In the last year or so, the lower-end and mid-range sectors of the market have become more important than ever for HTC. With competition at the top often proving too hot, it seems lower down the ladder is where there’s money to be made for HTC. Earlier this year, the company announced the 5.5-inch Desire 816 to much fanfare during Mobile World Congress. Since then though, a whole boatload of digits have followed the somewhat saturated Desire moniker, so what of this Desire 610? Is it more of what the Desire 816 has to offer, or more bargain-bucket than bang for your buck? Let’s take a look, shall we.
Design and Hardware
To say that the Desire 610 is an ugly device would be harsh, and untrue as surprisingly, HTC have put together a fairly good-looking device here. Sure, it’s not much to look at, with nothing more than those BoomSound speakers and an HTC logo peering out the front and practically nothing but another HTC logo and the camera around the back. It seems HTC has taken the less-is-more approach here, and we thank them for it.
The matte speakers on the front and the matte, grippy sides of the device are only teasers unfortunately, as the rear of the Desire 610 is easily one of the worst examples of glossy plastic I’ve seen in a long time. It’s nice to see the Desire 610 keeping an understated design, but the rear panel (which is non-removable) of the 610 is a grease magnet. Use it for five minutes and your device will be covered in fingerprints which is disappointing when the sides of the device are nice and grippy, it sort of feels that HTC gave up around the back. This isn’t much of an issue at all if we’re honest, especially if you’re going to use a case, but it’s still pretty cheap of HTC.
Other than that though, the Desire 610 is a fairly understated, yet good-looking device. It is however, a shame that the 4.7-inch display is lost in a sea of black bezel, with the overall size of the 610 dwarfing most other devices with larger displays. While there’s not much to say about the Desire 610 on looks, there isn’t much to complain about either.
Moving onto something of a high point for the Desire 610, and the display here is fairly decent for a budget-device. At 4.7-inches, the qHD resolution (that’s 960 x 540) is far from the best, that’s obvious, but it’s not unpleasant to look at. Viewing angles are pretty damn good and colors are realistic, if not just a little muted. It could be a little brighter, but it’s not too difficult to see in direct sunlight and there’s very little to complain about here, aside from the low-resolution of course, but what can we expect at this sort of price?
We’ve got to give it to HTC here, it’s not easy to get the display right in a budget-device, especially one with as much going as the 610, but they’ve managed it. It’s not the sharpest, but it has decent color-reproduction and will happily display YouTube, games and photos to a high standard.
Thanks to the quad-core Snapdragon 400 clocked at 1.2 Ghz, backed up with 1GB of RAM, the Desire 610 is a speedy little guy. While certainly nothing stellar, HTC’s latest budget offering will deal with everyday tasks and web browsing really quite nicely. In my testing, I found no issue getting around the Sense 5 coated KitKat running on the 610, and only rarely found myself ‘waiting’ when loading heavy websites or trying out a sophisticated game of some sorts.
We’re glad that HTC went with a standard CPU like the Snapdragon 400, which might be an aging chip at this point, but it continues to deliver a great comprise between cost and performance. If you’re looking for an all-out gaming device, this isn’t the ‘droid you’re looking for, but for everyday performance like browsing the web, app use and you know, phone stuff the Desire 610 won’t disappoint at all.
On to the subjective part of the review; battery life. How one person uses their phone is going to be different to another, but the Desire 610 certainly holds its own. There’s a 2,040 mAh lithum polymer battery packed inside of the 610 and in most cases I found that it could handle a day or more in general use. Now bare in mind that ‘general use’ means many different things to many different people, but for a little browsing here and there, some fairly heavy texting and some light gaming here and there, the Desire 610 is an admirable performer.
It’s not going to stand a constant day’s worth of gaming or voice calls, but it’ll last the vast majority of users a day or more and that’s really all that we can expect from a device like this, and HTC have done a good job here. To make thing’s even better, HTC’s Extreme Power Saving Mode is here as well, which allows you to eke out even more if you just need a telephone. Everyday use is what the Desire 610 was built for, use it as such and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
If you’ve used an HTC device in the last sort of 12 months or so, then you’ll know what to expect on the software front. Thankfully, the 610 is running Android 4.4.2 KitKat and is endowed with HTC’s Sense 6, which is the same software skin used on the new HTC One (M8). While feature-parity isn’t 100%, Sense 6 looks good on the 610 and offers such HTC hallmarks as BlinkFeed and a similar camera experience to that found on other One devices.
What we’re looking at here is a cutdown version of Sense 6 designed for the Desire 610 and it’s fairly pleasant to use. If you haven’t used it before, it’s thankfully not too difficult to deal with and there are even some gestures that make it across from the M8.
Themes are included here and everything is nice and easy to use, BlinkFeed is just as configurable as it is on other HTC devices and having everything centralized into one view is certainly nice to have. Again, it’s hard to find much to complain about here when it comes to software, it’s running the latest version of Android and Sense 6 is easily one of the most straightforward skins to use these days.
Around the back of the Desire 610, there’s an 8-megapixel shooter with an LED flash. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s another admirable performance from HTC here. It shoots in widescreen and in my experience, colors were a little overblown and some details do get lost, but for a budget option like this? There’s not much at all to complain about.
The camera software is a joy to use, just as it is on other HTC devices, with a very fast shooting experience and some simple to use extra features that make sense for users. In low-light, things are understandably pretty poor, but in daylight shots come out well and are quite bright, often too bring. In very bright conditions, the 610 can often loose details and wash colors out, but it’s nice to know that the Desire 610 is ‘good enough’ and unless you absolutely need a great camera on your smartphone, this won’t disappoint at all.
- BoomSound Speakers are an excellent feature here, and while they’re not as full-bodied as we’d like, they make the 610 louder than most other smartphones at this price.
- 4.7-inch display has good viewing angles and performs reasonably well in sunlight.
- Sense 6 and Android 4.4.2 deliver a decent experience at this price.
- Camera is good in the right conditions.
- Backpanel is horribly glossy and feels very cheap.
- 4.7-inch display is lost in big bezels and the overall size of the device suffers as a result.
- It’d be nice to see a 720p display over a qHD one.
The Final Word
It’s not sexy for HTC to be in the low-end business, but it is important and as more and more consumers balk at inflating monthly bills, going for a less expensive device is often a good solution. HTC’s naming scheme is getting a little tired now, there are more Ones in the One family than we can count and the Desire is seemingly named with a random number generator, but the 610 is a nice middleground. It’s wholly unremarkable and won’t turn any heads, but if there’s less to talk about that’s often a good thing and throughout my usage, I found myself just sort of accepting it for what it is. It’s a budget-minded device that performs admirably with a decent display, a fairly good camera and some extra features like BoomSound. Overall, the Desire 610 is a good deal and while it’d be nice to see an HD display on here, the 610 is one of the more appealing budget options available today.