HTC Desire 610 review: A cheap Android KitKat phone, with a fun design and 4G LTE

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 5.0
Review Date:

The Good The HTC Desire 610 has an affordable price tag, its camera isn't too bad and its navy-blue, plastic body is quite fun.

The Bad It has a very disappointingly low resolution display that's not too bright either. Its processor and Android version are the same as the considerably cheaper Motorola Moto G. Its battery is only adequate.

The Bottom Line The HTC Desire 610 may be affordable, with an iPhone 5C-style plastic body, but its mediocre specs and poor screen resolution mean it's still not a good buy. For much less money you can grab the 4G Motorola Moto G, which has the same processor, Android KitKat software and a higher resolution display.

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The HTC One M8 stormed its way to a glowing review from CNET editor Brian Bennett thanks to its ultra-luxurious metal design, superb high-definition screen and oodles of power. It's a formidable flagship phone, and comes with a price to match. If your budget is a little smaller, but you still want the HTC name in your jeans, cast your eyes over the Desire 610.

Like the M8, it has the dual, front-facing BoomSound speakers, 4G LTE and the same attractive, easy to use Sense 6 software. It has a plastic, rather than metal, body though and has drastically cut-down specs in order to keep the price down.

The Desire 610 can be picked up now, SIM-free, directly from HTC's site in the UK for £240 (which converts to $410 or AU$440). It's yet to be given an official launch date in the US and Australia, but it's expected to hit the US, at least, in the next month.

Design

Those of you looking for a luxurious feeling phone with cutting-edge style should keep on walking, towards the all-metal HTC One M8. The Desire 610 is constructed entirely from plastic, which makes it look and feel like a much more budget-orientated device. It's rather like the difference betweeth the iPhone 5C and the more expensive iPhone 5S.

In fact, it's not dissimilar to the iPhone 5C. It has rounded corners, with a mostly flat back that curves around at the side, rather than the arched back of the One M8. The dual BoomSound speakers above and below the screen on the front tell you immediately that it's from the HTC family. They don't provide as big a sound as the flagship M8, but their position and large chambers allow them to give more punch to movies and podcasts than many phones' speakers.

htc-desire-610-8.jpg
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The back of the phone is a plain expanse of plastic -- in this case, a dark, navy blue colour -- broken only by the camera lens and flash at the top. It's hardly the most thrilling of designs (I imagine a hot pink or lime green version would be more eye-catching) but I've seen far worse. A thick, black bezel surrounds the display, which doesn't help at all. It makes the screen look rather squashed in and shatters any illusion there may have been that this is more expensive than it is.

The bezel also means the body is a little larger than it needs to be. It measures 71mm across, which I found just a bit too big to comfortably use with one hand. It's only 9.6mm thick though, which is easily slender enough to slide into a pocket. On the bottom of the phone is the micro-USB port, with the 3.5mm headphone jack sat on top.

The nano-SIM card and microSD card slots are hidden underneath a plastic flap on the side. I'm glad to see expandable storage here as the 610 only comes with 8GB of space as standard, which you'll quickly fill up with apps, games and music.

Display

The 610's 4.7-inch display offers a 960x540-pixel resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 234 pixels per inch (ppi). That's really rather disappointing, even with its affordable price. The 4G Moto G's 4.5-inch screen has a 720p display, with a pixel density of 326ppi -- and that can be picked up for only £150.

The display, unsurprisingly, isn't very crisp. Icon edges and text don't have the same clarity you'd find on the Moto G, or indeed the full-HD HTC One M8. While it's more affordable than its flagship brother, the 610 really isn't cheap enough for this low a resolution to be acceptable.

htc-desire-610-2.jpg
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's not a particularly bright screen either. Even under moderately bright lighting conditions I found myself staring back at the reflection of my own face. Under vivid outdoor sunlight, it's an even bigger problem. It does at least have decent, natural colours, but if you want to experience a Netflix movie at its best, find a darkened room to enjoy it in.

Android software

The Desire 610 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which is almost the most recent version of Google's mobile operating system. HTC has applied the same Sense 6 interface that you'll find on the One M8 over the top, so it's visually very different from the Android you may have seen on other, non-HTC handsets.

I'm quite keen on Sense 6, thanks to its minimalist appearance. It has the same basic architecture as any version of Android, but the app tray uses well-spaced icons and can be easily customised, making finding your essential apps a breeze. The settings menu is much easier to understand than the Galaxy S5's never-ending lists of options and the pull-down settings bar lets you easily change critical settings.

You'll also find HTC's BlinkFeed news aggregator sat to the side of the home screens. It pulls together your social networks and news articles from a few select sources and presents it in a constant stream. It's basically the same as Flipboard. It's on your home screen as standard, but a recent change to Sense 6 allows you to remove it if you're not keen.

Camera

On the back of the phone is an 8-megapixel camera. Those are eight regular megapixels, rather than the physically larger "Ultrapixels" you'll find in the One M8's camera. I took it for a spin and had mixed, but generally decent results.

southwark-htc-desire-610.jpg
HTC Desire 610 camera test Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I was impressed at the overall exposure on my first shot, looking towards London's Shard building. The sky is bright and under control, and there's still visible detail in the shadowy buildings on the right. The colours are a little weak, however, giving it an almost vintage look, and there's image noise to be seen in the dark areas.

st-pauls-htc-desire-610.jpg
HTC Desire 610 camera test Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Similarly, looking at St Paul's Cathedral, the 610 achieved a good exposure overall and there's a decent level of clarity at full screen.

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HTC Desire 610

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