HTC Butterfly review: The droid monarch

GSMArena team, 18 February 2013.

Introduction

Going by sales in the past year alone, it's easy to forget that HTC still makes some of the best hardware in the smartphone game. Despite the fact that it was the first to release a smartphone with a dual-core Krait chipset, the first to launch a quad-core, and the first to put a fullHD display on a phone, the company's market share has dwindled over the last few quarters.

Indeed, while there wasn't much wrong with the HTC One S and One X, they both failed to realize their potential for various reasons. For one, the Taiwanese company got their marketing messed up of both the early summer releases and the Q4 holiday offerings. That's something they acknowledged and promised to work on in earnest in 2013.

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HTC Butterfly official photos

The bigger problem, however, was that while great, the One series devices fell slightly short of their Samsung Galaxy rivals, which took the market by storm. So, is the HTC Butterfly ready to push harder and bring the company back to the top of the smartphone game? Judging by this juicy specs sheet, it certainly has what it takes.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE (market dependent)
  • 5" 16M-color 1080p Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen display with 441ppi pixel density; Curved Gorilla Glass 2
  • Android OS v4.1.1 Jelly Bean with Sense 4+ UI
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset
  • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geo-tagging
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • 2.1 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 16GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot
  • MHL-enabled microUSB port
  • Bluetooth v4.0
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
  • Polycarbonate unibody
  • Great audio quality and Beats audio enhancements

Main disadvantage

  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • Awkwardly placed and uncomfortable power key
  • No shortcuts or connectivity toggles in notification area
  • Uninspiring camera performance

The devil was in the details last time around and this time HTC has done all it can to iron out even the smallest creases, turning the Butterfly into a package that makes smartphone enthusiasts drool. Little things like a curved glass display or an extra gig of RAM can make the right kind of difference when the competition is as tight as the one between premium Androids.

The bad news for HTC right out the gate is that Sony will seemingly have an advantage in most markets as the Xperia Z is getting ready to hit the shelves as we speak. Yet, as we found out during our review, the glass-clad Japanese flagship has a weak point that might be taken advantage of, allowing the Butterfly to make up for the delay. The screen of the Xperia Z was somewhat underwhelming in terms of viewing angles and contrast and if the Butterfly does better there, it might just turn out to be the better overall package.

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HTC Butterfly at HQ

The new version of the company's Sense UI is another mystery that needs to be looked into. Last time around, we found Samsung's TouchWiz to have an advantage in functionality, even though HTC's solution was generally more consistent and better-looking. A step forward in the software department is in order if the Butterfly is to aim for the top.

Let's get down to testing and find more about it then. The hardware checkup begins right after the break.

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