One of the great things about technology is that most high end features end up filtering down to more affordable price points. Sometimes it happens quicker than you think.
Just over 18 or so month ago the fastest processor you could find on most Android phones were 2nd gen Qualcomm Snapdragon chips with Scorpion cores running at 1Ghz. Their screen resolutions topped out at 800x480, came with around 512MB of RAM and most of them sported 5 megapixel cameras.
Things move pretty quickly in the Android space! All that technology has filtered down and now we have the HTC One V.
If I were pigeonhole it Iíd say itís a lower-end mid tier or higher-end entry level phone. Sorry for the contradictions but itís fancy enough that itís much more powerful than a cheap Android phone plus it has a 800x480 display.
Let me put it an easier way: For $300 no contract, you get a 2nd Gen 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, 512MB RAM, 5MP camera and 3.7Ē 800x480 display. A Huawei Ascend P1 is $400 (2x1.5Ghz processor, 1GB RAM, 8MP camera, 4.3Ē 960x540 display) while a LG Optimus L5 is $200 (1st Gen 0.8Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, 5MP camera, 5.0Ē 480x320 display).
Of course the Android ecosystem has had almost 2 years to mature and in that time, the operating system plus programs have grown more sophisticated. Can the HTC One V get the job done? Letís find out.
While shopping for anything technology related generally involves looking at lots of numbers, gigahertz, megabytes, megapixels, inches, etc. The best thing about the HTC One V is its body which is made from a single piece of aluminum.
When you pick it up thereís a sense of of occasion that you donít get from the plastic bodied Galaxy S III and One X. If you get the black one, the front has a beautiful brushed finish. Itís also a very small phone which is sculpted so it fits easily in one hand and can be used as such.
Of course, while they feel much nicer, metal bodies have their own set of problems when compared with plastic ones. They dent and donít always do as well as a plastic phone when you drop them. Regardless, becareful with your phone!
headphone jack, Status light, power button
camera, LED flash
The microSDHC card and SIM card slots are located at the bottom of the back behind a door.
Thereís a beats logo on the back of the One V. From my experience with the One X and One S the beats logo basically means there are custom equalizer settings for certain beats headphones. It doesnít necessarily mean that the One V has a very loud or better sounding headphone amp or loud speaker.
The 3.7Ē 800x480 LCD display is sharp with nice colour and excellent viewing angles. Black levels arenít as deep as youíd get from an AMOLED display but other then that I donít really have anything bad to say about it.
As I mentioned you get a 5 megapixel camera. What makes it special is that HTC has tossed in their own image processor. It allows you to take burst photos at a speed of around 2 frames per second, take pictures and video at the same time plus you can shoot normal pictures basically as fast as you can tap the shutter button.
The camera interface is probably the best Iíve seen. The shutter and record button are both located on the same screen. You donít have to wait for it to switch between camera and camcorder mode like pretty much every other phone out there.
Outdoors, pictures are very good. The image processor and burst mode really allows you to capture action shots. Like the HTC One X image quality takes a hit if you use burst mode. It does this to help eliminate blur from photos - itís a good trade off as far as Iím concerned.
Video can be captured at 1280x720. Video quality is a little soft but audio capture is pretty good.
Like all HTC Android phones the One V ships with HTCís Sense user interface. Iíve already covered Sense a couple of times but itís basically an operating system skin for Android with some extra functionality and apps thrown in the mix.
On an unrelated note, Android has slowly been getting better looking. I wonder if stock Android will eventually get so good that 3rd party UIís like Sense and Touchwiz will be superfluous. A lot has changed from the Android 1.x and even 2.x days. The time and effort that OEMís spend on their UIís could be better spent elsewhere. Iím sure many people feel this way already.
Generally speaking, I find that phones with bigger screens are easier to type on. Despite the small screen, the One Vís keyboard is outstanding. Itís very intuitive to use. I was able to type on it with 2 hands immediately even though Iím used to using bigger phones.
Senseís highlights include Friend Stream, a social media aggregator and app that only supports Facebook and Flickr, a very useful flashlight application and car mode.
Instead of the default Gallery, HTC has their own which has a lot more features like the ability to view and upload to Facebook, Dropbox, Skydrive and Flickr. It also has has basic video and picture editors.
