The HTC One SV isn’t the most recent addition to HTC’s increasingly confusingly named One series of phones, nor is the most talked about. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t worth a look.
It may not have the most eye-poppingly impressive specs, but the HTC One SV is part of a recent trend of very capable yet inexpensive dual-core phones. Does it have what it takes to keep up with its competition? Read on to find out.
8 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD slot
5 MP rear-facing camera /w 1080p video capture
1.6 MP front-facing camera /w 720 video capture
1,800 mAh replaceable battery
Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
Build Quality & Design
It’s fairly easy to confuse the HTC One SV with other devices in the same line, such as the One X, and it’s likely that this was a conscious decision on HTC’s part. If you’re a fan of the look of those devices, chances are fairly slim that your opinion of the One SV will be drastically different.
As with most devices from HTC, the One SV is well built and feels very solid. Despite this, it manages to keep its weight down at just 122 grams. The phone is very comfortable to hold, and even with its light weight and generally small size, it doesn’t feel like the HTC One SV is going to leap out of your hand easily.
As with most phones in this range, the display is where the HTC One SV takes the biggest hit when compared to phones on the higher end of the scale. The low resolution of 800 x 480 and pixel density of 217 ppi just can’t hold up to the super-high pixel counts in phones costing much more.
You’re not going to notice to low resolution and pixel density in every case, but it is noticeable. Photos look good on the screen, for example, but computer-generated imagery is where the low pixel density is most noticeable. Text and icons aren’t as sharp as they are on more pixel-rich displays, but the aliasing isn’t as apparent as it would be on a larger screen size.
Pixel count isn’t everything, and the other aspects of the display are well done. Colors are warm and vivid, and the brightness and contrast are right where they should be.
As we’ve come to expect in these dual-core Snapdragon devices, performance was generally good. Apps launched quickly without fail, and scrolling through the home screens and app drawer was smooth. We tested a few games from the Google Play Store, and while they generally ran fairly smoothly, we did notice the occasional hitch in performance.
To break performance down into more quantifiable terms, we ran a few benchmarks, starting with AnTuTu. We ran the full benchmark three times and took the average, leaving us with a score of 10898. In comparison, the LG Spirit 4G we reviewed recently scored an average of 11783 with similar hardware.
Next, we ran Epic Citadel which may not be as comprehensive of a benchmark, but is just plain cool. In High Quality mode, the benchmark resulted in an average framerate of 48.0 FPS, while we ended up with 50.7 FPS in High Performance mode.
In a somewhat disappointing move, the HTC One SV runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich and HTC Sense 4.1. While we’ve heard that an upgrade to Jelly Bean and Sense 4+ could be on the way, I checked for an update multiple times during testing and wasn’t offered an update.
While this means that you won’t be able to use some software–Google Now springs to mind–it generally doesn’t mean much when it comes to the overall look and feel of the device. With the Sense overlay, you’ll be hard pressed to tell what Android version is running underneath, and in use the phone acts just like an entry in the One series running newer software would.
When it comes to other software, HTC has included quite a bit of what could be considered bloatware on the One SV and, as usual, it can’t be removed. Luckily, many of the apps included are small, useful utility apps. For example, the Flashlight, FM Radio, Mirror, Voice Recorded and Wi-Fi Hotspot apps will probably come in handy on more than one occasion.
I wasn’t blown away by the camera in the HTC One SV, but I wasn’t expecting to be. The cameras in phones of this class are never the greatest, and that is certainly the case here, but at least HTC made sure to cram the camera in the One SV full of features.
The main camera is 5 megapixels and capable of 1080p video recording, while the front-facing camera is 1.6 megapixels and captures 720p video. Colors are reproduced well with relatively little distortion, and low-light performance is surprisingly good, especially for a device in this class.
Where it gets more interesting is the amount of bells and whistles HTC has thrown in. Burst mode and Best Shot are included, as are HDR mode and the ability to simultaneously capture images and video. Speaking of video, the 1080p video capture is usable, and HTC has included its always fun slow-mo recording mode.
While it’s easy to look at the battery capacity of 1,800 mAh and dismiss the battery, that isn’t the case here. Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets can do some very impressive things with relatively low-capacity batteries, and the combination of a smaller screen and lower-clocked processor help extend battery life as well.
Even after a full day of heavy benchmarking and testing, I got just over eight hours of battery life out of the HTC One SV. Using the phone more like a normal person would, I easily made it through a full day without needing to charge until late that night.
In a move that is somewhat unusual for HTC, the battery in the One SV is replaceable. Extended batteries are available, although they don’t seem to offer much more capacity than the included battery. Still, if you want to make sure that you don’t run out of juice, you’ll be glad to know that you can carry a spare battery.
Devices like the HTC One SV are becoming increasingly common, and with the specs and performance being so similar across the board, the deciding factors are generally going to boil down to two things: design, and pricing. Pricing is trickier, as various deals are always going to make this a changing landscape. With style, well, that’s up to you.
The HTC One SV is a stylish, well-performing phone that is well suited for HTC fans and those who are either on a budget or just don’t need a high-end phone. If you don’t like HTC Sense, you might want to look elsewhere, but otherwise the One SV could be a great choice, especially if you can find a good deal on it.
What do you think of the HTC One SV? Let us know in the comments below.