HTC Explorer review

Reviews Paul Briden 14:36, 16 Jan 2012

We review the new HTC Explorer, a micro-sized Android smartphone

Rating: 
2.5
Pros: 
Small,solid build quality,smooth interface performance,feature-packed camera,Uncluttered by pre-loaded apps
Cons: 
Dull design,fuzzy screen,poor camera capture quality,
Verdict: 
A pretty decent low-end Android smartphone with smooth performance

The Explorer is a new mid-range compact smartphone from HTC and one for which the company has placed great emphasis on its simplicity and ease-of-use.

There are three things which immediately struck us about the Explorer - its small-size, its sturdiness in the hand and the overall high level of build quality.

This is one solid phone with not a hint of tacky plastic or creakiness anywhere to be found.

The rubber-textured back panel closely hugs the device and feels really comfortable to hold. As part of an increasing trend, the Explorer has a sort of homage to the 90s trend of interchangeable coloured back covers in case you feel like going a bit crazy.

We were impressed by the brushed aluminium camera surround on the rear of the handset – in the past we've found HTC's use of aluminium detailing utterly unappealing. But its done okay this time with a much better looking dark grey finish.

We're not exactly in love with the overall form factor as it closely adheres to the typically generic HTC conveyor belt design – ‘candy bar' format with heavily rounded off corners.

One final criticism of the external design relates to the button controls. The four control keys at the bottom of the handset are capacitive and work fine, but the physical power button on top and the volume rocker on the side are oddly embedded into the device.

This makes them nicely discreet but the price is they're awkward to use with not a lot of feedback. It's a clumsy experience at the best of times.

The screen is quite small and, frankly, doesn't provide the best image quality with some noticeable blurriness. And this isn't good – especially on such a small display.

It's a 3.2-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen and in fairness the touch sensitivity is very good indeed. The 320x480 pixel resolution provides a pixel density of 180 pixels-per-inch (ppi).

The camera is also distinctly mediocre thanks to a rating of 3.15-megapixels which, as might be expected, produces fuzzy images and video at a lacklustre 480p. It is quite well-catered for in the camera features and functionality department, however.

The handset sports a digital zoom, though we wouldn't recommend using it, given picture quality being what it is. On top of this, the Explorer is equipped with a self-timer, self portrait mode, capture effects (sepia, greyscale and so on), exposure control, white balance, ISO control, geo-tagging, auto-enhance, face detection and autofocus.

The Explorer only has 90MB of onboard storage but fortunately it also supports micro SD up to 32GB and for connectivity it has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot creation, GPS and FM Radio.

Specifications

Typical Price £112-£176
UK Launch Available now
Frequency GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100
Phone Style Touchscreen
Thickness 12.9mm
Length 102.8mm
Width 57.2mm
Weight 108g
Built-in Memory 90MB
Additional Memory Up to 32GB via micro SD
High-speed Data HSDPA/HSUPA
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Hotspot,Bluetooth 3.0, microUSB 2.0
Screen Size 3.2 inches
Screen Colours 256k
Camera 3.15 megapixels
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 2048x1536 pixels
Zoom Yes
Flash No
Video Resolution 480p
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/eAAC+/WAV/WMA
Song Storage Yes
Radio Yes
Speaker Yes, SRS surround sound
Video Calling No
Internet Yes
Browser HTML
Battery Standby Up to 445 hours

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