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printed October 25, 2014
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Review: HTC One V for Virgin Mobile

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Bigger isn't always better, and HTC knows this. The One X (AT&T) may be HTC's flagship device for the year, but the One V is nearly as good and offers its target market a lot of bang for the buck.

HTC revitalized a design it used way back in 2008/2009 and gives it a modern twist. It revives the "chin" that appeared on several of HTC's first Android devices, such as the G1, Hero/myTouch 3G, and others, but uses a more modern manufacturing technique and materials. The One V is skinned mostly in metal (milled aluminum) and feels great. I generally find that I like the feel of metal in my hand more so than plastic (especially cheap plastic). There's a step up in quality that can't be dismissed. The One V has more personality in the hardware than a number of other devices in the market, if for no other reason than its Jay Leno-inspired looks.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The smaller screen means the overall footprint of the device is reduced to a comfortable-to-hold size. It fits snugly in your hand and is easy to wrap your fingers all the way around. Much of the metallic surface is covered in a grippy, matte paint job that gives it some staying power in your grasp, even on a hot summer day when your hands might be a bit sweaty. The small size makes it comfortable to store in your jeans pocket, no matter how tight they may be.

On HTC's older devices, the chin was where you'd find the Android controls and maybe even something like a trackball or optical mouse. Thanks to Android 4.0 and its three-button configuration, there are no such controls on the One V's chin. Instead, the entire front surface has a clean, tidy appearance interrupted only by the white symbols for the capacitive buttons below the display. There's a noticeable edge where the bottom of the display meets the chin, though. I dislike this edge a bit. It's not sharp, but it breaks up what would otherwise be a smooth feel to the front of hte phone. I can see how it will help some users more easily find the capacitive buttons without looking at the phone, though.

HTC keeps other aspects of the hardware design minimal. The USB port, for example, is the only element on the left edge of the device, and it’s carefully positioned close to the bottom so as to leave most of the left side a smooth, comfortable surface. The only hardware element on the right edge is the volume toggle. In keeping with HTC tradition, the One V's volume toggle is a thin sliver, but this time HTC got it right. The One V's volume toggle feels great under the thumb and offers excellent travel and feedback.

There is no dedicated camera button, which is a shame.

The lock button is on the top of the phone. It can be somewhat tricky to press, as it is on an angled surface. The travel and feedback of the button are very good, though.

The battery is not accessible to the user, but the bottom of the chin pops off in order to provide access to the microSD card slot. Aside from installing/removing mircoSD cards, you'll have no other reason to open this little hatch.

In all, I like the hardware quite a bit, despite a few minor annoyances.

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