HTC has already kicked off 2013 with a bang by launching India’s first smartphone with a Full HD display. This trend will soon pick up pace as Sony gets ready to launch the Xperia Z, followed by Samsung and other OEMs, who’ll announce their flagships at MWC 2013 in a few weeks. As it stands now, the HTC Butterfly is the only handset in the market with a Full HD display that gives full reign over the high-end segment. Priced at iPhone 5 levels, the Butterfly has some big shoes to fill if it’s serious about luring Apple fans. Can the Butterfly deliver something more than just an impressive spec sheet? That’s what we’re about to find out.
Design and Build
The first thing that strikes you when you lift it out of the box is how freakishly light it is. Being a 5-inch display, you’d expect it to be heavy, but it’s not. In fact it’s only a tad heavier than the HTC One X. The 5-inch display does not seem obnoxiously large like the Galaxy Note did since it’s longer in length, like the iPhone 5 instead of being broad. This makes it very comfortable to use if you have medium-sized hands. The volume rocker is also wide enough to be used without stretching however; you’ll have to shuffle the phone a bit to reach the power button, which is placed way up top. The Butterfly is completely sealed off so you can’t remove the battery. All entry points to the SIM slot, SD card and USB port are covered with flaps. This prevents dust build-up over time but is also terribly annoying to use, especially the flap for the microSIM tray.
Very striking looks
The Butterfly doesn’t have a unibody design like the One X but it still manages to look good. The front is dominated by a Gorilla Glass 2 protective layer with the same lacquer finish we saw on the One X. This makes colours pop but does leave the phone with nasty fingerprints. The sides feature a mesh-like trim, which does nothing for the cooling of the handset but is simply there for aesthetic value. We like the attention to detail given to the power and volume buttons as concentric circle patterns add to the grip as well as the cool factor. The Butterfly’s rear is glossy but still manages to mask fingerprints extremely well. Here, we have the 8MP shooter along with an LED flash and a new notification light. This is the first time we’ve seen HTC or anyone for that matter, put a notification light on the back of the phone as well. Just like the front light, it flashes amber or green depending on the type of notification. Both are extremely dim though and can barely be seen in day light.
The flap-covered microSIM slot
The Butterfly has superb build quality but it doesn’t really feel like a Rs 40,000 phone. The One X exuded a premium look and feel and you could tell that by just looking at it. The Butterfly somehow lacks that feeling.
The HTC Butterfly runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1.1 along with a Sense 4+ mask. This is the same version we first saw on the One X+, so the features and functionality haven't really changed much. We miss the shortcut toggles in the notification bar from previous Sense versions. The UI is free of any lag and navigation is butter smooth. We now come to the main talking point of the Butterfly and that’s the display. The panel type is Super LCD 3 and boasts of an impressive 1920 x 1080p resolution, giving it a pixel count of 441ppi. This is double the resolution you get from any of the other flagship phones in the market.
Big difference when zoomed in
The pixels are so densely packed you can’t really see any pixilation around icons even if you look very closely. This makes everything, especially text, incredibly sharp and vivid. HTC has had to bump up the resolution for their entire skin as well, in order to keep up with the extra pixels. While this does look great, you can’t really tell much of a difference between a 720p and 1080p display at 5 inches, just by looking at it. HTC’s up scaling engine does a good job of rendering games and apps on such a high-res screen and we didn’t find any issues here. The display is also incredibly bright and sun light legibility is pretty good too.
Jelly Bean onboard!
The Butterfly is powered by a more efficient quad-core SoC this time around. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC replaces Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip and will most likely be seen in their upcoming One handset as well. Coupled with a whopping 2GB of RAM, there’s never going to be any shortage of memory even if you load up your phone with a ton of apps. For storage, we have 16GB of onboard space with the ability to expand it up to 32GB. We felt 16GB is a bit less for such an expensive phone and we would have liked at least 32GB.
The music and video player are very similar to Sense 4, with the addition of DivX and MKV playback. There’s no other audio enhancement other than Beats Audio, which amplifies the volume quite a bit as well as the low frequencies and treble so you’ll want it on for your music and videos. The player is easy and pretty straightforward to use and you even get lock screen controls.
Excellent media playback
SD content doesn’t look terrible despite the high resolution screen and Full HD videos play back flawlessly. Colours are rich and vibrant and the display has very good viewing angles as well. You can adjust the brightness of the video independent of the screen brightness as well as lock the controls or stream the video via DLNA to a TV. FM Radio is also present along with 7 Digital and TuneIn Radio.