HTC smart

The HTC Smart may not be as feature packed or as exciting as the Desire, Legend, or even the HD Mini, but then it was never meant to be. This is a phone that's supposed to appeal to the average consumer who hasn't jumped on the smartphone bandwagon yet, and on many levels it fulfils that brief.

The Brew platform isn't as fluid, slick or usable as Android, but HTC Sense makes the user interface pretty tolerable. The strong battery life will also endear the Smart to many, especially considering that high-end smartphones struggle in this department.

We liked

The HTC Smart is a lovely size, much like the HD Mini before it. Not only is it small and light enough to sit in your pocket unnoticed, but it also fits in the hand far more comfortably than larger smartphones.

Being free on even the cheapest contracts makes the Smart very attractive for anyone looking to dip their toe in the smartphone waters. It's even affordable as a prepay handset.

Battery life is excellent, and you'll be able to leave your charger in the office without fear of running out of juice over the weekend.

It's always good to see the memory card slot accessible without having to remove the battery – if only HTC had adopted a similar design on the Desire!

We disliked

The low resolution, resistive screen is the biggest indicator of the Smart's budget roots. If you really want to know what's so great about capacitive, multi-touch screens, try using the Smart, then use the Desire or Legend, or the iPhone.

Not being able to sync your contacts and calendar over the air is a major minus point for the Smart.

The lack of Wi-Fi is also a big disappointment, and means that you need to rely on network data coverage for everything.

That reliance on network data coverage isn't helped by the fact that the Smart only supports HSDPA up to speeds of 3.6mbps.

The 3MP camera suffers from appalling shutter lag and has a habit of blowing out the highlights on any shots that you do manage to get. Video recording is limited to 320 x 240 resolution, so is only really good for watching on the device itself.

Verdict

We can see why HTC has decided to bring the Smart to market, but in its quest to keep costs down, the company has simply made too many compromises.

There's no denying that the Smart looks good, but underneath that compact and attractive case, there simply isn't enough substance. HTC Sense does its best to paper over the limitations of the hardware, but it only goes so far.

The screen is probably the biggest disappointment, but not in the way it looks so much as the way it works. The plastic, resistive touchscreen feels dated, clumsy and generally unresponsive.

HTC should be applauded for making the QWERTY keyboard so usable, despite the screen, but that's not enough to make a great user experience.

The lack of Wi-Fi, inability to sync data over the air and the generally awful web browsing experience all add up to a smartphone that's lacking in many key areas.

Even if you're more concerned with media than data, the camera struggles to take a decent picture and video playback is mediocre at best, assuming you encode a file in the right resolution in the first place. Music playback is good, but no better than most other phones these days.

Yes, the Smart is cheap for a brand new smartphone, but considering you can pickup an HTC Hero for free on entry level contracts too, it's hard to recommend the Smart. Although the Legend and the Desire clearly live up to that slogan, the Smart just isn't quietly brilliant.

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