What is the HTC Desire 610?HTC clearly spoke too soon when it said it was going to stop making so many devices in 2012 because of the cheap Chinese competition. It's cranking more phones than ever and the HTC Desire 610 is it's latest, a mid-range 4G _phone_ that's half the price HTC One M8 and replaces the HTC Desire 601.
With great value offerings like the Motorola Moto G (and its recent 4G update) shifting our expectations for budget phones, does the HTC Desire 610 do enough to justify it’s £249/$400 price?
HTC Desire 610 – DesignDelicate it is not. Available in red, white or dark blue, the HTC Desire 610 comes in chunky two-tone plastic. The back is shiny and withstands scratches well, although the blue version we’re testing does gather greasy fingerprints easily. It doesn’t feel quite as high quality as the plastic on some phones like the iPhone 5C or high-end Nokias, but it does feel very solid.
The sides and front are covered with a grippier matt plastic, which works rather well. Not only does it prevent the HTC Desire 610 from slipping through your fingers, the two-tone design also gives the _phone_ a stylish charm.
Unfortunately, some of this is lost by the sheer size of the phone. Measuring in at a mighty 153.1 x 70.5 x 9.6mm and weighing in at a more modest 143.5g, the Desire 610 is chunkier than it should be considering its 4.7-inch screen size and 2,040mAh battery. By comparison it’s a full millimetre taller and 1.5mm thicker than the 5.1-inch Samsung Galaxy S5. If you don’t like big phones you will want to steer clear, although this is still smaller than phablets.
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Much of the extra height comes from the chunky bezels and the inclusion of stereo speakers, one above the screen and one below. This helps with the stereo separation; we’ll go into more detail on that later. But in our eyes the 4mm bezels on the side of the screen age the design and make the HTC Desire 610 look less contemporary than it should – it’s clear that HTC focussed its major design efforts on the One M8.
Despite its size the Desire 610 is easy to hold. The soft rounded edges and good balance mean it’s not awkward to use for extended periods. It may not be the most delicate phone but the HTC Desire 610 is solidly built. From the tough plastic exterior to the robust nano-SIM and microSD slot cover, you won’t find any quality issues here.
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HTC Desire 610 – ScreenThe 4.7-inch screen on the HTC Desire 610 has a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. If you think that’s low for a screen of this size you’d be right. Thankfully, while the 236 pixels per inch density is not very high, colour accuracy is decent and so are viewing angles. Both videos and pictures look good and contrast is strong enough to let details become apparent even in dimly lit scenes. We’re particularly pleased that there’s no sign of oversaturated colours – a fad which seems to be afflicting an increasing number of phones and tablets over the last few years.
Brightness levels are not outstanding but are acceptable. Even on a surprisingly sunny London weekend the screen was visible enough at full brightness to be usable even, though the thin lines of the touch screen layer become visible at certain angles.
Yet there’s no getting away from the lack of sharpness. Although it’s apparent in video when compared to a 720p screen, it’s when looking at text that you’re more likely to notice it’s not quite as sharp as some phones that cost a fair bit less. Webpage text is sharp enough when zoomed out but has a faint fuzziness when zoomed in. It’s certainly not a showstopper, though, since all text can still be read comfortably.
HTC Desire 610 – CameraThe 8-megapixel camera on the Desire 610 is reasonable for a phone at this price and certainly trumps the Moto G’s 5-megapixel one.
In well-lit conditions, like the sunny day we were testing the camera with the help of the London skyline, the Desire 610 does well. Colours are accurate and it captures enough detail from the distant Gherkin building. Edges are a little fuzzy, but overall quality is decent for a phone camera.
Compare it to the Moto G photo taken just a few minutes earlier and the difference is striking. Clouds are more clearly defined on the HTC Desire 610, colours much better and there’s a lot more detail – look at the building in the centre of the picture and you’ll notice that the latticework of metal is much clearer than on the Moto G.
Closer up the HTC also does a decent job, although it does struggle with the opulent purple flowers we shot. As you can see when we blow up the picture to its full size, the flowers look a little flat and the colours are patchy. We’re nit-picking a bit here though; it’s unlikely you’ll be viewing these images at full size.
HTC’s camera app is dead simple to use. While you don’t get all the bells and whistles you’ll find on the HTC One M8 or Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC Desire 610 is perfectly suited for some happy snapping.
You can also shoot full-HD video with the camera with good results. We were able to shoot some decent video footage even during a bumpy car ride.
The 1.2-megapixel front camera also does a good job in well-lit conditions. Video calling and the occasional selfies work well. You even get a timer in selfie mode so you can set yourself up just right for the perfect duck-face. Or not.
HTC Desire 610 – Performance and ConnectivityThe HTC Desire 610 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor backed up by 1GB of RAM. This is the new quad-core version of the Snapdragon 400 running at 1.2GHz per core as opposed to the previous version found on the likes of the similarly priced 4.3-inch Samsung Galaxy S4 mini, which uses a dual-core Snapdragon 400 running at 1.7GHz.
