"Quietly Brilliant" – that's HTC's latest marketing slogan. And although we're not generally won over by such rhetoric, in this particular case, it rings pretty true.

While Apple has been busy trying to convince the world that the launch of the iPad is akin to the second coming of Christ, HTC has spent its time in a less ostentatious manner, launching some of the best mobile phones we've ever seen.

The new HTC Smart has a lot to live up to when you consider the company's recent track record. In the past few months we've seen the beautifully crafted HTC Legend, which was quickly followed up with the HTC Desire – arguably the best mobile phone money can buy right now.

Even a Windows Phone operating system couldn't stop the HTC HD Mini from being a great handset for anyone who's resistant to buy into Google's Android platform.

But the Smart is a very different proposition to those feature-packed handsets. Although it clearly falls into the smartphone category, it's not aimed at the kind of power user who would want an HTC Desire or Apple iPhone.

The Smart is aimed clearly at the average consumer who would like a few smartphone features, but doesn't care about lightning fast processors or app stores. Oh, and they want it to be affordable too, even without a contract.

HTC smart

You can usually spot a budget phone at 20 paces, but that's simply not the case with the HTC Smart. Put simply, it looks and feels every bit as good as the Desire, which is pretty impressive for a brand new handset that can be had for free on a £15 per month contract, or £100 on prepay.

With dimensions of 104 x 55 x 12.8mm the Smart is very comfortable to hold, while at 108g, it won't weigh you down either. That makes it roughly the same size and weight as the HTC HD Mini, which is no bad thing.

O2 offers the Smart in either black or white, but HTC sent us a pink version. Even in pink this is a good-looking phone, with the chrome accents around the edges breaking things up a little.

The front of the Smart is dominated by the 2.8-inch screen, which is surprisingly bright and vibrant for a budget phone.

The 320 x 240 QVGA resolution gives the game away slightly, but it doesn't spoil the party for the most part. The one area where the resolution really is a limitation is when you're using the web browser, but more about that later.

HTC smart

Below the screen are four buttons, the largest being (by some margin) the Back button. This is something of multi-function button, though, since it doubles as the phone's Home button, too.

Pressing the Back button once will generally take you to the previous page/menu, while pressing and holding it will take you to the main Home screen. Pressing the Back button while on the main Home screen will then open up the Programs menu.

Either side of the Back button are Call and Hang-up buttons, while the final front fascia control is a Menu button located just below the screen.

Along the bottom you'll find an older style mini-USB port, rather than the newer micro USB connector. The only other connector is a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is always good to see on any phone, especially a budget model.

The Smart sports 256MB ROM and 256MB RAM, but there's a microSD card slot for increasing storage space up to a maximum of 32GB. A nice touch is that the card slot is accessible without having to remove the battery.

HTC smart

There's a relatively modest 300MHz Qualcomm CPU beating at the heart of the Smart, although there didn't seem to be any issues when it came to general speed of operation.

HSDPA speeds are limited to 3.6mbps, rather than the 7.2mbps theoretical maximum seen on higher end phones. Obviously real world data speeds are limited by your network, but in use the Smart did feel a little sluggish in the data department.

That slightly disappointing cellular data performance is compounded by the fact that the Smart doesn't have Wi-Fi, so even when you're at home or in the office, you can't make use of a fast connection.

You do get Bluetooth with A2DP though, so the Smart will happily work with a hands-free kit, while also pumping music to your car stereo.

Another major departure from the recent trend of HTC phones is the use of Qualcomm's Brew mobile platform. In a world stuffed full of cutting edge mobile platforms like Android, WebOS and iPhone OS, can Brew offer enough to make even a budget handset attractive? That's the question we're about to answer.