The HTC One V is compact, but the solid and weighty unibody frame gives it a premium feel, and is thankfully scuff-proof. A jutting lip sets it apart from other HTC One phones
That diddly display isn't ideal for movies or browsing complex websites, but the HTC One V's touch-screen is perfectly responsive and even the smaller keyboard is easy to use
Once again the camera is a highlight, although at five megapixels it takes less crisp shots than its brothers. Beats Audio is on hand to enhance your music, and the microSD slot expands the HTC One V's otherwise stingy storage
Ice Cream Sandwich appears to be a struggle at times for the single-core processor, but our apps and games ran without issue. The HTC One V is not massively future-proof, sadly
We got a full 24 hours of heavy use from a single charge, and closer to 36 hours with some features disabled and not quite so much video streaming
We've already fallen in love with the HTC One X and HTC One S, which combined stunning power with slick design and some truly impressive features. So now we come to the HTC One V, the smallest and cheapest of the three, with the unenviable task of following in its brethren's footsteps. Will it shine just as bright, or be the black sheep of the family? Here's our full HTC One V review...
The HTC One V is the dinkiest member of the One family – the One X boasts a whopping 4.7-inch screen while the One S sits square in the middle at 4.3-inches, but the One V is positively twee at just 3.7-inches. However, at 115g it's almost the same weight as the One S. That seriously solid unibody frame certainly feels hefty, with no flex or weak spots, and we liked the brushed metal finish that ties in with its bigger brother. It's resistant to scuffs, which helps when you're as clumsy as us.
The main difference is that jutting lip, which harks back to another HTC classic, the HTC Legend. This gives the One V a unique stand-out look from the rest of the One family. The glass front extends all the way down to the lip, with three touch-sensitive buttons (Back, Home, Recent Apps) positioned just beneath the screen.
Ice Cream Sandwich is once again the OS of choice, topped off with HTC Sense 4.0. We've really come to like the interface, which is bold and colourful and packed with excellent features. As we stated in our HTC One X review, we're big fans of the level of customisation. You can play around with different scenes and skins to change the look and feel, and even the four shortcuts stuck to the bottom of the screen can be swapped around or replaced.
However, there are less widgets available for the One V, and some of the personalise options – such as the ability to stick widgets on your lock screen – have been removed. The cool 3D transitions as you flick between desktops are also gone. Not exactly a big deal, but it sucks all the same.
The HTC keyboard still works well, despite the compact screen. Our fingers occasionally bashed the wrong virtual button, but the excellent auto-correct almost always steered us back on track. The super-responsive touch-screen registers all of your pokes, prods and swipes with perfect accuracy, whether you're browsing the web or messing around with apps.
A 1GHz single-core processor runs the show, and the difference over the more powerful One X and One S is immediately apparent. Opening apps and similar actions take that little bit longer, occasionally just long enough to make you wonder if your prod has even registered. Even when filling in forms on websites, there was noticeable lag with switching fields and entering text was sluggish at times. We had the same problem with the LG Optimus L7, so it's clear that a single-core 1GHz CPU just isn't quite strong enough to handle Android 4.0. It's a massive shame, as it does dent the overall enjoyability of the phone.
Thankfully the One V handles apps and games admirably. We tried some of the latest fast-paced action and racing games and they ran without stuttering or glitching, and although some of the more taxing titles didn't have a silky smooth framerate, they were still perfectly playable. We're just a little worried that the phone will be struggling in a year or so, especially with the number of dual and quad-core Android mobiles emerging. If apps and games are a priority for you, we'd recommend checking out the One X or One S instead.
The reduced power hasn't boosted the battery life either. We still got a full 24 hours from a single charge, despite turning on Wi-Fi and GPS and hammering the One V with video streaming and 3D games, but the One S and One X lasted over 36 hours with similar punishment. We had to disable some features and forgo the Netflix to get similar longevity from the One V.
The five-megapixel camera lacks the sharpness of the other One family snappers, which boasted higher resolution images, but up-close photos still pack plenty of detail and look crisp when viewed on a TV or monitor. Pics aren't as vibrant as we'd hoped, regardless of the lighting conditions.
This shot shows some of the sharp detail of an up-close subject
That said, we took plenty of snaps in dingy rooms, including pubs and restaurants, and the results were impressive. The f2.0 lens sucks in plenty of light to keep your photos bright, although you need to have steady hands to prevent blurring, and pics are naturally more grainy. The built-in LED flash is one of the better efforts we've seen, illuminating your subject without badly overexposing them (in most cases anyway).
This photo was taken without flash, in a dingy restaurant. It's bright enough to pick out plenty of detail, without much graininess
Even more impressive is the fact the One V retains the excellent features of the One X and One S' cameras. You can still hold down the shutter button to shoot a number of rapid-succession shots, from which you can choose the best snap. You can also take photos at the same time as shooting HD video, although the quality of our videos wasn't the best. They look rather lifeless when played back, with a grey haze and faded colours.
The screen is pleasingly bright and colourful, and easily sharp enough to enjoy a movie on the go, although we'd recommend the other One mobiles with their bigger screens to serious media fans. Still, the Beats Audio technology is present and correct, giving a little extra oomph to your tunes and films. Every genre of music sounds fantastic, from classical to heavy rock, although it's bassier tracks that benefit the most from Beats.
With just 4GB of built-in storage, the One V is the most stingy of the One family – again, not a surprise given its reduced size. The bad news is that less than 1GB of usable storage was showing on our review model, and only 100MB of that can be filled with photos, music and movies – that's enough space for a single CD's worth of music, if you're lucky. The good news, however, is that the One V is the only family member to take microSD cards. That means you can expand by up to 32GB, giving you as much storage as the mighty One X, perfect if you want to carry lots of music and movies around.
You can also stream video using apps such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer, or direct in the browser if you enable Flash in the menu. We noticed a few little glitches when watching iPlayer shows – flickering lines would often crop up – but the likes of YouTube and Netflix showed no such issues. Video streams smoothly, with no pauses or other glitches.
Browsing the web is just as smooth, thanks to that responsive touch-screen. Tender flicks move you through a webpage much slower than urgent ones, and even busy pages seemed to update quickly when scrolling and zooming around, with none of that jerky motion or gradual filling-in you sometimes get on phones at this price point.
Considering you can grab the HTC One V for just £250 SIM-free, or from £13.50 per month on contract, you truly do get impressive value for money. Ice Cream Sandwich may struggle a little on the single-core processor, but the feature-packed five-megapixel camera and colourful screen are remarkable for such a low-cost phone.