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HTC One V: Two Week Usage Review

What did I get over the Galaxy S i9003?

I finally gave up on the Android dead end (no ICS upgrade) that was my Galaxy S i9003 and decided to jump to the ICS bandwagon. The only options for an out of the box ICS experience in India at this time are the HTC duo – One X & One V. Of these, the One X was beyond my budget, and so it was a pretty simple decision to go for the One V in the end.

Reviews have been pretty positive, and I’m throwing in my 2 cents based on a 2 weeks of usage experience that wouldn’t have shown up in initial reviews. A caveat on my usage experience – I use the One V (and the Galaxy S before it) primarily as a mobile internet device (mails, browsing, e-commerce, social networking etc.) rather than for phone calls.

What did I get over the Galaxy S i9003?

The build quality is definitely impressive with the metal body, and it is also sleeker than the Galaxy S. I personally prefer the One V’s build quality over the Galaxy S.

In terms of software, ICS definitely offers a better experience than Froyo (there is a Gingerbread update for the Galaxy S, but I never got to install that during my 1 year with the phone – Kies didn’t work, so I ended up installing it through Odin). It is also a lot more stable, and I haven’t had any lockups that required hard reboots on the Galaxy S.

The HTC widgets are also pretty handy plus there are the new ICS widgets for Gmail & Email, I’m still using the Sense launcher on the One V. I had replaced the Touchwiz launcher on the Galaxy S with Launcher Pro. The Gmail & Mail clients are also definitely improved over Froyo. In particular, the mail client now has better support for Microsoft Exchange with better threaded views and flag support.

The main camera is also pretty good on the One V, though the resolution is still 5 MP like the Galaxy S. The optics are definitely better (f2.0 lens), and there’s also an LED flash (not that useful though, as it tends to blowout the photo). The bigger improvement is on the software side with the negligible shutter lag, incredible burst mode and the quick launch option from the lock screen (you need to have the camera icon in the tray for this).

GPS performance is another area where there is a big leap with the One V locking on pretty quickly. This is an area where my Galaxy S was severely lacking, and I left GPS off most of the time, unlike the One V where I have it on most of the time.

Battery life on the One V also seems to be better compared to the Galaxy S. It holds out pretty well over the day even with sync and GPS active, even though the battery capacity is lower.

The SoC of the One V is also better than the Galaxy S – the Qualcomm CPU-GPU combo has better performance than the TI CPU-GPU combo in the Galaxy S. GPU performance is particularly better (aided by the ICS improvements).

Also, did I mention that I can use Chrome (ICS only for now) on the One V.

What did I give up?

The most obvious downgrade is in terms of the front camera, as the One V doesn’t have it. However, I rarely used it on the Galaxy S (didn’t work with Skype, possibly due to Froyo lacking native front camera support), so not such a big loss personally. Then again, the front camera does make for a handy substitute of a mirror.

The One V also lacks a digital compass (wonder whether it is due to the metal body), and is not able to show you the direction you are facing on maps unless you are on the move. In addition, apps like Google Sky Maps which relies on the compass to show you the skyline are virtually useless (maybe if I run around in circles with the GPS on, it’ll know the direction I’m facing). This is a more serious omission for me, but I’ll have to learn to live with it.

The screen size is also smaller, and makes for smaller on screen elements for tapping. Not a very big difference, but when it comes to browsing and interaction, a larger screen is always handy.

The battery on the One V is also sealed in, while it could be replaced on the Galaxy S. Then again, I never really had an extra battery, and it was actually a bit of a bother as I had to remove the battery on the Galaxy S to insert the SIM. This makes the One V sleeker, so a net gain for me. Also, battery life on the One V is better than the Galaxy S.

The missing physical menu button on the One V (due to the ICS UI changes) was also a bit of a problem initially with apps like Whatsapp, facebook etc. that have their settings accessible only through the menu button. However, I discovered that a long press of the app switching button simulates the menu button press, and the settings have not been able to hide from me ever since.

What remains on par?

Though the screen size is smaller, the screen resolution is the same (480×800), which makes for a better pixel density. The camera resolution is also the similar, and so is the RAM (around 500 MB) and on board memory (4 GB, but less of it is available to the user on the One V).

Migration pains and misc.

There is still no simple way to migrate from one Android phone to another, especially when they are from different OEMs. For all the talk of everything moving to the cloud, and iTunes remaining a big bloat, the iOS-iTunes combo still remains a good way to backup and restore your apps (I own an iPod & iPad 2 as well). It is a big pain to have to install every downloaded app all over again, and then set them up.

That said, my photos & videos made a seamless transition thanks to them being stored on the external SD card that I moved from the Galaxy S to the One V. However, I can imagine things won’t be as simple for Android phones that lack external storage support. Moving apps to the SD card in hopes of them being restored on the new phone also didn’t play out as expected and I ended up setting up the apps all over again. Android needs to better way to tackle this issue, as the people change phones pretty often and setting it up every time results in a lot of wasted time.

While stability of ICS is definitely improved over Froyo (or at least HTC’s version of ICS is better than Samsung’s version of Froyo), there are still some nagging issues. The Play store still shows the same app updates for some apps at random, even after they have been installed. The data connection just freezes at times, and only a phone reboot seems to fix it (airplane & data mode toggle don’t seem to help). The calendar widget doesn’t refresh properly every day, so I end up seeing the current day mentioned as tomorrow\day after.

The UI can also be a bit sluggish at times, but it is definitely an improvement over the Galaxy S. I suspect Android requires a dual core to perform well, as the Galaxy S II was one of the first Android phones where the reviewers didn’t mention the UI lag.

And last but not the least, it still doesn’t play Fruit Ninja as well as my 3rd gen iPod touch.

Bottom line

The One V is one of the best phones available under Rs 20,000 at the moment. In fact, it is cheaper than the Galaxy S i9003 (it has held up its value well over the last year – still costs around Rs 19,000). Of course, you can get older phones that have ICS upgrades rolling out at similar price points, but the One V has the hardware to hold its own. Barring the digital compass and app setup, it was a satisfactory upgrade to my Galaxy S i9003.

Filed under: Reviews, Thoughts Tagged: Android, HTC, samsung

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More Stories By Aditya Banerjee

Aditya Banerjee is currently working as a Management Trainee in Cadbury India Ltd. He completed his Master of Management from the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management, IIT Bombay. He worked as an Application Developer in Kolkata for IBM India from August 2005 to July 2008. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in 2005 with a Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering degree. He passed out from school in 2001, and also represented India in the International Chemistry Olympiad in the same year, winning a Silver Medal.

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