Officially announced back in December 2012, HTC is the first handset manufacturer to ship their latest superphone in the Philippines. Packing a full HD 1080p display and rocking a Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 Pro, the HTC Butterfly has become one of the highest ranked smartphone in the local market today. Check out our full review after the break.
We have to hand it to HTC for expediting the release of the Butterfly in the Philippines. It’s one of the most anticipated new breed of smartphones that pack the highest pixel density and cranking the highest scores in synthetic benchmarks.
While it shares the same full HD resolution as the recently released Sharp Aquos SH930W, the CPU is so much better. The handset with a CPU closest to the Butterfly is the one on the Nexus 4 (we’ve also compared it with the Padfone 2 but that one hasn’t been officially released locally).
Design and Construction
Fresh from the iconic unibody design of the One X+, the HTC Butterfly moved towards a new design philosophy by being big and shiny. It still brings in a little bit of signature from the old HTC that we can recognize but it is not something we can say we’re very impressed.
The body feels pretty solid but almost the entire exterior is either polished or glossy — from the edge to edge glass display panel to the shiny polycarbondate back panel making it one big fingerprint magnet. This holds true with both the red and the white variants.
The power button is the top side, right in the middle together with the 3.5mm headphone jack and the water-locked compartment for the micro-SIM card slot and the microSD card. The left side is bare while the right side is where the volume rocker is located. At the bottom end is where the locked compartment for the microUSB port which also serves as the charging port.
The sealed ports allows the device to be somewhat water-resistant or waterproof although we have not really tested that to its limits.
We have two models for review. One is we bought ourselves earlier (the red variant) while the other white variant was sent to us for review this week. Now that we’ve had a good amount of time with both, we still believe the red color makes for a better-looking one.
The HTC Butterfly made a huge wave of buzz when it first introduced a full HD 1080p resolution in a 5-inch display. The introduction of pixel densities above 400ppi has somewhat diminished the Retina Display marketing push of Apple where many handset manufacturers tried to match. With an effective pixel density of 440ppi, it has now overshadowed the resolutions of its predecessor, the HTC One X+ at 312ppi and the iPhone 5 at 326ppi.
The Super LCD3 display is manufactured by by Sharp and JDI which hints it might be similar to the IGZO display used by the Aquos SH930W. We were already pretty impressed with the SLCD2 on the previous HTC One X and X+ so it’s just more interesting that the Butterfly uses the next-generation LCD tech.
This gives the screen a more crisp and clearer image, better contrast, better visibility under direct sunlight and lower power consumption.
OS, UI and Apps
HTC Sense UI has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful and complex custom user-interface for Android, although some folks think of it as somewhat bloated we still think all that added eye-candy is well worth it.
The device comes with Android 4.1 jellybean out of the box so it benefits from all the refinements made by Google to the OS but that’s on top of the really solid hardware configuration of the handset. Since you have access to Google Play, you’re able to download thousands of free apps and games for the device and while there’s enough room for the 16GB internal storage, you can an external microSD card for more space.
We really liked the HTC Sense UI and believe it’s one of the most mature and refined UI for Android in the market.
Multimedia & Camera
One of the strongest suits of the HTC Butterfly is in the multimedia department. The display alone gives it a huge edge when playing crystal clear full HD videos, the sound is crisp and the speaker volume is loud enough. HTC also incorporated Beats Audio technology into the device.
The size of the display is actually just enough for us to enjoy watching movies and TV series without really straining our eyes (good replacement if you’re still using an iPod Touch).
Where the Butterfly also excels is with the rear camera. Photos taken by the HTC Butterfly are stunning, colors are pretty accurate, subjects are well-focused and properly exposed. The camera sensor focuses really well and captures images quite fast, even when the subject is non-stationary.
Since the screen has very high resolution, you can actually zoom in and easily see if your photos are actually crisp, even before you transfer the photos to your laptop or PC.
The camera can also record videos of full HD 1080p resolution and at 30 frames per second. At the same time, the camera can take still photos while actively shooting a video.
Here are sample clips taken with the HTC Butterfly:
Very few smartphones can boast that the front-facing camera can take full HD 1080p videos and the HTC Butterfly is one of them. That camera is normally used for making video calls and a full HD resolution adds to the over-all experience.
Performance & Benchmarks
Last week, we initially released all the benchmark results we got from the HTC Butterfly. Suffice to day, those numbers remain to be among the highest we’ve seen from all the handsets we’ve reviewed in the past. In fact, the benchmark numbers went beyond what we previously expected.
The Nenamark 2 score maxes out at 59.5fps but considering that the display has 1080p resolution, it’s almost twice the number of pixels compared to a 720p display. We can therefore deduce that this graphics can theoretically push twice as many pixel per second to the screen. This is evident when you play high-res or graphics intensive games on the device.
Scores for Quadrant is also the highest we’ve seen on a smartphone at 8,014. Antutu Benchmark also recorded a high of 20,850. That’s between 30-40% higher than the other first-generation quad-core chips we’ve tested before.
Battery Life and Call Quality
On paper, the battery capacity doesn’t look too encouraging. While it’s a sizable number, we originally thought it wasn’t enough for the handset’s large display and hardware. However, after more than a couple week’s use, we didn’t really find it any worse than, say, the Galaxy S3, the One X+ or the iPhone 5. HTC did introduce some very active power-saving mode and that could have been one of the reasons the battery life was well-conserved.
However, once we go for task-intensive load, the battery suffers as well. For casual use like texting, voice calls or WiFi browsing, we manage to last from early morning to just before evening. However, once on 3G mode, that’s when you’ll notice the battery to deplete really quick (our estimate is around 3-4 hours on active mobile internet).
As for call quality, we loved the clarity of the HTC Butterfly. Audio reception is good even on noisy environment, thanks to that noise-canceling microphone. Signal connection is strong both of cellular and on WiFi. We didn’t experience any dropped calls or delayed text messages.
We could not deny that the HTC Butterfly represents almost everything we can dream for in a superphone. It might have some shortcomings in some areas, like battery capacity but that is something we typically face with almost all other smartphones in the market.
Impressive display, great performance and a nice, solid design puts the HTC Butterfly among the most desired handset of this year. We liked it a lot that we bought one for ourselves. We’re also very glad that HTC was the first one to be able to release this kind of breed in the country.
HTC Butterfly specs:
5.0-inch Super LCD3 full HD 1080p @ 1920×1080 pixels, 441ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz quad-core processor
16GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, DLNA
GPS w/ aGPS support, GLONASS
8MP autofocus rear camera, LED flash
1080p video recording, stereo sound recording
2.1MP front-facing camera, 1080p @ 30fps
Li-Po 2020mAh battery
Android 4.1.1 Jellybean
HTC Sense 4+ UI
140 grams (battery)
143 x 70.5 x 9.08mm (dimension)
The HTC Butterfly has a suggested retail price of Php32,190 and is available in HTC stores nationwide.
What we liked about it:
* Great build quality
* Impressive performance
* Really good camera
* High display quality and resolution
* Beats Audio
* First to market
What we did not like:
* Battery rating is still on the low end of the spectrum
* No LTE option