With the slew of high-end smartphones that have made their way to the market recently, it’s easy to forget that not everyone may be looking for (or is able to afford) the latest and greatest super-speed smartphone. For a large portion of users, they just want a phone that’s both reliable and offers a decent set of features without breaking the bank. When HTC released the HTC One earlier this year it wowed users with its impressive build quality and software. Soon, the company released the HTC One Mini, a scaled-down and slightly more affordable version of the HTC One. And once again, HTC has released another phone into the market that’s aiming for a demographic that is looking for an even more affordable smartphone. Say hello to the HTC Desire 500.
Build quality & design
The Desire lineup was a familiar one for fans of HTC, until the company put all of its focus in launching its flagship HTC One smartphone. Now the attention is turning back to the Desire lineup with the Desire 500, a simpler smartphone that still manages to offer a good user experience.
Unlike the One, the Desire 500 is made of plastic, with the back cover forming a kind of shell that the phone slides into. You can pop off the cover to reveal the removable battery and SIM / microSD slots, and the phone is surrounded by a shiny metallic band, which accents the phone beautifully if you get the white case. You’ve got the power button and 3.5mm audio jack at the top, two small arrows on the side for volume, and the microUSB charger at the bottom.
Camera-wise you’ve got a front-facing 1.6MP camera as well as a rear 8.0MP camera at the back. While the HTC One and One Mini both had front-facing speakers, the Desire 500 has its speaker placed at the back of the phone. The general plastic look of the phone can’t be avoided, but the phone feels quite sturdy despite being a little bit slippery at times.
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Benchmarks and Performance
For a mid-range Android phone, the Desire 500 is actually very good. I had no issues running multiple apps on the phone, and most of my social media apps and light games ran without any stuttering. The smaller screen size may keep you from enjoying surfing your favorite websites, but as it stands the performance on the Desire 500 is excellent. That’s partly down to HTC slipping in a quad-core processor here, namely the Snapdragon 200. It’s at the lower spectrum of the Snapdragon lineup, but it’s more than enough for the Desire 500. While other manufacturers limit their low-cost phones to dual-core processors, it’s nice of HTC to splurge a little bit while still keeping the phone affordable.
UI and Apps
As with its other phones, the Desire 500 comes with the latest version of HTC’s Sense UI, which of course includes the new BlinkFeed to stay up to date on your social media and favorite news feeds. Apart from a few other core Google apps, there’s little else installed on the phone, which is a relief.
Screen and Camera
The screen on the Desire 500 is a 4.3” WVGA display, with a resolution of 480 x 800. The screen is bright enough to be used indoors, but sadly becomes nearly impossible to see outdoors in bright light. Videos can be watched with quite acceptable quality, but the smaller screen size means that you might not enjoy squinting at the screen for long. Photos taken with the Desire 500 are actually quite good, with a variety of filters and effects being available to experiment with.
Sound & Call Quality
The Desire 500 comes with Beats audio, so listening to music with headphones provides a really good experience. The speaker on the Desire 500 is adequate if you’d like to use it for a conference call or trying to blast a bit of music, but just keep in mind to have the phone propped up a bit for the best experience. Call quality was good, with no interruptions in phone reception or issues hearing parties on the other end.
Battery life on the Desire 500 can be actually quite good – the toned-down screen is less demanding on the phone’s battery, and with a moderate use of browsing and social media / emails, you can get through the day without needing to charge. However this does drop quite a bit if you factor in watching videos or listening to music.
The HTC Desire 500 is in all honesty, quite a good phone. It’s designed for people who want to experience their first smartphone, but don’t want to splurge on the latest devices, while at the same time buying something mediocre. The Desire 500 firmly positions itself as a smartphone that delivers a fluid Android experience without breaking the bank.