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HTC Desire 500 Review



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  • Nice, classy design
  • Bright and clear screen
  • Decent general performance


  • Camera slightly inconsistent
  • Battery life a little weak
  • Mediocre built-in speaker

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £230.00
  • 4.3-inch, 480 x 800 screen; 4GB storage; Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 1.2GHz quad-core; 8MP rear camera with LED flash and autofocus; 1.6Mp front camera; microSD card slot; 1,800mAh battery; 123g

What is the HTC Desire 500?

The HTC Desire 500 is HTC’s new mid-range phone, available for around £200 SIM-free, £180 on pre-pay and from £17 or so a month on contract. It has a 4-inch screen, a decent overall spec and a design that far exceeds what we’re used to at this price.

On paper it’s a very promising phone, though like most mid-range phones it now has the formidable Nexus 5 to contend with, which – although £100 more – is a tempting alternative given it’s only £3 a month more on contract. Can the HTC compete?

Watch our HTC Desire 500 video review:

SEE ALSO: best cheap phones you can buy

HTC Desire 500: Design & Features

We like the look of the HTC Desire 500. It comes in three flavours: all black, white with red trim and white with blue trim. Ours is the white and red variant, but each has its charm and the build quality and feel of the phone in the hand are very reassuring. It’s plastic, but it feels sturdier and pricier than the Samsung Galaxy S4, though we’re not sure if this reflects well on the HTC or badly on the Samsung. Probably the latter.

In any case, it’s a classy, svelte and light phone (just 123g) with no annoying protrusions or sharp corners. The only physical buttons are the power/hold button at the top and volume controls on the right. If we have a criticism of the Desire 500’s design it’s that the volume buttons are hard to locate by feel alone, but it’s not a serious problem and we rather like the way they’re integrated into the coloured trim, visually.

HTC Desire 500 smartphone held in hand showing side profile.
The only visible connection is the standard miniUSB charging port, but prise off the back and you’ll find a microSD card slot. It’s a necessity given there’s only 4GB onboard, of which just over 3GB is already accounted for before you install any apps.

Wireless connectivity is well catered for thanks to Wi-Fi (802.11n), GPS/AGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, the latter being an impressive addition at this price. There’s no space for NFC, but that’s hardly a dire omission. That it runs Android 4.1.2 means the Desire 500 is a little behind the times, though this shouldn’t put off the average buyer.

SEE ALSO: best Android phones you can buy

Close-up of HTC Desire 500's camera and logo.

HTC Desire 500: Screen Quality

Neither should the screen, which is a decent effort. Its 800 x 480 resolution falls short of the pixel squeezing feats of the Samsung Galaxy S4 (440 ppi) or Nexus 5 (445 ppi), but the smaller 4.3-inch frame ensures a reasonable 217 pixels per inch (ppi). You’ll see a little fuzziness around text when viewed close-up, but held at a reasonable distance the HTC Desire 500’s screen looks good enough.

This is helped by the exceptional brightness and contrast for a phone at this price. The brightness is a particular highlight, no doubt due to the use of an LCD screen as opposed to the AMOLED type seen on some high-end phones. This peak brightness really helps when outdoors, where the Desire 500’s screen is easier to use than many cheap phones.

Hand holding an HTC Desire 500 smartphone displaying home screen.

Colour and contrast, meanwhile, don’t reach the heights of an AMOLED screen, but are very good for a phone at this price. You’ll have no complaints when viewing photos or watching videos.

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

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