HTC Snap

HTC Snap


The Snap is the return of the non-touchscreen QWERTY messaging phone.
HTC last dipped it’s foot into this marketplace with the HTC
Excalibur

and it’s still a handset that’s being used on BT
with their Office Anywhere solution. The Snap brings WinMo 6.1, a
faster CPU, uprated camera, GPS and more. But is there still room for a
non-touchscreen device in a world that’s gone touchscreen crazy?

HTC Snap

Video Introduction

If  you want to see the HTC Snap being unboxed
and thoroughly fiddled with (for nearly 25 minutes!) have a looksie at
the video below or click here.

Specs

Processor – Qualcomm® MSM 7225™, 528 MHz
Operating System – Windows Mobile® 6.1 Standard
Memory – ROM: 256 MB / RAM: 192 MB
Dimensions – 116.5 X 61.5 X 12.0 mm (4.59 X 2.42 X 0.47 inches)
Weight – 120 grams (4.23 ounces) with battery
Display – 2.4-inch TFT-LCD with LED back light and QVGA resolution
Network – HSDPA/WCDMA:

    * Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz
    * Up to 7.2 Mbps down-link speed

Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE:

    * Europe/Asia: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

Device Control – Trackball with Enter button
Keyboard = 4-row QWERTY keyboard
GPS – Internal GPS antenna
Connectivity – Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for
wireless stereo headsets
Wi-Fi® – IEEE 802.11 b/g
HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)
Camera – 2.0 megapixel color camera with fixed focus
Battery – Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery (1500 mAh)
Talk time –

    * Up to 300 minutes for WCDMA
    * Up to 510 minutes for GSM

Standby time –

    * Up to 480 hours for WCDMA
    * Up to 380 hours for GSM

Expansion Slot – microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)

Initial feelings aren’t teriffic unfortunately. Placed next to the
“default” messaging handset that many large companies choose, the HTC
Snap lacks the designer flair with the extra space above and below the
keyboard making it look a little gangly.

HTC Snap

The keyboard arrangement is done well with a decent space between each
row and each key is domed for easy location. The brown symbols and
numbers are accessed by holding the FN key and there’s a dedicated
“Inner Circle” button which lets you filter people easily from your
contacts list – a bit like a VIP list. Using the keyboard itself took
me a bit of getting used to, especially as I’ve had to use a Blackberry
Curve for some time. The “TAB” button is right next to the “A” key and
I did find that I would press this instead of the letter “A”, but this
was only a minor gripe.

HTC Snap

Above the main QWERTY keyboard are the rounded softkeys which overlap
the “Home” and “Back” keys. The softkeys activate the two tabs at the
bottom of the screen and will change function according to the app or
menu you’re looking at. To the left is the Call Answer / begin call key
and on the right there’s the call drop key which doubles and the power
button. Press and hold the call drop key to power off. To lock the
device you’ll need to press and hold the lock button which is on the
letter “Q”. To unlock you’ll need to hit the left softkey and then “Q”
again, because it’s actually the “*” character you need to press after
the left soft-key, and that’s on the letter Q again. You actually find
that this works quite well because the two keys are right next to each
other.

HTC Snap

The trackball makes a welcome return on here and, being a reluctant
Blackberry user, it’s very familiar to me already. I found that the
initial speed of this was a little slow when browsing, but the good
news is that this can be adjusted, and there’s two different adjustment
methods – a sensitivity setting for within the browser and another for
everything else. You can adjust the rate too.

HTC Snap

To the left of the device is the volume up / down. This is on one long
bar..

HTC Snap

There’s nothing on the top or the bottom (apart from a small slot for
popping the battery cover off) and, on the right side, we’ve got the
return of the “rubber flap”. This is anchored with a small hinge and
you open it by sliding your nail to the bottom and popping it off.

HTC Snap

On the back there’s a large slot for the external speaker and a
metallic section housing the 2 megapixel camera which, as you’ll see
later, is actually not bad even though it’s a relatively low amount of
pixels compared to the 5 and 8 megapixel handsets on the market.

HTC Snap

Also known as the HTC S521 the Inner Circle system will slice your
contacts list down and only show messages and info from selected
favourites. This, as I mentioned in the video, is a lot like the Sky+
“Favourites” feature. Let’s face it, when you’ve got stacks of people
on your phone there’s a very good chance that you only really regularly
keep in touch with
a few, and the feature does that simply and easily. I have to confess
that this perhaps simple-sounding question is rather fantastic.

HTC Snap

The camera is a 2 megapixel shooter and, as we’ve come to expect, works
well in outdoor light but struggles a little indoors without the help
of a flash. I must give it credit though, it handled low-light
conditions a lot better than a lot of HTC kit I’ve tested, and there’s
examples of that below. Accessing the camera isn’t done through a
dedicated button but you can press the “FN” key to access the little
camera symbol right next to it – a nice shortcut which I appreciated.
You may have noticed in earlier shots that this key also accessing MSN
Messenger – one button to get direct into Messenger. Great.

Camera

Here’s the camera album app, which is a HTC addition. It’s smooth in
operation and lets you zoom in on shots using the trackball. Just
select a picture and zoom in..

HTC Snap

The second and third pictures below pictures were taken in a room with
only one solitary 40W lamp on.
The zoom function works straight off – even on the highest resolution.
Owners of other HTC phones may be familiar with the fact that usually
it won’t zoom in when you’re on the highest resolution, you have to
instead knock it down to a lower resolution and then zoom in. Here
you don’t, and
that’s a great bonus.

