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HTC Smart review: HTC Smart

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The Good Attractive, finger-friendly user interface; HSDPA for speedy downloads over the 3G network; live home-screen widgets display updates; inexpensive; good call quality; adequate 3-megapixel camera.

The Bad Low screen resolution; odd button configuration; no Wi-Fi connectivity; lacks video-sharing capability.

The Bottom Line The HTC Smart does a good job of hiding the fact that it's a budget phone, thanks to a glossy, simple user interface. We'd like even more social-networking options, but the widgets and Web browser are better than the offerings of many competitors

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7.5 Overall

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We believe the children are our future. Teach them well, and give them decent, cheap pay-as-you-go phones so they can lead the way when they're not within earshot. The HTC Smart fits the bill, with a good-looking user interface and attractive screen, but it's got some tough competition for your pocket money.

The Smart is available from O2 for £100 on a pay-as-you go deal. It's also free on a £10-per-month, 2-year contract.

Slick Sense
At first glance, the Smart looks like it could be running Android, especially since its operating system is wrapped up in HTC's own Sense user interface, used on Android phones like the HTC Desire.

The Smart's Friend Stream widget lets you keep tabs on the inconsequential ramblings of your friends

That means that you can slide a menu down from the top of the screen to see your notifications, such as whether you've received new voicemails. You also have a choice of widgets that you can place on the seven home screens, including the Friend Stream widget that shows live updates from your Facebook and Twitter stream.

Social reject
It looks good, but the Smart is no smart phone. Unsurprisingly, it lacks many of the features that you'd get on an Android phone, most of which are much more expensive.

We're rabid social-networking fiends, so we want to be able to easily sync, share and swap our photos and videos. The Smart can share photos over Facebook, as well as email or SMS, but videos can't be shared with Facebook or YouTube. There's no YouTube app to make watching videos easier, and no way to sync your contacts with your Facebook, Gmail or email provider. At least there's the option to link your contacts with their Facebook accounts, once you've added them to your address book.

Gunfight at the budget corral
Thanks to its Sense user interface, the Smart is more user-friendly than many of its budget, touchscreen competitors. The home-screen widgets are better designed, more attractive, more powerful and easier to use than the ones on the Samsung Genio Touch, for example -- although the Genio Touch is now almost half the price of the Smart on a pay-as-you-go tariff.

The back button also serves as a home button, making navigation unnecessarily complicated

But the Smart also has to take on budget Android phones like the T-Mobile Pulse Mini, which can be picked up for around £100 on a pay-as-you-go deal. The shiny, plasticky Pulse doesn't look as solid as the Smart, but it's packed with all the features of Android, including access to thousands of apps in the Android Market.

Cost-cutting compromises
Sacrifices have to be made to keep budget phones in Budgetville. That usually means most cheap touchscreen phones have a resistive screen, rather than a more sensitive capacitive display. The Smart's resistive touchscreen isn't the most sensitive we've ever used, and you'll need to apply some pressure or a fingernail to get it to respond to your swipes. But it's not so bad that you'll need a stylus. It's usable.

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