HTC J Review (Our Rating - 8/10)

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HTC J Review


Introduction:

The HTC J is an interesting device. But first, we have to make it clear - this is not the HTC J Butterfly, the 5-inch 1080p monster phone that you might have heard of. Rather, this is a more ordinary smartphone, but still one that can stand its ground.

With a 4.3-inch qHD screen and a dual-core Snapdragon S4, the HTC J looks much like the HTC One S. The similarity is no coincidence as the HTC J is a device targeted squarely at the Asian market with WiMAX connectivity, a feature the One S does not support. This makes it a kind of a niche product on one hand, made to please the quickly diminishing category of WiMAX users, but on the other hand it is also offered unlocked in other markets as simply a 3G phone.

With some level of water protection, larger battery and a funky red paint job among other colors, this device has plenty of reasons to exist on its own even as unlocked. Let’s see if all this actually could make it desirable for more people.



Design:

The HTC J is a fine device. It is built with just about the right proportions for convenient one handed use, and feels sturdy as should a waterproof device, but elegant as well. At its home in Asia, due to higher standards for getting the ‘waterproof’ label, the J isn’t marketed as such, but in reality it is waterproof. This explains the protective lids on the 3.5mm jack and microUSB charging port, that fit snugly but are a bit hard to take off.

The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device - HTC J Review
The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device - HTC J Review
The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device - HTC J Review
The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device - HTC J Review
The microUSB port is on the left - The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device - HTC J Review
The headphone jack is on the top - The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device - HTC J Review
The microUSB port is on the left
The headphone jack is on the top
The HTC J feels sturdy as should a waterproof device
HTC J Review
You can compare the HTC J with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The phone is made out of plastic with a glossy back. We can say that this is a very nice plastic, but still plastic. We also can’t skip a comparison with its sibling, the HTC One S. While the J is a nice looking and well built device, it just does not have the same premium feel you get from the killer combination of slimness and micro-arc oxidized aluminum on the One S. The HTC J is also thicker and slightly heavier, all things to consider if you have a choice between it and the One S. Coming in a selection of white, red and black, the device is 0.37-inch (9.5mm) thick and weighs 4.83 oz (137g).

If we had to point out some of the eminent design elements, we’d mention the elegant long and thin earpiece on top, and HTC’s decision to go with three capacitive buttons right below the screen. This frees up the display from on-screen buttons, and leaves it all for more functional use.

HTC J Review
The three capacitive buttons below the display - HTC J Review
The 8-megapixel shooter on the back - HTC J Review
The three capacitive buttons below the display
The 8-megapixel shooter on the back

Display:

Speaking of the screen, it is a 4.3-inch OLED display with qHD 540 x 960-pixel resolution. That translates into a healthy pixel density of 256ppi, which for us was enough to not be annoyed by any stressful level of pixelization. Still, a perfectionist’s eye would be able to discern some individual pixels and that’s due to the fact that the screen employes PenTile matrix with less subpixels than an equivalent RGB display. The OLED panel means a slight hint of blue instead of a perfect white, but in return it delivers deeper blacks.

Viewing angles are good, colors don’t wash out at an angle and even under direct sunlight it is not impossible to operate the handset. All of that makes for an above average quality of the display.
Interface and Functionality:

The HTC J features Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4.1, and it runs very, very smoothly. Sense has become much lighter and we’d say better as it matured to 4.1, but while it is a big improvement in some areas like the camera, there are still some limps. We’ve mentioned its inconsistencies before with things like forcing an out-of-proportion huge on-screen settings button in apps. Multitasking is also the same card-based affair as on the One S instead of the what seems the better stock solution. On the plus side, you get customization options with various themes, quick access to four apps from the lock screen, a plethora of widgets including the signature HTC Weather Clock.

The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI - HTC J Review
The HTC J comes with the Sense 4.1 UI

Processor and Memory:

In terms of silicon, the HTC J runs on a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 with Adreno 225 graphics and 1GB of RAM. The S4 chip is manufactured with 28nm technology and that means better power efficiency and less of a heating problem than Tegra 3 devices. It scored high marks on standard Android benchmarks, maxing out the graphics result on NenaMark (which most high-end devices do).


