Sep 29 AT 1:28 PM Dustin Earley 13 Comments

The low-end HTC Explorer goes official; does it have a place in today’s market?


Low-end Android devices have hit that weird stage in their lifecycle where they just don’t know who they are anymore. Will anyone actually buy a 600MHz HVGA device on a two-year contract anymore? That’s a complicated question. Two-years is a long time. But what about off contract? How much do you charge for a device like this? And what kind of purpose does it serve? HTC is going to try to answer that with the release of the Explorer.

As an on-contract device, the Explorer is incredibly lacking. If anything, carriers might be able to give it away for free should you sign on the dotted line. The Explorer comes with a 3.2-inch 480 x 320 display, a 600MHz processor, a 3 megapixel camera, Android 2.3.5, Sense 3.5 and 512 MB internal memory. Realistically, with near first-generation Android device specs, a device like the Explorer shouldn’t break the $150 mark off contract. At that kind of price, the Explorer almost makes sense. It seems that HTC may be headed in that direction.

An official price has not yet been announced, but there’s good reason to believe the Explorer will go for around $160 off contract. That’s what similarly spec’d devices are going for in the regions where the Explorer will see an initial release. As of right now, it’s not expected to grace US soils. At some point, however, some variant of the device may land on prepaid carriers in the US. If it ever does, will it hold a relevant position in the market? Or will it sit quietly and wait to take advantage of some poor sucker who thinks they’re getting the latest and greatest?

Either way, soon enough these devices will be dead and gone. 1 GHz processors are becoming so cheap to manufacture, even low-low-end devices will come out with them. Of course that’s just the natural progression in consumer electronics. But the rate at which phones are becoming obsolete is astonishingly quick. As wonderful a value as the Explorer is, you still have to wonder: has the ship sank before it ever set sail? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Show Press Release

HTC Explorer delivers an affordable smartphone with HTC Sense and distinct design

NEW DELHI, INDIA — September 29, 2011 — HTC Corporation, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today unveiled HTC Explorer, its most affordable smartphone and the latest addition to its global portfolio of devices. HTC Explorer brings an advanced smartphone experience to first time smartphone customers. With a curved and compact design, a 3.2″ HVGA touchscreen and 3MP camera, HTC Explorer offers smartphone performance in an attractive and affordable phone.

“HTC Explorer is an easy-to-use smartphone that puts the customer in control, providing quick access to their most important content and information,” said Jason Mackenzie, president of global sales and marketing, HTC Corporation. “HTC Explorer is simply a smarter phone for anyone and it represents another clear demonstration of HTC’s global commitment to expanding the market for advanced smartphones.”

HTC Sense
With HTC Senseâ„¢ integrated, customers experience sharp graphics, vibrant animations, a wide variety of widgets and a cinematic and immersive weather experience. HTC Explorer also includes a customizable lock screen that functions as a real-time window to the customer’s most important information and content, such as social updates, photos, weather or stock updates that are viewed by simply waking up the display. The lock screen also enables quick access to the camera for capturing those important moments. It also includes a new Smart Dialer that displays a one-touch menu for quick, easy dialing of contacts.

Stay connected with family and friends
Track social updates from colleagues, friends and family with the People widget that displays social updates in a single easy-to-view thread. You can also easily send a photo, video clip or location in a message with just one touch.

Fast Intuitive Web Browsing
HTC Explorer provides a complete web browsing experience with Adobe® Flash® support, and is the first in its class with a HVGA display, allowing you to run nearly all of the applications in Android Market. Smart URL prediction provides quick access to the top 100 websites, while automatic URL correction streamlines web navigation. Users can make restaurant reservations or connect to customer service hotlines just by tapping the phone numbers listed on any website. And if you’ve forgotten to print out the map of your destination, simply tap on the address to bring up a real-time map and its location.

Take control of your life
The HTC Explorer allows you to access multiple work and personal email accounts and combine different calendars into a single view. Appointments from each calendar are displayed in different colours to deliver a clearer picture of your busy day. New calendar invites are also managed from one tab allowing you determine the best use of your time. HTC Explorer offers you control over your data and mobile services with a usage monitor that tracks your call minutes, messages and data to keep you on top of your spending.

