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HTC Desire C review

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Until recently, Desire was the name HTC reserved for its best handsets. The HTC One series now takes that place, yet HTC has just sprung the little Desire C out of nowhere. It continues the Desire name for its smartphones, only this time at a lower budget.

Design

The HTC Desire C is the first Desire smartphone we've seen since last year's Desire S. The design looks similar - all HTC phones look alike really - but shrunken down and more akin to this year's One range of handsets like the One S.

This compact phone has a pebble-like size, shape and feel to it. It certainly fits in the hand nicely due to its miniature size. It's not much bigger than a credit card at 60 x 107mm, but is a bit chubbier than most at 12.5mm thick.

Although the phone is pretty deep, at least compared to the likes of the Galaxy S III and HTC One X, it really didn't seem overly stout. It weighs just 100g.

We like the simple and elegant design which is available in black or white colour finishes.

Build quality

The Desire C is a cheap phone made entirely from plastic although its budget build isn't immediately obvious when you handle it.

The smooth matt finish is nice and the removable rear cover isn't especially thin. There is some creak as you squeeze the handset though.

Hardware

The HTC Desire C cannot boast sock-blowing specifications. It's powered by a basic 600MHz single-core processor and 512MB of RAM. In our GeekBench 2 test the phone scored a meagre average of 333 points over three runs.

Moving around the home screens is smooth, as are the app and settings menus. The Desire C does lag somewhat when harder work is put its way. Web browsing was surprisingly smooth for such low-spec handset.

On-board storage is small at 4GB although the Desire C does include a microSD card slot for expansion. HTC offers 25GB of free cloud storage with Dropbox for two years.

The HTC Desire C has a 3.5in screen, the same size as the iPhone 4S. Its resolution is much lower than the Apple smartphone, though, at just 480 x 320 - one-quarter the iPhone's pixel count. It equates to a pixel density of 165ppi.

The screen doesn't look awful but it's far from being detailed. Most elements of the interface look reasonably clear, though there is inevitably fuzziness around the edges of text and images.

Connectivity is pretty basic - the obligatory 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro-USB port, 11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. One surprise is the inclusion of a near-field communications (NFC) chip - a rare thing for a phone this cheap.

Camera

There's not much in the way of camera equipment on the HTC Desire C, possibly to enable HTC to cut some costs. A lonely rear-facing 5Mp camera is all that's on offer.

It doesn't have a fancy sensor or even LED flash. The camera struggled to focus on close-up objects but we still got reasonable looking snaps out of the Desire C.

HTC's camera app is well thought out with plenty of effects and settings. It's responsive and there's no need to switch between photo and videos modes - there's just simply a button for each. The Desire C can record basic video at a low 640 x 480 resolution.

Software

Like the rest of HTC's 2012 smartphones, the HTC Desire C comes pre-loaded with Google Android 4.0.3 and HTC Sense 4.0.

HTC has blended Ice Cream Sandwich and its overlay very well. It's neither confusingly foreign nor bog-standard and plain.

Unlike the One S and One X, HTC hasn't unnecessarily put the recent apps multi-tasking part of Android into a separate window. Instead it appears over the top of the app or menu being shown, as Google designed.

There's plenty of widgets to customise the home screen and the lock screen can display information, as well as shortcuts for up to four apps. The HTC Desire C has a mix of the usual pre-loaded Google apps and some third-party ones like SoundHound, 7digital and Dropbox.

Battery life

Smartphones tend to fit into one of two categories when it comes to battery life: one day or two. The Desire C only has a 4.6Wh battery but comfortably lasted us 48 hours before dropping below the 10% mark and needing a refill. This is a good effort which puts it in the two-day category.

Verdict

The HTC Desire C is a nicely designed budget Android 4.0 handset. It could make a good first smartphone but doesn't have any outstanding features. The price is attractive but if you're not bothered about NFC then it's worth paying an extra £20 for the HTC One V for its superior screen and better performance.



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