UPDATE: This preliminary review was written after just a brief time with this webOS smartphone. A more complete version based on much more extensive testing is available here:
AT&T’s HP Veer 4G is a webOS smartphone in a tiny little package. It has a 2.6-inch 320 x 400 touchscreen, a 5 megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi b/g/n plus mobile hotspot capability.
It will be available from AT&T on May 15 for $99 with a new two-year service contract, but we were able to get an early review unit so we could give a sneak peek and learn more about this interesting new phone.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Veer is best described as a pebble-shaped slider phone. When closed, the device is smaller than a credit card, which is a definite contrast to many of today’s larger phones. All of the edges are rounded and it feels really good to hold in your hand. You’ll hardly notice that it’s in your pocket, since it weighs under 4 ounces.
Slide up the screen to expose the physical QWERTY keyboard; it’s incredibly tiny, but I was surprised at how well I was able to use it right out of the box. There’s a good amount of space between each key and strange as it sounds, I strongly prefer this keyboard to that of the HP Pre 2, even though this one is smaller.
The screen looks nice, though it’s not terribly bright and is somewhat hard to see when you’re standing in direct sunlight. Since I just got this phone today, it’s hard to say whether it’s a major issue with the screen or a case of my just not having found the brightness control yet.
The HP Veer is snappy, responding to my every touch by launching the relevant app, switching between apps, etc. That’s a nice surprise since it’s powered by just an 800 MHz processor. I am slightly concerned about network reception, however, because I haven’t been able to connect to 4G at my office. I will test this further in other locations to get a better idea of whether it’s a concern about the Veer or just another example of my office as a dead zone.
The external speaker is plenty loud enough and the sound quality is good when listening to music. I’m quite concerned about the headphone jack though, which isn’t actually part of the phone. In order to plug in headphones, you have to use a separate accessory that magnetically attaches to the side of the phone. It’s an elegant solution to the problem of where to put the headphone jack when you’re trying to design an ultra-small phone, and I’m glad it’s included instead of requiring consumers to make a separate purchase, but I’m not sure how well it will work in real life.
The 5-megapixel camera takes nice photos with good detail, though it does seem a bit slow to focus and actually take the shot, especially when compared to a photographic powerhouse like the HTC Droid Incredible 2 I’m also reviewing. I didn’t see any obvious problems with exposure or graininess though of course I will have to test the camera more thoroughly before I can make any definite conclusions.
I’m surprised by how much I already like the HP Veer 4G, even though I’ve only had it for a few hours. After reviewing so many gigantic smartphones it’s nice to use something more petite that takes up hardly any room in my pocket.
I’m not sure whether my initial infatuation will last, however, because the Veer is the smallest phone I’ve ever used. The keyboard is surprisingly usable, but I do have to do a lot of scrolling to see entire email messages, for example, so there are some obvious downsides to the small form factor.
How will it all play out? Stay tuned for the full review here at Brighthand.