What's hot: Slim smartphone with nice QWERTY, strong software bundle.
What's not: No Wi-Fi. No trackball like the T-Mobile version.
Reviewed August 8, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
In late 2006 T-Mobile picked up the HTC S620 Windows Mobile non-touch screen phone, and named it T-Mobile Dash. It became one of the best selling Windows Mobile Standard smartphones in the US. Fast-forward three years and HTC now has the HTC Snap as the replacement device for the HTC S620/T-Mobile Dash. This time around three U.S. carriers picked up the smartphone, and it became the T-Mobile Dash 3G, the HTC Ozone for Verizon and the HTC Snap for Sprint. The three variants share the basic hardware specs and designs with minor differences. Among them, the T-Mobile Dash 3G remains most faithful to HTC’s original design for the Snap, and has a super useable BlackBerry-like trackball and textured menu keys. The HTC Snap for Sprint however loses the trackball and textured menu keys; instead it gives us a slippery square d-pad and equally slippery menu keys. The HTC Snap for Sprint makes up for these shortcomings with its fast processor and very strong software and service offerings.
The HTC Snap for Sprint runs on the Qualcomm 7625 processor at 528 MHz. The phone has 192 MB of RAM and 256 MB of flash ROM. The HTC Snap is a CDMA digital dual band phone with EV-DO Rev. A for 3G data. The HTC Ozone on Verizon is a CDMA plus GSM quad band phone for travel outside the U.S., but the HTC Snap for Sprint is a CDMA phone only. In addition to Windows Mobile business-focused software such as ActiveSync for Outlook and Exchange, a mobile version of the Microsoft Office suite, IE 6 mobile and Windows Media Player mobile, the HTC Snap for Sprint also includes a suite of HTC applications. These applications include Comm Manager, YouTube player, MP3 trimmer, Quick GPS, Album photo viewer, RSS Hub, Inner Circle and Streaming Media. Sprint also adds its popular services to the mix and these services include Sprint Navigation which works very smoothly, Sprint TV which doesn’t and Sprint NFL.
The HTC Snap for Sprint runs Windows Mobile 6.1 standard edition (non touch screen edition), and has a 2-megapixel camera, built-in GPS and Bluetooth with A2DP and a microSD card slot. Those who are fond of Wi-Fi will be sad to know that the HTC Snap for Sprint doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi.
Measuring 4.59 X 2.42 X 0.47 inches, the HTC Snap for Sprint is a slim phone that can easily fit in a pocket. It has a roomy 4-row QWERTY keyboard and the keyboard keys, though not as large as those on the T-Mobile Dash 3G, are very useable thanks to the domed design and good travel. The keys make an audible (but not too loud) clicking sound when you press them, which also helps with typing. The keyboard has several dedicated keys that can launch the camera, messaging, IE and HTC Inner Circle, making the Snap easier to use one-handed. The menu keys and the square d-pad have good size, but they are flat and slippery. Too bad Sprint didn’t go with HTC’s trackball design and textured menu key surface as T-Mobile did. The phone has a 2.4-inch LCD with LED backlighting in QVGA 320 x 240 resolution. The display looks bright and it’s easily viewable outdoors.
The HTC Snap for Sprint has a two-tone back: shiny on top and soft touch on the bottom. We prefer the soft touch back found on the T-Mobile Dash 3G to the Snap’s since the shiny portion latches onto fingerprints and is more slippery. The rear firing speakerphone and the 2-megapixel camera (no flash) live on the back. The hot-swap-able microSD card slot lives under the battery door. The HTC Snap has the HTC ExtUSB connector at the bottom of the unit, and comes with a dongle that has syncing/charging port, 3.5mm and 2.5mm audio jack as well as HTC’s mini-USB audio connector.
Phone and Web
The HTC Snap for Sprint gets good signal strength and has very good voice quality. Like the T-Mobile Dash 3G, the HTC Snap for Sprint comes with the powerful Microsoft Voice Command which isn’t a standard bundle for all Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphones. Like other Windows smartphones, the HTC Snap has good contacts integration such as smart search (just start typing a name from your database in the dialer screen and the contact will show up after a few letters), creating a contact entry from dialer screen (type a new number in the dialer screen, you will have an option to create a contact entry based on that number), and more.
The HTC Snap has a sliding panel UI with HTC Home Screen, which is conducive to one-handed operation. The HTC Home Screen has quick links to your messages, web pages, weather and more. By sliding the panel with the d-pad you can launch applications with one button press or get info right on the panel panes. The smartphone supports most email services including Outlook, POP3/IMAP4 and web-based email. The device can also work with VPN and Exchange, and it comes with ActiveSync 4.5, Windows Mobile Device Center and MS Outlook 2007 60-day trial on a CD.
Price (no rebate required)
The HTC Snap for Sprint has Internet Explorer 6 Mobile which loads web pages fairly quickly. IE 6 Mobile does a better job of rendering full HTML web sites and it supports more advanced features than the last version of IE. The Snap handles most web page layouts well with images and tables intact, and the phone has Flash Lite 3.0 support.
