The Veer is ridiculously small. Almost Zoolander ridiculously small.
When you first grip the thing in your hand and try out the keyboard, you think, “Oh man, this is never going to work.” But after a few initial typos, it’s actually not that bad at all.
At 3.25 inches long, the Veer is tiny, stealthy and unassuming. It’s so small, it’ll even fit in the coin pocket of your jeans. The back of the black model has a rubberized texture that keeps your brain from mistaking it for a large, smooth pebble.
The 2.6-inch touchscreen is minuscule compared to giant 4.3-inch stunners like that of the HTC ThunderBolt. But as long as you’re not dead set on streaming a lot of movies or TV onto your device, it’s just large enough to do most anything else.
The phone’s screen-sliding mechanism feels solid, but it is still easy enough to operate with one hand or one thumb. And although the super-small keyboard takes a bit of practice — and a lot of trust, because your thumb covers up half the keyboard — I was surprised at how often I was able to compose typo-free messages and e-mails on the raised keys.
Palm’s webOS really shines on a device with such a small form factor. Instead of the standard menu screens seen on other smartphones, webOS uses an array of cards that can be accessed with a single tap on the gesture pad, located right under the display. Opening a new instance of an application creates a new card. A swipe upward removes the card from the deck, otherwise it’s there waiting for you when you want to return to it. Related cards (like multiple Facebook pages, for example) stack on top of one another.
Unfortunately, the implementation suffers from a few unpleasant hiccups. Finger flicks need to be deliberate, or they won’t be registered by the device. While scrolling through the photo roll, images take a second to deblur. App loading occasionally stutters, and sometimes freezes — I found this particularly true when loading the web browser. Since games and apps functioned perfectly fine once opened, this seemed like more of a software issue than a problem with the Veer’s 800 MHz Snapdragon processor.
The HP Veer comes with a couple useful features baked in: integrated messaging and Just Type, which is standard to all webOS devices. Integrated messaging allows conversations with the same contact on different services, for instance, on Google Chat and SMS, to be synced up and displayed in the same timeline, providing a seamless record of your chats. And if you don’t feel like flipping through your cards or scrolling through your apps, you can use Just Type to begin typing an app name or search item, and the phone will bring it up for you.
The Veer can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five wireless devices on AT&T’s HSPA+ 4G network. It also takes decent photos with its 5-megapixel camera — as long as there’s not excessive sunlight, which made my shots look overexposed and washed out.
The HP Veer is a pretty great phone, despite its diminutive appearance. Wired’s first impressions of the device were spot on: This would make a great phone for a teenager or anyone who wants to stay connected, but doesn’t need a large, super-crisp display for video playback.
WIRED Fantastically small form factor fits comfortably in almost any pocket. Magsafe-style charger — why isn’t this standard on all phones yet?
TIRED If the box didn’t say 4G on it, I never would have guessed. Palm’s app store has a woefully dismal selection — only the biggest names are there. The battery is non-removable.
Photos: Jim Merithew/Wired.com