Mobile Phones Guide

HTC Butterfly S review

HTC Butterfly S - Supersized One (Updated)

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Overall rating 9/10
Design:
8.5
Features:
9
User-Friendliness:
9
Performance:
9
Value:
8.5
THE GOOD
Stunning 5-inch display
Solid build quality
Good handling
Smooth performance
THE BAD
Slightly bulky
Plastic cap on micro-SIM difficult to remove
Power button can be better located
Loses water resistance of its predecessor


Performance and Conclusion

Performance

The Butterfly S is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.9GHz processor and 2GB RAM, which puts it on-par with the Samsung Galaxy S4. The processor clock speed is a tad faster than the HTC One, ASUS PadFone Infinity and LG Optimus G Pro.

To find out how HTC's latest offering fare against the competition, we use the Quadrant benchmark which evaluates the CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics of Android devices. In this comparison, we pit the Butterfly S against the HTC One, the Butterfly, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and ASUS PadFone Infinity.

How the Phones Stack Up
Device HTC Butterfly S HTC One HTC Butterfly Samsung Galaxy S4 ASUS PadFone Infinity
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core 1.7GHz
GPU Adreno 320 Adreno 320 Adreno 320 Adreno 320 Adreno 320
RAM 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
OS Android 4.2 Android 4.1 Android 4.1 Android 4.2 Android 4.1

The Butterfly S took the lead in the Quadrant benchmark from the One with a slightly higher score of 12,608. At the point of publication, the top two Quadrant scores belong to HTC although the upcoming Snapdragon 800-equipped smartphones such as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A model will no doubt blow the current competition out of the water.

Having used the Butterfly S for a day, we found no issues with the performance of the device. It was every bit as snappy and responsive as the other Android 4.2 devices except for the Google Nexus devices.

 

Multimedia Performance

The Butterfly S sports a 5-inch Super LCD 3 display, a panel which is also used in the One and Butterfly models. As such, the viewing experience is no different from what we've noted in the other reviews - the display is nothing short of spectular! It provides natural and balanced images. Blacks are also sufficiently rich and dark.

The only issue we had with the screen is its sunlight legibility. Even with brightness tuned to maximum, we had slight problems viewing content on the Butterfly S under direct sunlight. AMOLED screens perform marginally better in such scenarios due to their more vibrant displays.

Audio capability is another strength of the Butterfly S. In a nutshell, the audio quality is very good - and loud. The three bands of audio frequencies, namely bass, mids and trebles, can be heard distinctly. 

Unlike the One, the Butterfly S comes with a microSD card slot that supports memory cards up to 64GB in capacity. Out of the box, the Butterfly S has about 10.43GB of available storage space for your apps and multimedia files. Aside from physical storage, the Butterfly S also comes with free 25GB Dropbox cloud storage space for two years.

 

Imaging Performance

The Butterfly S comes with the same suite of imaging hardware and software components such as the 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera sensor, HTC Zoe and user interface. As we've explored the imaging aspect, we will not be discussing it again in this review. A point to note is that the Butterfly S does not come with optical image stabilization unlike the HTC One.

For more information, you can check out our dedicated HTC One Camera Tested article where we explain the significance of the technologies behind UltraPixel and how it fares against the other camera phones under actual usage scenarios.

*Update on 11/7/2013

We were curious to see if there is a significant drop in image quality between the two Butterfly models. From our observations, it seems that the Butterfly is able to capture more saturated colors compared to the Butterfly S, as evident in the color tone of the "ABSOLUT CITRON" brand and the grapes at the bottom left corner.

 

 

Updated on 10th July, 12pm: All content from this point forward was newly added to the review - this includes the battery performance assessment and the conclusion.

Battery Mileage

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device HTC Butterfly S HTC One HTC Butterfly Samsung Galaxy S4 ASUS PadFone Infinity
Processor
  • Quad-core 1.9GHz
  • Quad-core 1.7GHz
  • Quad-core 1.5GHz
  • Quad-core 1.9GHz
  • Quad-core 1.7GHz
Display Size
  • 5-inch
  • 4.7-inch
  • 5-inch
  • 5-inch
  • 5-inch
Display Type
  • Super LCD 3
  • Super LCD 3
  • Super LCD 3
  • Super AMOLED
  • Super IPS
Display Resolution
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Dimensions
  • 144.5 x 70.5 x 10.6mm 
  • 137.4 x 68.2 x 9.3mm
  • 143 x 70.5 x 9.08mm
  • 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
  • 143.5 x 72.8 x 6.3 - 8.9mm
Weight
  • 160g
  • 143g
  • 140g
  • 130g
  • 145g
Battery
  • 3200mAh
  • 2300mAh
  • 2020mAh
  • 2600mAh
  • 2400mAH