The HTC Snap for Sprint has a built-in GPS that works with Sprint Navigation. Like most HTC smartphones on the market, the HTC Snap comes with HTC’s Quick GPS app that gathers satellite info and speeds up the position fixes. The Snap indeed gets fixes very fast and has good speed for trip routing. The route calculations are accurate, and turn-by-turn directions and real time maps are right on target. The phone has a loud speakerphone for voice guidance; when the volume is turned to max the phone can overcome highway noise. Sprint Navigation services aren’t free ($9.99/mon.) but it does offer some extra services other than routing and directions. These services include traffic info, POI search, share addresses with friends and family, a compass and more.
The HTC Snap for Sprint is actually a good music player thanks to the included wired stereo headset, A2DP Bluetooth stereo, Windows Media Player and the ability to shop music from Sprint Music Store over the air for $0.99/song. Music playback is loud and has good audio quality via the built-in speakerphone, but it sounds a lot fuller with stronger bass via the included wired stereo headset. We also tested music playback through Bluetooth stereo headsets via A2DP and liked the audio quality. Over-the-air music downloads are fast thanks to EV-DO Rev. A data speeds (the CDMA network version of 3G), and Sprint Music Store sells most tracks for $0.99. Window Media Player can play music in AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3 and WMA formats, and video in WMV, MP4, AVI and 3GP formats. Novice Windows phone users should know about some of the quirks in Windows Media Player Mobile. For example, after you insert a microSD card loaded with music or download music tracks over the air, the player doesn’t automatically scan for and see these newly added tracks. You must go to Menu/Update Library first to add the new tracks.
The HTC Snap for Sprint supports Sprint TV, but these on-demand videos don’t play smoothly on the Snap. There are very noticeable frame drops and long delays in refreshing so parts of a video get skipped as the phone tries to catch up. This happens to both short videos like news bits and full-length TV episodes even when the EV-DO signal is strong. If Sprint TV is a must for your smartphone, check out the Palm Pre which has better Sprint TV video performance.
HTC is kind enough to include their own YouTube player on the HTC Snap for Sprint. The YouTube player allows you to stream YouTube video without using a web browser, and the videos play smoothly with the correct aspect ratio and audio in sync with video.
The HTC Snap has a 2-megapixel camera with a fixed focus lens and no flash. Photo quality is good by 2 megapixel camera phone standards and pleasantly surprised us. Still images are pleasing with noticeable over-sharpening, but colors look balanced. Outdoor photos look a little overexposed. The lack of flash hurts a bit in poorly lit environments. The Snap also can record video with audio at QVGA resolution. The videos look reasonably smooth with audio in sync to the video.
The HTC Snap for Sprint has a removable and rechargeable Li-Ion battery that’s 1500 mAh in capacity. The claimed talk time is 4.6 hours, which was on target in our tests. The claimed standby time is 13.3 days, and we got just a little over 10 days in our standby tests. The battery drains faster in poor coverage areas, if you use the GPS a lot or if you watch Sprint TV frequently.
We’ve waited a long time to see a follow-up device to the T-Mobile Dash, and the replacement doesn’t disappoint. This time around three U.S. carriers jumped on board. The HTC Snap offers Sprint customers the newest Windows Mobile non-touch screen smartphone with a nice HTC slide panel Home Screen, updated Internet Explorer mobile, tons of HTC software and popular Sprint services. Sprint still offers the Samsung Ace because that’s the only Windows Mobile non-touch screen smartphone that’s also a world phone with GSM outside of the U.S.. Sprint’s price for the HTC Snap isn’t particularly competitive against the HTC Ozone on Verizon but it is better than the T-Mobile Dash 3G. The Sprint version of the Snap doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi or GSM for International travelers. We wish every HTC Snap variant had kept the trackball design and the smooth soft touch back. But if you are a Sprint customer looking for a non-touch screen Windows Mobile phone, the HTC Snap is hard to pass up.
Pro: Slim phone, good QWERTY with dedicated keys to launch most used apps. Strong software bundle. Sprint Navigation works smoothly with the GPS.
Con: No trackball, Sprint TV isn’t smooth. No Wi-Fi.
Price: $149.99 with a 2-year contract after mail-in rebate. $399.99 without a contract.
Size: 4.59 x 2.42 x 0.47 inches. Weight: 4.23 ounces.
Phone: Dual-band 800/1900 MHz, CDMA2000, 1xRTT and EV-DO Rev. A.
Camera: 2.0 megapixel with fixed focus lens (no flash or self-portrait mirror). Camera can also record video with audio.
Audio: Built in speaker, mic and HTC ExtUSB stereo headphone jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Media Player 10 Mobile included for your MP3 pleasure.
Networking: Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR.
Software: Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition (Smartphone edition). HTC software includes Album photo viewer, Quick GPS, RSS Hub, Comm Manager, YouTube player, MP3 Trimmer, Inner Circle, Voice Recorder and Streaming Media. Microsoft software includes IE 6, Windows Media Player Mobile, Office Mobile and Live Search. Adobe PDF reader also included.
Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot supports up to 16 GB cards.
In the Box: Phone, battery, printed guide, software CD, world charger, USB cable, stereo earbud headset, dongle adapter that allows you to charge the phone while using a headset (also has 2.5mm and 3.5mm headset ports).