[Mini review] HTC Butterfly 2 (J butterfly HTL23)

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Hands-on Mini Review
Design & Build 95%
Hardware 92%
Software 92%
Performance 92%
Price & Value For Money 88%
91% Top stuff
Readers Rating 86%
2 votes

While not marketed as a flagship like the HTC One M8, the HTC Butterfly 2 holds its own. A solid device through and through, and the convenient dust- and water-resistance add extra durability. It should sell really well in Japan and other markets. Top notch performer and the new 13MP camera is surprisingly good. Overall, a huge thumbs up.

HTC Butterfly 2

The new HTC Butterfly 2 is a natural swimmer

As part of the HTC Frequencies Asia 2014, we had the opportunity to get an exclusive hands-on with the new HTC Butterfly 2 (called the J butterfly HTL23 in Japan). The international version of the HTC Butterfly 2 is identical to the Japanese variant aside from several minor differences.

HTC Butterfly 2

HTC Butterfly 2 flanked by big brother HTC One M8

Premium “HTC DNA” design

HTC is one of the true blue brands who place absolute emphasis on design, something they declare “it’s in our DNA.” And it shows. As you’ve seen the its previous generation of its award-winning products, especially the beautiful HTC One series, the HTC Butterfly seemingly combines design cues from the One and Desire series.

You’ll notice the subtle double curves, making it comfortable to hold in the hands. If you’ve seen or used a HTC Butterfly or any other HTC device for that matter, it will feel familiar. The HTC DNA is pretty clear here. Clean and simple lines.

It’s a polycarbonate unibody, solidly built one that. It shares almost the same dimensions as the HTC One M8, weighing at 151g.

HTC Butterfly 2

Look ma, no pinhole

What you’ll notice is that the SIM and microSD slots do not have a pinhole. Just nudge the subtle groove and pull the tray out. Very neat.

You’ll notice the dual-speaker setup up on the front (top and bottom). One key difference between the International (HTC Butterfly 2) and Japanese (J butterfly HTL23) variants is that the Japanese version doesn’t have the brand name HTC in the front.

The HTC Butterfly 2 is dust and water-resistant up to IP57, and unlike the Sony Xperia Z series and the new Samsung GALAXY S5, it does it without having any flap-type mechanisms to cover its ports. Ports have short-circuit protection, too.

Overall a very good-looking device indeed.

HTC Butterfly 2

Pretty maids in a row – HTC One E8, HTC Butterfly 2, HTC Butterfly

Solid hardware

Without going too in depth on technical details (you can read the spec sheet), the HTC Butterfly 2 is impressive out of the box. You get pretty much top-of-the-line spec, in fact, very close to the flagship HTC One M8.

Quad-core 2.5Ghz Snapdragon with Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB RAM, 16/32GB storage, microSD expansion (up to 128GB), WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, DLNA, and the list goes on. Everything a modern smartphone should come with.

The 5-inch Full HD Super LCD 3 (@ 480PPI) display is sharp and crisp.

The HTC Butterfly 2 is the third HTC product to come with a Duo Camera set-up, and for the first time, using a new 13MP non-UltraPixel camera module. Why did HTC go the 13MP non-UltraPixel route instead of its much-touted UltraPixel? More on that later.

For selfie-taking fans, the 5MP is a similar number to the HTC One M8, so expect some super sharp, wide-angle selfies.

HTC Sense shines

Out-of-the-box, the HTC Butterfly 2 runs Android 4.4.2 with the new HTC Sense 6 layer. HTC says it’s the best Android experience and I tend to agree in most part. It’s fast, fluid, and feels light.

You’ll get HTC’s bells and whistles too – HTC Blinkfeed, Zoe (with a new Beta version as well), some digital content (with this version KKBox and some TVB apps), Polaris Office 5 and more.

HTC Butterfly 2

HTC One M8 and HTC Butterfly 2

Big performance

Passive benchmarks are almost a pre-requisite, especially for the techies out there, so I did a quick Antutu benchmark yesterday. It shares its underpinnings with the flagship HTC One M8, so I expected similar scores. And sure enough, it scored over 32,000 points, pipping the HTC One M8 slightly in total (it beat the M8 in 8 out of 10 scores, slightly).

In terms of real world performance, the phone just zips through everything, HTC Sense feels as light and as fluid as ever. Multi-tasking is effortless and snappy.

Overall, no complains about performance and most importantly the phone keeps cool throughout. In fact, based on internal benchmarks by HTC, the HTC Butterfly 2 runs the coolest when compared to other flagships, including its own HTC One M8, Samsung GALAXY S5, Xperia Z1 and iPhone 5s.

What’s cool about the HTC Butterfly 2 is that it’s IP57 dust- and water-resistant giving you plenty of peace of mind. I took it to the test and dumped it into a bowl of water. The display is inactivated, so no input is allowed. However, you can still remotely take photos, or have it in video mode before it goes under water though.

HTC Butterfly 2

13MP Duo Camera

More pixels, not bigger

Is HTC backtracking on UltraPixel? Is it back in the megapixel game? Well, in the short of it, no. We quizzed HTC on this during HTC Frequencies a day before the launch. The fact of the matter is, the inclusion of the new 13MP module was to meet the demands of the Japanese market, primarily. Perhaps the Japanese market wants “more pixels.”

The 13MP isn’t Sony sourced (not the commonly found IMX135 found in many current phones) as explained by HTC officials when I asked them. Regardless, the camera is very good.

There are some differences in quality (which I’ll show you in a separate post later) between the 13MP non-UltraPixel and the 4MP UltraPixel camera but as a whole, it works very well.

You get all the familiar Camera Duo capabilities and features – one being the clever UFocus.

Booming sound

I’ve the opinon that the HTC One M8 has the best audio experience on any smartphone today. Thanks to BoomSound and the lovely front dual-speakers, audio is clear, crisp and loud. The Butterfly 2 gets the all these benefits. A win.

It gets Dot View, too

A pleasant surprise indeed that the new device gets the brilliant Dot View case support. Although its dimensions are awfully similar to the HTC One M8, the M8 Dot View case has slight differences in the aliignment of ports and camera modules. So to answer your question, no they aren’t compatible. I tried. :)

HTC Butterfly 2

Initial verdict

While it isn’t a flagship like the HTC One M8, the HTC Butterfly 2 certainly feels like one. The Crimson is my favourite colour although its glossy finish is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. If you’re bothered by that, Canvas (white) is pretty nice, too – with an anti-stain matt finish.

IMHO, a very solid device and should sell really well in Japan and other markets. Its predecessor the HTC J did extremely well in Japan and Taiwan, and from the looks of it, the new Butterfly 2 should be a winner too.

I like that it’s waterproof, snappy and the new 13MP camera is surprisingly good. Overall, it gets a huge thumbs up from me.

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