Good - The HTC Butterfly 2 has almost everything from HTC's One M8, but boots the camera to 13 megapixels. The skin is waterproof, it delivers excellent audio, and it runs on a powerful quad-core processor.
Bad - The glossy rear face is a fingerprint magnet. The auto brightness doesn't always correctly adjust to surrounding light, resulting in a too-dim display at times.
Bottom Line - It can't compete with the One M8's premium metal skin, but the HTC Butterfly 2's powerful camera and processor make it one of the company's best flagship phones.
As it's sold only in Asia, the HTC Butterfly series is not as well known as the company's flagship One M8 or midrange Desire family. The Butterfly S did hit US shores as the Verizon Droid DNA, but it was the sole exception.
And that's a shame. While it still sports a very similar design to the previous Butterfly variants, the Butterfly 2 comes with specs as good as the flagship One M8, but bumps up the main camera to 13-megapixels and still featuring the dual-camera system.
The handset is expected to launch in some Asian countries at the end of August. HTC has yet to confirm whether it will make its debut in western markets, but given that it supports most LTE bands around the world, perhaps the Butterfly 2 will flutter its way to the UK or the US very soon. If it stays in Asia, though, the Butterfly 2 could break many hearts elsewhere. Pricing has not yet been disclosed.
Design, display and specs
The HTC Butterfly 2 draws inspiration from both the older Butterfly S and the newer M8. In fact, the Butterfly 2 resembles the M8 in both size and design, while retaining the shiny colors and polycarbonate plastic of the Butterfly S.
Like the M8, the Butterfly S comes with front-facing BoomSound speakers, though HTC has has designed things differently here. Because the Butterfly 2's face is mostly glass, the designers have cut out small ports on both ends to make way for the speakers. However, they blend in nicely, as the speaker grilles are flush against the glass.
The 5-inch screen packs in Full HD resolution (1,920x1,080 pixels) and is sharp and bright. Depending on where the device is sold, the Butterfly 2 may also come with a bundled pair of JBL headphones.
The review unit Butterfly 2 came in a glossy, lustrous red. It's also available in blue version and matte white, with a comfy textured surface. But the bright, vibrant red really chimes with the Butterfly branding (it was used in both previous models) and makes the phone stand out.
Internally, the phone comes packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, and has 2GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage. The J Butterfly (for Japan only) comes with 32GB storage as standard. There's also a microSD card slot, and for both this and the nano-SIM card slot, you only need a finger to pry the trays out. This is a pretty nice touch, since you don't need to search for a paperclip or ejector tool.
The Butterfly 2 comes packing 4G support for both TD and FDD LTE bands. This means you can use it almost anywhere in the world, including in China and in India, making it a perfect device for world travellers. It also has the standard array of NFC, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 options.
Software and other features
The Butterfly 2 runs HTC's Sense 6 UI on top of Android 4.4 KitKat and comes with the usual BlinkFeed and Motion Launch features found on the M8. This means you can double-tap to turn on the phone, swipe downward to activate voice dialing, or hold the phone sideways and press the volume button to quickly turn on the camera.
Instead of rehashing the specifics of Sense 6 UI again here, however, feel free to hop over to our review of the One M8 if you're unfamiliar with the HTC Android skin. There Brian Bennett goes into detail on the cool features of Sense 6 UI. The Butterfly 2 uses the same skin, so you'll get exactly the same software experience of the One M8 (and One E8) on the Butterfly 2.
The one cool thing about the phone that isn't obvious from its appearance, and something that other HTC phones lack, is the IP57-rated water and dust resistance. This means it will survive underwater to a depth of 1 meter (3.3 feet).
Advancing on other splash-happy phones, the Butterfly 2 doesn't need a protective flaps covering its ports. HTC calls this "Natural Underwater," and the phone has short-circuit protection built-in as well. Obviously, you shouldn't charge the phone underwater, but the Butterfly 2 will easily survive a quick wash in the sink to get rid of unwanted dirt.
Like the One M8, the Butterfly 2 has two cameras on the back. The Butterfly 2's main camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, however, which is much more than the 4-megapixel "Ultrapixel" shooter of the M8. This means, in theory, that you'll get more detail in your pictures, with the tradeoff being that low-light performance won't be as hot.
The dual-camera system lets you do all the things you can do in the M8 -- namely the UFocus refocusing app, which, a little like a Lytro camera, lets you change the focus point in the picture after shooting. This is because the second camera acts as a depth sensor, recording the distance from the lens of everything in shot. It allows to you to do other tricks too, such as copying and pasting a whole person to another picture without having to manually crop them out yourself.
Quality-wise, having 13 megapixels means a lot more detail, and while I'm currently not in possession of a One M8 for a full comparison, I can honestly say I appreciate having a larger megapixel count, especially for shots where I have bright lighting.
Zooming into a picture lets me admire intricate details I wouldn't normally be able to see using a lower-resolution "Ultrapixel" camera -- there's more detail when the image is cropped, too.
Given that the Butterfly 2 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, I expected the phone to do well in our benchmark tests. On Quadrant, the Butterfly 2 scored 25,838, one of the highest scores I've seen so far from a phone. On the LinPack multithread test, a score of 814.815 MFLOPs over 0.21 seconds was obtained.
Everyday use reflected these scores, apps ran fine, the UI was smooth as butter, and the camera started and snapped pictures super fast.
Voice calls were crisp and clear, and no hisses or pops were heard. Speaker volume was loud, as you might expect from HTC's front-facing BoomSound speakers.
The Butterfly 2 packs a 3,200mAh battery, and it's good enough to easily last for a day and a half of moderate use. We're putting the phone through our CNET Video Labs test, so check back later for the final result.
Make no mistake, while it lacks the premium metal feel of the M8, the Butterfly 2 is as much of a flagship phone as you'll find, and the phone's appearance in the second half of the year makes it HTC's highest-end device right now.
It comes with all the right ingredients, including a 13-megapixel shooter paired with a depth sensor for higher resolution pictures that still lets you select the focal point. This, in my opinion, makes it even better than the M8, especially if you don't mind the plastic skin or spend a lot of time taking low-light shots.