The HTC Snap is the kind of smartphone we don’t see a lot of these days. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard. This means it doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it does have a miniature QWERTY keyboard sitting beneath the screen. Think BlackBerry and you’ve got the idea.
Design and handling
The HTC Snap isn’t going to cut the mustard for you if what you want is a modern, trendy, all-screen kind of smartphone. Where it could really score is if you are the kind of user who writes a lot of text, be that mobile emails, SMS messages, Twitter feeds or whatever. This is because of that Qwerty keyboard which, we have to say, is among the best we’ve seen.
The keys are about as big as they could be in a smartphone with this design. And they are domed so that you can feel each one individually beneath the finger. Add in a good return movement and a quiet click as you press each key – plus the fact that the keys are all very clearly labelled with their letter and secondary functions – and what we have here is a keyboard you can use at a good speed.
The screen isn’t quite as wonderful. Because there needs to be plenty of room for the keyboard, it is necessarily a bit on the small side. It measures just 2.4 inches across diagonal corners. Its pixel count, at 320 x 240, is closer to what you’d expect to see from a higher-end candybar handset, and modern smartphones tend to better it.
The screen isn’t touch sensitive, either. So you are left with the two softkeys and a miniature trackball that sit beneath it for getting around. They work well enough, but if you are used to tapping at the screen to get what you want they may take a bit of getting used to.
If you think from this description that the HTC Snap is a big device, well, it is, but not overly so. It measures 116mm x 61.5mm x 12.0mm and weighs 120g. These dimensions make it a bit sizeable for the pocket, but not too big, and it feels comfy in the hand. You’ll probably need to hold it in both hands to prod at the keys, but then you may well already do that much of the time when texting with a bog-standard mobile.
HTC is very keen on coming up with new ideas to help make your Windows Mobile smartphone experience that bit more user friendly. We’ve seen this in HTC’s TouchFLO interface for a long time, but that is designed for devices with touchscreens. Here we have something called HTC Home. This is designed to let you scroll up and down the home screen to get to different bits of the device, but obviously it isn’t as touchy-feely as TouchFLO.
In addition HTC has come up with a really clever wheeze called Inner Circle. This has its own dedicated button at the bottom right corner of the key pad. Press the button and you jump into email. Messages from those people you’ve identified as your key contacts are shown first.
It is a clever idea, designed to make sure you never miss an important email from a key person. Some of the best ideas are simple ones.
As far as specifications are concerned most of the important bases are covered. The HTC Snap is quad band GSM with GPRS and EDGE, as well as supporting HSDPA to 7.2Mbps. That means Web browsing should be fast.
It has 256MB of ROM and 192MB of RAM and there is a microSD card for adding to this. The slot is on the bottom edge of the casing, and you can’t get to it unless you remove the backplate first. The Qualcomm MSM 7225 528MH processor seemed to zip along well during our testing period.
GPS is built in and Google Maps is pre-installed. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are here too. There is no front camera for two-way video calling, and the main camera is just a 2-megapixel one. Its lens is on the back of the casing and lacks a protective cover. It is slightly recessed but will doubtless get scratched over time. There is no flash, no self portrait mirror, and little by way of camera extras. If you want a sharp shooter, look elsewhere.
Music playback is hampered a little by the use of miniUSB to connect the headphones. At least a set is provided, but if you have your own preferred headphones you’ll need a converter. There is no FM radio. And there is no automatic screen rotation.
Call quality was fine during testing and we found that keyboard was a joy to use for bashing out text. Battery life is really superb. HTC says you should get up to 510 minutes of talktime on GSM and 380 hours on standby. We managed three days between charges on average usage patterns, though if you thrash the music playback or GPS you’ll need to recharge more often.
The HTC Snap has one of the best mini-QWERTY keyboards currently available, its battery life is good, and the Inner Circle idea is superb. If you don’t need a touchscreen but spend a lot of time on text based communications, it’s worth a look.
HTC Snap Info
Typical Price: £252+VAT from Clove.co.uk
Superb Qwerty keyboard
GPS and Wi-Fi
Good battery life
No front camera
MiniUSB headset slot
Relatively small screen
Verdict: The HTC Snap has a superb Qwerty keyboard which makes it easy and fast to use for text entry
More info: HTC website
Recycle your phone: Sell HTC Snap Smartphone