If your phone needs consist of calling, texting, and a bit of social networking, then there's really no need to be looking toward the blistering performance, massive screens, and sky-high prices of the flagship phones. Instead, a well-thought-out budget mobile will do the trick nicely and leave you with a wad of cash left over.
HTC reckons its Desire 300 might be just such a phone. It packs a 4.3-inch screen, dual-core processor, and a 5-megapixel camera -- very low-end specs, but it's apparently going to come with a similarly low-end price. HTC hasn't confirmed exactly how much yet or indeed when we'll be seeing it, but keep it CNET for all the latest.
The Desire 300 will sit at the bottom of HTC's range of budget-conscious Desire phones. You therefore shouldn't expect premium materials like metal on the 300. Its body is plastic with the same matte rubberised texture you'll find on phones like the One X and the newly unveiled Desire 601. If you're looking for luxurious metal, you'll need to splash more cash on the top-end One. I saw the phone in black, but it'll also come in white and red.
At 4.3 inches, the 300 is quite a bit smaller than the 4.7-inch flagship One. If you're not keen on the recent swathe of palm-stretching mobiles then a smaller phone like the 300 might be more up your street. It's the same size as the HTC One Mini, too. HTC has yet to say officially how much the Desire 300 will cost, but it's safe to assume that with its metal body, the One Mini will be quite a bit pricier. It has a plain design, with a large expanse of plastic on the back. At the very least it has a functional look. The front-facing speaker on the top of the phone does make it slightly reminiscent of the HTC One.
The display has an 800x480-pixel resolution, which is at the bottom end of what I'd expect even from a budget phone, so I'm really hoping HTC matches it with a bottom-end price. The unit I saw wasn't functioning so I wasn't able to see how the display itself looks, but HTC has a fairly decent history of putting at least adequate displays in its budget mobiles, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in use.
It's powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, which again is unquestionably at the bottom end of things. It should have enough power for essential social networking, but I doubt it will be tackling high-definition games or photo editing too well. Battery life comes courtesy of a 1,650mAh battery, which HTC reckons will give up to 11 hours of 3G talk time, which isn't too bad. I'll leave my final verdict on power and battery for the review though.
It's running Android Jelly Bean -- version 4.2.2, I believe, although HTC wasn't able to confirm this at the time of writing. HTC's Sense 5 interface will be slapped over the top, bringing the minimalist app tiles and Blinkfeed news aggregator on the home screen. On the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera. Don't expect to use it to achieve photography stardom, but it should hopefully be good enough for Facebook snaps.
With its low-resolution screen and dual-core processor, the HTC Desire 300 isn't going to tempt those of you looking to slide the latest, sleekest smartphone into your pocket. With a cheap enough price tag, though, it might catch the eye of more budget-conscious shoppers.