HTC One V impressions: Small, but good

We managed to spend some time with the HTC One V earlier today at the HTC booth here at CTIA. The phone originally debuted at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, but HTC didn’t have a working model of it to show. The One V is the smaller brother of the One S and One X. Design-wise, it doesn’t share many characteristics, and instead seems to borrow most of its inspirations from older HTC phones, which used to have the familiar protruding chin that’s on the One V. We kind of like the retro design, which goes well with the low-end single-core processor, 512MB of RAM, and smaller 3.7-inch screen.

Surprisingly, HTC seems to have been able to cram Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and HTC Sense 4.0 UI into a very low-end device. Other phones we’ve seen haven’t even attempted this feat, instead opting for vanilla versions of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and other old UI. The One V somehow manages to run the new software quite fast and without too many sacrifices for what will undoubtedly be a sub $100 phone. The only major difference we noticed between this device and other HTC One phones was the multitasking menu, which looks more like the default Android 4.0 menu than HTC’s fancy side-scrolling version. It doesn’t look quite as slick, but still gets the job done just fine.

The rear camera has gotten a slight downgrade to 5-megapixel, but its performance still seems reasonable. It’s not as fast at shooting burst shots as its brothers (or doesn’t seem to be, at least), but it does have a dedicated ImageSense chip, meaning its already a step ahead of the Droid Incredible 4G LTE.

Overall, I liked the phone. This is obviously for those who don’t want to, or can’t afford to, step it up and get one of the higher-end HTC devices, but it’s one of the nicest lower-end phones we’ve seen.

No release dates or prices are known, but HTC says the One V is coming to the US in the summer. US Cellular has already picked it up, and it will likely hit many other smaller wireless operators around the country. A big-carrier release wasn’t ruled out, but doesn’t seem to be a focus for HTC, which now has the One S on T-Mobile, One X on AT&T, and Droid Incredible 4G LTE on Verizon.