While the generals of the Android army get all the glory, behind the likes of the Galaxy SIII, Sony Xperia Z and imminent HTC Onethere are legions of respectable but slightly less powerful phones swelling the ranks. The HTC One SV is just such a thing.
We tested the HTC One SV on a 4G SIM. Currently 4G coverage is very patchy. Check out this coverage map for a rough guide. In reality, our extensive roving tests around London and the south coast of England yielded very little 4G action. More often than not the One SV fell back on a 3G or lesser signal. However, even with one bar of 4G reception download speeds were pretty snappy, pulling in a 20MB file in about 30 seconds.
This brings some welcome improvements over Android's built-in snapper app, such as a burst mode that takes a few shots in succession, but as we've seen before, it also removes the panorama and time-lapse features of the standard app. The camera itself works well indoors and out, with fast auto-focus and impressive macro skills. Daylight stills look sharp and bright but as they’re 5MP there's little scope for cropping or enlarging.
Recorded video is a bit hit and miss. If you're not moving and your subject and scene stay fairly static, good times will follow. However, if you give it too much to think about (shooting while walking, panning and introducing lots of moving subjects) you can end up with twitchy footage. You also get an inviting digital zoom slider. A digital zoom can work well with video but in this case pixelation is apparent as soon as you start zooming.
Video playback is disappointing. We wouldn't expect it to keep pace with 1080p/50fps files, but even 720p playback is almost too much for it to handle, with stuttery but just about watchable output. Still, if you're more likely to be watching iPlayer on the move you're in luck, as the combo of 4G and lower-res footage is enough to keep up a solid stream in most areas.
As a gamer the HTC One SV has enough 3D power to handle the likes of Tiki Kart 3D at playable framerates, while less demanding 2D stuff slips and slides along with ease. In general use it feels suitably powerful, getting basic jobs done without any glitches or freezes.
Music via headphones sounds fullsome and meaty with good stereo separation and plenty of volume on tap. Detail in the higher frequencies could be better but it's a comfortable listen, only foiled by particularly poorly recorded or low bitrate files. The beatsaudio-branded speaker does a fair job with game sound effects but with music it's nothing to shout about.
Battery life will of course depend on how you use the One SV, but we were pretty demanding of it, generally using it to stream music over the data connection for a few hours at a time as well as regular, brief sessions with the camera, browser, sat-nav, email and various apps. Using the One SV like that over the course of a couple of weeks it rarely needed charging before bedtime, outlasting similarly sized Androids that it shared pocket space with.
The One SV is well placed to deliver most of the delights that Android has to offer – albeit the Ice Cream Sandwich edition of the OS rather than the latest Jelly Bean update. It's not the best at anything, but it's rather good at most things. Priced as it is, that sounds like quite a fair deal.
Handset provided by EE
HTC One SV
One step behind the leading pack but the smart One SV offers just about everything that most users will demand for the money