July 31, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
The HTC One X and One S are both stellar phones that re-establish HTC’s place as a company capable of great design and focus. But the HTC One V, the smallest of HTC’s 2012 portfolio, is also a testament to that focus.
The One V doesn’t have the industry leading specs of its bigger brethren, but its resume is more than qualified for the job that it’s applying – an entry-level or midrange smartphone capable of the basic smarts and style consumers expect. The only difference is that it’s in a body more compact than they anticipated.
The HTC One V, available now at U.S. Cellular, is a chic phone. The phone has the aluminum unibody design favored by HTC, but the 3.7-inch Super LCD screen is a noticeable departure from the trend of supersized displays. The aluminum makes the phone feel valuable, but the 4.05-ounce device is still very light. With its smaller frame and curves that lead to pointy edges, as well as a chin at the bottom, the One V is reminiscent of the HTC Legend. That’s slightly disappointing because the transition from the metal frame to the glass portions of the device is abrupt and not as smooth as other phones. Holding the V for making phones calls feels fine since fingers bend securely around the edges, but tapping the capacitive buttons or other areas of glass that stick out is not as comfy.
Internally, the One V has some familiarly unspectacular specs. A single core 1 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM immediately let users know not to expect much horsepower. Potential buyers should also know that they have to get reacquainted with their microSD cards because the One V has less than 1 GB of internal storage. This lack of impressive hardware is to be expected considering the One V’s position as a midrange phone. On the bright side, plenty of people actually prefer an expansion slot because they are not limited or pressed for internal storage space. While that means activities like high-end gaming are obviously out of the question, casual staples like Temple Run and Angry Birds play just fine.
HTC built its reputation on squeezing the most it could out of average hardware. The One V runs the same hardware that was average 18 months ago, but it’s still turning lemons into lemonade with Android 4.0.3 software. That’s no small feat considering devices with similar specs released last year will not receive Ice Cream Sandwich because of poor performance. The Sense 4.0 overlay isn’t always refreshing, but there are certain apps and elements that are solid performers. The keyboard for instance does a decent job of text correction and prediction for being on such a small screen. The messaging, dialer/contacts, and launcher apps all deliver nice touches that diverge from standard ICS but are at least good enough to hold their own.
Software and hardware mostly work well. There are occasions when users notice that they could use a little more oomph when switching between apps or using the camera; however, the basics of web browsing, social networking, and messaging happen smoothly. The inclusion of Beats Audio provides a bass boost when listening to music through headphones, and there’s also the inclusion of very good camera software that provides a ton of options for enhancing or customizing images. The 5 MP camera and HTC ImageSense processing software work in concert to produce solid photos with surprisingly decent balance. Video capture is less serviceable because the lens is slow to focus and lacks steadiness or fluidity.
It’s a good thing that Android 4.0 allows users to disable apps because the One V hordes preloaded software like it’s a precious commodity. There are almost 20 non-essential apps that ship with the One V, and users will most likely wish to disable almost all of them with the exception of Facebook, Polaris Office, and Soundhound. After deciding which of the bloatware survives, buyers better fall in love with HTC’s implementation of ICS because it’s probably the most they can hope for on this device. Given the limited hardware capabilities and investment that the One V can count on, I wouldn’t bet on this phone being updated to Android 4.1, though I’d love to be surprised.
Bigger and better phones than the HTC One V are released all the time. However, that doesn’t mean that the phone won’t have an audience. The HTC One V is a phone released for a very targeted group of people – first time smartphone buyers. Anyone with experience using a smartphone probably shouldn’t purchase this phone unless they can deal with a phone that can only handle the basics.
I would caution all potential buyers that this is a starter phone – something to get you comfortable using Android before you decide to get a smartphone with a bit more smarts. It’s a solid performer with a limited shelf life that falls short of all the bells and whistles available on other phones that cost a little more. Grab this phone only if you’re looking to save some money or start a new relationship with Android.
The One V is sold for $129 on a two-year agreement and is available now at U.S. Cellular. Off-contract pricing of $249 also makes this an appealing buy for prepaid customers.