HP Veer is a tiny device but a significant one, due to the fact that it’s HP’s first attempt to use the webOS. Those who see Veer for the first time could be astonished by its ridiculously small design. At just $99 on AT&T, Veer 4G is a good alternative for huge Android phones. In fact, Veer is so small you can literally wear it on your wrist as a watch.
To appreciate just how small the Veer is, you should hold it in your hand. Measuring at just 3.3×2.2×0.6 inches (when closed), the phone is smaller than a credit card. This phone makes many contemporary smartphones look huge. Weighing 3.6 ounces, you can barely feel it in your hand. The standard color is black and chrome button, however, the white version is also available. The phone is so tiny, you may feel silly holding the Veer up to your head when making or receiving calls, so you may need to extend it to make it feels and looks more natural. Just like many Palm Pre models, a portion of the back has a mirrored finish. Despite, its small size, you can grip the phone firmly, due to the soft-touch back.
You can find the mute switch on the top and the power button at the right corner. The power connector is located at the bottom, but it isn’t microUSB. Both the 5Mp camera and the speaker are located at the back. Under the 2.6” display you can find a capacitive strip that doubles as a notification light and home button. Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, which is pretty disappointing for a 2011-era smartphone. The headphone adapter is attached magnetically, and it sticks quite firmly and won’t be disconnected when put in the pocket.
Thankfully, HP Veer features a physical keyboard, as tapping on a virtual keyboard in such a small screen would be unpleasant. Even so, those with large fingers will have a tougher time with the keyboard layout, but for most people, the gummy, raised keys can help them to type sentences fairly quickly. The dedicated @ key and bright backlight are other pluses. The phone designers are sensible enough to not feature a touch keyboard, which is useless anyway.
Screen and Audio
Since the Kin One, Veer 4G is the smallest smartphone available in the market. While the panel is generally responsive, colorful and bright, its resolution is quite low for today’s standard (400 X 320). It is inadvisable to browse web pages using the portrait orientation, which can be hard on your eyes. Playing games is also uncomfortable, as you may need to squint all the time. The speaker is quite loud; you can hear it from other rooms.
Operating system and interface
The HP Veer uses webOS 2.1.2, with its superb multitasking ability. It accepts gestures perfectly, for example, just swipe up to minimize an app, move right or left to go to other opened apps and when you want to close an app, just whisk it off the screen. You may appreciate how the OS handles notification messages, they appear nicely from the bottom right corner of the display and you can tap them to get more information or go directly to the email message. Although the notifications are a little too small, they are still welcome. Apps that are tightly integrated with the WebOS, such as Pandora can be controlled from the notification bar.
Just Type is a wonderful addition to the HP Veer, which allows you to type quickly on the Just Type area when the keyboard is extended. The search feature is integrated with many areas, including browser, e-mail, contacts, apps and many others. Often-used features such as text message, Facebook and email can be accessed using the Quick Actions options; unfortunately, you can’t change the Quick Actions order. Just like other webOS phones, calendars and contacts are unified nicely. The phone syncs smoothly with Yahoo, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook and Exchange. However, unlike Android phones, you can’t share online articles to Twitter and Facebook directly from the browser; sharing pictures in Twitter from the photo apps is also not possible.
The phone is powered with the Qualcomm MSM7230, an 800 MHz processor. The Veer 4G is quite snappy when opening multiple applications and switching between them. However, you may notice lag on some tasks including using apps that rely on online data (such as social networks), rendering pictures and switching screen orientation. In addition, the App Catalog needs about 30 seconds to load. The 8GB internal storage is quite generous, given the fact, that users are unlikely to store long videos in it. You can’t upgrade the space, so you need to consider what you want to keep. The phone can act as a USB drive, but you can’t use it when you access the phone’s internal storage on the computer’s screen.
The App Catalog is still way behind the Apple’s Apps Market and Google’s Android Market. There are only 6000 apps to choose from, which include popular apps also found on other mobile platforms, such as Yelp, Foursquare, Fandango, Facebook, Evernote and Angry Birds. The official Twitter client will be released soon and games selection is somewhat skimpy. AT&T Navigator is a bundled app ($9.99 per month), which allows you to find direction using the speech technology. QuickOffice can open and read office documents well, but they are rather uncomfortable to read on Veer’s tiny screen.
Like other AT&T phones, the Veer 4G doesn’t offer the actual 4G speeds. On large cities, such as New York Cities, the download speed may reach slightly above 900 Kbps, which means you can open complex websites such as NYTimes.com and ESPN.com in less than 10 seconds. That’s quite acceptable, although phones with real 4G speed may take half as long. Veer’s browser appears to have problem rendering Flash-rich sites, for example, PBS Kids may takes too long to load. Because you need to pay $25 for 2 GB of data, using Veer for tethering can be rather costly.
The 5Mp camera delivers mixed results. The output is pretty sharp and has vivid colors. The Veer also snaps quickly and you can upload the photographs directly to Facebook in the Photos app. However, it is recommended to use the Facebook app instead, as it allows you to add captions. In dimmer places, the photos don’t suffer from excessive grain, despite the absence of a flash.
The Veer 4G has a slightly underpowered 910 mAh battery, but the HP’s new phone can last a long time between charges. After using the phone for the whole day, there should be 25% percent battery left by late afternoon.
Obviously, the HP Veer 4G won’t temp Android and iPhone owners to switch their phones. While the overall design is pocket-friendly and solid, reading long documents will strain your eyes and the accessories are awkwardly attached. With such a small screen, it should have been designed as a landscape slider. The video camera is mediocre at best. As a whole, buy Veer 4G only if you despise those oversized smartphones and have little or no interest on apps.
- Well-designed keyboard
- Very small and light
- Handy “Just Type” feature
- Good speaker
- Uncomfortable display
- Awkward headphone accessory
- Mediocre camera
- Fake 4G speed