Review: HTC's $312 Desire 610 Delivers Power, Big Screen + Value

Written by Alex Zaharov-Reutt      11/08/2014 | 14:41 | Category name i.e.MOBILE

HTC's new mid-range Desire 610 that has gone on sale at Telstra this week sees the return of the Desire brand back onto retail shelves in Australia. This device packs a big screen, plenty of power and is afforable.

Review: HTC

HTC has launched its new 4.7-inch Desire 610, a mid-range Android smartphone into a segment of the market that is getting plenty of attention. 


Only sale at Telstra this $312 outright purchase smartphone looks good as one would expect from HTC, is light at 143 grams and feels comfortable in the hand.


Available in white or dark blue the 610 looks like a hybrid of the plastic iPhone 5C or the metal HTC One M8 series that comes with front facing speakers.


At $312 outright this smartphone has all the apps you want and is cheaper than the iPhone 5C. 


Hardware-wise, the Desire 610 excellent performance for the money because it has a Snapdragon 400 quad-core processors running at 1.2GHz.


It also has Android Kitkat 4.4.2, 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage with microSD slot able to take cards up to 128GB, an 8 megapixel camera with backside illuminated sensor and 1080P Full HD video recording, and a 1.3 megapixel front camera.


A standout with this device is the front facing BoomSound speakers which deliver great sound for a budget phone. It also has Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity at up to 150Mbps download speeds, compatible with Telstra's new 700MHz 4G network. 


While the processor is over 1GHz slower on paper than the 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800-series found in the top-end Samsung Galaxy S5 or LG G3, performance doesn't appear to suffer, with none of the jerky scrolling between home screens or web pages that plagued earlier Androids, especially when compared to the always-smooth iOS experience. 


App performance in various games was also pleasingly good, again with none of the jerkiness or dropped frames I've seen on older Androids with less powerful processors, although the most graphically intensive games will always play best on the most advanced Android devices.



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2mm thicker than the iPhone 5S but feels good in the hand.

This has delivered a refreshingly solid mid-range Android experience that will please owners of older Androids who are looking to upgrade to a fresh new smartphone, without having to spend upwards of $1000 to do so.  


Unlike many other Android smartphones, the 610 has its power button on the top of the phone, as iPhones do, but unlike the iPhone, the headphone socket is at the top of the phone. 


The Desire 610 is also a sealed unit, meaning no end-user battery replacements, but with with up to 15.8 hours of 3G talk time and the widespread availability and low-cost of USB-powered rechargeable battery packs, battery life hasn't been an issue. 


The 4.7-inch screen is more than sharp and clear enough at the price, although naturally not as sharp as the Full HD or better screens on top-end Androids. 


The screen does dim slightly when viewed on an angle, most users will be looking directly at the screen as they go about their digital lives, with the slight dimming unlikely to cause issues when you've got a group of friends huddled around you sharing whatever experience it is you want them all to see. 


4.7-inches is also the same size one of the new iPhone 6 models is expected to arrive in, with its bigger brother, the HTC Desire 816, clocking it at 5.5-inches - the other size we've all heard the larger version of the iPhone 6 will feature. 


This gives HTC two similarly sized models at mid-range prices to compete with Apple's premium-priced iphones as hard as possible. 


At 143.5 grams, the Desire 610 is 31.5 grams heavier than the 112g iPhone 5S, but especially when the iPhone 5S is in a case, the weight difference just isn't very noticeable in the hand. 


Neither is the 2mm difference in depth between the 9.6mm Desire 610 and the 7.6mm 5S, with the 610's curved edges and larger screen size camouflaging the extra thickness. 



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A small, tethered plastic flap covers the Nano SIM and microSD card slots.


HTC's Sense UI looks fresh and clean, like that on the LG G3, as opposed to Samsung's TouchWiz UI icons that need a visual refresh. The BlinkFeed UI brings you news, social media updates, weather and more and is a simple way to look at one screen and get updated with the news and information that's important to you. 


Test phone calls we made sounded nice and clear, meaning the 610 also delivers a good telephony experience, while 4G downloads on the Telstra network were screaming fast at more than 15Mbps for downloads and similar speeds for uploads. 


Both the front and back of the phone are fingerprint magnets, but while a quick wipe of either side of the with my shirt cleared the prints away, restoring the shiny surfaces. 


The 8 megapixel camera seems to take decent enough photos, although without the headline high megapixel ratings of more expensive models, it's a mid-range smartphone camera experience. There's also none of the fancy two-tone flash modules seen in the HTC One M8 or the iPhone 5S, just the single, standard LED flash. 


Sound is good, too - there's definitely a benefit to having the speakers on the front face of your phone - the sound is pointing towards you and your ears, not away from you. It's something more smartphone makers should emulate, but until then, it's an HTC exclusive.  


All-up, the HTC Desire 610 is a surprisingly good smartphone for the $312 outright price, delivering all the benefits and apps of the Android experience that low-cost Windows Phone 8.1 handsets still cannot match. 


Anyone looking for a good mid-range yet quality brand-name phone that outdoes the lower cost Aldi and Kogan models will be pleased to see the HTC Desire brand is back with new models, and if you want an even bigger smartphone for not much more money, the 5.5-inch Desire 816 is another worthy mid-range option. 


More information from HTC here.


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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Affordable, great value, big screen, light weight, Android Kitkat 4.4.2, great performance, MicroSD card slot expansion up to 128GB.

Cons:

No removable battery or backplate, looks premium but doesn’t feel as premium in the hand as more expensive models such as the Samsung S5 or the LG G3, which is why you are only paying $312.


The camera could be better but acceptable at the price, no way of knowing if it will get the future Android L 4.5/5.0 update.