HTC Butterfly 2 review: Caterpillar

Caterpillar

GSMArena team, 7 October 2014.

No UltraPixels, still Duo camera

The HTC Butterfly 2 packs a camera combo that's unique for the family - it abandons the 4MP Ultrapixel camera of the HTC One (M8) and opts for the proven 13MP snapper found in the HTC One (E8), Desire 816 and HTC One mini 2. We've already seen that to be a more capable sensor that's able to produce better results with higher detail. However unlike the trio listed above the Butterfly 2 retains the Duo camera setup of the flagship, enabling some cool effects.

The aperture sits at f/2.2, which isn't as wide as the one on the HTC One (M8) or even as wide as the f/2.0 of the 5 MP front-facing shooter, for that matter.

There's a second camera lens above the main 13MP one. It adds depth data to the images and enables blurring of the background (UFocus) along with Foregrounder, Colorize, Seasons and Stereoscopic modes.

Unlike other 13MP HTC offerings (like those on the Desire 816 and mini 2) in the aftermath of the UltraPixel camera days, the sensor found on the Butterfly 2 comes with the company's proprietary ImageChip technology, so you do get Zoe mode, where the phone will capture a 3sec video along with every photo you make and can later auto create beautiful stories about particular events made out of stills and videos.

It also has HDR, Panorama (with a digital horizon level), geo-tagging and image effects. The more advanced settings are hidden by default, but you can also control ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and a few other image adjustments.

A long press on the screen will enable Auto Exposure and Auto Focus lock. You can set the volume rocker to act as a zoom lever or a shutter key.

HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
Camera app

The HTC Butterfly 2 has a 5MP front-facing camera with a BSI sensor and a dedicated selfie mode. From the settings you can enable smile shutter and adjust the Make-up level, which tries to digitally pretty you up.

HTC Butterfly 2
Selfie mode

The HTC Butterfly 2 offers good image quality from it 13MP camera. The detail was plenty across the frame with good sharpness and spot on exposure. The white balance is warmer than it should be on a few occasions, but colors generally come out fine.

The dynamic range of the images isn't the best around - we either got darker images with some detail lost in the shadows or lighter ones with blown-out portions of the image such as the sky. The other issue with the images is that they tend to be noisier than average.

HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
HTC Butterfly 2 camera samples

Given its limited dynamic range, the HDR can come in handy on the HTC Butterfly 2 - it snaps a couple of photos with different exposures and then combines them into a single photo. The HDR mode on the Butterfly 2 strikes a pretty good balance, adding detail in both highlights and shadows, but not going to extremes and producing an exaggerated flat look.

HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
HDR Off HDR On

Panorama samples are great. The software allows you to capture in either portrait or landscape mode, depending on the scene and effect you desire. Stitching is flawless and the Butterfly 2 produces panoramas with great exposure, lots of detail and excellent colors.

HTC Butterfly 2
HTC Butterfly 2
Panorama samples

As we mentioned, the HTC Butterfly 2's main camera is accompanied by second camera on the back of the phone. It doesn't take any pictures, as it's a sort of a rangefinder. Its job is to create a depth map of your scene, which allows you to add high-quality rendered effects such as background blur (faux bokeh) or refocus your images after the shot. It even enable 3D photos with, which is visible when you tilt the phone (a parallax view).

The only inconvenience is that you'd need to revert from the highest 13MP 4:3 resolution to the 16:9 4MP resolution of the HTC One (M8) in order to add the desired effect to a photo. Here go a few samples.


UFocus Foregrounder Seasons Dimension Plus

Face detection on the Butterfly 2 is always on and cannot be turned off in the settings. It works really well and can recognize a face immediately and even track it well when it moves across the frame. The downside is that when face detection captures a face it will expose for it, which would sometimes ruin your overall exposure, which is a bummer. This can be fixed by manually locking exposure where you want it to be but then you risk losing focus of your subject.

Let's face it, when you're taking pictures of people you'd want face detection on so we're not taking points away from HTC here. We just wish there was a setting to turn it off at times.

HTC Butterfly 2 photo quality comparison

Here's the HTC Butterfly 2 in our photo quality comparison tool. It's designed to allow you the ultimate pixel-peeping experience and the option to challenge the smartphone to any of the many tested shooters we've had.

Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool Photo Compare Tool
HTC Butterfly 2 in our photo compare tool

1080p video recording

The HTC Butterfly 2 offers 1080p videos at 60fps, though there's also a 30fps mode for fullHD videos, and 120fps mode at 720p. The front-facing camera can also record 1080p videos as well.

Sadly there's no 4K recording on the HTC Butterfly 2.

HTC Butterfly 2 HTC Butterfly 2
Camcorder

The 1080p videos default at 30fps, and carry a bitrate of just under 20 Mbps. Framerate was a constant 30fps throughout the video. Audio bitrate sits high up with 192 Kbps and offers stereo channels and has a regular sampling rate of 48 kHz.

The 1080p@30fps videos of the HTC Butterfly 2 offer good detail levels and plenty of sharpness. The sound of the videos could be better and more pronounced but is still good. Things ran smoothly at 30fps and the only complaint we have is the color rendering. The colors in the video are a bit washed out. The white balance was again too warm - perhaps a colder white balance would translate into more natural colors.

The 60fps mode is very similar, having the same 20 Mbps bitrate and dual channel audio at 192 Kbps. The quality takes a slight dip but isn't drastic, retaining most of the detail and the sharpness.

60fps mode works just as advertised, however, and will result in videos that are much smoother than the standard 30fps ones, and are surprisingly the same size.

You can download the 1080p@30fps (0:15s, 37.3MB) and 1080p@60fps (0:10s, 72MB) samples taken directly from the device.

Finally, the 720p slow motion mode has relatively poor video quality, and seems upscaled from an even lower resolution. We say relatively because we've seen even worse attempts at slow motion video. The Butterfly 2 results are far from optimal in this regard, but they still manage a bitrate of 12 Mbps, so it's better than most. Here's a sample.

Video quality comparison

In the video comparison tool you can face the HTC Butterfly 2 off against any of the any camcorders we've tested over the years.

Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool
HTC Butterfly 2 in our video compare tool

Reader comments

  • Elia

2 month with my butterfly 2 and no prob Just amazing device

  • Anonymous

I like this device and waiting to be available in my country

  • Connor

Or if you like music and have it playing to get up in the mornings.. Or with your friends. It's a huge feature for me. Especially when you output your music to a Boombox and it's louder then using an ipod. It's nice.