HTC Desire 626 review: This good-looking smartphone is ultimately a poor performer

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The Good The HTC Desire 626 has an attractive design and a compellingly low price. Call quality is strong.

The Bad Inconsistent image and video quality dog the Desire 626. Its stumbling performance drags the phone down, and weak automatic brightness make the handset's screen seem dim.

The Bottom Line This may be one of the best-looking phones you can buy for the price, but keep shopping for a faster, savvier device than the HTC Desire 626.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Camera 6
  • Battery 5

HTC's latest budget effort, the Desire 626, acts more like an entry-level handset than it does a midtier phone. HTC caps the 5-inch Desire 626's hardware at a mediocre 8-megapixel rear camera and a lower-performing processor. Its greatest strength among today's blizzard of cheap, good-enough Android devices is its attractive design in six color choices (if you also count the Desire 626S).

HTC's strategy of distributing the 626 all over the globe as a value buy is a sound one, especially as casual users will gravitate toward its solid, well-considered build over so many blah-looking handsets. Just as competitive as the upper end of the gladiatorial smartphone arena, HTC and others can use the lower and middle levels to help boost overall profit and sales, particularly among budget-seekers. For Taiwan-based HTC, whose products have long been praised for its material design even amid plummeting financial prospects, any and all inroads are good news.

You may enjoy the Desire 626 above others for its cohesive construction, but I ran into too many performance pitfalls to be able to recommend the device (excellent call quality was a notable exception). My advice is to shop around. If you value performance over smooth looks, a gaggle of other phones in the same price range means you can score better value for the same money. See the conclusion for more detail, but I'd particularly look at the Motorola Moto G from late 2015, and the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 , which costs a little more for a significantly higher-performing phone.

Pricing and availability

A global handset, you'll need to check with your carriers and retail stores for exact pricing. Roughly, though, you're looking at just under $200 with no contract in the US. For reference, this converts to £129.

In the US, you'll be able to buy the Desire 626 from AT&T, Boost Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS, Sprint Prepaid, T-Mobile, Tracfone, Verizon Wireless and Virgin Mobile. Prices are going to go something like $0 down and $8 per month for 24 months, or about $6 per month for 30 months. It'll vary by wireless carrier.

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