The HTC Explorer will be available across key markets in EMEA and Asia from Q4 2011 in Metallic Black, Active Black and Metallic Navy. Customers will be also able to customize their HTC Explorer with a range of optional back covers including Metallic Blue, Metallic Orange, Metallic White and Metallic Purple.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Ben

    That device, off contract, WITH CM7 could sell nicely for $100.

    • Dustin Earley

      For $100, I’d say so.

    • fatspirit

      Yes, non-Sense option would be great (:

      • Eric R.

        @ fatspirit, are you officially supporting nonsense? That’s funny stuff :)

  • fatspirit

    If it will be priced at 160$ – good choice for a second phone.

  • heeros

    with those specs, I’m surprised they run sense 3.5 on it. I wonder how many of the resources are use up just by sense.

  • Eric R.

    AndroidOS-2.3.5 with sense 3.5 packed onto a 600Mhz / 512MB system. This basically says that sense 3.5 and gingerbread could still be ported onto other “low-end” android devices. Perhaps gingerbread 2.3.5 and sense3.5 were better optimized for space and efficiency. Perhaps the american carriers are all about the money and could care less about the customer experience.

    I rooted my HTC Aria in July2010 (this was to undo the odexed AT&T Cr-apps), and have been amazing my “high-end” android friends ever since with this little underdog. You really only need the higher clock rates and multi-cores to allow HD video encoding and for top tier games. For everything else, 600Mhz / 512MB has been able to keep up. I believe two main factors attribute to this:
    1. the smaller screen size does not need as much CPU/GPU power to deliver the same snappy experience as the top smartphones.
    2. The bloat-ware that At&t put on the device, slowed it down considerably, I felt like I was beta testing half-baked software for At&t.

    Remember that more CPU clock cycles do not always mean more productivity. Years ago my old laptop ran a Celeron-M @1.83Ghz, today any Core-i3 clocked down to 1.8Ghz would easily beat that old Celeron in any benchmark.

    I still believe that there is a growing segment of people who want middle tier Android devices, Some are looking for a budget second phone (for the kids), some who have been smited by the constant “feature envy” that top tier phones seem to bring when your “best on the market” phone is obsolete in 6 weeks ( <— a wee exaggerated).

    I really wish that manufacturers would put out a new device once a year, spend the following year focusing resources on improving the customer experience on the device they currently sell and the device they are releasing next. The software means more than the device, this is how Apple got such a great lead with mediocre hardware.

    • Dirty_Azkals

      “I really wish that manufacturers would put out a new device once a year, spend the following year focusing resources on improving the customer experience on the device they currently sell and the device they are releasing next”

      That’s why Apple’s iPhones are always “mediocre” when compared to an Android phone that gets released with one or two Hardware or software change. Look at HTC phones. Don’t forget Apple releases ONE phone a year, after all the designing and production the first iPhone 5 off the assemble line is already 6 mos old hardware wise. Apple can only plan so far ahead when the actual quad core CPU is still being designed. I even though Apple was moving way too fast churning out flagship phones once a year when most consumers have a 2 year contract.

      By only having 4 or so devices that can run iOS they have better control over the software and doesn’t have to worry about another UI being layered over iOS. Its HTC, Samsung, Moto, etc. giving Android OS a bad name because their crap doesn’t 100% work well with the OS. I had to explain to my friend, ex iPhoner, why there are hiccups sometimes on his new Galaxy 2 phone.

    • Parvej S.

      Totally agreed….!!

  • Dirty_Azkals

    So why can this POS phone run 3.5 again and not my Evo 4g? Riddle me that HTC?

    • Giggles

      Cause the eve 4g is an antique

  • naseer

    The processor in the Explorer is the MSM7625A, which has an ARMv7 based coreand is faster than the older MSM7627.
    I think the Explorer will have pretty good performance. 1GHz + processors are not really needed for such a low res anyway.

    • Parvej S

      Hey Naseer, from where u got that “The processor in the Explorer is the MSM7625A”
      it seems to be FACT since it over-performs to OPTIMUS NET which results to 1445 of Antutu benchmark compared to HTC explorer’s score of 2099(’s review )

      do u got the spec sheet…????