A cheap Android 4.0 smartphone but too many features have been cut to keep the price low
HTC seems to be launching new smartphones every other week at the moment and the Desire C is its cheapest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich model so far.
Available without contract for £166, it's a chubby little phone that bears a strong resemblance to the recently reviewed Vodafone Smart II, but its specification is marginally better than that bargain-basement device.
This kind of money doesn't buy the same stylish metallic case found on HTC's other new Android 4 smartphones, but the plastic back of the Desire C feels solid, and has a matte finish that should help mask any scuffs and scratches.
The back must be removed to expand the 1GB of onboard storage via the microSD card slot, but the battery needs to be taken out only when swapping the SIM.
Despite being much shorter than the Apple iPhone 4S, the Desire C's 3.5in screen is only 0.2in shorter across its diagonal, but its 320x480 pixel resolution is significantly lower.
The screen is much better than the same-resolution display on the Vodafone Smart II, particularly in daylight, but it still suffers from the same problems that come from having so few pixels. Namely, fuzzy-looking text and limited widget space on Android's Home screens.
That said, the web browser supplied with Android 4. does a much better job at displaying zoomed-in text than the one in Android 2.3 on the Smart II.
At 600MHz, the Desire C's single-core processor runs a little more slowly than the 832MHz chip in the Smart II, but there's little difference in most everyday situations.
Apps and games run smoothly enough, although Android can get a little unresponsive when there's more than one thing going on at once – like downloading an app in the background, for example.
The Sense interface HTC installs on top of Android doesn't affect overall performance, though, since it's been streamlined to take some load off the processor.
The lack of a flash and focus control limits the usefulness of the five-megapixel camera. The camera even struggles in broad daylight, producing photos with lots of image noise and a soft focus.
Good battery life
Battery life is the saving grace though, with the Desire C lasting for just under nine hours in our video playback test with flight mode enabled.
It may be the cheapest Android 4 smartphone we've seen so far, but that's the only thing going for the HTC Desire C. Its NFC (near-field communication) and Bluetooth 4 features will be of little use to most people.
Our review of the Huawei Ascend G300 found that product offered much better value at £100 on Vodafone pay as you go (PAYG) and, despite having the older Android 2.3 operating system instead of 4.0, has a better all-round specification too.
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It may be the cheapest Android 4.0 smartphone available, but the HTC Desire C isn't very good value. The Huawei Ascend G300 is cheaper and better specified, albeit with an older version of Android (2.3).
Well-made; Good battery life
Single-core processor; Low resolution screen; Poor camera
££166 without contract
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