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printed October 31, 2014
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Review: HTC Freestyle

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The HTC Freestyle does not look like a feature phone. It fact, from a distance, it would be hard to peg the Freestyle as anything other than one of HTC's bevy of Android smartphones, such as the Wildfire or Droid Eris. It is compact - dare I say cute? - and has the signature HTC brownish-gray and black styling cues. The Freestyle is easily one of the most comfortable phones I've used in a while. Its small size makes it fit easily in the hand (or pocket). The fit and finish is high quality, and the materials feel really good. It's dense, and has a nice weight to it.

The front face is mostly the touch display, but there are a few buttons tucked beneath it. Along the bottom edge of the Freestyle, there are three keys: Send, Back, and End. Each does what you'd expect. The Send/End keys are dashes that have minimal shape to them, and little travel and feedback. The Back button is a circle about the circumference of a pencil's eraser. It has a really good feel, and travel and feedback are perfect.

HTC could have done a better job with Menu key, which is positioned directly above the Send key. First, it's too close to the Send key; second, it's way too thin; third, it offers too little travel and feedback. It's far to easy to accidentally thumbing the Send and Menu keys at the same time.

The volume toggle is where HTC usually puts it: on the left side of the phone, closer to the top. In keeping with HTC design tradition, the volume toggle is a narrow strip of chrome. It, too, fails to deliver good travel and feedback. Thankfully, the Freestyle offers a dedicated one-stage camera button on the right side of the phone, a power/lock key on the top. Both are easy to find and use.

As for ports, there is a 3.5mm headset jack on the top of the Freestyle and a microUSB port is on the bottom. In order to get at the battery, SIM card and microSD slot, you have to pull the battery cover off. HTC has been getting creative with its battery covers of late. This time around, you have to pull the battery cover down to reveal the Freestyle's innards. Then there's a little hatch that needs to be flipped open. Only then can you get to the battery, SIM card and microSD card. The battery and microSD card come out easily enough, but I had to resort to tweezers in order to retrieve the SIM card.

 

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