All the affordable 4G your heart Desires

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You don't have to fork out for 4G with the new HTC Desire 510, the cheapest 4G LTE smartphone from the Taiwanese company.

The Desire 510 will go on sale in the UK in September, and will cost around £150. In Blighty, O2 is the first UK network to confirm the phone. In the US, the handset will sell at Sprint, Virgin Mobile, and Boost Mobile for $312 all in, and also at Cricket Wireless. Directly converted, that works out to $250 or AU$265. HTC says the 510 will hit shelves in selected regions in Europe and Asia as well.

The HTC Desire 510 runs Android KitKat software. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The 4.7-inch phone comes encased in polycarbonate plastic in a choice of black, white, grey or a very luxurious midnight blue. The choice of colour may depend on where you buy it, however.

The Desire 510 is a Category 4 LTE phone. Cat 4 is one of the fastest current flavours of 4G, but you can only enjoy the extra speed of a Cat 4 device if you live in a country that has a Cat 4 or LTE-Advanced network.

Even if you don't live somewhere covered by LTE-Advanced signal, 4G LTE is still an order of magnitude faster than 3G, and sees you surf the Web, stream video and music and connect with apps much faster. The only caveat is that with that extra speed you will burn through your data allowance (and battery) faster, and as 4G is still relatively new in many countries, that can cost you.

Inside the 510 is a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor with 1GB of RAM. There's 8GB of on-board memory for music, movies, and photos, with a microSD card slot for extra legroom.

While the 4G and processor speed are pretty respectable, the most disappointing specs are the 854x480-pixel screen and the cameras: the main snapper is a 5-megapixel job, with a low-resolution 640x480-pixel camera on the front for blocky video chat.

That's disappointing because one of the advantages of 4G is that it can cope with sending more detail in both directions without leaving you waiting. 4G is great for downloading or streaming HD movies, or uploading your beautifully detailed photos to Facebook or Instagram. But if the screen and the camera aren't up to much, you're missing out on this fun side of 4G.

And even if you don't mind watching movies and games on your phone in less than high definition, the lack of detail means that icons and webpages can feel big and clunky. The notifications bar at the top, for example, quickly starts to feel cluttered with big icons.

The 510 runs on Android 4.4 KitKat software, the latest version of Google's operating system. You can download more apps from the Google Play app store, including any apps you've already downloaded if you've had an Android phone before.

The Desire 510 has a pleasingly rubberised back. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

On top of regular Android is HTC Sense, an interface only found on HTC phones, which adds extra features to the basic Android experience. The home pages also include BlinkFeed, which pulls together news and updates from your social networks to show you what's going on with the world and your friends every time you look at your phone.

Like the HTC One M8, HTC's flagship phone, you can check out what's going on with your 510 without opening the case. HTC's DotView case, which costs extra, covers the phone, but with teeny-tiny holes on the front through which you can see the screen, forming a cool dot matrix-style pattern.

The HTC DotView Case, seen here on the One M8, shows you what's going on without opening the cover. Josh Miller/CNET

While at rest, the phone shows a display specially designed to be viewed through the small holes without opening the case. The 510 does not have the smart sensor features of the One M8's DotView case, but it does give you a choice of 18 wallpapers and themes.

We checked out the HTC Desire at annual technology trade show IFA in Berlin, where we're on hand to bring you the first photos, videos and hands-on first impressions of this and all the cool new kit heading your way before the end of the year.

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HTC Desire 510

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