Included is a version of Polaris office which allows you to edit, view and create MS Office Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. It also has Dropbox and Skydrive integration. Iím a little disappointed that thereís no Google Docs integration.
Sense also ships with a bunch of extra widgets including too many clock ones. In five years will Sense just be a collection of clock widgets with a vanilla Android UI?
Overall, the extra functionality over stock Android makes it a plus in my book.
Iím going to compare the One Vís performance with the Sony Xperia U and LG Optimus L7. Theyíre all priced at around $300. About the only common feature between them is that they all come with 512MB RAM, have 5 mp cameras and have 800x480 displays..
The Xperia U has a 1Ghz dual core processor from Ericsson while the LG Optimus L7 has a older first generation Snapdragon processor thatís clocked at 800Mhz. The HTC One V has a second gen 1Ghz Snapdragon processor.
The Xperia U has a 3.5Ē screen while the One Vís is 3.7Ē and the L7ís measure 4.3Ē.
The worst thing about the Xperia U is that itís storage cannot be expanded via MicroSD cards. You have 4GB available for your media - thatís it. Both the L7 and One V can be expanded.
Also, as of right now, the Xperia U is still running Android 2.3 while the L7 and One V have Android 4.0.
SunSpider (lower is better):
LG Optimus L7 3673.3
HTC One V 3249.9
Sony Xperia U 2637.4
Vellamo (higher is better):
HTC One V 1167.65
Sony Xperia U 878.72
LG Optimus L7 869.27
Vellamo is collection of browser benchmark that run within Android. Here the results are surprising. Despite the Uís dual core browser it scores almost the same as the L7. My guess is that it the low score may be an Android 2.3 vs 4.0 thing.
GL Benchmark 2.1.5 (higher is better):
Sony Xperia U 3910
HTC One V 3649
LG Optimus L7 2291
GL Benchmark is a gaming benchmark that utilizes OpenGL. Again, Iím a little surprised at how well the One V does here. It scores nearly as high as the Xperia U.
Basemark (higher is better):
HTC One V 16.22
Sony Xperia U 14.64
LG Optimus L7 6.61
Basemark is another OpenGL gaming benchmark. Here the One V does well again compared with the Xperia U.
While the One V scores nearly as high as the Xperia U in many tests in real-life, I think the Xperia U feels a little bit faster than the scores would indicate.
While I normally test battery life using AnTuTu tester I couldnít get it to run on the One V (same story with the HTC One X). As such I was only able to run my own battery test. I charged the battery, set brightness to maximum, turned on airplane mode and played back video until the phone shut off.
HTC One V 303
Sony Xperia U 264
LG Optimus L7 252
The One V does well here scoring around 15% and 20% higher than the Xperia U and Optimus L7.
As a Phone:
RF Performance is average. Incoming sound quality is fine but the maximum earpiece volume is pretty quiet. The speaker on the back is pretty loud and sounds okay. Itís very flush so make sure you donít accidentally cover it as itís very sensitive to that.
I really like using the One V. It fits my hand like a glove. While I think itís just powerful enough now I think there will be programs that wonít run smoothly on it soon. Still, if you donít plan on playing lots of games on it you may find that itís sufficient for checking email, taking pictures, surfing the web, etc.
As for the competition the Sony Xperia Uís dual core processor makes it feel more future-proof, still the Xperia U has the same amount of RAM as the One V. So, if RAM is the limiting factor then the U is in the same boat as the V. The One V has a better camera, expandable storage a better bigger screen that is easier to use a more recent version of Android (as of August 9th the U is still on 2.3) and of course the V has a better body.
The LG Optimus L7 has a better screen but the One V is faster with a better camera.
For $300, if you can Iíd add a few more dollars to your budget Iíd get the Huawei P1. If you canít budge then between the Xperia U, Optimus L7 and One V itís a toss up between the U and V.
Looking outside the Android ecosystem, another handset that comes to mind is the Nokia Lumia 710. If you donít mind Windows Phone, at around $230 the 710 is priced extremely aggressively plus it has a faster 1.4Ghz processor though it only has 8GB of non-expandable storage.
Now Iím not sure what the V is supposed to stand for but one thingís for sure. The HTC One V is good value for your money.
- nice to hold
- battery life
- expandable storage
- single core processor might not be sufficient later on
- quiet earpiece