Cricket’s 4G LTE network is finally here, and not a moment too soon. Without speedy LTE, Cricket smartphones were stuck in the slow lane. But now that it’s in 18 Cricket markets (and more coming), you should be picking up an LTE smartphone if you’re interested in Web browsing or streaming on the go.
The HTC One SV is the middle entry in Cricket’s current lineup of three LTE phones. On top, there’s the uncompromising Samsung Galaxy S III ($479.99). Below, there’s the LG Optimus Regard ($229.99), which MetroPCS sells as the LG Motion 4G. The One SV looks like a happy medium to me: a well-built, lively phone with competitive performance that fits well in a range of hand sizes.
Physical Design and Call Quality
HTC makes really nice phones. The company’s materials design is the best in the business; it’s better than Samsung. The One SV is no exception. The phone has a black front with red touch buttons, and the back is a great-looking red-orange polycarbonate. The edges are slightly slanted, giving the phone a little bit more personality than more generic smartphones. At 5 x 2.6 x 0.36 inches (HWD) and 4.3 ounces, it’s the right size and shape for most hands.
The phone has a 4.3-inch, 800-by-480 Super LCD2 screen that really pops. I’ve seen higher resolutions on high-end phones (such as the HTC 8X’s 4.3-inch, 720p panel) but the screen quality and viewing angle are both very good here. The screen size and resolution fit neatly between the Galaxy S III’s 4.8-inch, 720p panel and the Optimus Regard’s little 3.5-inch, 480-by-320 display.
Call quality is good but not great, as the earpiece can be a bit quiet for noisy locations. There’s no in-ear feedback of your own voice. Transmissions sound very good on the other end, with solid noise cancellation and well-tuned voices. The back-ported speakerphone is of decent volume, if a bit tinny. I had no trouble connecting the One SV to a Bluetooth headset and using it with the standard Android 4.0 voice dialing. Battery life, at 9 hours, 4 minutes of talk time, was solid.
Internet Access, Browsing, and Apps
Cricket’s new LTE service is available in 18 metro areas including Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Philadelphia. The carrier aims to bring LTE to the rest of its coverage area this year, but for now, other Cricket users are still plugging along on 3G.
The LTE network uses narrow channel sizes, so it won’t show the spectacular peak speeds we’ve seen with AT&T and Verizon. But in tests in Las Vegas in January, it zipped along with download speeds between 5-8Mbps and uploads between 2-5Mbps.
Cricket’s 3G speeds elsewhere are similar to Sprint’s; where it doesn’t have coverage itself, it uses Sprint’s network. Here in Manhattan, I got a pleasantly surprising 800-900kbps down, which is better than I’ve seen recently on Sprint’s network on other devices.
The phone also has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. I had some problems with the phone occasionally dropping Wi-Fi connections, though I couldn’t reproduce the effect reliably.
The One SV runs Android 4.0.4 “Ice Cream Sandwich” with HTC’s Sense overlay. There’s no word on any 4.1 “Jelly Bean” updates, so don’t count on them. ICS is the most popular version of Android at the moment, so the One SV should run everything in the Android Market. Cricket adds a few bloatware apps; there’s nothing obnoxious, and Cricket’s $5/month Cricket Navigator driving app could actually prove useful.
(Next page: Multimedia and Conclusions)
The phone has a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm S4 processor that seems to have become the go-to chip for lower-cost, nicely performing smartphones; it’s the same one we’ve seen in the LG Motion 4G and ZTE Avid 4G. As with those two phones, the One SV benchmarks quite nicely—not up in the Galaxy S III range, but speedily enough for gaming and Web browsing.
The 8GB of internal memory, plus a memory card slot supporting up to 64GB cards under the back cover, meant that I had no problem running even very heavy games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
Multimedia and Conclusions
The One SV has a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.6-megapixel shooter on the front. I love HTC’s instant shutter, which never misses a shot. But the actual shutter speeds aren’t as fast as the phone’s quick responses imply. In decent light, you get very clear, even hyper-sharpened looking photos. In low light, though, you get the kind of severe blur that comes from too-slow shutter speeds. The front camera takes warm, soft but acceptable images.
The video mode records 1080p videos at 24 frames per second indoors, and 30 frames per second outdoors; the front camera will give you VGA-quality videos at the same frame rates. The videos are smooth and sharp, with enough light.
Music and videos played back well through wired and Bluetooth headsets. Watch out, though, as some audio formats—WAV and WMA—didn’t show up on this phone. The One SV supports Beats Audio, which really pumps up the bass when you’re using headphones. It also works with Cricket’s unlimited Muve Music service, which we couldn’t test because it requires you to buy a special secure microSD card which wasn’t included with our phone; an 8GB card costs $19.99.
The video player handled MPEG4 files up to 1080p resolution without breaking a sweat. There’s no HDMI out, but the One SV works with HTC’s Media Link HD accessory to wirelessly stream videos to TVs.
We’ve had trouble getting many Cricket phones in for review, but fortunately a good chunk of the carrier’s lineup mirrors other major carriers. (That doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying.) The Samsung Galaxy S III is clearly the carrier’s flagship phone. It’s one of the most popular phones in the world, with a nicer screen, faster processor, and better camera than the One SV. While we haven’t reviewed Cricket’s GS3, we’ve reviewed half a dozen other carrier versions, and the GS3 is the best Android phone in the world today.
Where does that leave the One SV? It’s the best phone Cricket offers for under $400. It’s smaller than the GS3, beautiful, and still performs well. If you can’t afford the GS3, or you like this design better, the HTC One SV is a great way to experience Cricket’s new LTE network.
More Cell Phone Reviews:
|Screen Details||800-by-480 Super LCD 2 display|
|Bands||850, 1900, 1700|
|Operating System||Android OS|
|High-Speed Data||EVDO Rev A, LTE|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||9 hours 04 minutes|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|Screen Size||4.3 inches|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||5.2 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc