HTC Desire C review (video)

Daniel Bader

July 18, 2012 10:33pm

The HTC Desire C is small, inexpensive and surprisingly usable for being both those things. Equipped with a meagre 600Mhz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage (with expandable microSD slot), 5MP camera without flash, and a 3.5-inch 480×320 pixel screen, it’s about as entry-level as you can get these days.

But as a phone sold on Virgin, SaskTel, and soon Rogers and Fido for between $99 and $149 outright, you can’t get much more value for your money. Costing the same off-contract as some phones do on a 3-year term, the Desire C runs Android 4.0.3 pretty darn well all things considered — you’d be hard-pressed to tell where HTC skimped compared to the more-expensive One V, for example.

Aside from the obvious tiny form factor, the Desire C, which is a spiritual successor not to the original Desire but to the Wildfire S, has a removable battery cover with a 1230mAh cell. Battery life has been really good, lasting well over a day from casual usage.

The 600Mhz processor can’t perform many of the tricks of today’s mid- to high-range devices, but it loads web pages, plays the odd game and generally outperforms competitors in the same price range. This is mainly due to HTC’s efficacious optimization of Android 4.0.3, a feat that other manufacturers haven’t quite matched. While I noticed a fair amount of creakiness for a few seconds after the device booted, once assets were loaded into memory the phone generally flew.

The phone, all things considered, is quite attractive, with a black-on-red detailing that opens up to reveal a completely red interior. The device feels robust despite the plasticky battery door, and due to the small dimensions I rarely worried about dropping it.

The 5MP camera comes without a flash and generally takes lousy-to-good photos depending on the lighting. This is one area in which HTC took a few liberties, which is understable, but you shouldn’t buy the Desire C thinking you’re going to emulate the quality of the One Series devices. HTC preserved the excellent camera interface, and shots snapped in no time at all.

Even video, which maxes out at 640×480 VGA, was not too bad and will do for the average Facebook or YouTube post. Keep in mind that out of the box there is only 100MB of media storage, so you’re going to want to invest in a 8-16GB microSD card to augment that extra storage.

The Virgin model I reviewed comes with a few add-on apps, most of which hew closely to Bell’s content-heavy selection. You have Mobile TV, GPS Navigator and a few game demos that can thankfully be disabled in the settings.

And because the Desire C runs Android 4.0, you’re able to run Chrome, which improves the browsing experience immensely on the device. Like the One V, HTC opted for a hardware-based menu button activation, which is done by holding down the multitasking button for a second. I wish this was an option on the One S and One X — that virtual menu button drives me nuts — but the company did right by its customers this way.

The HTC Desire C is a great deal for its price. It’s appropriate for first-time smartphone buyers, students on a budget, or anyone looking for a pint-sized smartphone without a contract. While I would recommend going for the $0 One V if you’re going to be signing a 3-year deal, for Virgin, Fido or SaskTel customers who want to stay away from signing on the dotted line, do yourself a favour and consider the Desire C.

The HTC Desire C will also be available in red and white.

  • Tom

    Not sure if it really suites the name ‘desire’, but it looks good and seems like a good deal.

    I’ve used the LG Optimus One which filled a very similar role last year and sold very well. I liked the Optimus – very sold phone and good value.

  • Sean

    for $100 this is simply a great deal no matter how you put it. though when you put it at $200 like fido that makes it more expensive then a One V which is much much better

  • TouchMyBox

    Seems like a perfect phone to buy for your parents.

  • ELNY

    I could see parents buying their teenage girls this phone, it’s overloaded with “cuteness”

  • Amanda

    Yes HTC! You actually made a new device with removable battery and sd slot not that uni body garbage.

  • Theywillbepissed

    Daniel Bader,

    Not trying to be a tool, but I think in that second last line you meant “do yourself a favour”. Just trying to help. Good review by the way.

  • Matt

    That red they are hiding under the cover? Id love that as the actual colour. What are they going to be doing with the Wildfire now? Blow it out for super cheap?

    • Nep

      On HTC’s website they show a red model, so hopefully they’ll sell it in red in Canada!

  • EvanKr

    It reminds me quite a bit of my HP Veer, it’s extremely tiny, costed me next to nothing off contract and gathers quite a bit of attention from its “cuteness overload” every time I pull it out.

    • EvanKr

      *cost* 😳

  • Cell Hell

    How is call quality? I’m asking because sometimes it’s nice to use a phone as a phone.

  • Siddhardha S

    too cute.. easy to carry phone

  • Truth about Tab!

    Interesting how this is considered ‘tiny’ and ‘small’ and iPhone was perceived by ifans revolutionary with same screen size!!

  • Ian

    What I’d like to know is how HTC can get ICS to run on this phone with a 600 MHz processore and not on the 1 GHz processor in the Desire HD.

  • bob

    damn either that guy has huge hands or the phone is really small

  • dave

    ” Equipped with a meagre 600Mhz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage (with expandable microSD slot), 5MP camera without flash, and a 3.5-inch 480×320 pixel screen, it’s about as entry-level as you can get these days.”

    For a minute there, I thought they were subscribing the iPhone.

  • Prasoon

    I am planing to buy this phone this week ,So shall I buy this one because of ICS,HTC sense4.0 UI And other cool feathers of this phone or shall i ignore this one becoz of low processor of only 600 mhz…….i have read in many reviews that it not so fast on multitasking on this buddy……..So i am very confused… please give your opinion about this please…

  • Dylan K

    Holy crap that’s cute. And cheap. And running ICS.

    Going to get one for my girlfriend.

  • Dam

    whats sad and stupid is this actually has a micro SD expansion slot and removeable battery where as the ONe seris doesn’t !!!

  • Dam

    what bothers me more off and than on the HTC Desire has simlar specs and ram. Yet HTC said it couldn’t give than phone full Gingerbread -and a manual stripped version was made available !! This thing is running ICS for christs sakes Cyromod got gingerbread on there and ICS ..I just didn’t feel like ruining my warrenty by modding it !! Another reason HTC and thier lies can eat a dick !!