Product Type: HTC Smartphone
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Smart Phone - Shame about the Dumb User
HTC One V
Member Name: koshkha
HTC One V
Advantages: It's a great phone that's easy to use and delivers everything I need
Disadvantages: I'm probably only scratching the surface of its capabilities
I've never dropped a phone from a great height. I've never run one over in my car. I've never even cracked a screen by throwing one in my handbag and chucking my keys on top. Considering I've had mobile phones since they were half the size of a house brick, I thought I was doing pretty well. And then I dropped my Nokia e-6 down the toilet.
It might have not been too serious if I'd realised straight away - but I didn't. In fact it must have been down the loo for many hours before a courageous colleague rolled up his sleeves and pulled it out, managing against all expectations to save the SIM card. When I realised that I couldn't find my phone, the words of a colleague came back to me; "There's a phone in the Unisex loos" he'd announced earlier in the day. I hadn't realised that when he said 'in' he literally meant IN the toilet.
I marched off to IT with my tail between my legs to shamefacedly admit what I'd done. I'm on pretty good terms with IT because I stuck with a really bad Palm smart phone for 18 months longer than anyone else in the company so I'd earned the right to do something violent to a phone at least once in my working life. Earlier this year our company started offering a 300 Euro rebate to anyone who wanted to buy an iPhone as their company phone and I had been thinking about doing that. However, Jamie from IT told me not to bother. He had something I could have without having to pay that would be - in his words - 'Almost as good'. He also knows from many discussions with me that I took a conscious decision not to buy an iPad last year and so he told me that he suspected that I didn't REALLY want an iPhone either. Faced with 'almost as good' and not having to pay, I said yes to ordering an HTC One V.
~Not such a smart (or demanding) user~
I'm not someone who demands a lot from a smart phone. The HTC One V is probably my seventh smart phone and most of them were a lot smarter and many much stroppier than me. I may not know how they work and I certainly use quite a limited range of functions, but with six smart phones behind me - at least 4 of them with serious flaws that made me hate them - I know what I like and what I don't like. And much to my surprise I LOVE the HTC One V.
Since it's a phone provided by my employers, I can't tell you what it would cost - but then who really 'buys' a phone these days? Most are supplied with contracts so cost is built into whatever package you have. Googling around I got the impression one would cost you around the £250 mark - but that's purely an indication.
The key features of the HTC One V (let me just call it the HTC from now on) are that it has a large touch screen, is android based and so far everything on it has worked as well or better than I expected.
~What you get~
The HTC came in a white box made of a strange 'egg box' like cardboard which contained the briefest of guides (the 'switch on here, plug charger in there' level of information), an enormous booklet about the warranty, a charging cable with a standard USB fixture at one end and the mini USB at the other, and a UK 3 pin plug to charge from the wall. The only other thing provided was a set of earphones. Jamie from IT set up the Outlook link for my work email, gave me a quick demo of the touch screen and then told me to get on with it. A minute later when he realised I was still standing there, he kindly agreed to show me how to switch it on and off since regardless of how 'intuitive' it was supposed to be, that wasn't obvious. He also mentioned that it was one of the few phones he's set up recently that came totally without any charge on the battery so if you're the type of person who wants to play straight out of the box, charging it up first might drive you insane.
So let's start with the basics. The phone is black and that's one of the few things I don't like about it. My handbag is full of black things and if I had a choice I'd prefer a nice bit of shiny metal or a bit of colour to help me find it but it's something I can live with. I have bought it a cover as giving it some 'clothes' may make it easier to find. It's about the same size as an iPhone but I would say slightly thinner and less blocky. It's just 9 mm thick and weighs a mere 115g. I was eyeing up a colleague's iPhone this morning when I decided to write this review and I would say the HTC is lightly less chunky. It has a strange and probably unnecessary bend at the bottom - not much, certainly not enough to put the phone nearer to your mouth or anything like that and the only thing I can think of is that it might be designed to make getting the SIM card out a bit easier than if it were flat. The SIM card is the only thing you can get out of this as there is no battery compartment at all - the battery is in, and it's staying there. Since several of my earlier phones suffered from the frequent need for a hard reboot (by which I mean I had to take the battery out and put it back in again) I was at first a bit concerned by not being able to do this. My colleague who has the HTC One S says hers has got a battery compartment so whether you do or don't get one seems to depend on the sub-model. To date nothing has ever frozen on the phone so it hasn't been an issue. She has also suggested that the 'bend' at the bottom makes the phone slightly easier to hold than with a totally flat phone like the iPhone.
Talking of batteries, the life on the HTC is very good. Previous smart phones I've had have been not very smart when it came to staying powered up. A charge on this phone will keep me going for a couple of days of normal work use. Obviously how long you'll get will depend on how much you use the phone but this beats the Nokia and Palm predecessors I've had in the last couple of years by a mile but falls a long way short of what you'd get with a good standard not-smart phone.
~ Living with the HTC ~
The display switches on and off with a button at the top of the phone. To activate the screen you have to drag a silver ring from the bottom of the screen up the screen to unlock it. Fortunately a little message reminds you about this if you forget. This means that in your bag or your pocket the phone can't accidentally switch on and start phoning people. If it's a while since you used it, dragging the ring will take you to the log on screen where you'll need a code of at least 4 numbers to get things going. Each time you tap a number, the phone vibrates slightly so you know that it worked.
