Get social with the HTC Desire C

- August 3rd, 2012
HTC Desire C

HTC Desire C

I have to admit, I’m getting quite spoiled by all the high-end smartphones I get to review that can serve as your one-stop shop for communication, playing media and making videos. But not everyone is looking to shell out a couple of  hundred dollars just to have the most cutting edge phone of the week. If you’re looking for a reliable device that won’t leave you penniless and begging for doughnut money on the street corner, then the HTC Desire C may be the phone for you.

Unlike the HTC One Series, the Desire C is an entry-level option that targets those who, primarily, wish to use their phone as a social media device, and communicate and share content through Facebook and Twitter, and surf the Internet for articles and videos.  Granted, most smartphones on the market these days offer these options, but few of the lower-end devices offer as fluid as an experience as the Desire C.

With the dimensions 107.2 mm x 60.6mm x 11.95mm and its curved edges, the Desire C is smaller and rounder than most most HTC devices. In fact, it looks a fair deal like the keyboardless BlackBerry Curve 9380 (109 mm x 60 mm x 11.2 mm). And they both weigh 98 g with the battery. The capacative touchscreens are similar too. The Desire C has a 3.5-inch screen with of a resolution of 320 pixels by 480 pixels while the Curve has a 3.2-inch screen with a resolution of 360 pixels x 480 pixels.

As the BlackBerry is primarily known as an e-mail and texting device, this similarity makes sense. By creating a BlackBerry-shaped phone, HTC provides a social media device users are instinctively comfortable with and makes communication easier. At least, in theory. Admittedly, I had a little bit of a problem typing on the phone’s screen because of its small size. The phone can literally fit in the palm of my mammoth hand. It is clearly designed for the long, slender fingers of a 15-year-old cheerleader and not for my over-sized, slightly-swollen digits. Still, I managed to get used to it after awhile.

Like the One Series, the Desire C runs Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3)  with the HTC Sense 4.0 skin over top. Despite only running at a speed at 600 MHz on a single-core CPU and coming with a paltry 512 MB of RAM, the phone is surprisingly fast. Programs aren’t as as fast as say on the HTC One X or the Samsung Galaxy SIII but there’s very little lag time when accessing software or loading media.  And the smaller screen and underpowered setup also provides good battery life. The 1230 mAh battery provides up to 7 hours of talk time and up to 20 days on standby.

Music playback is impressive. Like other HTC phones, the Desire C uses Beats Audio which provides crisp sound.  Videos look good too, provided the bandwidth is strong. The phone I tested was on Virgin Mobile’s 3g network which was often giving me download speeds of around .49 Mbps and uploads of .38 Mbps – which is slow. The streaming players were sometimes reducing the  video quality to compensate and reduce buffering times. But when the connection was stable, the videos were vibrant. (Even if the screen itself might be a little small for some users  to fully enjoy them.)

You can always download the video clips as there’s plenty of options for storage. The phone comes with 4 GB of internal storage but can take a microSD card of up to 32 GB and you get access to 25 GB  Dropbox account.

When it came to making phone calls, I was pleasantly surprised. I knew that the in-call volume would be good because of Beats Audio, but I was worried that since the phone’s body ended well before my mouth that someone on the other end would have difficulty hearing me. But it turned out to not be an issue at all. My end was clear as well. The mic did pick up a bit of background noise but not enough to be concerned about.

In fact, the only place where the phone falls down a bit is the camera. There is only the one so video calling is out, unless I guess, you have no interest in looking at the person you’re video calling. But the bigger issue is that the camera just isn’t very good. The 5.0 MP camera takes both photos and videos, but unless you have a fair bit of light to work with, the image comes out quite fuzzy. It’s usually fine for sharing candid shots on Facebook or Flickr, but it’s not something you’d want to use to take serious photos.

All in all, the HTC Desire C is a great, little phone – especially for the price. The HTC Desire C is available at Virgin Mobile and Sasktel for free with a three-year plan and a Rogers for a penny. Fido offers it for $30 with a two-year contract. To buy it outright, the costs vary from as low as $99.99 at Sasktel to as high as $200 at Fido.

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11 comments

  1. Greg Gazin | August 3, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Excellent thorough review, Adam! I don’t see Telus or Bell in there. Are they passing on it?

  2. Adam Swimmer | August 4, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Yes, neither Bell nor Telus offer the phone at the moment. But I imagine if it becomes a popular item with the other providers, they may choose to pick it up.

