HTC Desire C Review

By on August 13, 2012
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A budget ICS handset that takes getting used to.

Good: Simple and elegant design, good build quality, comes with Ice Cream Sandwich.
Bad: Slow processor makes for a cumbersome user experience, and weak camera with fixed autofocus.
Price: AED 849
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Smartphones are a commodity everyone needs now; just having a feature phone isn’t enough. And new technologies being implemented in high-end headsets, which then filters down to lower-end models, it only makes sense to stay connected all the time. Plus the data packages are fairly reasonable nowadays, so wireless access to emails and social networking is pretty much essential for everybody.

So today I’ll be looking at the new HTC Desire C, their latest entry into the budget smartphone segment.

Build Quality & Design

The Desire C’s diminutive size, measuring only 10 x 6cm, and the slightly curved rubberized back gives it a very, for lack of a better word, ‘cute’ look.

On the front the entire body is dominated by the 3.5-inch screen and the touch buttons at the bottom. There’s a speaker grill on the top, and you can just about see the power button on top of that, but otherwise the Desire C has a very simple design.

On the right side you have a volume control button, and on the left the charging port. The top, apart from the power button, has a 3.5mm jack while the bottom has a very small pinhole for the mic.

On the back you have a small protrusion for the rear camera, and the HTC logo. Open up the back cover and you’ll see the semi-transparent red colored inlay of the main body which looks rather elegant. And that can be said about the overall design as well as build quality of the Desire C. It’s pleasant on the eyes, and feels just right.


The HTC Desire C is a budget smartphone, and as such its specs are on the low-end.

It’s interesting to note that such a weak processor is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and as such I didn’t expect it to perform fast. More than meeting my expectations, the HTC Desire C was indeed fairly slow to use.

Benchmarks & Performance

For daily usage the Desire C is barely enough to get through. Almost every time you use the Desire C, whether it’s for switching applications or typing messages on Whatsapp, you’ll often feel a severe lag between your touch and the phone actually recognizing and then implementing the command. Even something as simple as Temple Run is hard to play because it continuously skips frames, resulting in sudden deaths.

Of course, if you want to see some direct numbers, then the below comparison with the HTC One V, which costs just AED 150 more than the Desire C, should give you an idea of the performance.

Yup, those abysmally low scores are true. Ironically the benchmarks figures of 2 year old handsets like the HTC Desire Z and Google Nexus One are similar, except that they are still much faster than the Desire C because they’re not being burdened with the latest Android OS, and can run the old Gingerbread OS quite happily.

Screen & UI

With a pixel density of 165ppi, the Desire C is not easy on the eyes but keep roughly 20cm or more away (which is how you’d hold any phone) and it’s not bad at all. The HTC Sense 4.0 UI coupled with Android Ice Cream Sandwich gives it a very nice feel.

Once you start using it, of course, things start to fall apart at the seams as you notice minor slowdowns when switching between apps. Once you have a couple of apps installed and are heavily multitasking, the HTC Desire C’s slow processor just ruins the otherwise decent experience of the smartphone.

The ‘back’ button is exceptional, in that it will literally trace back every step of your activity, even switching between apps. The usefulness of this feature, however, disintegrates due to the painfully slow performance.


The 5mp camera on the Desire C is no more impressive than that on the One V, except that the slower processor limits the video recording to a maximum of just 640 x 480. Also there’s no manual focusing (by touching the screen) which means you have to rely on the built-in autofocus system. Pictures in bright daylight are average at best, degrading in quality severely as the light conditions deteriorate. Most indoor pictures, even during the day, will be grainy. Don’t think about Skype conversations because there is no front facing camera either.


On first sight the HTC Desire C looks like a very promising phone, with a smart design and good build. Start it up and you’ll be happy with the visuals, although the low resolution screen will put a damper on things. Soon you’ll realize after using the Desire C for a while that it’s just a weak phone with a pretty face. If you want an entry-level Android smartphone, just pony up an extra AED 150 and get the much more capable HTC One V.


From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

  • llama

    I agree, the camera sucks and it’s really laggy. I wish I had researched it before I bought it :/

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