Click each picture to get the original un-tampered version…

HTC SnapHTC SnapHTC Snap
HTC Snap
HTC SnapHTC Snap
HTC Snap
HTC SnapHTC Snap
HTC Snap

Inside

Inside you’ll also find the Internet Explorer browser. This version has
been around for quite some time but is usable at least. The WiFi or 3G
connectivity helps to make it a nippy experience and, once you do start
using it, your trackball suddenly develops an on-screen pointer, which
is another thoughtful touch which lets you click links on-screen easier
than without.

HTC Snap

You can pan around a web page and zoom in on a certain section as shown
above. Favourites can be stored and they’ll then be accesible from the
home panel. It’s not quite as slick as Opera etc but it’s a decent
enough web browser.

The main home interface is shown in the video below and you can also
see Internet Explorer in action.

This sliding panels interface is a nice quick way to navigate. Press
down or up to flip through the panels and then right or left to choose
one of the options on each themed panel. Panels include weather,
appointment, music, pictures and more. You can see it in action on the
video above or click here to watch it.

HTC SnapHTC Snap
HTC SnapHTC Snap

You’ll also find business tools like Adobe Reader LE, Voice Notes, Zip
and the Office Suite (Word, Excel, OneNote, Powerpoint etc). We should
mention though that the mobile Office suite on WinMo 6.1
Standard won’t
let you creat new Office
documents, only open existing ones. Bizarre we know, but that’s a
Microsoft decision. You can get around it by copying a blank document
onto the phone via the sync cable and then opening this and saving it
as a new filename each time. There’s also an improved clock and alarm
system for getting you up in the mornings – this will let you set two
different alarm times with two different sounds and volumes

HTC Snap HTC Snap

Other apps include MSN Messenger (which is welcomed) and a couple of
utterly fantastic HTC-built apps like HTC Album (seen earlier) and HTC
Audio Manager,
both of which should be in every WinMo handset – full stop. There’s
also Windows Media Player and a streaming player to watch the mobile
YouTube clips.

HTC Snap

GPS is always welcome and almost expected on handsets now, and the
included system here is even quicker thanks to the QuickGPS system
which finds your closest satellites. Google Maps can be used with GPS
to give you a quick and free way to locate yourself, get directions,
view satellite imagery and zoom into your neighbours gardens.

HTC Snap
HTC Snap

As with all Windows Mobile handsets the Snap will sync all the contacts
and their details on your PC Outlook, so all details including phone
numbers, email addresses, postal details, pictures and more are
instantly sync’d across to your HTC Snap. If someone calls, their photo
will appear. No photo? Don’t worry, just take a snap of the person and
add it to the profile of the person in question. A point to note here,
the menus are very smooth. Just taking a photo and tapping the right
soft-key to enter “Menu” pushes up a silky menu list which is 4 rows
high. It doesn’t jus pop up, it slides up and believe me, these small
tweaks make a difference. Slide your trackball up or down to choose the
relevant option (in my case it was “Save to contact”) and you’re done.
This swish menu system isn’t continued throughout though unfortunately.
Other handsets from HTC do – like the HTC Touch Diamond2 (which uses
the HTC TouchFlo 3D system) but this doesn’t integrate throughout, so
in HTC apps it’s a dreamy world of icy-slick menus, whilst in the
Microsoft apps (like contacts etc) it’s the standard world of MS menu
lists.

HTC Snap
HTC Snap

So, you’ve got your contacts sync’d. You’ve got all the details in each
contact plus custom ringtones, pictures, emails, IM details, home /
work / mobile numbers, website details, anniversary, spouse details and
childrens names. You’ve also got the HTC Inner Circle app, but hey –
there’s more. You’ve also got speed dial. Press and hold a number and
it’ll dial one of your favourite contacts. This is all about handling a
huge amount of contacts and data easily and it works very well indeed.

Now, whilst I’m deep into this review I’d like to mention the keyboard
once again. I’m now getting more used to it after using the device for
a number of days and it’s fantastic. The extra space on the Snap
keyboard, when compared to my usual Blackberry workhorse, is deeply
appreciated after days of banging in web addresses, text messages,
emails and Word documents.

HTC Snap HTC Snap

It’s also a big tick from me for the Inner
Circle system. I can instantly tune out the buckets of less important
emails and keep those important people in check. Imagine working on an
important project and having to keep in touch with key people – you’ll
never miss those critical emails in a sea of messages ever again. Think
of it like a highlighter pen. Simple idea. Simply
works.   

Again I have to take a punch at Windows Mobile. This version, Standard,
is the non-touch flavour of Windows Mobile. It’s perhaps not had much
attention given to it as the rise and rise of touch-based screens and
it’s starting to show. Sure, everything works well but the odd mention
of a “Radio Phone” in the contact tab make you want a newer OS

Conclusion


The Snap is really fast. It’s something I always liked about
“Smartphones” (i.e. Windows Mobile Standard devices) – the OS was
always optimised to be quick. It’s nippy and usable but I’d love to see
more of HTC’s software flavouring added to the WinMo Standard recipe.
WiFi works as expected, GPS is great and it’s a very functional device.
Once you get past the sliding panels interface the Windows Mobile 6.1
Standard OS begins to look a little old in the tooth, and the I almost
wish that HTC could have spent as much time covering it up as they now
do so succesfully on the touch-based handsets.   

As for the handset itself, the connectivity is great, the speed of the
handset is great, the battery life is great. The camera, considering
it’s “only” 2 megapixel, produces great pictures even without a flash
and, when combined, it makes for a great messaging phone. The choice of
the trackball for navigation is spot on and the Snap shows just how
much life is still left in non-touchscreen phones from Windows Mobile.
Top stuff.

Link – Buy from devicewire.com

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The o2 Joggler
  • Dean

    I own this device and I give it a 20 out of 10 rating. BEST PHONE I HAVE EVER OWNED!!!