Offered at an alarmingly low £120 for a pay as you go plan, the HTC Explorer is a bargain hunter's dream phone. Armed with a simple interface and user-friendly Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the device is the perfect starter smart phone for users who aren't interested in all the extra bells and whistles found on pricier (and complicated) devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note and the various iPhone models. More advanced smart phone users will scoff at the Explorer's tiny package and simplistic design, but not everyone is in the market for the most high end device.
A Cheap Android Phone that Fits in Your Pocket
Weighing in at only 108g and measuring only 57mm wide, it is by far one of the smallest smart phones on the market. For customers reminiscent of cells phones of old, this tiny handset is a welcome change from the oversized tablets that have been recently released. Granted, with small dimensions come smaller screens, so be prepared for a mere 3.2 inches of visual real estate, not nearly enough room to accommodate extensive gaming or photo editing (if those activities are your cup of tea). Additionally, the screen resolution is nothing to write home about, for at a measly 320X480 pixel resolution the HTC Explorer won't be winning any visual accolades.
HTC anticipated users' fears of dropping the bite sized device, and armed it with a sturdy rubber casing in the rear. Luckily, the casing doesn't look remotely cheap or bulky; rather it adds an appropriate bit of heft to an otherwise petite handset. The one downside to this rubber casing is the added pressure needed to use the power button and volume rocker, although including them in the casing does prevent gunk and debris from building up around the buttons.
Making Sense of Android 2.3 Gingerbread
As found in many cheap Android phones, the HTC Explorer comes loaded with Android 2.3 Gingerbread - one of the previously released versions of the Android operating system. While Gingerbread is not the most up to date system, it is ideal for many beginner or low-tech smart phone users. HTC anticipated that customers purchasing the Explorer would not be the most tech-savvy (as many more advanced users will flock toward pricier, newer devices) and therefore installed the HTC Sense overlay on the device for a bit more ease of access.
HTC Sense does not pull away from any of the usual Android operating system features; you still have access to multiple home screens and the overall Android interface remains constant. As with all Android devices you have access to the Android Marketplace to download thousands of apps - although with the Explorer's limited storage space you may want to keep an eye on your downloads (more on that later). In general, HTC's Sense interface is simple to use for both Android friendly consumers as well as those who are new to the smart phone market, making the HTC Explorer a nice little phone across the board.
Small on Size, Low on Storage
This phone is a minute little fellow, and as with many cheap Android phones it comes with very limited storage space. The main complaint: you're going to need a microSD card before you even begin using the device. With a paltry 512MB of internal storage, and only 116MB of that is usable, you'll be hard-pressed to squeeze by without external storage. Most unfortunately, you are even required to have an SD card prior to viewing any photos on the device - even if they're saved to the device itself. This quirk is one trait that will limit the phone's desirability, after all, who wants to shell out extra cash on an SD card when they've just purchased a new phone?
Yet another drawback is the need to download proprietary software in order to transfer files from phone to PC. When hooking up the device to a computer users are prompted to first install something called HTC Sync, just one more piece of software that many people will be loath to install on their device. Similar to the lack of storage space, the HTC Explorer doesn't come packed with loads of power under the hood. With a paltry 600MHz processor and only 512MB of RAM the Explorer can't compete with many larger devices. If you're a die-hard gamer or video streamer you're probably going to want to steer clear of the low-power handset. Fortunately, even though the Explorer doesn't come fully loaded with a top notch processor, general use is reported to be quite responsive, and the touch screen is fairly snappy. One bug that was reported however was a misinterpretation of a swipe for a key press - again, remember that you're using a cheap Android phone, and the price tag may make up for these little quirks.
Not a Device for Photographers
Where most smart phones at least come with a 5 megapixel camera, the HTC Explorer boasts a disappointing 3 megapixels. Combine the lack of pixels with the lack of a flash, and the camera is certainly nothing to brag about. It's unfortunate that HTC chose to scale back their camera on this smart phone so much; however with the lack of available storage space most users won't be able to save many photos to begin with. All in all, this is not a device for the more tech-savvy Android user, therefore and smart phone beginners may find the simplicity and lack of extras a refreshing experience. Sure, it lacks storage space and looks like a miniature version of the bulkier smart phones out there, but many people prefer a more compact device. If you're shopping for a great bargain and don't expect to do any high-volume browsing on your smart phone, the HTC Explorer is a perfectly acceptable choice for your budget.