HTC Butterfly S review: Evolution complete

Evolution complete

GSMArena team, 21 August 2013.


The first Butterfly was somewhat of a wasted opportunity for HTC, the limited reach and high asking price preventing the 5" 1080p monster from becoming a global winner. Back then the company was merely trying to build up hype ahead of the launch of the HTC One and, had the Butterfly not been plagued by production issues, the strategy might have worked splendidly. Instead, the Taiwanese ended up losing sales to Sony, who delivered the Xperia Z ahead of the One, and Samsung who handled the Galaxy S4's supply and marketing better.

What we can't quite figure out is why HTC is sticking to the same plan with the Butterfly S. The second-gen five-incher by HTC comes with an even more capable chipset, the new UltraPixel camera and a massive 3200 mAh battery that should keep it on for quite a while.

HTC Butterfly S official photos

That seems like a winning combo to us and, even with the One Max just around the corner, we don't see why HTC isn't planning to offer it on as many markets as possible. The target audiences of the Butterfly S and the One Max are quite different really, so it's unlikely that one will eat into the sales of the other.

Anyway, we are not gathered here to guess whether HTC strategists know what they are doing. We are more interested in how the engineers have done with the Butterfly S. But before we dive in, here's the best and the worst about the smartphone.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; 3G with HSPA; LTE
  • 5" 16M-color 1080p Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen with 441ppi pixel density
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
  • Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Sense UI 5.0
  • Quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300 CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 320 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset
  • 4 MP autofocus "UltraPixel" camera with 1/3" sensor size, 2┬Ám pixel size; LED flash
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps with HDR mode, continuous autofocus and stereo sound
  • HTC Zoe
  • 2.1 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA; Wireless TV out
  • 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
  • Front-mounted stereo speakers with BoomSound tech
  • Class-leading audio output
  • Ample 3,200 mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • 4MP camera has disappointing performance in good lighting conditions
  • No optical image stabilization
  • Awkwardly-placed and uncomfortable power button
  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • Poor video and audio codec support out of box
  • Questionable build quality - paint chips off easily

The HTC Butterfly S is obviously a very hot prospect and it can easily outdo its far more popular One sibling in all but two aspects - premium styling and camera. The large "ultrapixels" are there, but as we found out when we reviewed the One mini optical image stabilization is an essential part of the equation. And while the glossy plastic of the Butterfly S certainly catches the eye, it's no match for the aluminum unibody of the One.

HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S
HTC Butterfly S in our studio

When you turn to productivity, however, the HTC Butterfly S is certainly the best smartphone HTC has produced so far. We already know how good the 5" 1080p screen is and with a Snapdragon 600 chipset under the hood, it's a package that can do wonders. Add a huge battery, which is closer in capacity to the HTC Flyer tablet than the HTC One, and the expandable storage, and you get a multimedia monster and business tool combo that's hard to match.

Reader comments

  • Iejaz

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  • AnonD-112678

The audio quality review is misleading as it does not test output voltage. When I first bought this phone I noticed a nasty bass distortion when I was listening to "Touch" by Daft Punk at volumes above 11/15. Since Android 4.3 it's fine at 12/15 but ...

  • NameNick

I've had this phone for a month now and it's not bad. Battery life is above average, display's quite nice and it does everything well (I haven't bothered with the camera - I have a Nokia 808 for that). But as a phone ? It IS a bit too big - not lea...