HTC Smart Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can be used with AT&T and T-Mobile USA without 3G.


There are some phones which are not that easy to categorize, and the HTC Smart is just one of them. Aiming to attract attention with the new Brew mobile platform and solid build quality, it is HTC's first foray into the feature phone universe. However, the HTC Smart seems to be keeping the popular Sense UI, so the user experience should still be HTC-like. We need another one of these mobile platforms like we need an oil spill in the Gulf, but let's see what it can and can't do.

What's in the box:
  • HTC Smart handset
  • miniUSB cable
  • Charger
  • Manuals
  • Stereo headset with mic
  • 1100mAh Li-Ion battery


We have to give it to HTC, they surely know how to make touchscreen phones. For one of the pioneers in the industry it wouldn't be very hard to make a solid handset and the HTC Smart exhibits the build quality we've come to expect from the company, despite the fact that it is an entry level phone. The specs are pretty ordinary, though - the screen is 2.8” resistive type with a plain QVGA resolution, and not very responsive to the touch. It is probably the most basic screen you can find on a touchscreen device these days. Colors are by no means saturated, but at least the panel doesn't smudge quickly like some others do, and is bright and fairly visible in direct sunlight.

You can compare the HTC Smart with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The HTC Smart feels sturdy and heavy when gripped, with a quality soft-touch coating on the back, usually reserved for higher-end phones. When you add the stainless steel elements like the buttons, the rims surrounding the phone and the display area, plus the brushed metal plate around the 3MP camera, it all amounts up to quality.

A nice chrome band runs around the phone. Even the volume piece on the left, and the camera button at the lower right side, are part of it, but a bit elevated, so you can feel where they are without looking. The only elements that pierce the metal band's streamlined look, are the miniUSB port at the bottom for charging and syncing, and the 3.5mm audio jack on top, but they have chrome all around them too. The travel of the camera key is quite shallow since you don't have the half-press-to-focus function, as the 3MP camera is with a fixed focus.

The front of the HTC Smart is also thoughtfully designed. The huge metal back key has a prominent position between the send and end buttons in the bottom area, and there is a tiny key right underneath the screen, which serves as a context menu button throughout the interface (similar to Android). The plate around all front keys has a wooden look, and the earpiece area above the screen is covered by a metal grill with three LEDs lighting up when the device is charging.

Honestly, the design of the HTC Smart looks much more impressive than its spec sheet. It definitely gives it that premier look we've come to expect from HTC's handsets. So as far as design goes, we're content with what the Smart offers. On the other hand, the combination of Brew MP and Sense UI seems like an intriguing software mash-up. It would be interesting to see if it keeps the same level of quality found with the appearance of the phone. Let's take a look!

HTC Smart 360 Degrees View:

Interface and functionality:

The HTC Smart is running a concoction called Brew MP (for Mobile Platform), developed by the  mobile chip manufacturer Qualcomm. Brew has been around for a decade, starting on Verizon's CDMA devices, and powering more than a thousand “talk&text” phones since inception. Qualcomm says that due to popular demand from carriers for something to power a niche like feature phones, it has decided to elevate Brew from a runtime environment into a full-fledged mobile platform. There are thousands of applications compiled for Brew over the years, but it is very phone and carrier specific what will be offered to the customer. And, as you might guess, in the case of the HTC Smart we couldn't find any additional software to install, in order to extend the device's functionality.

The HTC Smart is running a simplified version of HTC Sense, but its graphics look quite different. There are seven home screens – main one, favorite contacts, email, messages, weather, FriendStream, and picture gallery. Pressing the back key evokes the main menu with a total of three pages of application icons. The Sense UI here has directly plagiarized the notification bar from Android, and the HTC Smart comes with a few profile buttons on it for quickly changing the mood.

As a phone the device offers the basic things like а smart dial, which sifts through possible contacts while you type the letters. There's nothing out of the ordinary with the phonebook too - it allows you to do basic stuff like storing picture IDs in the contact details.. The calendar is easy to use without much bells and whistles, just plain “what, where, when” and “are you setting an alarm for that?” options. There aren't dedicated note taking or to-do applications.

