The HTC Explorer Android phone has just been announced for the UK, and we’ve played with it – don’t get too excited though, as this is meant to be an even cheaper low-spec phone than the Wildfire S, rather than that all-singing, all-dancing Android version of the HTC Titan. Still, it marks some interesting firsts for HTC, so read on for our thoughts.
A 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen, 600MHz processor and 3MP camera all combine to form a rather pedestrian handset on paper, and indeed, HTC has been pushing this same basic phone in one form or another for a few years now, first as the HTC Hero, then as the Wildfire, Gratia, and Wildfire S. The hardware difference this time is that it’s sporting a rubberised back, presumably to shave costs down, but also give it a more rugged feel, which may please the butter fingered.
In a briefing with HTC last week (sadly, we weren’t allowed to take photos), we got to grips with the HTC Explorer, and have to report that it’s slightly less attractive than the press pictures make out because of this.
But HTC isn’t purely a hardware company: the HTC Explorer model we tested was running one of the latest versions of Android (2.3.5), with the new Sense 3.5 interface that declutters the home screen. Gone is that familiar HTC arced menu at the bottom: now there’s just menu and phone, and one massive weather widget. It sounds minor, but we think casual smartphone users will appreciate the difference.
Unfortunately, that low power 600MHz processor and low-res screen mean HTC has omitted a few of its core services, including Locations mapping and Watch movie rentals, as well as the swizzy 3D scrolling effects on the HTC Sensation and HTC Rhyme.
It’s for this reason that we’re not entirely thrilled by the Explorer. To be perfectly honest, we think HTC could have tried a little harder: if Huawei can make a similarly specced phone, (the Blaze) in a much thinner shell for £99 on Pay As You Go, HTC doesn’t have much of an excuse.
The HTC Explorer will ship this quarter in black and navy colours. Stay tuned for a full review in due course. UK network Three has already confirmed it will be stocking it.
Out October | £varies | HTC