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HTC Desire C expert review

What is the HTC Desire C smartphone like? Is it worth buying? Agent Leon Andrews gives us his expert opinion on the affordable, pocket-size, Android-powered handset in this in-depth review. Can the Desire C cut the mustard when compared to the competition? Find out!

HTC Desire C expert review by Agent Andrews

HTC are known for producing some of the most powerful and advanced Android-powered handsets on the market, with renowned build quality and their famous Sense user interface. There has always been a place in HTC’s heart for the little guy though, and in their current range that honour falls to the HTC Desire C.

HTC Desire C Pros

  • Great value for money for Pay As You Go customers
  • Strong range of features and HTC Sense performs well
  • Screen looks good for the price

HTC Desire C cons

  • Screen could be too small for some
  • Capacitive buttons at the bottom can be occasionally frustrating
  • Camera performance was average

HTC Desire C design

HTC have recently re-styled their entire handset range to provide a much more consistent feel to their devices. Gone are the days of HTC selling 10 or more devices at the same time, they're not rushing to deliver new devices, and the extra time they seem to be putting into the design of the range is paying dividends. Clean lines are accompanied by smooth curves on the back, and touches of aluminium around the buttons and camera lens give the device a look of quality. Like so many other HTC handsets, Desire C has a brushed, soft-touch finish, so it is much less likely to become the fingerprint-magnet that many of the Samsung handsets become so quickly.

Three simple capacitive buttons adorn the front of the device – Home, Back and Menu. HTC have come up with a minimalist new design for these buttons that encompases their entire smartphone range. The buttons themselves are capacitive, which can be a double edged sword at times because while they are less prone to hardware failures, capacitive buttons just aren’t as responsive or as easy-to-use as the old fashioned physical buttons. I regularly found myself having to tap twice, as I missed the invisible capacitive button under the black plastic cover while trying to tap the back button. Every user is different however, and there are Agents in the office that wouldn’t go back. The best thing to do is get into a store and test one out and see if it works for you.

HTC Desire C hardware

The HTC desire C is the cheapest handset in HTC’s current range, but it still manages to provide a fair bit of bang for the buck. Currently on sale around the £120 mark on various PAYG networks, HTC Desire C has an impressive screen when compared to other low end devices around the same price point. Colours were strong and there was very little in the way of input lag when flicking through the various homescreen panels and menus on the device.

The handset comes with a single-core 600 MHz processor, which seems slow on paper, but HTC have done an excellent job of getting the most out of this unit, probably due to the fact it’s buddied up with 512MB of processing memory, which makes for a smooth experience.

Thanks to HTC’s partnership with a certain designer headphone giant, the handset comes equipped with Beats Audio too, which many swear by. Personally I have never been a big fan of the bass-heavy earphones, but many fellow Agents will use little else, so again it’s down to personal preference and adds another unique selling point for this budget device to help it stand out.

Unfortunately to get the handset down to this price, no doubt some savings had to be made and the first casualty is the front facing camera, which is absent. I can honestly say I think I may have used my iPhone’s front facing camera twice in two years, but if you take a lot of self portraits or enjoy video chats this may be a problem. The rear-facing 5MP camera is fairly standard on units around this price point. In some tests we ran on the unit it held up pretty well in good lighting conditions, but the lack of a flash of any type will make low-light snapshots challenging. The quality of the images was adequate for quick snaps but it isn’t going to replace even a mid-range point and shoot camera when it comes to taking quality photos.

HTC Desire C software

The HTC Desire C runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with HTC’s highly acclaimed Sense 4.0 user interface. In normal human terms that means HTC have taken Google’s already slick operating system and overlaid their own interface, bringing a host of HTC-only features to the device.

HTC Sense is aptly named, and generally does bring a lot of good, common sense features to the handset. The ability to customise your lock screen with the apps you like to launch frequently and quickly is a nice touch that has been present for a while, and their bright, clear homescreen widgets are generally regarded as some of the best available. The whole system has been optimised to run on the lower spec hardware too, meaning that the general user experience is a really good one, whether you're scrolling smoothly through pages of apps or playing around with the plethora of social networking widgets available, including the excellent HTC-only Friend Stream app.

The handset handles all the things you would expect a modern smartphone to cope with, such as web-browsing, email and multimedia, with relative ease and speed. When testing the handset with a range of games, including Angry Birds and the 3D version of Solitaire that my girlfriend is addicted to, I found that the Desire C performed very well. You would not criticise a handset at this price point for below par gaming performance, but both loading times and responsiveness in this department were excellent.

Agent verdict on the HTC Desire C

The HTC desire C has impressed everyone that we’ve shown the handset to. The small form factor is a bonus and in a world of giant screens with big price tags in tow and it’s good to see options available for customers who want something truly pocket-sized.

The first thing you’ll notice with the Desire C is the build quality for a handset at this price point; it’s excellent, and the Desire C will no doubt prove to be a long-lasting, durable smartphone in the fullness of time. This level of finish, coupled with a really good software experience, makes the Desire C a really compelling choice for first time smartphone buyers.

The camera is a bit of an anti-climax, but cost savings have to be made somewhere to get a phone of this quality to this price point and if you can look past its one shortcoming (which isn’t that major) you and the HTC desire C should have a very happy time together.

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