The exceedingly tiny HP Veer is here! Read our full review of this webOS slider for AT&T here.
HP Veer Report
Is your prime concern size? Are you looking for an OS that strays from Android or Apple? Do you text and message like a fiend? Then the HP Veer might be the phone for you. After acquiring Palm last year, HP maintained the webOS operating system so that users who were familiar with the system would not miss a beat. The Veer might not have a powerhouse camera or giant, entertainment-friendly screen, but the phone offers one of the best multitasking and navigation experiences available on a phone. 3D gaming is also not a problem for this phone, and its microscopic size makes it beloved to those looking for the smallest of the small. Of course, the phone's keyboard fell in line with the tiny theme, so large fingers will have trouble typing. We're seeing the HP Veer (specs) as the ultimate messaging device for those with smaller appendages, though the phone is capable of so much more. Let's find out.
Obviously, one of primary features of the Veer is its preposterously tiny size. Even next to an iPhone 4, the visual is laughable. We forgot the Veer was in our pocket all day long, as it takes up less space than a tin of Altoids, and is far more ergonomic.
With that said, the Veer's keyboard seemed as though it was imported from Munchkin Land. We had difficulty typing and came to the conclusion that the keyboard would best suit women with smaller hands or teens. Or guys with women hands. The phone shaves more bulk via its sleek, slide-out design, and don't worry about the screen. Although it resides on the petite side of the spectrum, the 320x400 2.6-inch multitouch 18-bit color display proved itself by handling YouTube videos and 3D games with ease. It's not as glamorous as a Super AMOLED or Retina display, but the Veer's screen does not skimp.
A few peculiar findings consisted of the phone's locked down construction and lacking camera. First off, the back panel can be removed, but it's not a friendly popping off action. We really had to pry the sucker, and when we removed the back panel, it was still attached to the phone via a cable. The 910mAh (how tiny is that!) battery pack looked like it was in an incubator with no way out, and there were no signs of a memory slot or SIM card. That's because the Veer has a dedicated SIM card slot at the top of the phone and relies on 8GB of internal memory for storage, though an actual 6.1GB is more like it.
So, HP skimped on the battery and memory, which were most likely sacrifices made in the quest for smallness. One nifty thing about this phone is that it utilizes a magnet system for connecting the charger and USB cable, much like Apple's MacBooks. This is great, however, that means we don't have a USB port and need to rely on HP's proprietary system. Also, there's no 3.5mm audio jack, but HP gave us a magnet converter that fastens on the side of the phone, in place of the charger panel. Well, it kept falling off while we were exercising, so it was virtually useless. The design of the Veer is quirky to say the least.
Software and Interface
It's all about the webOS experience on the Veer, but let's see what's cranking under the hood before we go there. It has an 800MHz Qualcomm processor, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP Stereo Bluetooth support, built-in GPS, Wi-Fi with Wi-Fi router functionality for up to five devices with a mobile hotspot, an accelerometer, proximity sensor, light sensor, and the ability to connect to 4G speeds. Shazam! That's quite a resume for such a diminutive little fellow. Many of the high-end tasks found on Android phones can be completed on the Veer, but we'll get to that in a minute.
For now, let's talk about what it's like to use a webOS phone, if you haven't read our review of the Palm Pre 2. First off, the Veer, like many Palms of the past, is equipped with a gesture panel that controls various functions on the phone. For instance, to go back, we had to swipe back from right to left. In order to toss an application onto our Home screen, we simply swiped upward and the application would appear as a card. These cards were stackable, enabling us to group similar applications together like a cluster of games or gaggle of web pages. When we were done with any card, we just swiped it up and it slid away. Everything about webOS is seamless and off the grid, compared to Android and iOS.
The Veer excelled when it came to being a productive citizen in society, thanks to the phone's multitasking capabilities. In text message threads, we could not only accept pictures, but IM chat with another contact at the same time. The main contact would remain at the top of the thread with a drop-down menu, allowing us to call them at any number we had stored for them. The same went for email and calendars, which were combined together. So, our Gmail, Hotmail, and InfoSync accounts were merged into one, with the ability to view them all separately as well. Google and Microsoft Exchange calendars played well together, allowing us to view all events at once or one calendar at once.
If you've ever been overwhelmed trying to track down information on a particular contact, the Veer will make it much easier. Phone numbers, email addresses, LinkedIn profiles, Google and Yahoo! information are all listed under a contact in individual bars.
If you're really struggling, there's the Just Type bar, which allowed us to type in anything we were searching for and the Veer would suggest a host of arenas to search for that particular word or phrase. So, if we searched our favorite Charlie Sheen word "Winning!", the Veer would suggest Google, Maps, Wikepedia, Twitter, New Calendar Event, New Message, etc., with that word highlighted. And we said twitter€”the Veer comes with Twitter and Facebook, which can be carried over by logging into your Palm account, which transfers everything from applications to login information to any HP phone.
This is an area where the Veer takes a hit, though it is gaining steam. For content, the Veer relies solely on HP App Calatog. Now, games like Angry Birds, Shotgun Santa, Need For Speed Undercover and other popular Android Market and App Store titles are migrating over to webOS as well. Though the population of applications is not bountiful, we hope that it will flourish in the coming months.
Videos in YouTube were not bad, and we could even watch them within the Internet browser, thanks to Flash 10.1 Beta support. We could pinch to zoom and double-tap to zoom with text wrap in the browser, and speed was better than some laggy Android phones we've seen recently. The Veer's Music application was impressive, allowing us to sort by artist, album, song, or playlist with album artwork. However, that magnetic audio jack converter made listening to music a painful experience since it kept pulling off with minimal tension. Overall, the Veer surprised us with more than we bargained for.
Call Quality/Battery Life
Just like the Pre 2, the Veer did not let us down when it came to talking. We had no major complaints over the bulk of the calls that we placed and received with our HP Veer review unit, especially when connected to a strong 3G network. As for battery life, it was actually better than we expected. After a day and a half of gaming, internet usage, camera shooting, and general browsing, the phone displays a 20% life, which is not bad, considering the little bugger pulled an all-nighter.
The Achilles Heel is the Veer's 5-megapixel camera. Without any Auto or Manual controls or a flash, the camera kept us at its beck and call. No Macros, no filter effects, no touch focus. Just an on-screen Capture button and that was it. Our VGA video samples were not anything special, other than pixilated jumbles with poor audio. We will say that if we snapped a picture with the right lighting in the right position with one hand behind our back and balancing on one leg, the Veer would capture a decent image (view samples). But those experiences were few and far between. Hopefully, the next version of the Veer or Pre will feature an improved camera.
HP Veer €“ infoSync Diagnosis
This little slider is not for everyone. From the webOS operating system to its miniscule dimensions, the Veer will find a home within a select group of mobile users who value the space in their pocketbooks and bask in the joys of multitasking. We happen to think webOS is just dandy. It's more of a "think outside the Droid" approach to mobile connectivity, and for that, HP excels.
The Veer (discuss) did not impress us with its faulty audio jack converter and guts that seemed to be locked within Alcatraz under the back panel. Also, the keyboard was tiny and the phone's camera was lacking majorly. We also craved more applications from the App Catalog, but hopefully those will be making their way over soon enough.
So when you head to the AT&T store, you're going to see the shiny iPhone 4 and trove of Android phones that all basically do the same thing. Then the Veer will catch your eye, and its size will be the primary bait. If you happen to get past the keyboard and familiarize yourself with webOS, the Veer, could be your destiny. We say wait it out if you're looking for a more powerful webOS phone.
Price and Release Date
The HP Veer will be available from AT&T on May 15, selling for $100 with a new two-year contract.