When it launched its flagship One line of Android phones earlier this year HTC suggested it would be sticking to a policy of creating fewer more clearly differentiated handsets. Well, it appears not to have taken very long for that policy to have been eroded.
The HTC Desire C is one of four new and rather similar Desire models hitting the market over the coming weeks and months. In fairness, the C is the most different of the four with a smaller screen and slower processor than the rest. What's more HTC has at least stuck to keeping the One lineup premium and demoting the Desire range to the budget end, which is a commendably clear differentiation – Samsung take note.
So, what does the Desire C offer? Well, it's built around an original iPhone-matching 3.5in screen, has a 5 megapixel camera but, key to its budget billing, it has a lowly 600MHz processor.
Design and Handling
As we've come to expect from HTC, where the Desire C definitely gets things right is in its styling and build quality. A nicely rounded matt plastic back butts up to a real metal bezel that surrounds an unbroken slab of toughened glass. It's simple but HTC has really made the most of things with some clever little touches. For instance the thumb notch used to prize off the backplate mirrors the power button on the top edge while the holes for the earpiece speaker are micro-drilled into the metal bezel, rather than there just being a big hole covered with a grille. Then of course there's HTC's penchant for making the insides from a brightly coloured translucent plastic – we love it in principle but it is pointless.
With dimensions of 107.2 x 60.6 x 12.3 the phone is a bit chunky by today's standards, especially for a handset that's not exactly packed with all the latest tech. But, it's otherwise small enough to easily handle, and the rounded back feels snug in the hand.
There is one problem though: that matt white finish. It looks great but its abrasive surface picks up dirt like you wouldn't believe – read a newspaper then handle this phone and it'll be covered in grey marks from all the print on your fingers. It does wipe off but not always as easily as you'd think.
The other issue with the back is that it's not as grippy as you might expect. In combination with its rounded edges this can make the phone slip from your grasp more easily than its rough nature would suggest.
Otherwise, usability is good with the three touch sensitive buttons under the screen being responsive and easy to use. The top mounted power button is also an easy reach as this is such a small phone.
While this phone's build gives up little to more premium models, when we start to look at features the differences become all too clear. The camera on the back lacks a flash or autofocus, the microUSB socket doesn't support MHL video output (nor is there any other video output) and NFC is only an optional extra. But what you do get is Wi-Fi N with hotspot capability, Bluetooth v4.0, a microSD slot for adding up to 32GB to the miserly 4GB of internal storage (only about 1GB of which can you access), FM radio and GPS. In other words, all the essentials are there.