The HTC Desire C may at first appear to have a fairly lowly screen – 3.5in, 320 x 480 pixels – but it's worth considering that it has the same specs as the first three iPhones and they did the job. The result is that while not the sharpest screen around, it's sufficient for all the usual smartphone duties and moreover it's of reasonable quality with fairly bright colours and good viewing angles. Like iPhones though, it's a little small to really enjoy watching video on and it can be a bit cramped for gaming.
All told, while perfectly serviceable you can get slightly larger, higher resolution screens for only a little more money, such as on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, for instance.
The single most budget aspect of this phone, however, is its processor. It's a single core chip that runs at a mere 600MHz. This sounds like it should make the phone unusable but there's more here than meets the eye. This chip is based on a newer architecture (Cortex A5 compared to ARM11) that has inherently better performance for any given clock speed. So in actual use, it's not bad. Moving round the interface, typing and such basics are absolutely fine.
That said, it does have its limitations. So while you certainly can browse fullsize, graphically rich websites, it can be a bit slow to do so. Likewise some of the latest 3D games may not play ball.
Putting that performance to the test we were actually surprised just how slow it is in benchmarks, considering how nippy it feels in use. Both SunSpider and BrowserMark have this phone beaten by all but two of the phones on our current benchmark results. Only the Orange San Francisco and San Francisco II are consistently slower, though a few others do come close.
Part of the reason it remains nippy in use that this phone runs Android 4.0 which, while more demanding than previous versions, tends to feel that bit snappier.
Ultimately, if you're used to 1GHz or faster phones from yesteryear, you'll find the Desire C a bit too sluggish. But for a first smartphone or as a step up from something like the super budget Orange San Francisco, there's enough here to keep you happy.
Despite its chunky dimensions, the Desire C didn't set any new records for how long it lasted on a single charge. With heavy use it was mostly dead in a day while light use had it last a day and a half or so. So, same old, same old really.