Low power, long life
The rather dinky 600MHz processor is the latest S1 Snapdragon from Qualcomm – an efficient low power design intended for the current crop of entry-level smarties, such as the Explorer. It is backed by 512MB RAM and while it won’t win any races, it did a decent job within its limited capabilities.
Not the fastest, but certainly capable
The Explorer runs Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread plus the current 3.5 version of HTC's Sense interface, but cleverly, it actually uses the 3.5a version which cuts out some of the power and processor-hungry 3D graphics from the home pages and menus, the upshot being that less powerful phones like this don't slow down too much.
It’s noticeably slower at browsing the web than fancier phones with 1GHz processors, but it’s not so bad that you feel like twiddling your thumbs. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on how many apps you have running in the background – the Task Manager app makes it easy to shut anything down that you’re not using.
The 3Mp camera is nothing to get too excited about, with not terribly accurate colour balance and poor performance in less than perfect light. There’s no flash and not many settings to play with, though you can adjust for white balance, sharpness, saturation, contrast and exposure. Maximum resolution is 2048 x 1536 pixels, but drops to 640x480 pixels for video.
The revamped Snapdragon CPU on-board keeps it going around the clock and then some
Despite the relatively modest specs, it still has 3G network connectivity, Wi-Fi and GPS – all good tools for showing you what a smartphone can do. There’s only 90MB of user memory on board but you can boost the storage to 32GB with a microSD card, though there’s none supplied. It doesn’t come with headphones either, so you’ll need to supply your own for listening to music.
The advantage of a relatively low-powered screen and processor is that the modest 1230mAh battery should be able to go a few times round the block without a recharge and sure enough, this one gave a little over two days of consistent use. Indeed, the HTC Explorer covers just about all the smartphone basics very well at a decent price making it a good introduction for Android newbies. ®
More Smartphone Reviews
the iPhone 4S
HTC Explorer budget smartphone
Can I be first
To mention the ZTE Blade/San Francisco that I will be sticking with for just a bit longer. I am not sure that this new phone would offer much in the way of improvement for an substantial extra cost.
90Mb is too little free space
I cant believe anyone would launch a new Android with just 90Mb user space. Even knowing how to send apps to SD that's a low limit but how many of the users this is targeted at will know how? Especially with so many apps that need root to force over to SD and monsters chewing 5-10Mb or more of precious space each. 1st time Google Maps updates that's 6Mb burnt (the current slim line version - used to be 12Mb+). This has disappointment written all over it.
Or is this just a cunning plan to hook users then catch the early upgrade when they suddenly can't install any more apps a few months down the line?
Also worth noting that the ZTE Blade is over a year old now, has been replaced and even back in it's hayday was under a hundred quid.
Stock software was utter tripe tho, not saying that the HTC won't suffer the same problems with pre-installed bloatware, but at least the ZTE is well and truely hacked so there are many options for new ROMS.
I was just going to mention the Blade too... The same CPU, better screen, better camera (at least on the 5MP version), lower price - why would anyone choose this one over it?
@Paul Shirley (90Mb is too little free space)
This reminds me when places like Currys and PC World were selling Vista PCs with 512Mb of RAM.
Its poor specs and performance like this which mars the Android system.