Bringing up the rear in HTC's 2012 cavalcade of new phones is the One V, a 3.7-inch Android 4.0 smartphone with an aluminum unibody design that evokes the well-liked Legend handset of 2010. It mostly keeps things simple, with a 1GHz single-core processor, a regular-sized SIM card slot (unlike its One series siblings), and a 5-megapixel camera. Although its sensor differs from the 8-megapixel unit inside the higher-end models, the One V benefits from the exact same software enhancements.
Camera performance has been a real priority for HTC with the One series and all three of its newly launched Android handsets come with a selection of important optimizations. Firstly, a dedicated imaging processor has been added to allow the One phones to manipulate pictures before compressing them to JPEG format. HTC expects this to result in lower image noise, greater color accuracy, and higher overall quality.
Most of the improvements in the One cameras actually relate to speed. Startup time of the camera app is said to be 0.7 seconds and autofocus takes a blistering 0.2 seconds, making it quicker than the blink of an eye. Holding down the onscreen shutter button (you'll find no physical camera keys on these phones) automatically flips you into burst mode, with an intelligent selection menu then allowing you to pick the best shot of the bunch and discard the rest. There's no longer any need to switch between video and photo modes -- the software buttons for capturing stills and video sit right next to each other now, and HTC's neatest trick is that it also allows you to snap photos while recording video. And if you want to pull out a still from a video recording you've already made, HTC lets you do that too.
The richly enhanced camera software seems to have been HTC's answer to demands for more meaningful Android customizations and the rest of Sense 4.0 also looks to have taken past criticism on board. A lot of chrome and animations from the old skin are now gone, and a more two-dimensional look to UI elements underlines a shift toward utilitarianism. A good example of this can be seen in the new overscroll animation, which is reminiscent of the one on the PS Vita. Other software niceties include 25GB of Dropbox storage for two years, Beats Audio integration for all applications, and an updated HTC Sync that can now wirelessly sync with desktop programs like iTunes and Windows Media Player.
The HTC One V will clearly aim to be the budget-friendly option for keeping yourself up to date with the very latest from HTC's labs and fabs. It'll be available across Europe early in the second quarter of 2012, with HTC aiming to release it alongside the One S and One X at the beginning of April. There are no US launch plans to speak of.