HTC Explorer review
The HTC Explorer is HTC's most affordable Android smartphone to date. It's very similar in many ways to the HTC Wildfire S, which retails at just a few pennies more. The two phones are practically the same in fact, with just one or two differences.
Firstly, the Explorer's camera is of lower spec than the Wildfire S's. Secondly, the styling of the Explorer is more modern, reminding us of the big budget HTC Sensation. Thirdly, the Explorer uses a newer version of HTC's custom-designed user interface, called HTC Sense. This is version 3.5 and includes one or two updates, such as a new lockscreen that lets you access your contacts, mail, camera, and messages in one swipe even when your phone is locked. It's a version of Sense that's been adapted for entry-level handsets, so despite the Explorer having a relatively slow 600 MHz processor, the user interface still manages to run quite smoothly by missing out fancy graphics and animations.
The Explorer is clearly designed to bring the power of an Android smartphone to new users. So, if you've not used a smartphone before, or if this is your first phone, you'll find it a relatively inexpensive introduction to smartphone functionality. We're big fans of HTC Sense, and this latest version makes it very easy to access all the goodies that Android offers, without having to be very techy. There's a simplified home screen and some of the apps have been modified to make them easier to use. Whether it's browsing the web, catching up with your friends on facebook, or just smarter text messaging and mobile email, you'll find that HTC Sense makes it all easy. For example, Friend Stream shows all your friends’ Facebook updates, Tweets and Flickr photos on a single screen. Caller ID shows not only the caller's name and photo, but also their Facebook status and birthday too. The News App delivers personalised news feeds directly to your phone. The Explorer runs the 2.3.5 Gingerbread version of Android.
The Explorer is a compact phone too, by smartphone standards and will easily fit in a pocket. Nevertheless, the screen is a good size at 3.2 inches, and has a high resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, making it a better option for web browsing than, say the Samsung Galaxy Y.
The Explorer has much to offer, including all the phone basics of a comprehensive contact manager, messaging and internet. There's also a music and media player, enabling full screen playback of video clips. There's assisted GPS with Google Maps, enabling you to find your location and view a map of your surroundings. There's a very basic camera and video recorder too. And of course, being a smartphone you can download apps - including thousands of free games such as the famous Angry Birds - from the Android Market.
Remember that this is a budget phone, so there are compromises in the hardware. The processor is underpowered for a device of this type, and this can lead to lags at times, in particular when web browsing or any other graphic intensive work. The 512MB of built-in memory is adequate for the job though, and you can expand this to 32GB by adding a microSD memory card.
Connectivity hasn't been compromised at all, we're pleased to report. The Explorer has quadband GSM, so you can use it in any country, plus 3G with up to 7.2Mbps download speeds on a HSPA-enabled network. For even faster data access you can use the phone's Wi-Fi to connect to a home computer or a wireless hotspot. There's also Bluetooth, USB and a 3.5mm audio headset connector.
Battery life is always a challenge for Android phones, and the Explorer is no different. With a modest 1230mAh battery, you might find you need to charge every couple of days - more frequently if you make full use of the phone's features.
So the Explorer makes an excellent starter phone for someone trying out Android for the first time. It gives you all the functionality of a high-end smartphone, but scaled down to meet the budget. Plus HTC have made efforts to simplify the experience for the smartphone novice or occasional user. It's ideal for the non-techy who doesn't want to spend a lot of time learning how to use the phone. But it isn't the only option. If cost is your priority, you'll find cheaper Android handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Europa or Galaxy Mini. Or you could spend a little more on the HTC Wildfire S if you want a better quality camera.
HTC Explorer features include:
HTC Explorer user reviews
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