We recently reviewed both the unlocked and U.S. Cellular versions of the HTC One V. Because of the two devices' similar construction and features, applicable portions of those reviews will be used in this evaluation of the HTC One V for Virgin Mobile.
Opting to sign up with a prepaid wireless carrier makes a lot of sense because you pay as you go and can leave whenever you see fit. The flipside of this arrangement though is that prepaid cellular providers tend to charge high, unsubsidized prices for archaic low-end phones. The $199 HTC One V on Virgin Mobile shatters the typical business model. This compact Android 4.0 smartphone is lovingly crafted from premium materials, sports an attractive screen, and boasts an advanced camera. If you can make peace with its 3G connection and modest performance, it's a very tempting Virgin Mobile device, even more compelling, in fact, than the U.S. Cellular version since you don't have to commit to a contract.
One key to HTC's success in the past has crafting phones with daring designs. A excellent example was the HTC Legend, which was carved from a single block of aluminum. The HTC One V furthers the Legend's premium looks by flaunting its unibody aluminum chassis.
Painted in a luxurious deep black, the One V's metal surface is matte, possessing an almost sandpaperlike roughness. Like its big brother, the HTC One S, the handset's texture absorbs moisture, repels fingerprints, and provides a sure grip.
The HTC One V takes another design element from the Legend playbook, a distinctive curved chin at the base of the phone. Love it or hate it, the One V's sloping bottom edge helps it stand out in a world filled with basic flat slabs.
With softly rounded edges and compact size, the One V's small stature also makes it a rare sight in today's smartphone market. Compared with the massive 4.7- and 4.8-inch-screened monsters filling store shelves, the HTC One V's 3.7-inch, 800x480-pixel-resolution LCD screen feels practically pint-size.
Despite its small stature, the One V's screen produces accurate colors and wide viewing angles. It doesn't get as bright or render images as sharply as HTC's current superphone the HTC One X. That said, the One V's display is noticeably brighter than the HTC Evo Design 4G, its cousin on Boost Mobile.
Measuring 4.74 inches tall by 2.35 inches wide by 0.36 inch thick, this device is minute enough to use one-handed and easily slip into pockets. The only recent Android phone I can say that about is the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE. At a hair over 4 ounces, the One V shouldn't tear a hole in your pocket either.
HTC keeps the One V's ports and buttons to a minimum. On top you'll find a power key and 3.5mm headphone jack. The right side houses a long, thin volume rocker while the handset's left side contains a Micro-USB port. Three capacitive buttons for back, home, and recent programs sit below the screen. Keep in mind the phone lacks a front-facing camera for video chats.
As the most modest phone in HTC's One series lineup, the HTC One V doesn't come equipped with the same powerful components that grace the One X and One S. Even so, the handset runs the same modern software, including Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and HTC's Sense 4 user interface layered over it.
Designed to be less intrusive than previous Sense versions, Sense 4 skips many of the fancy graphics effects, such as the perpetually spinning 3D carousel of home screens and in-your-face weather graphics.
To unlock the phone either flick a virtual ring from the bottom of the screen to the center, or drag icons into the ring to quick-launch major phone functions. Pulling the camera symbol inside the ring for example powers up the One V's imaging system to snap pictures and shoot video without navigating through menus. Other lock-screen shortcuts include the Web browser, text messaging, and phone dialer.
As on the HTC One S, and HTC One X, you have seven home screens to choose from, each ready to populate with app shortcuts and animated widgets. You'll find HTC's classic weather clock front and center on the main screen. One difference, though, is that tapping the widget's digital readout launches a world clock that lists capital city times in basic text, not the slick 3D globe visual found on the One X and One S.
Hitting the weather portion of the clock does pull up a detailed forecast but the One V lacks the graphics-heavy weather wallpaper that the One X and One S have as an option. On those phones it displays animations in the background and on the lock screen corresponding to current atmospheric conditions.
The bottom of each home screen contains a tab with the same four quick-launch icons shown on the lock screen. I definitely appreciate being able to swap these icons for others or even create and add folders holding multiple app icons. Changes made here are also reflected on the lock screen, and placing application shortcuts on top of one another creates a folder. Sense enhances the browser too, with a Pure Content Reader view that removes ads and displays only the text of a selected Web page. You can also select pages and video to bookmark for later enjoyment offline.