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HTC's new Desire: Making a higher-end phone cost less. A lot less (hands-on)

The HTC Desire 10 Pro puts top specs like a 20-megapixel camera and hefty battery into an affordable phone. The scaled-back Desire 10 Lifestyle will cost you even less.

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If "budget phone" conjures images of a clunky plastic handset with blah-blah specs, you'll want to chuck that notion now. HTC is on a mission to deliver flagship-level features in a phone that costs less than half of many of today's premium handsets.

HTC on Tuesday announced the midrange Desire 10 Pro, alongside the far more entry-level (and cheaper!) Desire 10 Lifestyle. For now, both phones will sell only in Europe, with the Desire 10 Pro arriving at the beginning of November. We don't know for how much, although the company confirmed it would be less than the flagship HTC 10, which costs $699, £569 and AU$1,099. You'll be able to buy the Desire 10 Lifestyle at the end of September for £249, which converts to about $325 and AU$430.

The Pro is aimed at consumers who want high-end performance at a midrange price, while the Lifestyle is for those on a set budget.

The phones feature a matte plastic finish with a metal trim around the edges and the camera lens. It's not much of an accent, but it does help make both handsets flashier than previous Desire models, although they aren't nearly as elegant as the all-metal HTC 10.

Desire 10 Pro

One of the most interesting things about the Pro is the fingerprint sensor on the back, which marks a first for the Desire line. It's a signal of HTC getting serious with lower-price competitors coming from Huawei, Alcatel, OnePlus and Motorola.

htc-desire-10-03.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Another is the camera, a 20-megapixel shooter with an f/2.2 aperture, dual-LED flash and laser autofocus. Meanwhile, a 13-megapixel camera sits up front, which can be used with HTC's new Selfie Panorama mode to capture a super-wide 150-degree shot.

The Pro is also a large-screen phone, equipped with a 5.5-inch full HD display and an octa-core MediaTek processor. It will be offered in two flavors: One with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and the other with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Here are all the hardware specs:

  • 5.5-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution display (401ppi)
  • 64-bit octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor
  • 20-megapixel rear camera
  • 13-megapixel front camera
  • Up to 64GB of storage
  • Up to 4GB of RAM
  • 3,000mAh battery (non-removeable)
  • MicroSD card slot for up to 2TB of additional storage
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense

Desire 10 Lifestyle

HTC has tough competition in the affordable market. The Desire 10 Lifestyle will match up against both the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, which are two of our favorite budget phones.

On paper, the Lifestyle appears to falls short. It lacks a fingerprint sensor and the 5.5-inch display has a lower-resolution (but cost-saving) 1,280x720-pixel screen.

htc-desire-10-17.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

It also has a low-end Snapdragon 400 processor, although it can be configured with up to 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which should provide better performance from from the 2GB/16GB base model.

One thing the Lifestyle does have over both the Moto G4 and Desire 10 Pro is support for 24-bit Hi-Res audio. This is the same technology featured in the flagship HTC 10, and it should improve audio quality when listening to music over the speakers and through headphones.

The full specs are listed below:

  • 5.5-inch 1,280x720-pixel resolution display (267ppi)
  • 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor
  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Up to 32GB of storage
  • Up to 3GB of RAM
  • 2,700mAh battery (non-removeable)
  • MicroSD card slot for up to 2TB of additional storage
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense
  • Hi-Res Audio Certified

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