HTC Desire C

Feature set summary for HTC Desire C review
The five-megapixel snapper takes reasonable snaps, while the music player offers rounded sound, and decent bass thanks to Beats Audio. The touchscreen proved responsive in use.
HTC Desire C

Style and handling summary for HTC Desire C review
The body is well built and made from polycarbonate, so feels solid to hold. HTC’s Sense UI over Android Ice Cream Sandwich offers a user-friendly experience.

Battery power summary for HTC Desire C review
You’ll get about 24 hours if you’re running Wi-Fi, GPS and HSDPA, plus playing some tunes and running background data sync.

Performance summary for HTC Desire C review
The 600MHz chip is sluggish if you run background apps or try to multitask, and the touchscreen can be slow to react to fast swipes, in a game for instance

User friendliness summary for HTC Desire C review
HTC’s Android handsets are usually user friendly and the Desire C is no different – it has useful setup menus that make account synching easy, plus some excellent integration facilities

Full Review and Specification for the HTC Desire C
HTC seems to have veered off in a strange direction with the HTC Desire C – it’s already released three great handsets in the One series, including the budget-price One V – and here it comes with another budget phone, not much cheaper than the One V, and yet with a far more basic spec list. It looks like a smaller version of the One X, with the benefit of Beats Audio, but lacking the great snappers of the One series.

Looking good

The HTC Desire C is sturdily built, with a metal chassis and a 3.5in display (that’s bigger than that on the Wildfire S). It has a soft polycarbonate case, and the five-megapixel snapper lens sits flush against the back cover. It has the same HVGA resolution, but because it supports 16 million colours, it shows up clear and bright. It’s not as sharp as the displays on the Samsung Galaxy S III (unsurprisingly) or the One X.

Under the hood sits a 600MHz chip that is capable of running Android Ice Cream Sandwich – it’s the cheapest handset to sport the latest version of Google’s OS. Because it’s an HTC phone, it also boasts the HTC Sense user interface, which has loads of handy widgets and offers some useful startup screens to help you get your accounts synched and so on. There is the handy Friend Stream, which brings together Flickr, Twitter and Facebook, as well as widgets for weather, favourite sites and contacts.

Measuring 107.2x60.6x11.95mm, it’s about the same size as the Wildfire S, HTC’s last mid-range handset that was really popular. In actual fact, this is the phone that the Desire C is replacing in the HTC lineup. Take off the back cover and it looks pretty neat – the insides and the battery are all coloured red.

Got the power?

One area where costs have been cut is with the slower processor. While the onscreen keyboard and touchscreen are responsive, there is a small lag if you’re tapping or swiping. We also noticed sluggishness when we were synching data or running background tasks – and the screen can’t keep up if you’re executing fast swipes – in a game such as Scramble with Friends for instance.

Okay, so for a budget phone this might be expected – but then why not just buy the One V? There’s only £35 difference in the price, so why would you opt for a much slower handset?

Onboard storage comes in at 4GB, but you can expand this using the microSD slot. However, included with the phone is two years of free 25GB online storage from Dropbox – and these files can be accessed anywhere you can get on the net.

So software and hardware-wise, the Desire C doesn’t seem like a cheap handset – and you’ll pay £190 for a SIM-free model. But you can grab yourself a dual-core 1GHz Sony Xperia U for the same price, or pay 35 quid more for the HTC One V, which has a 1GHz processor.

User friendly

When it comes to user interface though, the HTC Desire C does well. Ice Cream Sandwich is an intuitive operating system, plus there’s the HTC sense UI, which adds easy synching and social networking facilities.

View the call log and you’ll see all your favourite contacts, plus a frequent contacts widget will instantly fill with your favourite people. There’s a multitasking key that shows all the apps you are running, while the SMS inbox allows the user to hold down a name to pop up a selection of options – including being able to call your contact.

HTC has got synching the contacts book down to a fine art – it instantly merges profiles with the same email address or name, and then offers very accurate suggestions for any profiles that seem to have less definite connections. If you are already an HTC user, simply sign into your HTC Sense account and your settings and apps will load automatically.

Connectivity wise, there’s Wi-Fi, HSDPA and A-GPS – as well as Google Maps and a beta version of sat nav. 3D or Street View will slow down the phone though.

Sound and vision

If you like listening to tunes, there’s the bonus of Beats Audio, which helps to round out the audio sound and improve bass without over-egging it. SoundHound is included, so you can get the track name and other details of tunes you’re listening to; the volume is rather low though – the loudest volume is only about what you’d expect from a middle setting on other handsets.

We were unimpressed by the five-megapixel snapper, especially as HTC has already produced handsets with some decent cameras on board. Indoor shots proved blurred and far from sharp – and even daylight images fared little better. Colours were okay though. In lowlight, images are grainy, but colours were reproduced well. There is no flash included, instead you’ll have to choose settings such as Lowlight, Portrait, Landscape and Auto to determine how much light the lens allows in.

It is possible to set up a filter and you can see how your picture will appear before you snap it – greyscale works well, but solarise and posterise disappoint. It’s no replacement for Instagram, that’s for sure.

There is a video-shooting options – but results were blurry and unsharp and the mic fails to pick up sounds unless they’re really close.

Our conclusion

HTC has included a bizarre list of specs on its desire C – the snapper is average at best, yet the audio player competes with its high-end handsets. There’s a slow chip but it’s running the latest version of Android. If you’re not fussed about having Ice Cream Sandwich, we’d suggest you opt instead for the Sony Xperia U, which is a speedier handset with a far superior snapper. And if you really want Ice Cream sandwich, choose HTC’s One V, and get the benefit of a better snapper and the Beats Audio