HTC One V Review

HTC's latest trio of smartphones, the One S, One X and One V have generated quite a lot of chit-chat, but the One V has sat a little on the side-line, while the other two have taken the limelight. That is because the One V is the smaller, budget model, with generally less exciting features.

Don't think of it though, as a no-hoper and don't stop reading. The HTC One V in fact has a few features that set it well apart from the usual budget fare, and make it decidedly worth a look. We gave both the One X and One S scores of 8/10, though the smaller One S with its 4.3in screen and a dual-core processor might actually be the better bet of the two for the price conscious, and for those who simply don't need the One X's quad-core processor, and huge 4.7in screen. The HTC One V equals that score, and for a budget handset that is really pretty good going.

The HTC One V retains a number of features of its two larger, more expensive siblings, and most notably, just like the other two, it runs on Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and the HTC Sense 4 - albeit in a slightly tweaked version. It also has the standout feature of the HTC One range: the ability to take a photo while recording a video. And video recording itself stretches to 720p.

Of course, there are sacrifices to reach a price of under £250. The One V is a fairly small handset, with a screen measuring 3.7in and a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. While the screen is sharp and clear, it isn't the best for viewing video or reading lots of web pages, simply because of its size.

The processor is only a single-core 1GHz model; hardly enough to make those who need top notch specs smile with glee. But it is enough to allow for fast movement between screens and apps, to support Flash in web browsing, to stream video without jerkiness and generally to hold its own. You'll notice it is slower than dual-core processors, if you've used them, but its speed isn't going to be an issue for most people and it's certainly a heck of a lot faster than the 600MHz and 800MHz processors. You will find these CPUs, in many budget Android handsets.

The 4GB of built in storage that's on the spec sheet isn't quite the full story, as far as memory is concerned. Checking the built in storage on our review sample, after a hard reset, revealed just 0.94GB was free. The greater portion of the storage is obviously already used by HTC and having less than 1GB free, for your own data and apps, might be a bind for some people. This means that you'll need a microSD card to boost the storage further. The slot for this is under a small rubber panel, on the back of the housing. The SIM lives under here too and you may be happy to learn that it is full-sized, rather than a microSIM.

This is one of those handsets whose battery you can't get at, either. We're not a fan of inaccessible batteries, although we haven't needed to do a hard reset by removing the battery in a phone, for a long time. There is though, always the possibility it might be needed and we would hate to be stymied by the handset design. There's something else about the physical design that could turn you off - or attract you. It isn't the aluminium backing, which is solid and good looking enough. It is the small lip on the bottom edge of the phone that raises up the front section, from being completely flat.

We've seen this before, of course. We were wedded to our old HTC Hero for a long time - and it was the first handset to feature this lip design. It cropped up again in the HTC Legend. But putting the Hero and One V side-by-side, it is clear how far handset design in general has come, and the lip, while potentially causing a problem for tight jean pockets, is much less pronounced than it was in the Hero, and arguably better for it.

What we found to be more significant was the way the HTC One V screen is slightly raised, from the front fascia. Not only does this look a little odd - almost as if the screen has been stuck on rather than integrated - it felt jarring, when we were pressing any of the three shortcut buttons, beneath the display. Just feeling that slightly raised section under the thumb was peculiar. No doubt we will get used to it, but it is an odd design quirk.

It is great to see both Android 4.0 and HTC Sense in a handset at this price, and it is the OS choice that really helps make the HTC One V a bargain at the price; many rivals are resolutely stuck on Android 2.3. There have been some cutbacks though. Five home screens instead of seven, no thumbnail view of all the home screens when you press the Home button, no fancy 3D like animations between home screens. We could live with all that, to be honest, and while these alterations clearly represent a reduction in the features on offer, they aren't exactly what we would call drastic.

We are actually glad about one of the cutbacks. The recent apps menu is the standard Android offering, with easily accessible thumbnails of apps, rather than the clunky one app per screen option in the HTC One S and X. Sometimes less really is more.

There is good news on the apps front, as HTC has done its usual trick of adding plenty to what's offered as standard. The Car interface with its big icons in wide screen mode is here, both FM radio and Internet radio are present, and the very good Polaris Office for generating Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents has also been pre-installed.

Other extras include SoundHound and 7Digital for music fans. The HTC One generic Dropbox deal is here too, with 25GB of free storage for two years. It goes without saying, that HTC's signature weather widget is here too, of course, helping to round out what is a thoughtfully, put together handset.

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Verdict

The HTC One V isn't the lowest cost budget Android phone you can get your hands on, in fact, it is at the upper end of the budget side of things. If you can squeeze your limited finances and find the cash, it is probably the best of the budget bunch, offering the latest Android version, with a good processor, and a nifty still shooting, while videoing, feature. And it is a good size for smaller hands and pockets too.

Pros: Some top notch features for the money.

Cons: Short on internal storage despite the headline 4GB quote.

Score: 8/10

Manufacturer: HTC

Price: £238.80 inc VAT SIM Free

Specifications

Network: HSPA 850/900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900

Processor: Qualcomm MSM8255 1GHz

Memory: 4GB (

Memory expansion: microSD

Display: 3.7in, 480 x 800 pixels

Main camera: five-megapixel

Front camera: No

Wi-Fi: Yes

GPS: Yes

FM radio: Yes

Battery: 1,500mAh

Size: 120.3 x 59.7 x 9.24 mm

Weight: 115g

OS: Android 4.0