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HTC Desire 610 review: A budget device that ticks a lot of boxes

Producing compelling devices at the low to mid-range is vital to HTC’s business. Does the Desire 610 deliver?

It feels like every time we talk about a HTC device nowadays we say that it’s vital to the future of the company. This is as much about the gaps in its product lineup as it is the less-than-ideal financial state of the company. While flagship and halo products are the devices that grab all the headlines, it’s the low to mid-range phones that sell by the millions that can really contribute to a company’s bottom line, and for HTC, that means the Desire range.

Here we have the Desire 610 that looks to tick a lot of the boxes for today’s potential customers. It’s reasonably priced (the £225 SIM-free price is not as important as where operators pitch the phone on their contract and prepay plans), it wears the Desire brand that still carries a certain amount of gravitas among consumers, it has a 4.7-inch screen to appeal to those looking for bigger screens and it includes 4G LTE connectivity. Many of these features it shares with the Desire 816, its 5.5-inch big brother, but although the phablet form factor does well in a lot of markets, the 610 is expected to be more popular in the UK.

Choosing a processor for this type of device seems particularly easy nowadays. Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core. Job done. Thankfully, that’s a great choice – it’s a very capable processor, clearly cheap and very power efficient, particularly when idle. Devices such as this one are all about compromising in the right places. The Desire 610 has 1GB RAM and 8GB storage, expandable via micro SD. Connectivity is good even though 5GHz Wi-Fi is omitted, NFC support in particular is a pleasant surprise. The main camera is a reasonably solid eight-megapixel unit and the front-facing camera has 1.3 megapixels rather than the five megapixels we are more used to seeing on HTC devices now (including the Desire 816).

So far so good then, but there is one compromise that might be a step too far and that is the inclusion of a qHD screen. The resolution itself is not uncommon, but the problem is that the screen feels sub-par at 4.7-inch. Text can appear a little fuzzy, particularly when compared to competitor devices such as the Moto G, which has a 720p 4.5-inch screen. In fairness to the Desire 610, the similarly priced LG G2 Mini also has a 4.7-inch qHD screen.

Where the G2 Mini excels and the Desire 610 suffers is in overall dimensions. While the LG has very slim bezels and an impressively compact overall size, the Desire 610 is the polar opposite. Wide bezels at the sides of the screen and a very tall design overall thanks to the BoomSound speakers means the phone feels large in the hand – at 9.6mm it’s not particularly thin either. The smooth back and curved sides do make the phone comfortable to hold and use, though one-handed use is a stretch. Literally. The phone is available in a number of colours, subtle in navy blue or vibrant in white.

The Desire 610 runs HTC’s respected Sense 6 atop Android 4.4.2, with a design language that isn’t too far removed from what we’ll see later this year in Android L. Performance is very good – one benefit of a lower resolution screen is that the processor doesn’t have to work as hard, which has benefits both in overall performance and battery life. The Desire 610 won’t disappoint on either front.

The Desire 610 certainly isn’t a game changer among its peers but at the same time, as with almost all mid-tier devices nowadays, it is a very easy phone to live with.