HTC One V reviewed: the “V” means “Very good battery”

The fourth phone from HTC to sit under the new “One” branding, the HTC One V takes on a look similar to the older Legend handset we saw a few years and gives it some much needed upgrades an bringing the operating system up to scratch.

Features

HTC’s last One handset for us to review out of its initial announcement at Mobile World Congress this year, the One V is a refresh of an older handset.

Smartphones live and die by their display technology, and here on the One V you’ll find a 3.7 inch Super LCD with last year’s regular 800×480 resolution. With those details, we can find that the One V features 252 pixels per inch, lower than the 330ppi found on the iPhone 4/4S.

The chassis is made from a combination of metal and rubber, with the 1500mAh battery built into the phone. At the base of the phone, you’ll find a little rubber and plastic section that can be removed, with the SIM and microSD slots underneath.

Inside the handset, you’ll find a 1GHz single-core processor 512MB RAM, and 4GB of internal storage, though barely 1GB of that is available to you. A reasonably up-to-date Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” is the operating system you’ll find out of the box, running a slightly different version of HTC’s Sense 4.0 overlay.

Connectivity is about par for the course here, with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, AptX support, and GPS, while multimedia features include Beats Audio and a rear 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and 720p video capture. There is no front-facing camera on this handset.

Ports are pretty limited here, with only a 3.5mm headset jack up top and a microUSB charge and data port on the bottom right of the handset. Buttons are equally limited here, with physical buttons existing for the volume rocket on the right and power button on the top of the phone, with the HTC three staple soft buttons on the front of the handset, acting as back, home, and task manager.

A notification LED strip can also be found on the very top, blinking when the phone is receiving charge or when there’s some form of notification.

Performance

The little brother of HTC One X, XL, and S handsets announced earlier this year, the One V is a different type of phone for someone with a very different budget.

While the X boasted performance, the XL went for the jugular with blistering 4G speeds, and the S played second fiddle to the One X’s level of performance, the HTC One V looks to be a decent all-rounder, refreshing the chin smartphone design with Google’s recently released Android version 4.0, also known as “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

Picking up the One V, you’ll notice that it feels very slick, with a metal gray back. The design harks back to when HTC released its excellent Legend smartphone in 2010, although things have been updated slightly since then. Two rubber sections can be found here, one surrounding the rear camera, with the other along the rear bottom where it pops off and hides the SIM and microSD slots.

The slightly slanted chin is still a nice look, though one that has, for the most part, been retired for the simple flat look on most phones.

Here in the new handset, you’ll find a 3.7 inch screen up from the 3.2 the Legend had, a higher resolution 480×800 Super LCD screen with decent viewing angles, and an operating system that feels quite modern.

While the OS looks and feels like a recent version of Android, the usual amount of extra work HTC throws into its phones is mostly missing here, with the experience a blend that combines the look of HTC’s Sense overlay and the usability of stock Google Android.

That means there’s none of that 3D interface that we’ve seen on HTC’s handsets for around a year, and the experience really feels like a much flatter two-dimensional experience than what the company has been pumping out year after year.

It's a "HTC Sense means stock Ice Cream Sandwich" look for the One V.

The ring-based lock screen is still there, and you can easily switch out your most favourite apps quickly, as well as add widgets without any problems, but the dimensionality seen on other HTC handsets is missing in action on the One V.

Despite this, it’s a relatively pleasing experience, though it does exhibit the odd bug here and there, with the on-screen keyboard occasionally going missing, and the pull-down Android message bar disappearing and blending into whatever you were looking at.

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