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HTC Explorer review: HTC Explorer

It's comfy in the hand and handles the basics well. The HTC Explorer certainly has a unique appeal.

Buzz Moody
3 min read


The HTC Explorer, at first glance, reminds us of a black pebble that has been weathered in a river bed for a long period of time. By that, I mean, it's a solid black device that has nicely curved edges all the way around it. It ultimately feels wonderful in the hand — even all the hardware buttons line up with your natural finger placements.


HTC Explorer

The Good

Cool pebble-like design. Lightweight. Improved Sense UI experience.

The Bad

No LED flash. Not enough CPU power for high-end games.

The Bottom Line

It's comfy in the hand, and handles the basics well. The HTC Explorer certainly has a unique appeal.

Those hardware buttons include the power button, on the top of the Explorer, and the volume up and down buttons (it's not a single rocker button), on the right-hand side. The four buttons underneath the 3.2-inch TFT display are capacitive, and aligned in home, menu, back and search formation. There's the obligatory 3.5mm headphone jack on the top and a micro-USB input on the lower left side.

(Credit: Buzz Moody/CBSi)

We found the Explorer to be the best-feeling device in hand at this size (102.8x57.2x12.9mm), which may be a deciding factor if you're after a small, comfy device.

While the overall design of the Explorer differs from the slightly older HTC Wildfire S, they share almost the exact same internal hardware, with a few exceptions: the camera has been downgraded from 5MP to 3.15MP and the LED flash has been removed; 3G HSPA speeds have doubled from 7.2Mbps to 14.4Mbps; and the CPU is different, but it still has the 600MHz clock speed.

User experience and performance

HTC has updated its Sense UI skin, atop Android, on the Explorer, which has somewhat toned it back and made it more resource — CPU and RAM — friendly. The end result is a cleaner and more user-friendly experience. The device is running Android 2.3 — there are no plans for Android 4.0 — giving you access to the greater majority of Android apps available through Google Play.

(Credit: Buzz Moody/CBSi)

One of the best features we found in this version of Sense UI (version 3.5), is the ability to launch four preselected apps from the lock screen. So, if you want to access texts, for example, you can drag the Messaging app into the circle on the lock screen and it will unlock the Explorer and send you straight to the Messaging application. Camera, Messaging, Email and Phone are the defaults, straight out of the box, and we didn't feel the need to change them with our usage.

The 600MHz CPU in the Explorer does hold it back when playing intensive games; however, the likes of Angry Birds and other similar, light-weight games are not a problem. If you want to play something like Dungeon Defenders, then you might want to look at handing over a few more dollars for a more powerful device.

Call quality was perfectly fine, with all interlocutors being heard clearly, even without a secondary mic for noise cancellation. The other thing we noticed was that the battery charged quite quickly. It went from 0 per cent to 20 per cent in about 10-15 minutes.


As with most phones in this price category, there's no flash on the Explorer, rendering it completely useless in the dark. It also has a 3.15MP sensor, compared to the likes of the 5MP camera in the HTC Wildfire S and Huawei Vision.

(Credit: Buzz Moody/CBSi)

(Credit: Buzz Moody/CBSi)

Should you buy one?

The deciding factor between this device and the HTC Wildfire S is whether you want an LED flash for the camera. The trade-off is that the Explorer has better software, allowing for a more fluid and enjoyable user experience.

It doesn't look as classy as the Wildfire S, but it sure has its own unique appeal.