Labelling the HTC One V as a wee phone is an understatement. This handset is tiny for a smartphone that features a 3.7" display. Compared to my Lumia 800, which also has a 3.7" display, the Lumia 800 is noticeably larger and heavier. And despite its petite size and lightweight construction, HTC has spared no expense with materials. Like the Radar, the One V is housed in a metallic unibody contruction, making the device feels more luxurious and expensive than it is.
The 3.7" LCD may be bog standard now, but with a resolution of 480x800 resulting in a pixel density of 252 ppi. No where near retina level, but it is sharp enough that most people will not be able to see the individual pixels. Below the highly reflective display lies three touch sensitive capacitive buttons, and below those is the recognisable HTC Legend-ish 'chin'. The chin doesn't actually provide any form of function apart from perhaps making the phone easier to grasp from the bottom.
Construction quality is brilliant. The HTC One V does not feature any creaks and the rear cover does not exhibit any visible gaps. HTC's desire to make their devices as thin as possible also resulted in the battery being built-in. It's a trend that appears to be gaining traction among hardware manufacturers, and one that I do not completely agree with.
Powering the HTC One V is the modest Qualcomm MSM8255 SoC. The MSM8255 is a very capable chipset, powering the majority of mid-range phones currently on the market, from the HTC's own Desire S and Radar to the Nokia Lumia 800/710 and Sony Xperia Play. The single core ARMv7 CPU, clocked at 1GHz, and Adreno 205 GPU might be dated now, but is still sufficient enough to power Android ICS. HTC Sense 4.0 is preloaded with the One V and its deep customisation does cause the device's outdated hardware to struggle at times. Despite the occasional lag and slowdowns, the device was mostly responsive.
HTC Sense 4.0 appears to be a stripped down version of the one found on the One X. This is perhaps a result of the need to retool the UI to accommodate the lesser hardware. One feature excised which I found odd was the removal of leap view from the homescreen. As far as I can remember, HTC Android phones with HTC Sense has always featured leap view so its exclusion confuses me especially when it has nothing to do with lack of power. HTC has also removed the Windows 7-ish Aero-like multi-tasking view. Instead you get the bog-standard but superior ICS multi-task menu. The UI as a whole is pretty but messy, with options that makes no sense. For example, removing widget or shortcuts from the homescreen requires me to drag the items onto the top right corner of the screen - hardly an intuitive process.
Over the next week or so I will be testing the HTC One V with some serious torture testing whilst on holiday in wet Dorset. If you have any questions, please ask on Twitter and I will do my best to answer. Many thanks to Three UK for loaning the device.