My home screen is set up with the time and the weather on the main screen. Since I've had the phone I've become fascinated with weather forecasts in a way that never happened before. Flicking the screen to the right twice will bring me to the most recent sms message and the screen for composing such messages. Flicking from the home screen to the left brings a phone status display which oddly doesn't allow you to change the status, only to be reminded whether it's on, off, in-flight mode and whether the wifi is enabled. If any of these things are not as you'd want them to be, you can alter them on the main screen full of icons by using the 'settings' icon. One thing I find a little annoying is that there doesn't seem to be a 'silent' mode - for that I have to switch the volume to it's minimum setting and since there's no way to see quickly that I have put it on mute, I have a nasty tendency to miss calls as a result of forgetting I've switched the ringer off.
The bottom of the home screen has 5 icons for useful shortcuts. One is the phone symbol which not surprisingly takes you to the phone, the second is the email symbol which displays the number of messages waiting for you on your lead mail account and takes you to it. The third icon will take you to all the other options including those already mentioned and includes an option to see all the apps or just the most frequently used ones. The fourth icon notifies you of new SMS messages and the fifth is a very handy short cut to the camera.
~ But can you make a call with it?~
With the multitude of things you can do with a smart phone it's easy to forget that its prime function should be to make and receive calls. I find that the shape of the phone can make it a little hard to hear the other person and I'm generally to be found moving it around my head trying to get the best audio performance. Mostly I use mine with the headset provided which is very clear and with which I get a lot less complaints from other people than I've had with other such phones. I also make most of my calls from the car on my hands free bluetooth system which is great - though I can't say that's due to the phone rather than the car's system.The speakerphone performance is also very good and very clear. My phone numbers replicate with the numbers in my outlook account and it seems also with my facebook account which is a bit unnerving. I have somehow inherited the numbers of people I've never rung thanks to the folk at facebook.
The 5 mega pixel camera is surprisingly good on this phone and if I could be bothered to check all the camera functions, I think I'd be very impressed. However, I carry a camera with me most of the time so this only gets used for quick snaps in restaurants or hotel rooms rather than 'proper' photography. The range of settings available is better than on many good quality compact cameras. I had to download the online instruction book in order to work out how to get the pictures off the camera and I also had some amusing incidents where my phone was automatically uploading shots to Facebook without me realising it was happening. Cue some very confused comments from facebook friends confronted with unexplained photos. If you want to store your photos or other documents, the phone comes with 25 GB of free Dropbox space which could come in handy. I've not linked mine to my Dropbox storage account because I don't see too much value in it, but it's worth knowing it's there if you need it.
I have never in my life bought an 'app' or downloaded music onto a phone. I know that makes me Mrs Dinosaur but I feel no need for either and having always had a work phone, I'm reluctant to put too much of my private life onto my employers' phones. Obviously that means I can't comment on the ease of such things because I don't do them. Equally I can tell you that the audio has somethng to do with 'beats by Dr Dre' but I can't tell you if that's any good because I don't listen to music on my phone. The phone came with a lot of apps already installed and I've ignored most of them or failed to see too much value in them. I do however use the alarm clock which is excellent and unlike other phones only wakes me up when I want it to and not when it feels like it. The calendar which is linked to my outlook account is good but the task list makes little sense on the phone and I need to do a bit more research to work out what's going wrong with that. If I ever should need it, there's a handy flashlight function which could come in handy, and yesterday I found a game that gave me a train journey's worth of distraction. I think it will take me a few more months to work out all that the phone has to offer. There's a navigation and mapping system which I've not used but which I intend to give a go next time I don't have my Tom Tom handy.
The main reason for the phone - aside from making calls - is for me to be able to receive my work emails on the go. In the UK I happily let the phone keep updating the inbox but when I'm travelling I can run up sizeable phone bills doing that so I have the phone set to only replicate when I ask it to in order to save money. Our company also has a preset size limit for messages so not all attachments will be received. With a large screen size of 8cm by 5 cm, reading messages is easy on the eye and the pop up touch screen for typing on is just about manageable with my little fingers although I do tend to turn the screen to landscape to get bigger buttons and make it easier. Some of the predictive texting is a bit weird to say the least and takes getting used to. It's important to read all messages before sending them as some rather weird textonyms can get substituted if you aren't paying attention.
Setting up my gmail account for my private mail took me only a minute or two which means it's REALLY easy. Similarly setting up my facebook account took about the same time. With Outlook for work, Gmail for home and facebook for fun, that's really all I need for communication. Occasionally I do use the internet function and find it better than all previous phones but still rather clunky. I don't have the patience to wait for things to load.
Despite having the phone for three months now, I can't help but think that I've only scratched the surface of what it can do but I'm more than happy with it. Once I'd found the downloadable instruction book, I felt a lot more secure about being able to work out what I was doing and compared with other smart phones, getting the hang of this one has been a doddle. If you're the sort of person who doesn't want a smart phone that's too smart and that you can actually work out how to use, then this one is a delight. I suspect it would also suit more advanced users too but not being one, I can't say that with total confidence. If you want a touch screen Android phone that looks good, doesn't weigh a ton and seems to be very reliable, then this is well worth considering. I have normally fallen out of love with a phone within the first month - but with this one the honeymoon period is still going strong.
Summary: Highly recommended - the best smart phone I've had (and I've had a lot)