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Smart start?

HTC has been successful with its Android devices, which seem popular among all demographics. However, so far, they haven’t been able to tap into the under-Rs 10,000, budget segment.

tech reviews Updated: Jun 22, 2010 14:02 IST

HTC has been successful with its Android devices, which seem popular among all demographics. However, so far, they haven’t been able to tap into the under-Rs 10,000, budget segment. The new Smart, their cheapest smartphone yet, is their attempt to bridge this gap.

Form
The Smart is a sleek handset that weighs only 108 g and is 12.8 mm thin. It has a 2.8-inch resistive touchscreen with a 240 x 320 pixel resolution. Although it’s not visually appealing, the overall clarity is good outdoors during the day. The button layout is not the best. A 3.5 mm handsfree port is located at the top with a mini USB port at the bottom.

The volume keys are neatly camouflaged along the chrome border and a camera shutter release is located on the other side. A hot swap MicroSD card slot is located under the rear panel on one side. It is simple yet looks professional.

The Smart runs a new OS called Brew Mobile designed by Qualcomm, which offers multiple desktops, full page widgets, shortcuts, and more. It’s easy to manage, and the 300 MHz processor enables speedy access to features. The layout is comfortable but multitasking is not the handset’s strongest point. A standard mobile virtual keypad is available, but you can switch to landscape with a QWERTY option.

Media
Unfortunately, just like the Android’s player, this one is also strictly play and listen, with no options to alter audio output. The tone quality is really good and the decibel levels are high enough.

Playlists can be created on the device but it doesn’t allow for individual folder viewing/ playback. The FM radio has clear reception, and scans and saves stations in eight seconds. Video playback is limited to 3GP and mobile MPEG 4 formats. Playback and viewing is quite comfortable on the 2.8-inch display, but large JPEG files take a while to load.

Connectivity
The HTC Smart is a 3G- enabled device that offers EDGE/ GPRS for Web browsing. The browser is quite basic with an option to change the orientation to landscape. HTC has included their FriendStream App which allows you to post data on Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. You can also upload images, comments and reply to posts. You can also uploaded photos from the gallery to Facebook, email them, send them via Bluetooth (2.0 with A2DP) or transfer them to your PC via USB 2.0. Setting up POP and IMAP email accounts is also quite easy.

Although the handset supports Java-based apps, I couldn’t download Google apps like Maps or Gmail for Mobile. There was no chat application either and even Nimbuzz didn’t work. Off beat apps like Flash Light with controllable intensity for the camera’s LED flash can be quite handy.

A 3-megapixel fixed focus camera comes with a few settings. Picture quality isn’t bad, and in outdoor conditions images are crisp but the focus goes off indoors.

The battery life isn’t impressive. On a single charge, the handset ran just about a day-and-a-half with calls, messages, music and social networking. Talk time averaged in at about three hours and 30 minutes.

What we like
Smart looking, well designed
Audio clarity is good
Camera is quite decent

What we don’t
Lacks Wi-Fi for the price
Battery life could have been better
No Google Maps

Vrdict
At Rs 9,990 (MRP), the Smart isn’t the smartest tool in the box. It’s bundled with Airtel, but it’s not a network locked device. Although it does categorise as a smartphone, I’d recommend the Samsung Corby Pro which has Wi-Fi and a slide out QWERTY keypad, or the better looking Monte.