One V

It's hard to believe it's been more than two years since we first met the venerable HTC Legend. HTC's angular, aluminum clad beast wowed us way back at Mobile World Congress 2010, with its impressive build quality and the then cutting-edge Android 2.1. Fast-forward two years and we finally have a worthy successor to the Legend's chinny mantle -- the HTC One V.

While nowhere near as flashy -- or expensive -- as the high-end HTC One phones, the One V aims to spice up the entry-level market with a solid hardware and software foundation, and some high-end treats. Inside that angled aluminum unibody there's a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, ICS, Sense 4.0, Beats Audio and a 5MP ImageSense camera.

We've spent the past day or so getting to know the HTC One V, so join us after the break for some first impressions.

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In stark contrast to the rest of the HTC One series, the One V is small, angular and chunky. Like its progenitor, it's carved from a single piece of aluminum, with soft touch areas at the top and bottom. This, combined with the phone's sizeable chin, helps the One V fit comfortably in the hand. With a 3.7-inch WVGA display (a SuperLCD 2 panel like the One X), the One V isn't necessarily aimed at heavy multimedia consumers, but there's still something to be said for this screen size and form factor.

You'll find all the buttons and ports in the usual places -- three capacitive buttons under the screen, power and headphone jack up top, volume rocker on the right side and microUSB port on the left. Around the back is the 5MP ImageSense camera with LED flash. Usually camera quality is the first thing to go, as manufacturers look to cut costs in a budget handset, but the One V's 5MP shooter is an impressive performer, easily beating the Galaxy Nexus in still image quality. That's because despite the smaller sensor, the One V's camera is backside-illuminated, and includes HTC's dedicated ImageChip for better photo processing. Video recording tops out at 720p, but that's likely because of the limited CPU power on offer.

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Speaking of which, the One V is powered by a 1GHz single-core CPU, backed up by 512MB of RAM. It's nothing to write home about, but it does the job. That said, it doesn't feel quite as snappy as the dual-core One S in day-to-day use, and there's no denying that you're dealing with a slower device. The phone's meager internal storage may end up cramping your style, too. There's just 1GB of app space and 95MB of internal media storage. Fortunately that's expandable by adding a microSD card. No card was bundled with our review unit, but we understand retail units will ship with a 2GB card.

On the software side, the One V runs Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich and HTC Sense 4, but it's not the same Sense 4 we've come to know and love on the One X and One S. Things have been scaled back somewhat on account of the One V's less powerful hardware. Some 3D effects have been cut, as have the fancy Sense weather animations and the 3D task switcher. DLNA support and the Sense Movie Maker are also nowhere to be found. Functionally speaking, it's still HTC Sense, just with fewer bells and whistles. We've seen low-end devices running pared-back versions of Sense in the past, and that's pretty much what you'll get on the One V -- a more basic software experience for a more basic device.

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But then the One V isn't priced anywhere near the all-singing, all-dancing One X, and so some compromises are to be expected. Nevertheless, the phone shines in other areas, including its display -- SuperLCD 2 looks great, even on a smaller panel. The build quality is top-notch, and the camera is the best we've seen on a budget handset.

We've got a few sample photos from the One V's 5MP camera in the gallery below. Be sure to check back in the next few days for our full review.