Review: HTC One SV

Review: HTC One SV

A capable 4G smartphone but one that offers little that we haven't seen before

The One SV is a 4G capable phone with an excellent design but ultimately offers little that we haven't seen before.

Design & display

Smartphones seem to be heading towards a "bigger is better" trend, but the HTC One SV has steered away from this. It has 4.3in screen so it's smaller in size than most current flagship devices, which tend to range from 4.7in to 5in. The end result is a positive one as the One SV is one of the most comfortable phones we've used.

The smaller footprint means the One SV is easy to hold and use single-handedly and the screen is almost the perfect width. It's not a stretch for your thumb to touch all corners of the screen, which can be an issue on larger devices. Further, we love its design. The black, rubberised material on the back provides a comfortable, non-slip grip while the gloss black bezel on the front is attractive.

There are a number of small touches that add to the overall look and feel of the One SV. The back tapers inwards towards the edges making the phone feel slimmer than it actually is. We also like the angled top and bottom edges. The former makes it particularly easy to press the near perfectly positioned power/lock button. Touch-sensitive back, home and multitasking shortcut keys sit below the display, while a volume rocker is located on the right side. All are well positioned.

The back of the One SV is removable and this provides two advantages over HTC's more expensive One X — the battery is removable and therefore replaceable and there's a microSD card for extra storage. There's 8GB of internal memory available on the phone itself.

The HTC One SV is a mid-range device so there's always going to be compromises. This comes in the form of the screen, which has a resolution of 800x480 and is significantly lower than many flagship devices on the market. The SLCD 2 display is bright and clear and offers exceptional viewing angles, but the low resolution means it can't display the same crisp text as other smartphones.

Software & performance

The HTC One SV runs Google's 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software and once again features HTC's Sense UI overlay. The user experience is very similar to most of HTC's more expensive range, with a few exclusions. HTC hasn't officially stated if or when the One SV will be upgraded to the latest 4.2 Jelly Bean version of Android.

We love some of Sense's less advertised touches, such as asking whether you'd like to save an incoming phone number as a new contact, the convenient four dock icon shortcuts on the lock screen and a slick suite of widgets, including HTC's now iconic clock and weather widget.

While Sense is user friendly, however, we still feel HTC has made plenty of changes for changes sake. The phone app offers excellent linking of contacts from multiple sources but the interface feels cluttered and doesn't achieve any consistency with the regular Android UI. The default Ice Cream Sandwich keyboard has been replaced by HTC's keyboard and is neither better looking or designed. The multitasking menu is neither better implemented or more effective than Android's stock version.

Also a source of annoyance is the amount of Optus bloatware pre-installed on the phone. There's no less than 12 Optus apps that come with the One SV and almost all of them are useless. App Store, Games, Go Places, Music Shop, My Optus, Optus Ideas, Optus Now, Optus Zoo, Pics & Vids, Smart Safe, SocialView, TV & Video can all be disabled from the settings menu, but can't be uninstalled.

Thankfully, the HTC One SV isn't a slow or sluggish smartphone. It has a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and comes with 1GB of RAM. We didn't experience very much lag or slowdown, though some graphically intense games like GTA III and Dead Trigger did take a little longer to load than we expected. Overall, the performance of the One SV won't pose an issue for most users.

Camera & battery life

The HTC One SV has a 5-megapixel camera that can be best described as below average. The camera interface itself is one of the best we've used on a smartphone but the images captured suffer from a lack of quality, excess image noise and questionable colour reproduction. We also found the built-in autofocus to be erratic, especially when taking macro photos. A 1.6-megapixel camera on the front does a reasonable job for video calling apps like Skype and Tango but predictably captures poor quality photos.

The video recorder on the One SV doesn't fare much better either. The quality is passable and the phone records in full HD 1080p, but quality is grainy and it's almost impossible to capture a video without shake or judder.

Despite being a 4G phone, the HTC One SV has reasonable battery life. It lasted almost a full day during testing before needing a recharge. This is a particularly good result since most 4G phones suffer from poor battery life. The smaller screen and mid-range specifications obviously help in this regard.

The HTC One SV is available now through Optus and Vodafone.

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