressively simple user interface characteristics to separate it from the throng of devices all vying for the same limited custom.
Although not perfect, the handset's 1GHz Qualcomm CPU keeps the device zipping through content at an impressive pace, with little lag when jumping between apps, menus and the selection of heavily skinned home screens.
Playing host to an impressive and eye-catching design that stands out from the crowd, the HTC One V is beautifully styled, with its strong chinned form factor and sturdy, reassuring and aesthetically pleasing finish resulting in a product that truly sets itself apart from the plastic-backed candybar collective that currently dominates around the £230/$350 price point.
Jumping firmly on the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich bandwagon, the HTC One V sees a joyous combination of software with the fledgling operating system joining forces with an improved version of the already much loved HTC Sense UI. The overall package has a high-end feel that far exceeds expectations.
While a boxed pair of Beats headphones would nicely offset the Beats audio innards, the HTC One V would benefit from a selection of minor tweaks rather than any dramatic specs or software overhauls.
With slightly sloppy video recording abilities and a sometimes fiddly on-screen QWERTY keyboard, the HTC One V is just a few irritations away from becoming a show stealing member of the mid-range phone market.
An all-round impressive handset, the HTC One V is a smartphone that has filtered down a selection of previously used specs to a new budget-friendly price tag, packaging it in an impressive and desirable shell in the process.
Although those looking for a selection of groundbreaking specs might instead plump for the handset's HTC One X sibling or an iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S2 or Motorola Razr, for a possible first smartphone or a transition phone on the way to the big hitters, users could do far, far worse that this 3.7-inch screen, 5MP camera-packing powerhouse.