Four to five inches of virtual screen space costs what most men take 30 days to earn. They justify it as their means to communicate, interact and stay abreast of all that’s happening around them, even though it entails knowing what their neighbour’s cat ate for lunch or which one of their childhood sweethearts is now happily married. Whatever the use might be, there’s no denying that every second person lusts for that new gorgeous device in the market, which he can flaunt for its aesthetics, capabilities or pure power. And tech companies know that only too well.

Hence, the slimmer form factors, more powerful processors, better UIs and most significant of all, sky-high prices, which consumers seem to be more than ready to pay! One of the most recent launches in India, one which ticks all the above traits, is the HTC Butterfly. Edging the HTC One X+ away from the limelight, this is currently the priciest baby on the block.

Say hello!

After having used the Nokia Lumia 920 for a couple for weeks, pulling out the HTC Butterfly had me to a double take. The handset, despite its biggish form factor, is feather-light. I can already hear the fanboys say, “Hey, the Apple iPhone 5 is lighter!” However, the screen on the HTC Butterfly is all of 5 inches (as opposed to the 4-inch iPhone) while managing to distribute and probably evaporate some of its weight!

The initial days of using the Butterfly had me being extra cautious while handling its wafer-thin, probably-prone-to-cracking body. However, it turns out the handset is made of tougher stuff. The display, as is the case with most high-end smartphones, is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2.

Pumped up to the maximum levels of brightness, the HTC Butterfly’s screen was easily readable under bright sunlight. Most visual consumption on the Butterfly is a delight thanks to the massive screen. Starting from articles on the Web to catching up on your favourite sitcom, none of the experiences feel like a compromise in the slightest.

Like a lot of other HTC handsets, starting from the mid-range ones, the Butterfly too comes equipped with Beats Audio. The tech kicks in every time you plug in a speaker or headphone and the experience remains pretty addictive. It’s one of those phones which didn’t make me miss my music player while I was only carrying the handset around.

Say cheese!

We were hoping that the HTC Butterfly would have a 12-megger considering it’s the costliest Android smartphone and HTC’s new flagship product. However, this has pretty much the same camera – 8-megapixel - that we had tried out on the HTC One X+. Image quality hence is not very different. To start with, pics taken indoors with a little bit of light streaming in made the camera over-expose the shot. Outdoors, the camera tends to capture colours well, but most shots would turn out pretty grainy when zoomed in to. This was the case even with portraits taken from a reasonable distance. Tweaking contrast and saturation levels made the images a little blurry as well as grainy. HTC has thrown in a couple of scene modes that includes an HDR option. The shots taken with the HDF filter on weren’t dramatically different from the ones taken without the filter. The Macro mode seems to work well too except the camera overall results in slightly noisy images.

It was nice to see that the company has done away with the almost redundant dedicated shutter buttons that most smartphones come with. You can just tap to capture the moment here. As far as in-app settings go, you get to tweak exposure levels, contrast, saturation as well as the sharpness of the image before you click it. Now, these options are accessed through a drop-down menu which takes up a lot of screen space.

The Butterfly offers its own post-editing effects to try on snaps taken. With options such as Twilight, High Contrast and Auto Enhance, the in-built tweaker has just about enough options for users who can’t bother with downloading third-party apps from the Play Store. What might be even more convenient is the live-view effects palette you can choose from while you frame a shot. Adding a vignette, adjusting the depth of field or posterising your picture just before you click it makes the process easier. The camera view always tells you how many more still shots and video time you have left, based on your handset’s storage.

HTC Butterfly runs on Android 4.1 and features an HTC Sense 4+ overlay. HTC Sense retains some of the direct-access icons from the lock screen. So you can drag any of these four icons – Phone, Mail, Messages and Camera – on to HTC’s trademark lock ring and it’ll take you directly to the desired application. Also, HTC still leverages its motion sensor to quieten the volume once you pick the phone off your table, or switch on the speakerphone if you keep it upside down while on a call. Quite handy especially at the workplace or in a meeting if you’ve forgotten to switch to the silent mode. This is no different from the previous flagship phone, the HTC One X+.

Typing was on the Butterfly was not much of a stretch. The virtual keyboard is mostly not prone to mistakes but those who type really, really fast might find themselves tracing the cursor back to edit a word or two in every sentence.

Negatives

Every time that I locked the handset, I’d have to clamber for the Lock button ‘cos it’s located bang in the middle of the top panel. Most phones have it to one side for easy(-ier) reach.

The micro-USB connector at the bottom panel that you can plug either to charge or transfer media to/from the handset takes a little effort to pry open. Suffice to say it wasn’t too kind to my freshly manicured nails!

The battery life on the HTC Butterfly isn’t one of the best we’ve seen. It definitely gives you company for a working day, but every time we forgot to plug it in to charge overnight, it died on us by morning.

The smarpthone runs on a pretty powerful quad-core 1.5GHz processor and this was contributed to the lack of slowdowns while using the handset. The Butterfly comes with 16GB of internal storage which is enough for most users. Hardcore media junkies can expand it up to 32GB with an external storage, which shares the same compartment as the microSIM card on the smartphone.

Traits that justify the HTC Butterfly being one of the most expensive handsets in the market right now are its super sexy design, insanely high on-screen pixel density and excellent multimedia capabilities. Beneath the surface, similar processing power and user experience can be found on handsets that have been in the market for sometime now and ones which you can probably bag for five thousand bucks less!

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 11, 2013)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.