Available exclusively from AT&T, the HP Veer is the first 4G phone to run webOS. It’s also one of the first webOS phones to come out since HP took over Palm’s smartphones. That said, the HP Veer 4G is kind of the like the Palm Pre’s younger and cuter little sister. While other smartphones are getting bigger and badder, the HP Veer is the most petite webOS phone yet and it can even be compared to a credit card in terms of size.
The HP Veer measures 2.15 x 3.31x.59 and weighs just 3.63. Product shots really don’t do this phone justice because it’s a marvel to hold it in your hands and see how darn right petite and adorable it is, especially for a serious smartphone. We actually had one person mistake it for a Kin – Which is amazing in itself that someone remembers what a Kin looks like! The build quality of the Veer is also very solid and feels much superior to the original Palm Pre. Likewise, the keyboard sliding mechanism is solid, and it would take a lot of determined energy to break it apart. Between the Veer’s diminutive size and weight, you can easily slip it into your pocket and almost forget that it’s there. The Veer is available in black or a matte white, or as we like to call it – a “tuxedo finish”. We’re really digging the white version since it gives the device a retro look and feel. The device also sports a powerful speaker, especially considering its diminutive size. A proprietary USB cable and AC adapter are also include with the Veer. But one of the biggest pitfalls of the Veer’s design, is the fact that there is no built-in headphone jack. You’ll need to use the included small magnetic headphone adapter if you want to use headphones. That is a total bummer, especially since the piece can be easily lost.
The Veer’s 2.6-inch 18-bit multitouch display sports a resolution of 320×400. This size display is whole lot smaller than most of the other touchscreen smartphones that are coming to market now, but webOS does do a good job of maximizing the real estate available to it on this device. The display itself is sharp and colorful, and it gets adequately quite bright too. That said, it’s no Super AMOLED Plus display and colors aren’t especially vivid, but it’s still a good display offering. Unfortunately, 2.6-inch inches is on the small size and it’s not going to be for everyone, especially those who are farsighted.
Initially we were hesitant about the keyboard on the HP Veer because it looked so cramp. But the truth is you can learn to adjust to its small size keys and small typing area pretty quickly. The keyboard itself has great tactile feedback with little resistance, and once you’ve adjusted, it’s pretty comfortable to use and you can type pretty fast on it. That said, people with larger fingers will almost certainly have difficulty using it.
We do really like the latest version webOS 2.1.2. You wont want to skip the system’s initial tutorial, but once you’ve gone through it, it’s really easy to get a hang of the operating system. WebOS is quite polished and will let you multitask with ease. Messaging integration is also very strong. The built-in messaging client has support for AIM, Google and Yahoo. We especially love notifications on webOS and on the Veer and we actually consider it sport the best implementation of notifications on any smartphone yet.
The phone comes with everything you’d expect from a solid smartphone, like support for Exchange and Gmail, a video and music player, a calendar, a calculator, etc. Other preloaded apps included AT&T Navigator, YPMobile, Amazon MP3, YouTube, Google Maps, Quickoffice, PDF View, and a Mobile Hotspot app. Unfortunately webOS is currently let down by a somewhat poor selection of apps, although many of the big ones are there such as Facebook, Pandora, Yelp, Slacker, Angry Birds and Foursquare. In total there are over 6,000 apps available in HP’s App Catalog. Unfortunately many of the apps aren’t compatible with the Veer because of its resolution.
The web browser on the Veer renders web sites quite nicely – if you can handle it’s small screen real estate. The browser supports everything you’d expect like pinch to zoom and support for multiple open “windows”, as well as even Flash support. Unfortunately zooming in and out on web pages is not as responsive as on competing smartphones like the iPhone. That said, switching the Veer to landscape view makes web surfing and videos a bit more pleasant on its 2.6″ display.
We tested the browser in New York City and found that sites load up pretty fast on the Veer.
The HP veer is running on a 800mhz Qualcomm MSM7230 processor with 8GB of built-in memory. Although not quite a speed demon, the Qualcomm MSM7230 processor isn’t a slow processor either. Yet despite the device having a pretty capable processor inside, performance on the device is its biggest let down. It’s likely that performance must be being held-back by webOS. We’re hoping that system updates will improve the device’s overall responsiveness. The system isn’t quite slow, but often we experienced lag when loading apps, switching screen orientation, and some occasional lag between gestures and swipes. Weirdly this occurred when there weren’t even many apps running. The device is still very usable but it’s just not as responsive as most of the smartphones coming out right now. That said, the Veer is still perfectly usable, and somewhat acceptably so for a mid-range $99 smartphone. However it just can’t compete with the likes of the 1ghz+ Android smartphones that are showing up everywhere.
The Veer sports a 5 megapixel camera with support for geotagging. Unfortunately there is no built-in flash, Auto-focus or front-facing camera on the Veer – not that we would expect to see a front-facing camera on a $99 smartphone. Unfortunately the phone also lacks a dedicated camera button. Photos, especially those taken indoors tend to be washed out, often blurry and full of noise. And if there isn’t ample amounts of sunlight or light surrounding you, the photos also tend to come out dark. The camera also can’t record in HD. And the camera’s app itself is just barebones. Videos are also mediocre. You also have the option of uploading directly to Facebook and YouTube. Also, it is pretty neat that you can trim clips right on the device – just like you can on the iPhone.
Callers sounded clear during conversations and the earpiece gets adequately loud. However, callers on the other end told me that they could hear ambient noise from my side while I walked through the street. The speakerphone quality is also average.
With moderate use, the Veer is able to get through almost a whole day on a full charge. That is actually significantly better than most of the other smartphones we’ve been using and testing.
Despite all of its pitfalls, we cant help but be charmed by the HP veer. We also do like webOS a lot, even though it can use some performance improvements. Maybe it’s a “girl thing”, but we showed the HP Veer off to both males and females, and while the dudes liked the phone, they all said that they preferred phones with larger displays. On the other hand, many younger women fell in love with the Veer and told us that they loved the size of the device. Some said that they could see throwing it into an evening bag, for a night out on the town. If you can get passed the small display, and the so-so performance, the Veer is really quite a unique and capable phone. The HP Veer goes on sale on May 15th for $99 with a two year contract..
The Good: Adorable compact design, solid build quality, webOS is easy and fun to use, 4G, good keyboard, good battery life, keyboard is comfy to type on despite being cramped
The Bad: Display is rather small, performance isn’t so great, camera is mediocre, no built-in headphone jack, No HD video recording