Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HTC Snap

Style & Handling Summary

The HTC Snap is reminiscent of the BlackBerry Bold, with a spacious QWERTY keyboard that has a rather fetching bronze tint.

User Friendliness Summary

The relatively small 2.4-inch screen hinders the internet experience, but navigating with the track ball posed few problems. Syncing with email accounts such as Outlook and Hotmail was also simple to do.

Feature Set Summary


If you’re not a fan of touch-screens then the QWERTY keypad will appeal, but the main attraction of the Snap is the ‘Inner Circle’ feature. Select your most important contacts and one press of the green button will bring up all their emails. Genius.

Performance Summary

HSDPA and Wi-Fi ensure speedy internet browsing but the camera performed poorly, with just two megapixels and no flash – this was always going to be the case.

Battery Power Summary

Battery life is good.

The Verdict

The Inner Circle feature is genuinely helpful, but as smartphones go, there are better-equipped models on the market..

HTC has been so caught up with the Google Android/touch-screen whirlwind that we’d almost forgotten about its longstanding relationship with Windows Mobile. The HTC Snap, which offers both the aforementioned operating system and a full QWERTY keyboard, doesn’t even look like an HTC device. In fact, it resembles something more akin to the BlackBerry Curve range, albeit slightly longer and thinner.

Look and feel

The HTC Snap’s slim appearance helps keeps its weight down to an impressive 120g, and we actually found the bronze tinted keypad rather endearing. The QWERTY keypad consists of four rows, with the letters on the left of the pad doubling up as numeric keys. Above the keypad is a trackball that is surrounded by the call and call end keys, two hard keys and the home and back buttons. The keys are in close proximity to each other, though there is enough to distinguish between them all.

The trackball is certainly a welcome addition, but we found it a little loose and the overall result wasn’t as fluid as the BlackBerry experience. This is a shame as, due to the lack of a touch-screen, it’s the main means of navigating around the phone.

Operating on Windows Mobile 6.1, the Snap is compatible with Outlook and can even be synced with other email accounts such as Hotmail. Outlook is the only account that has push-email though.

Inner circle

The Snap’s unique selling point is its ‘Inner Circle’, which aims to prioritise emails from your most important or frequent contacts. Pressing the green inner circle key on the bottom right of the keypad will pull up any emails from your chosen contacts. It’s a great touch from HTC, and a genuine time saver.

With on-board HSDPA and Wi-Fi, all your connectivity needs are catered for and the experience was a real breeze. However, we did find the screen a tad on the small side, as excessive scrolling through webpages is necessary.

On-board GPS

The size of the screen also demeans the navigational experience as once again you’ll be using the trackball to scroll around Google Maps. Sadly, it also took us an age to get a GPS satellite fix, though this did improve when we switched on the QuickGPS feature in the accessories menu. Google Maps does include a useful search facility however, that enables you to find the nearest coffee shop to your current location for example, simply by typing in the word ‘coffee’. You can then call that venue directly, which is useful if you want to book a table.

HTC has included a two-megapixel camera that lacks features, in what appears to be nothing more than a token gesture. There’s no flash for one thing, and though you can select from a variety of white balance modes, our photos always appeared far darker than the conditions in which we were taking them. There is a video recording functionality, though the same issues occur.

The verdict

The HTC Snap is a very competent smartphone with some innovative features, most notably the ‘Inner Circle’. However, the majority of today’s flagship handsets are affectively smartphones, even if they don’t market themselves as such, and these outgun the likes of the Snap. A noble effort by HTC, but we just wonder if phones of this ilk have seen their day.

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