 

The Butterfly S clocked a battery uptime of 8 hours 18 minutes, which is by far the best we've seen from a HTC device. For comparison's sake, it outlasted the HTC One by four hours and the ASUS PadFone Infinity by more than an hour. This comes as no surprise since the Butterfly S packs the largest battery capacity ever seen in a HTC phone.

You must be wondering why the Butterfly S could not match up to the mileage clocked by the Samsung Galaxy S4, which has a smaller battery capacity yet could last two hours longer. Based on the Power Consumption chart, the Butterfly S has the second highest power consumption at 1.47W compared to the Galaxy S4 that's just at 0.92W. The higher power consumption of the Butterfly S could also be due to BlinkFeed running in the background and the different screen type used.

In the Portability Index where each device is assessed on its ability to balance battery mileage. with its size and portability, the Butterfly S did not perform well as it is the heaviest and thickest among the phones compared.

*Updated on 11/7/2013

To give you a more realistic understanding on how the Butterfly S fared under real world usage conditions, we included screenshots of the usage and history graphs which are available on Android 4.0 and later devices.

As seen from the graphs above, the Butterfly S could last slightly more than a day of usage. Some notes:-

  • The device logged onto a 3G network as the SIM card used does not support 4G LTE.
  • In addition, the device was not connected to Wi-Fi at all.
  • Power saver mode was not enabled throughout the day until the battery hit the 14% mark when the phone automatically activated it.

The typical usage scenarios include making some voice calls, texting via WhatsApp, taking some photos and sharing them on social networking sites (Facebook and Instagram) and the occasional web browsing via Pulse News Reader. Since the Butterfly S comes with a 3,200mAh battery, charging the device from 0% to full is estimated to take about 3 hours using the HTC charger rated at 1A.

 

Conclusion - A Superior One?

As we come to the end of the review, let's answer some of the questions that we posted earlier in the review.

It's clear how HTC segregates the One and Butterfly S models. The HTC One is clearly the flagship and hero device for the company while the Butterfly S is positioned as a high-end model. Each device is distinctly designed although certain features and hardware are shared.

We believe the company's rationale for doing so is to offer a choice for consumers. An anodized aluminium chassis may not be everyone's favorite, hence the Butterfly S comes in as a viable alternative. 

On paper, the Butterfly S boasts a better set of specs than the One. which include a microSD card slot, a bigger battery capacity and 0.3-inch more screen real estate. Do these equate to a better phone? Well, it depends on what you really want.

  • If 32GB of storage space is sufficient for your needs, the omission of a memory card slot on the HTC One shouldn't be a deal breaker. Are you willing to sacrifice portability in exchange for longer battery life? For people who need the extra juice, the Butterfly S is definitely a better deal.
     
  • Is 0.3-inch extra screen real estate that important? For the average consumer, a larger display will generally mean that he or she has to stretch the finger a tad further to reach to the far corners of the screen to tap on something. If you fall into this group of consumers who prioritize usability over other factors, we recommend that you try both phones out before making a decision. On a side note, also consider the power button placement on the crown of the Butterfly S as it may pose difficulties for some people.
     
  • A smaller but lesser talked about aspect is the row of capacitive touch buttons below the screen where the Butterfly S uses the standard 3-button layout unlike HTC's One that dumbs it down to a not-so-practical 2-button layout.

Looking purely at the performance and battery benchmarks, it is safe to assume that the Butterfly S is a better phone than the One. However, mainstream consumers on the street may not be looking purely at performance; Aesthetics, build quality and usability are also factors that they would consider. If the latter set of pointers are more important for you, the HTC One might a slightly better choice.

A burning question among many readers would be if it can be recommended over the Samsung Galaxy S4. However from our analysis, we would place them about on par as the Samsung brings with it other software features that may or may not appeal to you, but it has a better imaging component and it has a better battery life. Suffice to say, HTC has created a very convincing device with the Butterfly S and it gets a lot of practical requirements right for those looking out for a good 5-inch smartphone.