Both processors are evenly matched in our benchmark tests with the S4 mini performing slightly better than the HTC in Geekbench 3 (1,099 vs 1043), whereas the HTC Desire 610 wins in the 3D gaming benchmark with a score of 4,871 vs 4,783 in Futurmark’s Ice Storm Unlimited test. These are tight margins, however, that you probably won't notice in real-world use.
In use the HTC is zippy enough when scrolling through menus and opening apps. If you like intensive 3D games you might want to opt for a more powerful phone, though. We experienced some slow-down on some intensive 3D games such as Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8, although both were quite playable for the vast majority of time. If you don’t play games on your phone, or your gaming is limited to 2D puzzlers, then you’ll have no problem at all and will appreciate the experience on the 4.7-inch screen.
You’ll need a nano-SIM, like the one found in the iPhone 5S and 5C to connect your Desire 610 to a network. Once you do the HTC lets you connect to the internet using speedy 4G. You also get the standard Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) and NFC.
Onboard storage is just 8GB but the microSD slot hidden behind a flap accepts cards up to 128GB in size – more than enough for the vast majority of users. The only other connector is a micro-USB 2.0 port for charging (not MHL compatible).
HTC Desire 610 – Apps and SoftwareThe Desire 610 runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Sense 6, HTC’s latest version of its mobile software. Sense 6 is HTC’s layer that goes on top of Android to give its phones their own distinct flavour.
It is a reasonably light touch and anyone familiar with stock Android should have no problems picking up and using the HTC Desire 610. In the unlikely event you do have any problems there are plenty of helpful pop-up tips and guides that get you on your way.
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Some of the highlights of the HTC’s software are the Kid Mode and Parental Controls apps. These allow you to set up profiles for your children so that that can safely play on your phone without accessing inappropriate content or "accidentally" deleting all your contacts. It also has oodles of free content you can download, from kiddie friendly games to hundreds of age appropriate cartoons. it's perfect for keeping the wee nippers quiet for hours.
Kid Mode locks your phone to kid friendly content and is PIN protected
BlinkFeed has also had an update and now lets you easily access the content from your favourite news websites in a constant stream.
In all other respects the interface of the 610 is much the same as any other Android phone.
HTC Desire 610 – Call and Sound QualityCall quality on the HTC Desire 610 is solid. It comes with Sense Voice, HTC’s version of noise cancelling and it works quite well. Two dual microphones monitor the ambient noise around you while you’re having a natter and automatically adjust the volume accordingly. It works well and we had no problems with call quality even when in a car with the windows down.
The HTC BoomSound speakers on the HTC One and HTC One M8 provide great quality sound from such a small device. The HTC Desire 610 also comes with BoomSound stereo speakers, but they don’t reach the excellence of its sibling. It is loud enough for a phone, but sound becomes distorted and is thin at the highest volume settings when compared to the fuller sounding One M8. Stereo separation is also not quite as good – sounds tend to merge.
That being said the speakers on the HTC Desire 610 are better than those on the vast majority of phones at this price range even though they just don’t quite reach the heights of the very best on the market.
HTC Desire 610 – Battery Life and VerdictYou’d expect a large battery in such a chunky phone, but the 2,040mAh non-removable battery on the Desire 610 is actually pretty standard. HTC could have really impressed by including a whopper and making the 610 stand out from the crowd, but instead the battery life is decidedly unspectacular.
Used reasonably heavily the battery will last you through the day. In our normal use test, which includes several hours of 3D gaming, video streaming, Wi-Fi and 4G browsing, eight hours of standby, calls and some battery decimating satellite navigation the Desire 610 went from 100% to 0% in almost exactly 24 hours.
In our like for like test, which involves 720p on-board video being played while the phone is in airplane mode, the battery lasted for 10 hours – good enough for all but the longest flights.
Should I buy the HTC Desire 610?The Desire 610 is a solid all-rounder. The screen isn't as sharp as we’d like, but the camera is decent and the design is quirky and charming, though perhaps a tad larger than we'd like for a 4.7-inch phone. Its main problem, however, is it's a little pricey considering the wealth of excellent (and often cheaper) alternatives.
You could opt for the new version of the Moto G instead, which is a lot cheaper at £160/$220 and comes with 4G and microSD card. The camera isn't as good, but the screen is much sharper. Alternatively, the Alcatel Idol S and Sony Xperia M2 look like decent prospects, though we haven't tested either yet. If 4G is the deciding factor then you could also opt for the great value EE Kestrel made by Huawei at less £100, but this is exclusive to the EE network.
Overall, most people won't be disappointed with this phone, but it's not one you should rush out and buy.
VerdictThe HTC Desire 610 is a good phone, but it has to compete with some exceptionally good value phones. At current prices there are better options, but it's worth considering if you can find a good deal.
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