HTC Butterfly S review: Evolution complete

Evolution complete

GSMArena team, 21 August 2013.


Above the screen, we have the proximity and ambient light sensors to the right of the earpiece/loudspeaker and the 2.1MP 1080p front-facing camera on its left. Once again, HTC has put in a wide-angle front-facing camera, which lets you fit more into the frame when doing video chats (there's no native video call support, though).

HTC Butterfly S
Taking a look above the screen

Underneath the screen, we find the three controls typical of HTC droids and the second front-facing speaker. The haptic-enabled capacitive touch Back, Home and Task switcher keys are well-spaced and very responsive.

HTC Butterfly S
The second speaker is located underneath the capacitive keys

The left side of the HTC Butterfly is completely bare, while the right side holds the volume rocker. Unfortunately, this is yet another Android flagship to come without a camera key.

HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S
There's a single button no the right

At the top we find a secondary microphone, the 3.5mm audio jack, and a small plastic flap under which reside the microSD card slot and the microSIM card slot. That flap is rather hard to operate, requiring you to push quite hard to get it open, which added to the easy-to-chip paint makes it one of the poorer design decisions we have seen lately. Worse still, the cap was fine on the original Butterfly so if HTC R&D team was to leave it alone we wouldn't have any issues with it.

The Power/Lock key was also placed here, which makes it pretty inconvenient to use. Instead of putting it on one of the sides of the Butterfly S, where it would have been easy to reach with your thumb or index finger, HTC has once again placed the most used hardware button on the place that is the hardest to reach.

Just like on the HTC One, the Butterfly S power key accommodates the Infrared port that is used for operating various appliances around your home.

HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S
It's quite busy on top

As usual, at the bottom of the phone, you will see the mouthpiece and the microUSB port, which is used for data transfers, charging, and thanks to its MHL support, TV-out. With an MHL adapter you'll be able to output 1080p content to your HDTV directly from your phone, so purchasing one is probably worth it. Here the Butterfly S has a slight usability advantage over the first Butterfly as the very stiff and hard to open cap over the microUSB port has been removed.

HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S
The microUSB port is joined by the primary microphone at the bottom

The back of the HTC Butterfly features the 4MP camera F/2.0 lens and the LED flash right next to it. There's no Optical image stabilization this time, though, which is a pity considering that this was one of the best parts about the HTC One UltraPixel snapper.

HTC Butterfly S HTC Butterfly S
There's nothing but the 4MP camera lens and the LED flash at the back

The HTC Butterfly is powered by a non-user-replaceable 3200 Li-Ion battery. HTC rates it to last for up 25h of talk time or 659h of stand-by if you stick to 3G networks - both of those are very respectable numbers but you wouldn't expect anything less from such an ample juice pack.

More impressively, the high ratings translate to excellent real-life endurance, with the Butterfly S scoring an impressive 81h rating in our dedicated battery test. This number suggests that you can go over three days on a single charge if you do an hour of talking, an hour of browsing and an hour of video playback per day. You can find the detailed breakdown of the Butterfly S battery performance in our blog.

HTC Butterfly S
HTC Butterfly S battery test scorecard

Amazing 1080p display

We now come to the star of the show. The 5" 1080p screen is probably the main reason you are looking at the HTC Butterfly S and the third generation Super LCD won't let you down. The 441 ppi pixel density means you won't be able to discern individual pixels even if you press the screen against your nose, but that's by far not all the display has going for it.

The HTC Butterfly S LCD also offers great contrast and nicely saturated colors, to go with its extremely wide viewing angles. The viewing angles, together with the high resolution make everything appear as if painted on the screen - an effect we really appreciate.

As you can see in the table below, the screen is decently bright as well. The blacks aren't as deep as those of the AMOLEDs out there, but pretty great in LCD terms.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
HTC Butterfly S 0.15 165 1117 0.43 451 1044
HTC Butterfly 0.14 173 1200 0.45 501 1104
HTC One 0.13 205 1580 0.42 647 1541
Sony Xperia Z - - - 0.70 492 705
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
Oppo Find 5 0.17 176 1123 0.51 565 1107
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

We also have a photo of the HTC Butterfly S display as seen by our digital microscope. The pixels are the same size as on the original Butterfly and that will hardly surprise anyone.

HTC Butterfly HTC Butterfly
HTC Butterfly S vs HTC Butterfly display matrices

Sunlight legibility is not exactly perfect, but is good enough to not cause any usability issues.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
  • Apple iPhone 5
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
  • Nokia Lumia 925
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Omnia W
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
  • Nokia N9
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • HTC One S
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
  • Huawei Ascend P1
  • Sony Xperia ZR
  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • Nokia Lumia 720
  • HTC One
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
  • Motorola RAZR i
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
  • HTC One X
  • Nokia N8
  • Oppo Find 5
  • BlackBerry Z10
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • HTC One mini
  • Oppo R819
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
  • HTC Butterfly
  • HTC Butterfly S
  • Huawei Ascend P6
  • Sony Xperia V
  • Sony Xperia U
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
  • HTC One V
  • BlackBerry Q5
  • LG Optimus Vu
  • LG Optimus GJ
  • HTC Desire V
  • LG Optimus G Pro
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • Nokia Asha 302
  • Nokia Lumia 610
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
  • HTC Desire C
  • Nokia Asha 501
  • LG Optimus L7
  • LG Optimus L9
  • Meizu MX
  • Sony Xperia E dual
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
  • Sony Xperia tipo
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2

Overall, the Butterfly S screen is almost identical to that of its predecessor, but that's certainly not a bad thing - those are two of the best screens in business and have really done HTC proud.

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...