Review: HTC Desire C
A promising Android 4.0 (ICS) phone, but let down by lacklustre performance.
Sturdy build; Impressive sound quality.
Sluggish performance; Terrible camera; Mediocre video player.
HTC Desire C
MRP: Rs 15,500
Street Price (As On 14-Aug-2012): Rs 14,000 (HomeShop18.com); Rs 14,200 (Infibeam.com; Indiaplaza.com)
While the HTC One X fights it out for the top spot, the Desire C is targeted at budget buyers. The phone looks very similar to last year's Explorer, with only a few cosmetic changes. Although it doesn't boast of impressive specs, the onboard Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is the phone's USP, since it's actually the only handset with the OS available at this price point. Let's find out if the Desire C is best in its class.
Design And Build Quality
The retail package ships with the phone, earphones, and a charger with a detachable cable. The device measures 4.2" (l) x 2.4" (w) x 0.5" ( 12 mm) (d), and tips the scales at 98 grammes. It basically looks as if HTC simply took the Explorer's body and added a metal frame to it. Not a bad move though, as the Desire C is quite a looker. The handset's curved back panel provides a comfortable grip, while its build quality is also impressive when compared to other mid-range Android phones. The only minor annoyance I could find with the design is the non-backlit capacitive keys. This can create a lot of confusion while operating the handset in the dark.
The 3.5" LCD screen has pixel dimensions of 320x480. The display is reasonably bright, but its sharpness could have been better. On the flip side, the panel's viewing angles are narrow, and its sunlight legibility is nothing worth writing home about. The phone is powered by a modest 600 MHz CPU, and has 512 MB of RAM. The full specs include:
- Quad-band GSM (850 \ 900 \ 1800 \ 1900 MHz), dual-band 3G (900 \ 2100 MHz).
- 600 MHz Cortex A5 CPU, Adreno 200 GPU, 512 MB RAM.
- 4 GB of internal storage (95 MB user-accessible, 1 GB reserved for apps), 32 GB microSD card slot.
- 3.5" LCD with pixel dimensions of 320x480.
- 5 mp main camera.
- Wi-Fi with hotspot functionality, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS with A-GPS connectivity.
- Micro-USB 2.0 port, 3.5 mm jack.
- Accelerometer, proximity, and ambient light sensors.
- Stereo FM, Beats Audio sound enhancement.
- Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with HTC's Sense 4 UI.
- Supported audio formats: AAC, AMR, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV, WMA.
- Supported video formats: 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV, AVI.
- 1230 mAh battery.
UI And Applications
Despite its modest 600 MHz CPU, the handset offers ICS with HTC's Sense 4 on top of it. The interface sports the company's iconic ring-based unlock screen, while the notification bar provides quick access to most settings. Similar to HTC's recent Android phones, the Desire C sports a dedicated capacitive key for multitasking. In short, it's identical to what you get on the pricier One V. However, the user experience is very disappointing. For example, the phone takes almost a second just to render a simple list of settings, and also stutters in almost every menu. Thus, it can be said that trying to load this hardware with ICS was definitely a bad idea.
The default web browser supports tabbed browsing and Flash. However, due to its weak CPU, the browser feels very sluggish. If you like to surf the web a lot, then this phone is not for you. In the gaming department too, the Desire C performs below average. Games such as Fruit Ninja and Temple Run lag terribly. While the handset was never positioned as being meant for gaming, being able to play a few popular casual games isn't too much to ask for at this price point.
The Desire C features Beats Audio enhancements, but doesn't ship with branded earphones. Moreover, it lacks equaliser settings, which I personally consider to be a big negative. On the bright side though, the phone offers great sound quality when paired with a good pair of IEMs.
The video player supports most video formats including DivX, XviD, MP4, and WMV. However, 720p and higher videos are a no-go. Ergo, this application too is another victim of inadequate processing power.
For photography, there's a 5 mp fixed-focus camera sans an LED flash. It offers various effects including Sepia, Aqua, and Posterize, which are quite fun to use. The UI is pretty straightforward: click the on-screen shutter button to take a picture, or hit the camcorder icon to start recording a video. Despite having a shared UI though, you can't snap pictures while video is being recorded — a feature I really liked on the One V.
Coming to the images themselves, the results look so grainy and out of focus that I wonder if HTC has actually provided a 5 mp camera. The snapper's image quality is so bad, the less said about it, the better.
Finally, the Desire C can only record 480p clips in the MP4 format. Sadly, the results aren't impressive either — click here to check out the sample.
Telephony, Messaging, Battery Life, And Verdict
I found no issues with the handset's call quality and signal reception. Like most Android handsets though, the Desire C's integrated GPS failed to lock onto the navigational satellites during the test. However, with Assisted GPS turned on, the handset can at least tell your approximate location.
Coming to messaging, the portrait mode keyboard has been well designed. However, due to the small screen size, you often end up hitting the wrong keys. Therefore, it's best to switch to the landscape mode while typing long messages.
The Desire C's 1230 mAh battery can power it for almost 5 hours with heavy usage. Under normal use, it can get you through most of the day. Available for around Rs 14,000, the phone does offers great design and impressive sound quality. However, its underpowered CPU spoils the user experience in every possible way. If you're an Android fanboy, the Samsung GALAXY Ace Plus provides far better specs and performance for a premium of a thousand rupees. Alternately, if you're open to other platforms, Samsung's Omnia W offers snappy performance and a brilliant screen for just over Rs 15,000.
Design And Build Quality: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
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