Supersized and Supercharged
HTC Butterfly S
144.5 x 70.5 x 10.6mm
$988 HTC kept everything we liked and disliked about the original Butterfly on its latest S iteration. It’s still made of plastic, which is a step down from the anodized aluminum body of the HTC One. But while we miss the premium build quality of its hero counterpart, we have to admit the Butterfly S feels solid enough on its own.
When it comes to ergonomic design for mobile phones, nobody comes as close as HTC. The tapered back and smooth plastic provide a comfortable feel in the hands, something that only the One can match.
The Butterfly S is not without its shortfalls. Due to its bigger battery capacity (3200mAh), the phone is bulkier than most phones; it is the heaviest (160g) and thickest (10.6mm) 5-inch phone that we’ve reviewed so far.
HTC also omits two features that are present on the original Butterfly – the IPX-5 water resistance rating and the notification LED on the rear of the device.
The Butterfly S runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and HTC Sense 5.0. There are new features; such as an option to make the navigation menu bar removable, to show the battery level in the status bar, and 12 quick settings. BlinkFeed, a key feature of Sense 5, now allows you to integrate feeds from Instagram and WeChat onto the home screen.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.9GHz processor and 2GB RAM, the Butterfly S is on-par with the Samsung Galaxy S4. Its clock speed is a tad faster than the ASUS PadFone Infinity, HTC One and LG Optimus G Pro. At the point of publication, the Butterfly S and One take the top spots in the Quadrant benchmark, although the competition is close behind.
Having used the Butterfly S for a few days, we found no issues with its performance. It was every bit as snappy and responsive as other Android 4.2 devices.
Sporting a 5-inch Super LCD 3 display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, the viewing experience on the device is exception. You see natural and balanced images, with sufficiently rich and dark blacks. Its dual frontfacing stereo speakers deliver excellent audio quality.
Unlike the One, the Butterfly S has a micro-SD slot which supports memory cards up to 64GB. Aside from physical storage, it also comes with 25GB free Dropbox online storage for two years.
The Butterfly S comes with an almost similar package of imaging components as the One – the 4-megapixel UltraPixel rear camera, HTC Zoe and dedicated ImageChip 2. One notable difference is that the Butterfly S does not have optical image stabilization.
In terms of battery performance, the Butterfly S lasted 8 hours and 18 minutes in our battery test. The result comes as no surprise, since it packs the biggest battery capacity ever seen in a HTC device. Under typical usage conditions, the phone was able to last us slightly more than a day.
Looking at overall performance, the Butterfly S is a better phone than the One. However, performance isn’t everything; aesthetics, build quality and usability are important too. If the latter set is more important, the One might be a better choice. Available at $988, the Butterfly S gets a lot of practical requirements right for those who are looking out for a good 5-inch smartphone.