The HTC One V is HTC’s third entry in its high-profile new HTC One range, offering a smaller 3.7″ display running on a single-core 1GHz processor. It is is very much the “affordable” option in HTC’s newest Android series, but it still arrives running the same HTC Sense 4 interface we saw in the excellent HTC One S and HTC One X , with Google’s Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” software beneath.
And look, a nicely brushed chin!
Taking its design cues from the older HTC Hero and Legend, the One V does indeed look like a familiar old friend, at least to those who started their Android journey on the HTC phones of a good few years ago.
But instead of the crazy unibody of the One X of the toughened metal on the One S, the One V appears a little more conventional, offering your more usual matte black metal and plastic style.
But it’s not an ugly phone by any means. We found the black casing to be much tougher than the One S, plus the recessed 5megapixel camera sensor is surely better protected than the bulbous lumps that protruded out of the backs of the HTC One S and HTC One X – it’s a nice, solid little phone.
The display is also bright and clear, with the 480×800 resolution images a good match with the smaller 3.7″ screen. The three capacitive buttons beneath it are sensitive and reliable, the display usable outdoors.
It may be the cheaper option, but you get the feeling it’s actually the most durable of the three. There’s no space-age nonsense here, just a solid, relatively rugged body made from plastic that’ll outlast our Sun.
The notifications light is that strip beside the headphone jack. Power button’s nice and chunky and easy to find.
The HTC One V’s OS is Android 4.0.3 with HTC’s Sense 4 interface over the top. It’s almost the exact same software as found on the One X and One S, although there are one or two small changes and compromises, brought about due to the One V’s slower processor and lesser amount of memory (512MB of RAM as opposed to the 1GB the One X and One S had to operate).
The One V only lets you have five Home screens and there’s no pinch-zoom overview option, plus the Recent Apps multitasking menu (left) has reverted to the vertical Android 4.0 default rather than the custom horizontal layout we saw in the HTC One S and HTC One X (right).
We would guess this is to keep memory use as low as possible. But that’s literally just a guess.
There’s one big software change over the One X and One S – the menu button system’s different. Where the One X and One S overlaid a black software menu button along the bottom of the display, the One V tells users to long-press on the recent apps button to pull up the menu options.
It’s definitely a more elegant solution for dealing with apps that don’t yet adhere to the Android 4.0 menu style. As long as you remember it’s there.
Some widgets. It’s nice that you can have either HTC’s calendar widget or the very, very nice Android 4.0 Home screen calendar (left). The masses of available widgets can get a bit mismatched, mind, but on the whole HTC Sense 4′s a big step in the right direction for HTC’s interface design.
That’s the same notifications menu as found in the One X and One S, complete with slide-away individual messages, plus the “Settings” option that brings up HTC’s own packed options and customisation menu.
And you can change the font sizes of the menu screen text, if you’ve got eyes that are old and tired.
That’s the One V’s apps listing. As with the One S and One X users can edit the tabs that appear along the bottom of the screen. Although there aren’t many options to begin with, so it’s not the most useful of features.
One thing we couldn’t find on the HTC One V is any mention of HTC’s line-drawing keyboard, which seems to have been removed. Which is a bit of a shame, as we’re big converts to the Swype method of text entry that all the handset makers seem to be moving towards these days.
Still, the HTC keyboard is as good as ever, coming with plenty of long-press alternate characters and it’s fast and lag-free even on the One V’s less powerful hardware.
The music player’s identical to that found in the One X and One S. Same mini icon tray within the player for third-party apps, same widgets, same everything.
Same pre-loaded music apps as the S and X, which are rather useful and we’re not going to complain about them at all.
The HTC One V’s camera app’s also the same at that found within the HTC One S and HTC One X, even coming with the posh HDR mode, the slow motion video recording and the excellent “Best Shot” continuous shooting mode. No compromises here.
You also get a good range of filters and distortion effects, should you like ruining your pictures prior to distribution.
The “Best Shot” thing’s great, firing off a sequence of images for as long as you hold down the shutter, then popping up the preview window (left) to let you pick one. It then deletes the rest. This isn’t quite as fast in action as the same system was on the One X and One S, sadly, but it’s still an amazingly useful thing to have.
And that pink blob is my finger.
Photo samples time!
Bright, colourful images, good on the detail. They don’t stand up to analysis at full size as well as the results produced by the higher-spec One X and One S, but they’re still good images. We’d use it as a “main” camera, no worries at all.
The same panorama stitching tool as found in the One X and One S creates amazing, huge, super-wide and rather madly distressed images…
…while the macro close-up mode (left) is great as well. HTC’s finally got to grips with camera technology, even in this lower-spec 5megapixel sensor.
A sample video. The One V only records at up to 720p resolution, but that’s OK for as we simply can’t be bothered capturing everything in 1080p and managing the enormous files that generates. Looks OK. Smooth enough. Click through to YouTube to watch it at full size.
You get a nice custom HTC gallery, complete with the option to show or hide image collections the phone can stream in from other places and social sites, plus the same amazing Dropbox integration that can have the One V automatically upload all your shots to your Dropbox folder. If you’ve got one. And you really should as it’s a life-changer of a tool.
The image editing tool’s the same as in the One X and One S, which lets you add frames and filters, then save your creation as a preset to apply to future images.
Video clips can be fiddled with too, although it’s only a simple trimming tool.
Oh, and internet use. It’s obviously going to be a little slower at zooming pages and managing Flash content than the dual and quad-core One S and One X, but the One V does display pages well enough and text looks good on the crisp display.
It was a little glitchy running embedded videos, though, often giving us a black screen and no picture.
You also get the Android 4.0 slide-in options tab (right) which maxes the browser to full screen, removing the URL bar and giving you a nice and easy way of accessing and managing open tabs.
Shame there’s no pinch-to-tab option, though, but at least HTC’s browser menus are looking much smarter than last year thanks to pulling in so many design cues from Google’s “Ice Cream Sandwich” visual overhaul.
There doesn’t seem to be a button to tell the children to SHUT UP.
But you do get a bigger dialer, easy-access music player, and options to manage how the docking features activate themselves.
And that’s Google’s amazing Navigate GPS thing in action. It’s very fast at getting a satellite lock, plus the One V has enough power to keep it running well. That’s us checking out a junction on Street View, which is dead easy to do.
Or… there are HTC’s own location-finding and GPS navigation options, which we won’t pretend to be overly familiar with.
Memory. 1GB of space for apps, 512MB of RAM.
Battery life. Worked well for us. Easily made it through a day of hard use with power to spare, so you’d have no worries hammering it all day and still having enough to avoid a charge in the evening. And that’s the data monitor (right) for keeping track of mobile web traffic use.
You also get an HTC task manager, for freeing up space and alerting you should something start eating up large amounts of memory.
And we’re done.
So. We like it. Lots. The 1GHz processor manages the demands of Android 4.0 and HTC’s Sense interface well, the software’s very slick and almost identical to that of the much more powerful One X and S, plus the One V’s screen and body both feel surprisingly robust and well made.
The camera app and web browser are a little slower in use on the One V than they were in the amazing HTC One S and One X pair, but then this phone is half the price of the more glamorous models. And for half the price, you get a phone that’s only a tiny fraction less capable.
The HTC One V is well worth buying if you’re after Android 4.0 and HTC’s cool additions for a little less. There are hardly any compromises in here, despite it being at the low end of the new HTC One range.