HTC Butterfly S review: Evolution complete

Evolution complete

GSMArena team, 21 August 2013.

HTC Zoe is a wiz at photo editing

HTC Zoe is more advanced than any other gallery on a phone and it was made possible by the dedicated ImageChip 2. When you use the camera in Zoe mode, every time you press the shutter key, the phone captures up to 20 full res shots and a 3 second video (1 second before you press the shutter key and 2 seconds after). All that information is required for the advanced features of Zoe.

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Standard looking gallery, at first • Events view is where Zoe comes in

One of those features is Events. Zoe can be used as a regular image gallery with photos sorted by folders, but Events can group photos by when and where they were taken. Each event has a 30 second highlight video, which is stitched together from those 3 second clips plus a slideshow, including some of the pics. You can remove clips and add new ones to the highlight video, add a video effect and also include a background music (the tracks are preset, though you can add new ones to the list).

The animation in the Gallery is seamless, which is more than we can say about it outside the HTC Butterfly S. If you save the pictures on your PC you're left with 20 shots for every Zoe animation created. The good news is HTC allows you to upload the sequences to their Zoeshare webpage and send the links to your friends. Images there are displayed like GIFs.

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The gallery

The videos and multiple full-res shots come into play when editing images as well. Since the phone has a video of the scene during which the photo was taken, it can find moving objects and put a red X on them so that you can tap and remove the ones you want, but keep the rest. The end result is a full-resolution 4MP image.

Zoe can also make sure everyone in the photo is smiling and their eyes are open - it detects all faces and circles them, then you can swipe to go through all available images of that face until you find the perfect one.

Yet another feature is called Sequence shot. It takes a shot of a moving object and it creates a cool "multiple exposure" effect where that object appears several times in the photo. It's perhaps easier to show the effect than explain it, here's a shot of a BMXer jumping over a ramp. You can tweak the effect by adding and removing clones.

Zoe's arsenal of effects doesn't end here - there are some vanity effects too. One such effect is Face contour, which allows you to easily slim someone's face. There's also Skin smoothing, an automatic lighting fix, Eye enhancer (which makes your subject's eyes open wider), Eye brightening, Red-eye removal and Anti-shine. The intensity of these effects is adjustable with a slider so you can fine tune it.

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The photo editor has tons of options

That's just the Retouch section of the Photo Editor. There are also effects, frames and transformations available. Basically, Zoe is nearly as potent as Photoshop in your pocket.

Of course, you are not limited to that site - you can share these albums on other social networks just as easily.

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Setting up Zoe Share

As before, you can find a map with your geotagged images in the Gallery.

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Geo-tagged photos

Video player has limited codec support

The Video player on the HTC Butterfly S has a pretty simple interface. There isn't even a dedicated app, you just pick a video from the gallery. Anyway, you get a Play/Pause button and a slider to scrub through the video, a button to launch the camera and a small square with the current time and battery charge. Those automatically hide after a few seconds, of course.

The video player can use the Beats audio sound enhancement just like the music player, which is great for watching videos. The video player supports DLNA and subtitles.

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The video player

The video player used to have an option to play 60fps videos at 30fps for a slow-motion effect, but that has been removed (we checked the HTC One, the option is missing there too after the update to 4.2).

The HTC Butterfly S failed pretty miserably when it came to codec support. It couldn't play most DivX videos (we even had an issue of an AVI video with MP3 audio playing without sound), XviDs refused to play, MOV files were out of the question and it also choked on some audio codecs (like AC3).

The videos that played did so up to 1080p, including MKV files. With a display like that the HTC Butterfly S is some proper codec support away from becoming a powerful tool for watching video on the go. Luckily there are a few dozen video players in the Play Store to address this deficiency and some of them are even free.

Music player with Beats audio

The HTC Butterfly S comes with a custom music player, which is HTC Beats enabled, of course. It can organize your music library by Artist, Album, Songs, Playlists, Genres, Podcasts or Folders (we don't see this option very often). The phone will also easily stream songs over DLNA, you're not limited to the music library you have in the internal memory.

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Browsing through the music library

The music player has some handy features out of the box. It can automatically look for and download Album art and artist photos (you can limit it to Wi-Fi connections only) and it can also search for lyrics. The lyrics can be displayed either in karaoke mode or just as text.

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The Now playing interface • The player automatically finds the song's lyrics

There's no equalizer on board, you just have the option to toggle Beats audio on or off. That's not ideal, but at least the BoomSound stereo speakers on the front of the HTC Butterfly S are quite good.

SoundHound is HTC's track recognition service of choice and it has even been integrated it into the music player UI. It easily ID's a song from just a short sample. Or you can say the name of the artist and song and SoundHound will find it for you, including the lyrics. The free app however only offers a limited number of uses (99).

FM Radio alongside the TuneIn app

There's an FM radio, which has a pretty simple interface. It automatically scans the area for the available stations and allows you to mark some of them as favorite. It also supports RDS and allows loudspeaker playback.

Aside from the headphones or loudspeaker choice you also get Mono sound if the reception is poor. There's no Beats enhancement here however, nor is there a playback control card on the lockscreen. The SoundHound shortcut will find out the name of the currently playing song and can take you to a digital music store where you can buy it, lookup the song's lyrics, or even watch the video on YouTube.

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The FM Radio app

You can also go with TuneIn Radio, which relies on your internet connection and can play just about every station on the planet that's gone broadband (most of them have). And the quality is arguably even better.

You can set stations as favorites, search local stations by country or genre, and the app will even list you results to specific artist, album or song searches.

Finally you can also set your alarm to wake you up with your favorite station. Keep in mind that you need an active connection for this and it does tend to take the life out of your battery fast in the morning.

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TuneIn Radio

Splendid Audio quality

The HTC Butterfly S is in line with that of the HTC One and the first HTC Butterfly. The last three high-end HTC phones combine high volume levels with excellently clean output to deliver the best output in business.

The Buttefly S did perfectly in the active external amplifier part of the test, posting great scores all over the field. In addition it had volume levels higher than all non-Beats powered flagships making this a big victory for HTC.

More impressively, there's virtually no degradation when you plug in a pair of headphones. The stereo crosstalk rises so little that the difference is only detectable with lab equipment and the rest of the readings remain just as great. A flawless overall performance by the Butterfly S.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
HTC Butterfly S+0.02 -0.32-93.793.60.0008 0.014-93.6
HTC Butterfly (headphones attached)+0.16, -0.19-93.793.60.019 0.037-83.3
HTC Butterfly+0.13, -0.29-82.582.30.0090 0.022-80.8
HTC Butterfly (headphones attached)+0.16, -0.24-82.382.10.0094 0.042-59.7
HTC One+0.11, -0.14-92.491.20.0012 0.013-92.4
HTC One (headphones attached)+0.16, -0.07- 0.055-70.8
HTC One X+0.02, -0.08- 0.393-80.7
HTC One X (headphones attached)+0.10, -0.10-80.680.60.174 0.459-60.8
Sony Xperia Z+0.11, -0.10-81.982.10.0430.041-81.3
Sony Xperia Z (headphones attached)+0.62, -0.09-81.781.50.2040.249-56.4
BlackBerry Z10+0.16, -0.29-82.882.60.0100.022-80.5
BlackBerry Z10 (headphones attached)+0.18, -0.28-82.782.70.0140.059-45.3

HTC Butterfly S frequency response
HTC Butterfly S frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • Iejaz

wi fi password

  • 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...