As far as perks - there is a flashlight app (not that you need it as the screen is very bright in the dark), plus three fairly interesting games. Nevertheless, the list style menus under Sense look resurrected from terminal times, with no transitions, and pretty slow for modern standards, although Brew MP is supposed to be light on resource needs. Fortunately, there is no lag when you use the homescreens or main menu.

The HTC Smart doesn't have a Wi-Fi or GPS chips (but it has an FM radio), so for Internet connection you are restricted to 3G speeds. The browser is very basic, it is called Obigo, and is still in beta version on this handset. Double tap to zoom works, but you have to wait a bit before something changes on the screen, plus the text looks jagged most of the time. For smoother zooming you have a slider, which works a bit better. Clicking on a YouTube video brings along an enigmatic message “scheme not supported”. We guess the said scheme is Adobe Flash.

At least the email application works automatically with Gmail and can pull in the entire message history in full HTML, with attachments and all. The bad part is that there is no document viewer, so you can only store office documents. It is in these occasions that we realize the difference between a real smartphone and something like the HTC Smart. As we mentioned, the handset can be synced with Outlook contacts and calendar via the HTC Sync software, and that's about it.

Having FriendStream as a part of HTC Sense means you have easy access to the happenings in Facebook and Twitter, but it is not very interactive and you get redirected to their mobile sites even for simple actions.

Camera and Multimedia:

The HTC Smart has a 3MP camera with fixed focus and an LED flash, which can also serve as a video light, or a flashlight. The camera shoots video at 15fps, QVGA only. Pressing the menu key in camera mode allows for a change in modes and effects, and there is a timer, so, again, the basics are here. Image quality would have been pretty decent for a basic camera, if it wasn't for the bluish hue to outdoor shots under clear sky. Indoor shots under weak lighting are passable, but the flash is usable only for objects that are right in front of the HTC Smart. Video recorded with the phone's camera is rather blurry, and dropping frames.

HTC Smart sample video at 320x240 pixels

The gallery is a simple grid of picture and video thumbnails. You can use double tap to zoom on a picture, and the zoom bar from the browser is here as well, to let you choose a precise level of zoom. Sharing photos is done again by the context menu key. Images can also be uploaded to Facebook, while videos can only be sent via email or MMS.

There is no dedicated video player app, video clips have to be run from the file browser or the gallery.  The only videos you can watch are MPEG-4 QVGA ones.

The HTC Smart has a fine music player - it shows album art and has sorting settings, but there aren't any equalizer presets, or visualization capabilities. The headset that comes with the phone is of average quality, but is fine for listening to music, just don't expect any deep bass sound.


The HTC Smart's earpiece is loud enough, and voice quality on our end was good, with no distortions or ambient noises. The party that received calls from us however was hearing our voice a bit tin and with static.

Brew MP doesn't seem to take much toll on the battery, and there is no Wi-Fi or big screen to drain it, so battery life is rated for the decent six hours plus of talk time, and the outstanding 25 days of standby.


The sturdy design of the HTC Smart probably has something to do with the fact that it's become a company trademark to grace its phones with high-quality and enduring materials. Indeed, the HTC Smart exudes that premium feel so typical of HTC's products.

Qualcomm's Brew MP, on the other hand, seems a bit rough around the edges, although HTC's Sense UI on top of it brings a great deal of familiarity to the interface. At this point though, it is a typical non-smart platform experience, due to the total lack of additional applications for the Smart.

If you are the adventurous type, and want a touchscreen phone with basic functionality and solid design, then you can take the HTC Smart for a spin. It is simply a well-built feature phone.

Otherwise you have similarly priced alternatives with the Android-based HTC Tattoo for true smartphone functionality, and a slew of better equipped feature phones.

HTC Smart Video Review:


  • Solid design
  • Good battery life
  • Familiar HTC Sense UI


  • No easy way to get third party applications
  • Poor camera
  • Price is not entry level

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

5 Reviews

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