Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: HTC Butterfly S — a better fraternal twin of the One

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review

I called the HTC One the ‘best Android phone yet’ — it has a pretty good hardware, one of the best I’ve seen on an Android phone, a gorgeous display, and a well-performing loudspeakers. But it was not without any shortcomings. One of those was the small screen size (for some), the non-removable battery, and the lack of an microSD slot for expansion of the internal storage.

And then the HTC Butterfly S arrived. It has the looks of the last-year’s Butterfly and the brains of the One with a few improvements — which are bigger screen, longer battery life, microSD slot, and improved support for LTE networks. In this review, we’ll focus on the said improvements and see if they’re worth the upgrade, either if you’re coming from the HTC One or the Butterfly.

To start off, the Butterfly S sports an identical look as the Butterfly from 2012 with some minor differences. It’s a little fatter due to the larger battery inside, there’s an added loudspeaker on the bottom, and it’s lost the water-resistant ability I found on its predecessor.


The display of the HTC Butterfly S doesn’t stray too far from its roots. It’s actually a mix of the ones found on the One and the Butterfly. On one part, it is a bright, vivid, and crisp Super LCD 3 display which, again, is one of the best displays among the Android army (only to be matched or topped by the G2). On the other, it is now a 5-inch screen which is slightly bigger than the 4.7-inch on the One. As such, this is a little more perfect for playing games, watching movies, and similar chores than the smaller screen.

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review

As with the Butterfly, the bigger display does not mean that it is uncomfortably hard to hold in your hand. In fact, I can still type with single-handedly with my not-quite-so-big hands. It’s definitely not huge like the Galaxy Notes out there.

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review

Battery Life

When it comes to the battery life, the Butterfly S beats most of the Android smartphones in its class. It has a 3200mAh battery, so far the most in an HTC phone. The battery is so huge that you’ll really notice the ‘thickness’ and the heft of the body.

On an average usage cycle, I can easily last more than a day, heck even two days, on the Butterfly S. That includes using apps like the browser, Twitter, Facebook, playing games like Plants vs. Zombies 2 for hours (and I really mean houuurs!!!) and streaming 3 movies from ClickPlay using Wi-Fi, the rest are standby times. Network setting is set to automatically switch between 3G/LTE.


The internal storage on the Butterfly S is only 16GB, compared to 32GB on the One. The main kicker here is that they have included a microSD card slot so you can just tuck in a 64GB card and place all your movies, photos, music, and whatnot in there.

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review

Moreover, you can also connect a USB drive using an OTG cable — that’s if you have one lying around.

I really wish HTC would make 16 or 32GB of storage AND a microSD card slot a standard on their devices, either because people do really want a microSD slot on their phones or just for the hell of it. That will probably make them buy an HTC again, yes?

LTE, not just on Globe

Smart LTE users should find this a relief should they want to get a Butterfly S. As you may know (or not), the HTC One only had LTE on bands 3 (1800MHz), 7 (2600MHz), and 20 (800MHz). Just for your information, those are the most widely-used LTE frequencies in Asia and Europe. Globe, for instance, operates its LTE network on 1800MHz. But for an odd reason, Smart decided to use band 1 (2100MHz) for their LTE network.

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review

That’s where the problem arises. Much of the 2012 and some of 2013 smartphones — the HTC One is, well, one of them — do not normally come with 2100MHz LTE, unless they are destined for Japan or South Korea.

Well thank God HTC finally included that particular band on their latest devices like the One mini and the Butterfly S. I was able to try and use Smart LTE on this phone. On average, I get around 4Mbps down and 10Mbps up in our place. Your results may vary, of course, but it just goes to show that you can really use it on both Smart and Globe now.

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review


Overall, the Butterfly S performed and worked pretty well, as expected, in my time with it. That’s due to the zippy Snapdragon 600 CPU which is clocked at 1.9GHz (vs. 1.7GHz on the One) and 2GB of RAM. The UI and apps are very fluid and I barely encountered any slowdowns.

Its camera still has the Ultrapixel tech found on the One, though it doesn’t have OIS. Camera performance is about the same as the One.


So, let’s go back to my original question, is the HTC Butterfly S worth it as an upgrade from the Butterfly and even from the One? Well, if money isn’t a problem, I’ll say yes. If you want a phone that’s not as big as the other 2013 flagships while still having a long battery life, the flexibility of having a microSD card slot, and improved LTE compatibility with local networks, then you may take a look at the Butterfly S.

HTC Butterfly S Philippines Review

The only problem that I see here is that you can get other smartphones with better hardware at the almost the same or even lower price.

The HTC Butterfly S retails for P37,590.

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