With its introduction of the HTC Snap for Sprint and very similar Ozone for Verizon, HTC is undoubtedly taking aim at the likes of RIM’s successful BlackBerry Curve. The Windows Mobile device perhaps isn’t quite as sleek or feature laden as some of the competition, but certainly answers its calling as a powerful email and messaging device complete with HTC’s simple yet innovative Inner Circle email prioritizing feature.
The HTC Snap for Sprint took a bit of a departure from its sleeker GSM counterpart. While the GSM Snap has a chic brushed aluminum navigation area and a trackball, the Snap for Sprint is more plasticky all around, and features a four-way navigational key in lieu of the trackball. This is not to say that the CDMA Snap isn’t attractive in its own right.
The Snap’s form factor is reminiscent of the BlackBerry Curve. At 2.4 inches wide, 4.6 inches tall, and only half an inch thick, the device is small and slender. The majority of the Snap’s body is a glossy black plastic, while the bottom portion of the phone’s backing is a slightly lighter black brushed plastic.
On the front of the Snap is a 2.4 inch non-touch screen with support for 65k colors and 320×240 pixel resolution. The Snap’s screen is bright and fairly crisp, but not as high resolution as some of its competition. The primary navigation bar consists of a four-way directional key with a centered select button, a send, end, home, and back key, and two soft keys.
The only button on either side of the Snap is a volume rocker. The back of the device features a 2.0 megapixel camera housed in brushed aluminum. A microUSB port for synching and charging can be found on the bottom of the phone. The port also accepts an included adapter for plugging in a pair of 3.5mm or 2.5mm headphones, or an included pair of headphones with a hands-free microphone and volume control.
The Snap’s QWERTY keyboard feels good to the touch, and provides a satisfying tactile feedback. The keyboard features an offset layout instead of a grid, resembling a full-sized PC keyboard. The Snap’s keys, however, feel a bit cramped and close together and may be error prone for users with bigger thumbs. The CAPS key is where the ‘A’ key is on most other QWERTYs, which also takes some getting used to. The keyboard features dedicated keys for the camera, email, web browser, and Inner Circle.
The HTC Snap is running on Windows Mobile 6.1 standard edition. As usual, Windows Mobile is simple and easy to navigate, but powerful at the same time. Menus are navigated using the right and left soft keys as well as the four-way directional key and select button. For the most part, applications and menus loaded in a snap. I didn’t experience any hang ups or delays in my time with the device.
HTC provides an attractive custom home screen layout with sliding panels. The home screen does a good job providing quick and easy access to the most frequently accessed information, applications and settings. There is a panel for missed calls and voicemail, appointments, messages, email, weather, the browser, and settings.
Clicking right or left in a panel offers further options. In the browser panel, for example, you can scroll through bookmarked web sites. Similarly, the appointments panel allows you to scroll through upcoming appointments, or add a new appointment. You can also browse through new emails in the email panel.
While HTC’s home screen provides a refreshing face lift, not too much has changed in the Window’s Mobile realm as of late. Moving beyond the home screen into the standard Windows Mobile OS feels mundane and a tad bit dated in this day and age.
To dial a number or contact, just start typing the number or contact’s name from the home screen. The Snap’s phonebook is only limited in capacity by the device’s internal memory. Phonebook entries have space for tons of information, including multiple phone numbers and email addresses, physical addresses, instant messaging addresses, and personal information such as birthday and spouse. Of course, you can also set a custom ringtone and picture.
As part of Windows Mobile 6.1, the HTC Snap features an impressively comprehensive voice commands utility. By default, holding down the send key launches voice command. After being prompted by a tone, you can command the Snap to do any number of things from dialing a phone number or contact to launching an application or asking what time it is. The voice command utility worked impressively well when speaking slowly and clearly with minimal background noise.
Backed up by the power of Microsoft’s Direct Push Technology, the Snap delivers an impressive messaging experience. I had no trouble setting up my Exchange account and Gmail account. For Gmail, I just entered in my username and password and I was good to go. The device was unable to setup my Exchange account without manually entering my settings, but after entering my server and domain settings successfully, the Snap synchronized with my email, contact and calendar in a matter of minutes.
Activating HTC’s Inner Circle feature will automatically filter out emails from those individuals you have added to your circle. Yes, it’s about as simple as it sounds – but depending on how many emails you get on a regular basis and who they are from, you may actually find Inner Circle a life saver. If you get an inordinate amount of company emails and news alerts, for example, pressing the dedicated Inner Circle button will display emails from only those individuals you have deemed important enough to make the cut. Take that, Google Alerts!
The HTC Snap has the latest version of Microsoft’s Mobile Internet Explorer. Mobile IE did a great job rendering even complicated pages. The browser does support Flash, although Flash video was often choppy. Navigation is performed using the four-way navigation button to guide an on-screen cursor. You can zoom in and out on a web page, although Mobile IE’s zoom function is a bit clunky.
The Snap uses mobile Windows Media Player for music and video playback. Windows Media supports the usual, including playlists, shuffle and repeat, ratings, and album art. The Snap only has 256mb of memory onboard, but supports up to a 16GB microSD for plenty of space. Other entertainment options include Sprint TV and a YouTube player.
The Snap’s 2 megapixel camera offers acceptable but not great photo quality. In bright light, colors appeared somewhat washed out and dull. The quality of indoor photos was on par with that of comparable 2 megapixel cameras. The camera can be set in several modes, including Contacts Picture, Picture Theme, Panorama, as well as Video and MMS Video mode. The brightness, white balance, and resolution (128×96, 176×144, 320×240, or 352×288), and capture format can be adjusted along with several others options. There’s also an effects option to take images in grayscale, sepia, or negative.
The HTC Snap is equipped with Bluetooth 2.0, with support for stereo Bluetooth. Regrettably, the device does not have WiFi and is also lacking dual mode, making world roaming an unfortunate impossibility.
The Snap supports numerous Sprint services including Navigation, TV, Nascar and NFL Mobile Live. The device also comes loaded with Office Mobile for viewing attachments, YouTube, Windows Live, an RSS reader, MP3 trimmer, and voice recorder. Pre-installed games include Bubble Breaker, Solitaire, and Wheel of Fortune. Numerous other applications and games are available for the Windows Mobile platform.r.
The HTC Snap may not be the most glitzy smartphone to hit the market in recent memory, but the device offers a powerful email and messaging experience complete with HTC’s Inner Circle feature for prioritizing emails. The handset’s lack of Wi-Fi and dual-mode for world roaming, however, limit its appeal. Because the Snap’s QWERTY keyboard is compact and somewhat cramped, users with larger thumbs may want to think twice about the Snap. But with a host of features including Sprint Navigation and TV, a camera and camcorder, and media applications – in addition to its messaging prowess – the Snap is a good pickup.