Look and feel
Unmistakeably an HTC phone, the One SV might not stand out but it feels solid and doesn’t scuff easily. Comfortable to hold and operate.
Ease of Use
The older Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android has been bolstered by a (slightly old) version of HTC Sense, which runs smoothly and is both feature-packed and intuitive (apart from adding desktops)
The HTC One SV’s 5MP camera might not be anything special on its own, but the excellent photo, video and editing features elevate it above the norm. 4G compatibility is a big plus for fanatical media streamers.
The dual-core processor is nothing special considering the price, and while the One SV can comfortably run apps and games, it will be outdated rather quickly compared to quad-core devices.
With five and a half hours of media streaming on a single charge, and days of stand-by, the HTC One SV has fantastic battery life.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/11/2012 11:31:55 AM
Ease of use
Great battery life;
Old Android (4.0);
Specs underwhelming for the price
Last year we were massively impressed by HTC’s One series of phones, including the solid and attractive mid-range HTC One S and the HTC One V, which offers the full portable media experience at a value price. To kick off 2013, HTC has released the 4G-compatible One SV, which falls between the One S and One V in terms of specs. What you get is a capable mid-range 4G mobile, one of the cheapest you can nab right now.
The HTC One SV is unmistakeably an HTC phone from even a mega-quick glance. It features the trademark rounded corners as well as the same glossy black front with touch-sensitive home, back and recent apps buttons housed beneath the screen. That glossy surface cuts off at the edges, where a thin silver plastic band wraps around the rim of the phone. The edges are tidy and clutter-free, with the power button housed on top and volume rockers down the right side.
Flip the smartphone over and you’ll find a matt white rear. Some plain white backs scuff all too easily, but the One SV stayed in good shape even after regular trips in our pockets and bags. The whole back plate can be prised off to reveal the removable battery, plus Micro SD and SIM card slots. It snaps back in place easily enough and holds firm.
Old Ice Cream
The HTC One SV runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.4) with HTC’s Sense 4.1 interface plastered over the top. Sense is one of our favourite tweaks of Android, adding lots of great widgets, features and personalisation to an already excellent OS. The only confusing aspect for us was adding desktops: you get a mere two to start with, and there’s no way to stick in extra desktops in the settings menus. You actually have to long-press the home button to bring up the desktops menu, where you can add and delete them as merrily as you like.
It’s a shame that you only get Ice Cream Sandwich rather than Jelly Bean (the latest version of Android), but to HTC’s credit the interface is silky smooth when flicking between desktops and through menus, and the great range of widgets is commendable. We’d expect to see a Jelly Bean upgrade rolling out soon all the same.
As with our previous 4G tests, we found we could happily stream HD video from anywhere in Central London that wasn’t about ten feet underground. The sphere of influence of 4G appears to be spreading too, as we saw download/upload speeds of almost 20MB per second out in zones four and five. If you’re regularly uploading videos and photo albums or streaming music/video, and can stomach the pricey 4G contract costs, you’ll love the buffer-free world of speedy mobile networking.
If you’re streaming video non-stop you can expect around five and a half hours of battery life from each charge, an impressive result considering we pump the screen brightness up to maximum. The battery holds up well with normal use too: leave the One SV on standby and you’ll get days of use, or a solid weekend if you’re occasionally texting, emailing and browsing the web.
The HTC One SV’s real strengths become obvious when you play or stream media. Although it doesn’t pack a mighty quad-core processor or mega-HD screen like top-end 4G smartphones (such as the Samsung Galaxy S III LTE), we found our high-res movies played smoothly and looked good on the vibrant 4.3-inch display. Viewing angles are great and on maximum brightness it easily cancels out solar glare.
As always with HTC phones, you get the nifty Beats Audio software built-in, to tweak your tunes before they hit your ears. We reckon you can keep it turned off if your music is already top quality (as it should be if downloaded from a reputable music vendor). However, if you’ve got low-quality music files then Beats Audio does a surprisingly good job of massaging them back to life, removing any graininess and adding bass and clarity.
A dual-core Qualcomm processor does a decent job of running apps and games, but the One SV will probably show its age rather soon compared to the slew of quad-core devices hitting stores. Considering you can get similar dual-core devices from last year (such as the Sony Xperia P) for over a hundred pounds less, it feels a little stingy.
You also get a mediocre 8GB of built-in storage, although just over 4GB was usable on our review sample and this fills up fast if you stick on songs, apps and movies or take lots of photos. Thankfully there’s a memory card slot for expanding by a further 32GB. You also get 25GB of free DropBox online storage for backing up important files, including any shots you take with the built-in camera.
The One SV’s 5MP camera lacks the full-screen sharpness of some rivals, but the auto-focus does a great job of locking onto subjects quickly and photos take almost as soon as you tap the on-screen shutter button. Hold down the shutter button and the One SV takes a series of shots in quick succession, a great way of catching action shots. There are tons of settings to tweak, including face and smile detection, filters, geo-tagging, ISO and white balance and countdown timers, so you can set up your snapper however you like.
A front-facing 1.6MP camera takes sharp portrait shots and is great for Skype chats. You can also shoot 1080p HD video, which looks great when viewed back on a TV (although the regular focus adjustments can be a little distracting). We particularly liked the funky slow motion mode, which produces some fun action videos, and the ability to take photos while shooting video (something we first saw in the HTC One X last year). You also get a strong range of editing and sharing options, including the ability to trim videos before you post them to YouTube.
HTC’s One SV packs a decent feature-laden camera and will please media fans with its colourful screen and fast 4G connectivity. The HTC Sense interface helps to soften the disappointment of the old version of Android, but the One SV is still a little expensive considering the specs. For instance, HTC’s Desire X is £100 less, and packs almost the same innards – aside from the addition of a front-facing camera, the only other benefit of the One SV is its 4G compatibility. If you’re seriously considering a 4G upgrade in the coming year, the One SV is a dependable option for ensuring you’re ready. Otherwise, we’d stick with a standard 3G mid-ranger to save some cash.