written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/20/2011
If there's one word to describe the HP Veer, it's cute. Coming in at a surprisingly small size, the HP Veer is a cute, tiny smartphone -- a miniaturized Palm Pre. However, does the small size help or hurt the Veer in this competitive smartphone market?
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For those unfamiliar with why HP has a smartphone, a quick note, Palm was bought by HP. Palm was a powerful force in the PDA time period but couldn't keep up with the market and soon disappeared. They made one last stand with the highly hyped Palm Pre, coming with a new innovative OS, WebOS. Whether it was Palm's inability to make a reliable product or Sprint's inability to market the Palm Pre correctly is a matter of some debate but it didn't do well enough. HP took a chance and bought Palm, most likely for WebOS. From the ashes of the Palm Pre, a new generation of phones was set to make an appearance through HP, with the HP Veer 4G among them.
The HP Veer is a very miniaturized version of the Palm Pre that was to launch Palm back into the market place. Featuring a very stylized appearance and a different kind of OS, WebOS, the HP Veer looks to capture the market that's tired of just iOS or Android.
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Design and Display
While certain smartphones such as the Samsung Infuse 4G or even the HTC HD7 have decided that larger screens and bigger phones are better, HP has taken the opposite route with the HP Veer. The HP Veer is a tiny little phone, able to easily fit in the palm of your hand. The screen itself is only 2.6 inches which is tiny, nearly comparable with the screen found on the entry level Motorola Charm from T-Mobile. The colors on the screen are bright and vibrant though text is hard to see, zooming is usually required.
The rest of the design is pretty solid. The AT&T version of the HP Veer comes in white, which makes it stand out just a little bit more from the crowd. Like the Palm Pre 2, the HP Veer is a vertical slider, holding a full QWERTY keyboard underneath the display. Simply push the display up, and with a solid click, the keyboard comes into play. As the HP Veer is not an Android powered smartphone, you will not see the familiar shortcuts here, instead the 2.6 inch display is surrounded by a solid black border. At the bottom, however, is a row of LEDs in the gesture area.
Due to the size, the phone unfortunately does not have a 3.5 mm headphone jack. In its place is a magnetic holder and a magnetic add on that attaches to the phone to give it a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The add on juts out and seems awkward, which is a disappointment. Overall the small size is cute, however, it's really not that practical.
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The HP Veer runs on an 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM7230 processor and comes preloaded with WebOS 2.1. It has 8 GB of internal storage, with no expandable microSD slot, so the 8 GB limit is it. The lack of a microSD slot is, once again, due to the size of the phone. WebOS 2.1 runs very smoothly on the HP Veer and little to no lag was experienced. For users familiar with the Palm Pre series, the device will look and feel similiar, very little lag, smooth transitions and quick loading times. It's amazing how quick WebOS responds to finger touches made by the user.
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The HP Veer is extremely easy to use, as WebOS is among one of the most user intuitive mobile operating systems currently released. It has a unique design that integrates with the black border around the display, feautring an area called the gesture area. The LEDs trail your movement as you use the gesture area, which gives the phone a very classy look and feel. WebOS 2.1 has a bit of added functionality such as stacks, putting similar running applications together, making multitasking easier. It also features universal type, simply type and the HP Veer responds with various options as you keep typing.
Unfortunately, these abilities are extremely limited by the size of the Veer. The keyboard is very cramped and users with slightly larger hands will have a hard time making their way through the keyboard. Even dialing numbers on the screen itself is a pain with the tiny 2.6 inch display. Trying to browse the web is also a pain, be prepared to zoom in quite often and scroll quite often as well. Beyond the disappointment of not being able to fully utilize WebOS, the aforementioned magnetic add on for the 3.5 mm headphone jack is also a pain. Not only is it an eyesore, but while sliding your phone in your pocket, the add on does, at times, come loose, or slide off. Not only a disappointment but also quite an annoyance.
If the device had been built just slightly larger, these problems could have been avoided, but unfortunately, in the case of the Veer, size does matter. The small size makes the smartphone cute, but impractical.
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The HP Veer comes with a 5 megapixel camera on the back, which isn't all that impressive. The pictures come out very two dimensional and flat, with no real life to the photos. Even though it is a 5 megapixel camera, it feels like a 2 or 3 megapixel camera like that found on the LG Optimus T. The video is also pretty laughable, which is very unfortunate.
The other feature is that the Veer has the ability to access AT&T's 4G network. Similar to T-Mobile, AT&T has rebranded their HSPA+ network as a 4G network, which the Veer has been enabled to access. One of the new add ons carriers place on their 4G smartphones is a front facing camera, which the HP Veer does not have. Just another disappointment in a growing list of disappointments.
WebOS is currently not as popular as iOS or Android, which means its selection of applications in the application catalog is much smaller. It's really not the Veer's fault, but there are actually a handful of applications that don't work on it, which is its fault.
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The Final Verdict
Overall, the HP Veer 4G comes in at a ranking of "Below Average" mainly due to its selling point, its size. The phone's size, while cute, really doesn't offer much on the practical side of things. The screen is too small to really utilize the power of WebOS, the keyboard is too small and scrunched and the headphone jack having to be a magnetic add on is the bitter icing on a nasty tasting cake. The negative impact that the small size gives the HP Veer cancels out the cute factor completely.
It's quite interesting to note that the Palm Pre 2 is available on Verizon's network for a relatively similar cost and allows for the full usage of WebOS. Also, with the HP Pre 3 on the horizon, one has to wonder what exactly the point of the HP Veer is meant to be. It's rather unfortunate to see such a potentially great smartphone be chained down due to size.