HTC's Explorer isn't aimed at those looking for a phone with the fastest processor and highest resolution screen. Instead it's an entry level model with an attractive price tag that's designed to tempt people who have been using feature phones to make the jump to a full-on smartphone.
When you take the Explorer out of its box the first thing that you notice is its small size. It stands just 103mm tall, which is tiny in comparison to the likes of the HTC Sensation XL, which dwarfs it at 132.5mm. As a result it's hardly noticeably when you tuck it away in a pocket.
The other striking thing about the phone is its build quality. Whereas Samsung and LG have struggled to give even their high-end phones an air of robustness, HTC seems to be effortlessly able to pull off this trick even when it comes to its budget smartphone offerings. The Explorer really does feel like it's solidly put together with its rubberised finish giving it a tough air and helping it feel like it isn't going to smash into smithereens the first time you drop it.
The top is of the phone is home to a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. However, HTC doesn't include any headphones in the box - an arguably sensible move considering the quality of headphones bundled with most cheap phones. The top also houses the power button that doubles up as a lock switch, while on the left hand side you'll find the microUSB port and on the right a volume rocker switch. Naturally, the screen takes up most of the front of the phone, but across the bottom there are the four standard Android touch buttons for home, menu, back and search. All in all, it's a neat package.
However, when it comes to the raw specification, the Explorer doesn't look all that good on paper. It uses a processor that's clocked at just 600Mhz and there's only 512MB of memory. It does have a microSD card slot that can accept cards of up to 32GB in size - and Vodafone includes a 2GB card as part of its package - but clearly this isn't a speed demon.
The HTC Explorer's 3.2inch screen has a resolution of 320x480 pixels, which is pretty much identical to that of the HTC Wildfire S. The screen is nice and bright and although colours aren’t quite as strong and vivid as on the displays on HTC's higher-end handsets, videos and pictures still look pretty vibrant. The small screen size also helps to keep images looking sharp, despite the display's rather lowly resolution. However, when it comes to text on websites things are a little bit more problematic, as the limited screen size does hamper the browsing experience a bit. Zoomed out text on most sites is completely unreadable and you have to zoom in to slightly awkward levels to get a comfortable text size for normal reading. Also, the small screen can make text entry a little bit tricky, especially when you’re using the keyboard in portrait mode.