has announced its latest Android smartphone, the HTC Explorer, targeted at entry-level users hoping to step up from their featurephone. Replacing the altogether underwhelming HTC Smart
, only with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and HTC Sense 3.5 this time rather than BREW, the Explorer packs a 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen, 600MHz processor and 512MB of RAM.
Connectivity includes 3G, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, while there's a microUSB port and a microSD card slot to augment the minimal 483MB ROM. The 1,230 mAh battery is hidden behind a soft-touch, rubberized rear cover, initially available in black or blue though HTC tells us they'll have alternative colors soon.
The camera is a mere 3-megapixel unit, further example of what HTC told us was a "focus on device expectations, not specifications" but what's really more likely to be the result of building to a strict budget. Pre-pay users and cash-short students are the expected audience, with HTC adding a "data monitor" app which can keep track of how much data, SMS and calls you've used. Unfortunately - for the user, at least, not the carrier - the app won't actually pop up and warn you when a limit is about to run out, you're expected to check it manually, and there's no homescreen widget at this stage.
Otherwise the only app of note in the updated Sense 3.5 is "Best Deals", HTC's interpretation of the local deals market. Unfortunately we weren't able to test that in our pre-briefing with the Explorer.
The HTC Explorer is expected to go on sale in Europe and Asia from October 2011. Pricing will depend on market.
Vodafone UK tells us they'll be offering the Explorer, though still no word on how much.