Quadrant Standard AnTuTu NenaMark 2
HTC J 5304 8207 60
HTC One S 4867 7012 60,7
Sony Xperia SL 3218 7229 37,4
Motorola DROID RAZR M 4864 6715 61,3

What these scores mean in a nutshell is that you get solid performance in virtually all areas, including games.

The device ships with 16GB of built-in memory with only around 10GB of that available to the end user. Luckily, internal storage is expandable via microSD cards of up to 32GB.


Internet and Connectivity:

Browsing on the HTC J happens on the default Sense browser which supports Adobe Flash, text reflow (dynamically arranges text to fit the screen) and is very snappy scrolling around and zooming in and out. 

You also get a reading mode that strips pages off ads, images, and leaves you intimately with the text, as well as incognito mode for your private browsing needs. Sure enough, you can download any other browser from Google Play, and we do prefer Chrome with its cross-device sharing, but having that freedom of browser choice alone is valuable.

Browsing the web on the HTC J - HTC J Review
Browsing the web on the HTC J - HTC J Review
Browsing the web on the HTC J

In terms of connectivity, the device features quad-band GSM, HSPA at 2100 MHz and CDMA plus WiMAX for Asia. Otherwise, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and A-GPS round up the standard connectivity package.

Camera:

Photography is one of the stronger points of the HTC J. It has an 8-megapixel rear camera with a single LED flash. HTC incorporates a dedicated ImageChip that speeds up everything camera-related. It takes less than a second from starting the camera app to capturing an image. Sense comes with a plethora of options for image enthusiasts. It does feature HDR mode to get best dynamic range with contrasting objects (and it yields very good results) and a burst shot mode that captures as many as 99 consecutive images in an instant when you hold the camera trigger. Overall, Sense is simply a great interface for the camera and the image gallery. It is optimized to run perfectly smooth, and it adds some neat animations. You also get basic image editing options and even effects (aka filters) so you don’t need to dig into Instagram and other apps, all is done on board.

The camera interface of the HTC J - HTC J Review
The camera interface of the HTC J - HTC J Review
The camera interface of the HTC J - HTC J Review
The camera interface of the HTC J
The Gallery app - HTC J Review
The Gallery app - HTC J Review
The Gallery app

Actual image quality is good with plentiful detail, wide dynamic range and spot-on white balance. Colors are pumped up to look more vivid than they are in real life, but nothing over the top
The snapper captures videos of up 1080p at around 30 frames per second. We say around as frame rate varies according to the scene and indoors it goes down to 23 fps. What’s more interesting is the fact that you have both continuous auto-focus and manual tap to focus while shooting video which means that you can refocus on the go as you want, a feature that is not on that many phones. You can also capture still images while recording video. 
Call Quality:

HTC J Review
A phone is a phone is a phone. Yes, this means call quality has to be good in this day and age. And it is on the HTC J. The earpiece is loud and clear, and our callers heard our voice in its natural tones, with no side noises creeping in. If we had to pick nits, microphone output on the device is just a tiny bit muffled, a notch below great.



Battery:


The handset sports a 1,810mAh battery that easily gets you through a day of use and goes well into the second. Battery on the device is actually larger than on the sibling HTC One S, and while this gets the J thicker, knowing that your device won’t die on you just when you need it is worth it in our opinion.



Conclusion:


The HTC J might feature WiMAX for Asian markets, but we are looking at it from an international perspective as a simple 3G phone. And it can stand its ground. The device is waterproof, and that makes it interesting. It is convenient for one-handed use. It is snappy. The camera software in Sense is outstanding and the camera itself is nice.

The qHD PenTile screen however is a bit of a disappointment. It does the job, but it is hard to recommend it over 720p displays dominating the market. The glossy plastic also won’t appeal to everyone given how close the J stands to the high-end market. 

If you value looks above all, the thinner and lighter One S definitely looks more tempting with its aluminum unibody. If you are not that obsessed about the slimmest of slim, though, the HTC J's cons can’t outweigh all the good things about it. And we don’t think you’d regret buying it.

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