    Virgin and Sasktel were offering the phone a couple of weeks before Rogers and Fido did. But, to be fair, those deals were likely made around the same time and Rogers and Fido just chose a later debut date.

  3. Endre | August 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “Like other HTC phones, the Desire C uses Beats Audio which provides crisp sound.”
    Are you kidding with me?! When I listen with my Shure SE315 at low volume (no need for high volume with isolated plugs), the phone (Desire C) make LOTS of crazy noise/strange sounds. Scratching, whining, buzzing and so on. And when I activate “Beats Enhancement” the noise gets even worse. It’s impossible to enjoy calm music with this setup, so I am not sure what to do now. The noise is also possible to hear in Koss PortaPro, but not as much as in the Shure because PortaPro is not isolated at all.

    And back to the Beats Enhancement: All it does in my speakers and plugs is to remove high frequencies and make the sound dull. No crispy sound there. But the sound is OK without the Enhancement.

  4. Adam Swimmer | August 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Endre. Well, I can’t comment specifically on use of the phone with Shure SE315 or Koss PortaPro as I don’t own either of them. Obviously, the audio software specifically tuned to be used with the Beats headphones – you know, so that you would be forced to buy them. But I didn’t have any hiss with any of the earphones I tried it with.

    That being said, the phone hardware isn’t to the same specs as the HTC One phones, so the sound quality isn’t quite as good. But for an entry-level smartphone, I still think it’s pretty impressive.

  5. Endre | August 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Try to listen to some quiet music at low volume with a pair of easy-driven earphones/-plugs. You can even hear it in the (cheap) included earplugs. Try them with quiet sound on volume 1 or 2 (0 is mute). It is almost impossible to miss if you sit in a quiet room. And it unfortunately becomes 10 times worse with properly isolated earplugs.
    It disappear if you pause the music or mute the volume. But during quiet parts it get really annoing.

    I really didn’t expect anything spectacular from this cheap phone (especially not the “Beats-waka-waka-thingy” that usually is some shitty crystalizer). Boring sound image, weak drivers or hollow sound would have been perfectly fine for me. But when the sound actually gets distorted by digital noise, it becomes so useless that it’s impossible to recommend it as a music player. I would be ashamed if it was me who designed the sound electronics in this thing, as it is sooo easy to avoid (proper decoupling, suppy filtering and a little separation of analog and digital).

    The One-phones unfortunately gets to big for me. That is why I chose Desire C. It would be really sad if I have to compromise the size to get something that plays without distortion.

    (All the music files I have tested with was FLAC or high quality MP3s. So it has to be the hardware.)

  6. Adam Swimmer | August 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Hmm, that’s odd. You might want to complain to your provider to get a replacement as it could be a faulty unit.

  7. Endre | August 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Hi again! I contacted HTC support and they told me that the phone should not be like this, and that I could return it as a DOA. So I returned it as a DOA. The service company accepted it as a DOA and today I recieved a new one. But the new one has precisely the same annoying problem. :(

    I also found some forum threads at a HTC-forum that discussed the same problem with a couple of HTC One models. They usually solve it by getting a new one. So it looks like HTC has problems with some batches of these new phones.

  8. Froggy | September 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I have also noticed this problem, and it is the reason I`m on this site reading the HTC Desire C review.. I would go so far as to say that with any musi genre, the sound is quite bad untill half volume is selected.. :( However I`ve noticed that some high quality (320kbs) mp3`s sounded MUCH worse, than some of the 160kbs and 192kbs conversions i did from the 320kbs files that sounded distorted, had noticeably less crackle and hiss.. It could seem that it does not like HQ files, but a couple of my files that have higher volume and clearer sound than others, sounded good from volume 1, so I dont know.. I will do more testing before returning it as DOA, i might just select different files or convert them if that solves most of the noise issues.. I was notified (yesterday, 18.09.12) that there was a software update available for the phone, so hopefully these issues will be adressed with an update. Finger crossed :)

  9. Froggy | September 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Oh, one more thing: I downloaded both HTC Sync Manager and HTC Sync, and BOTH installers FAILED TO INSTALL, “unable to initialize setup” or something..

  10. Ririshi | December 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Hiya!
    I also own the Desire C and I also have the problem with the sound. When listening music in a quiet place, on a low volume, I hear weird hissing sounds. I’ll see if I can get a replacement or a fix.. It’s very annoying actually ):

  11. Venkat | January 25, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Hi,

    I am using HTC Desire C and my OS is Android 4.0 and i want to upgrade to 4.2 Jelly bean pls guide me how to upgrade if any one aware of this.. :)

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