A few weeks ago TOI reviewed One X, the flagship Android phone from HTC. We found it to be one of the finest Android phones ever made. The experience was polished, the design was gorgeous and the user interface was butter smooth. But it carries a price tag that puts it out of the reach of most phone buyers. At a market price of around Rs 36,500, One X is an expensive preposition.
A better value for phone buyers could be One V. It belongs to the One Series and in terms of hierarchy sits below One X and One S. But HTC says that all One series phones provide a premium experience to users and despite its comparatively low price One V is no exception. One V also happens to be the cheapest phone in India that runs Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the latest version of Android, out of the box.
The device does look pretty good on paper. But can it serve a user well? Can it be the smartphone of choice for masses? We find out.
People who are following Android scene for the last two years still remember HTC Legend fondly. In a market full of plasticky smartphones — at that time even iPhone had a rather run-of-the-mill design — Legend had striking looks. It was made of a unibody aluminum shell and had a chin that gave it a distinctive look. One V borrows heavily from Legend. Its aluminum unibody looks and feels great. The only piece of plastic is a small cover on the bottom, which can be removed to access slots for SIM and micro SD card. The chin is not as prominent as it was on the Legend. This is not a bad thing. The shorter chin makes the device look more compact.
Though ICS has virtual buttons, HTC believes that users are better served by physical buttons. On all One series phones, three buttons — back, home and multitasking — sit below the screen. On One V, if a user long presses the multitasking button it also shows options or menu within the apps that are yet to adopt the user interface used by ICS.
One V may not have the uber hardware but it seems to pack in enough to match its competitors. The phone has a 3.7-inch Super LCD screen with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. It is adequately bright, shows pleasant colours and has good touch sensitivity. There are reports that some One V screens have yellow spots. It’s true. On our review sample we found two small yellow spots on the bottom of the screen. Though, these spots are only visible when the screen displays white background and most users may not even notice them unless they are specifically looking for them.
One V is powered by a single core 1Ghz processor. There is 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. However, user accessible internal storage is less than 1GB but there is an option for a micro SD card of up to 32GB. The phone has a rear camera that can shoot pictures in up to 5 mega pixels and videos in a resolution of up to 720P. There is no front camera, so if you plan to do lots of video calls with your phone, stay clear of One V.
As detailed above, One V lacks the kind of hardware that will tickle the fancy of a phone enthusiast. But instead of headline grabbing features or specifications, what One V offers is solid user experience. The device runs HTC’s custom user interface called Sense on top of ICS. We are not a fan of custom user interface that companies put up in their smartphones but the current version of Sense goes well with One series phones.
Given its mid-range aspirations and underlying hardware, One V is not a particular fast phone. There is some lag during multitasking, opening apps and navigating between different screens. It’s just a matter of a few milliseconds but if you have used a high-end Android phone you will notice. That said, the lag is never a deal-breaker as the performance is better than most mid-range Android devices. The phone doesn’t freeze or hang the way some other Android phones do. And everything works well. Web browsing experience is good. Most popular video formats in a resolution of up to 720P play alright. GPS locks within seconds.
Just like its older siblings, One V too has a separate chip for photo processing. It makes a difference in real life. We found the camera on One V to be better than what other mid-range phones sport. The photographs it produced had oversaturated colours. But it is not something that will bother too many users. The level of detail was good and low-light pictures were better than what other mid-range phones can manage. The videos recorded in good light were usable.
Given the relatively smaller screen on One V, we were hoping for good battery life on it. It turned out we were right. Paired with a 3G connection, One V lasts around 13 hours when used for web browsing, emails, calls, Twitter, some photography and around 20 to 30 minutes of gaming. For an Android phone, it is a very good screen
Sum of it all
Despite of its flaws, which are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, One V is a fantastic mid-range phone. There is a lot going for it. Compared to other mid-range phones, performance is good. Design and build quality belies its comparatively modest price. Screen – in terms of brightness and colours — is very good. Camera is better than what other mid-range phones offer. It runs the latest version of Android. Put it all together and One V offers a solid Android experience at a comparatively affordable market price of around Rs 16,500. If you are out in the market looking for a mid-range smartphone that you will not be using to make video calls, it is a device worthy of your attention and your hard-earned money.