Last year, HTC surprised us all with the "One" series at the Mobile World Congress (MWC). The flagship of the lot, the One X, is by far one of the best looking handsets of 2012 and HTC plans on repeating that success this year as well. The Taiwanese company recently launched the Butterfly, the international version of the Droid DNA being sold in the US on Verizon’s network. This handset was first launched in Japan as the J Butterfly and had only recently made its way to India and other countries. This is HTC’s stop-gap flagship device until it reveals the true successor to the One X or One X+, come MWC.
We are currently in the process of testing this not-so-little critter and will be giving you our first impressions very soon. But before that, let’s take a quick look at what makes this Butterfly so special. With a launch price rivalling the iPhone 5, does it have enough of a "cool factor" to sway buyers from what otherwise would have been an obvious choice at this price range? Let’s find out.
OS – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Sense 4+
Like all Androids launching this year, the Butterfly has been blessed with the sweet taste of Android Jelly Bean. It’s still 4.1.1, but Jelly Bean nonetheless. HTC is using the latest version of Sense 4+ which made its debut with the One X+ over Jelly Bean. There’s a brand new version in the works though, and we’ll only get to see that in the new "M Series" that will debut at MWC.
Packs a punch
Cellular network – GSM and 3G
The version available in India is devoid of the LTE chip, which leaves us with 3G and GSM support. The Butterfly is a quad-band phone, so it will work on all 2G networks around the world. However, for 3G we have support for just two bands. The phone requires you to use a microSIM card as well.
Display – 5-inch Super LCD 3 with 1080p resolution
HTC has used some of the best display technology on the Butterfly, which includes a 5-inch Super LCD 3 panel with a whopping resolution of 1920 x 1080. This is similar to the Sony Xperia Z that was announced during CES 2013. This gives it a whopping 440ppi, so pixels are even more tightly packed together than, say, the iPhone 5. We also have Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 for added protection.
Form factor and weight – Freakishly light given the size
The HTC Butterfly is heavier than the One X on paper by about 5 g, but it feels just as light, if not lighter. It’s also just slightly thicker than the One X, but you’ll never be able to tell the difference.
Even though HTC doesn’t mention the presence of dual-band on its site, we’re pretty sure the Butterfly comes with both 2GHz and 5GHz bands with support for Wi-Fi draft ‘n’. Along with that, we also have WI-Fi Direct, DLNA and all the other goodies one expects from a flagship phone.
SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064 S4 Pro SoC with Adreno 320 GPU
HTC has ditched the power thirsty Tegra 3 SoC and has gone with something a bit more efficient. Inside, we have a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU based on the new Krait architecture. Graphics are taken care of by an Adreno 320 chip. The SoC lacks support for any type of radio, so HTC has had to use a separate chip for that. There’s also 2GB of RAM for added buttery smoothness in apps and the UI in general.
Storage – 16GB onboard with space for expansion
There’s only 16GB of onboard storage, but that’s fixable thanks to the presence of a microSD card slot. This is a welcome addition as HTC’s previous flagships dropped support in lieu of more onboard storage.
Primary camera – 8 megapixels with LED flash
As far as optics is concerned, the Butterfly has a similar 8MP sensor as the One X, or the 8X for that matter. The BSI sensor features a wide angle 28 mm lens with a large aperture of f/2.0. Video recording maxes out at 1080p and you get the same burst mode and other tricks like the One X.
Front-facing camera – 2MP shooter with 1080p video support
HTC has taken the same front camera sensor from the 8X, which supports a crazy aperture value and support for 1080p video recording. This makes it the second phone in the market to support this feature.
Looks dashing in red
GPS – Comes with A-GPS and GLONASS
GLONASS is part and parcel of the SoC, so you can find your bearings a lot quicker.
NFC is present, so you can use it with tags and other accessories that support the format.
Battery – 2020mAh battery
This is a rather worrying aspect of the Butterfly more than being disappointing. HTC prides itself in being able to integrate the battery along with the rest of the components rather than just placing it above the circuit boards, but it has managed to squeeze in a rather small one, which won’t do anything for the kind of the specifications the handset has. Not only is it a smaller capacity than the One X+, it now has to power a faster CPU and a larger screen with twice the resolution. We’ll know for sure how bad it really is once we’re done with the review.
The bottom line
With a launch price of Rs 45,990, HTC is trying to woo potential iPhone buyers and, to some level, it may succeed. The Butterfly has a much bigger and better screen, is just as light and slim as the iPhone and is a lot more powerful under the hood. However, the relatively small battery could be an issue and might be a deal breaker for many. That’s not the Butterfly’s biggest problem though. HTC boss Peter Chou has already gotten everyone excited about the M7 – touted to be the next flagship and will be the first handset in the new "M Series". If this is the true successor to the One X, then the Butterfly’s days are numbered. It’s only a matter of time till either the price drops drastically or the M7 replaces it. We would suggest you play it safe and see what HTC unveils in a few weeks before jumping for the Butterfly.