After the touchphone Holy Trinity of the Touch Diamond 2, the Touch Pro 2 and the Android powered Hero, HTC’s latest smartphone, the Snap, might seem something of an anti-climax. But this affordable mobile messenger has a special email function to grab the attention.

Going head-to-head with the BlackBerry 8900 Curve and Nokia E63, this Windows Mobile-powered smartie standouts out from its peers with an ‘Inner Circle’ feature that filters specific email messages into a dedicated inbox.

The email in-crowd

Admittedly, this feature is hardly going to raise the gadget blood pressure to dangerous levels but it’s actually proves pretty handy, especially for accessing important work emails quickly or keeping your work and play life separate.

And setting up your own in crowd inbox couldn’t be simpler: just select the lucky contacts in your phonebook or via the emails they’ve already sent. A dedicated green coloured key on the QWERTY gives instant access.

Sadly, apart from this streamlined email functionality, the HTC Snap remains nothing more than your average-looking BlackBerry-esque work drone. Its slimline chassis is certainly well made with a tactile soft paint finish but lacks the cool design chops of the 8900 and E63.

No place like HTC Home

Unfortunately, the Snap doesn’t have the luxury of a TouchFLO skin to replace the standard Windows Mobile interface, so you’re faced with the maze of sub menus and endless lists. Still, HTC has at least tried to tart up the homescreen options to improve usability.

Chose the HTC ‘Home’ arrangement and you’re greeted with nine sliding panels that lets you access content without having to, thankfully, delve into the main menu.

The email zone allows you to flick through the headers of unread emails while the web panel gives access to your bookmarks. It’s certainly more inventive than the traditional Windows layout.

Setting up personal email accounts is just an address and password away while support for the Microsoft Exchange means you can get an IT Manager to hook you up to your office set up. And with a full on QWERTY keyboard typing out long missives is a breeze.

Quality QWERTY

The QWERTY is definitely the best thing about the Snap. Not only is it spacious, but the extra large domed keys are sweet to thumb. There’s also room onboard for dedicated buttons for Windows Live Messenger, message inbox, activating the silent profile and locking up the phone.

With built-in Wi-Fi and support for HSDPA, web browsing is, on paper anyway, pretty swift.

However, the clunky Internet Explorer browser slows down proceedings and you’ll find yourself downloading the more efficient and quicker Opera Mini before too long. Using the TrackBall for scrolling through full fat pages is also a bit laboured, although you can change its sensitivity to improve speed.

Multimedia amateur

Despite having a choice of two music players – HTC’s Audio Manager and the Standard Windows Media Player – the audio set up is very uninspiring.

Both options lack any kind of audio boosters or equalisers and with no integrated 3.5mm headphone jack, a la Nokia E63 and the BlackBerry 8900 Curve, or bundled adapter, the players sound anaemic through the supplied earphones.

Feeble snapper

The 2MP snapper is also similarly bereft of any exciting features. You get to tinker with the brightness, white balance and metering modes but with no flash or autofocus your photos are destined as wallpaper and sending MMS.

Firing up the camera is also a moot point. With no dedicated shutter key, you have to access the snapper via the multimedia menu or by pressing a shift then key option on the QWERTY.

The HTC Snap is certainly a competent budget messenger but its closest challengers do the whole mobile email and multimedia shebang with greater flair.

Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the Windows Mobile platform, the more compelling BlackBerry 8900 Curve and Nokia E63 are superior all-round options.

Stockist :

Stuff says... 

HTC Snap review

A capable and affordable mobile messenger but lacks the all round guile of its rivals