By June 16, 2009

HTC Snap review


It’s been a few years since HTC released a front facing QWERTY handset but now with the recent release of the HTC Snap (HTC S521) can HTC muscle in on those hard core messengers out there?

HTC Snap review

The HTC Snap

The ten second review:

Device – HTC Snap / HTC S521

Cost – £289.00 (Inc V.A.T)

Summary – A thin but powerful windows mobile standard device with pretty much everything packed inside.

Best of – GPS, HSDPA, WiFi, full qwerty keyboard.

Worst of – Window mobile standard.

Buy it now


What’s in the box?

  • Handset
  • Battery
  • Data Cable
  • Charger
  • Wired Headset
  • User Manual
  • Software Disc

Check out Matt’s HTC Snap unboxing video for more.


HTC Snap Specification:

  • Processor – Qualcomm® MSM 7225™, 528 MHz
  • Operating System – Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
  • Memory – ROM: 256 MB / RAM: 192 MB
  • Dimensions – 116.5 X 61.5 X 12.0 mm ( 4.59 X 2.42 X 0.47 inches)
  • Weight – 120 grams (4.23 ounces) with battery
  • Display – 2.4-inch TFT-LCD with LED back light and QVGA resolution
  • Network – HSDPA/WCDMA: Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz
    Europe/Asia: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • Device Control – Trackball with Enter button
  • Keyboard – 4-row QWERTY keyboard
  • GPS – Internal GPS antenna
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth® 2.0, Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • Camera – 2.0 megapixel color camera with fixed focus
  • Audio supported formats – AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, AWB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI
  • Video supported formats – WMV, ASF, MP4, 3GP, 3G2, M4V, AVI
  • Battery – Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1500 mAh
  • Talk time – Up to 300 minutes for WCDMA / Up to 510 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time – Up to 480 hours for WCDMA / Up to 380 hours for GSM



Handling the phone for the first time I was amazed how nice it felt in the hand. HTC have made a fantastic job of the four row QWERTY keyboard and the device is much lighter than it looks in pictures.

The front of the device is made up of only the keyboard, speaker grill and screen. Although a 3G handset there is no front facing camera present for video calling.

HTC Snap Front View

HTC Snap Front View


The rear of the handset contains another small speaker and the lens for the 2MP camera. No flash or mirror.

HTC Snap rear view

HTC Snap rear view


The left hand side of the Snap houses only an up/down volume rocker.

HTC Snap left side

HTC Snap left side


On the right hand side the USB port can be located.

HTC Snap right side

HTC Snap right side


Both the top and bottom sides of the handset are plain with no buttons or ports.

HTC Snap bottom view

HTC Snap bottom view


Opening the back cover reveals the SIM and micro SD card slots as well as the battery.

HTC Snap SIM and MicroSD card slots

HTC Snap SIM and MicroSD card slots





  • GPS
  • HSDPA/WiFi
  • Battery
  • Keyboard




  • Windows Mobile Standard
  • No 3.5mm Headset Jack



I have to admit I was rather excited about getting my hands on the HTC Snap to review. As a big fan of HTC and an even bigger fan of Windows Mobile I was eager to see if the Snap could have a place in the market along side other front facing qwerty handsets.

It’s been a couple of years since I used Windows Mobile Standard and so I was looking forward to see how the 6.1 edition compared to earlier editions. I certainly thought that going back to a non touch screen handset was going to feel a bit strange but luckily the Snap was a pleasure to get acquainted with!

HTC have adopted, for the first time, the trackball for navigation around the screen. This was a new experience for me and I am pleased to say it didn’t take more than a few minutes to get the hang of it. Although it was certainly easier using the trackball compared to a track wheel the one thing I did find a little frustrating was the amount of pressure required when pressing the trackball in to select an item on the screen.

Sitting along side the trackball are the send/end, home, back and two soft keys. These are perfectly located and make using the phones menus quick and easy.

One of the best features of the Snap is the QWERTY keyboard. Although the keys have no space between them they are the right size and shape to make typing fast and mistake free. The one thing that does take some getting used to is the fact that HTC have placed the “Tab” key to the left of the letter “A”. On all other QWERTY handsets the “A” key is on the end of the row, so when initially using the Snap it is very easy to press the “Tab” key instead of the “A”. Although this is not ideal, it is a case of getting accustomed to it and after a while the location of the “A” key was not a problem.


HTC Snap keyboard


The keyboard has some nice shortcut buttons for quick access to popular features. These include a Windows live messenger key, a messaging key for email and text messages and the “inner circle” key. Inner circle is a nice feature HTC have introduced on the Snap. It allows you to select your most popular contacts and at a press of the button the phone will filter all emails from the people in your inner circle. I can see the benefits of this feature but I personally like to see all my emails and not just the ones from my friends and family. I think this will come down to personal preference though.

As you will have seen in the “general” section of the review, there are not many buttons around the four sides of the phone. This makes the Snap feel extremely smooth and sits comfortably in the hand. The size of the handset is just right and allows for both one handed and two handed text entry.

The 1500 mAh battery that is supplied is more than enough for a few days use. The battery is the same spec as on some touch screen devices but as the screen on the Snap is half the size and non touch its power usage is far lower. When I received the review handset the battery appeared to be fully charged and after couple of days use it still didn’t need recharging.

HTC have crammed in a lot of features that you would expect on a high end handset. There are not many popular messaging devices that have HSDPA, WiFi and A-GPS included.

Web browsing on the Snap is good. The pages render quickly and the trackball makes for easy scrolling. However, the installed latest version of internet explorer is not great. It places an arrow on the screen like on a PC which is controlled by the trackball. Although scrolling up and down is easy when it comes to selecting an item on the screen the arrow is jumpy and not very easy to control. I found this so frustrating that I straight away downloaded the Opera browser and this was much better.

The A-GPS worked a treat. Although I didn’t use it with any sat nav software I did use Google maps on several occasions and it detected the satellites very quickly and did its job well.

The camera on the Snap is a little disappointing at only 2MP but I would imagine that the type of people that will buy the Snap are more interested in the business/messaging features than the multimedia ones. It produces good crisp images but obviously not of a standard that would be fantastic for printing.

Like all windows mobile devices the phone comes with windows media player which will allow for viewing videos and playing music. The speaker quality is average so using the wired headset is advised.

The only real hardware let down is the fact that HTC have not included a 3.5mm headset jack. Although not a major thing, I know that this is important to a lot of people when choosing a new device.






Although windows mobile is my platform of choice I couldn’t help think that the 6.1 standard edition just lacks something. The professional edition found on PPCs seems better in nearly every way. This may be as HTC customise as many features as possible on the professional edition but on standard it doesn’t seem to have developed much in the last few years.


The devices that most people will compare the Snap to will be Blackberry’s. I would imagine that current Blackberry users will not be in a hurry to switch over to Windows Mobile. However, for people that are looking to get themselves a Smartphone I think the Snap would be a good place to start. If I was a big texter and wanted the additional features of windows mobile I would buy the Snap without a doubt.



Overall the HTC Snap is an awesome handset. If you are heavily into texting/emailing the Snap will please you as in my opinion it has the nicest front facing qwerty keyboard on the market.

Another fine bit of kit HTC!


Posted in: Phones, Reviews
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About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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