Back in 2010, HTC was one of the top smartphone makers in the world, accounting for one in every ten smartphones sold.
After years of strong market performance, the Taiwanese phone maker is in a tight spot, facing stiff competition from Apple, Samsung and other handset makers. Last week, it reported worse-than-expected results for Q4FY13. Though the sale of its remaining 25% stake in Beats Electronics for $265 million helped the company avoid its second-consecutive quarterly loss, it appears that despite aggressive cost-cutting measures—buying chips from cheaper vendors, outsourcing production etc—the handset maker’s troubles are far from over. The company’s global share of the smartphone market has declined to 2.2% in the third quarter of 2013, from a peak of 10.3% only two years ago.
Competition woes aside, HTC continues to amaze us with their devices’ stunning looks. In a deft strategy designed for high growth markets such as India, HTC has decided to introduce competitively priced models. Recently, it launched two new snappy and smooth phones—HTC Desire 501 and Desire 601. Both the devices are stylish in looks, have a judicious mix of hardware and software, and offer good web surfing experience. Will they connect with the customer? Let us find out.
HTC Desire 501
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The original HTC Desire, released in 2010 was a hit among people with its attractive looks, sturdy build, a fairly good camera and plethora of apps. HTC has now debuted its mid-range smartphone, the 4.3-inch HTC Desire 501. It is a dual SIM and an affordable Android with a price tag of Rs 18,290. The phone has a reasonable display with its WVGA, super LCD 2 screen. The screen features decent brightness and colour balance, and offer users fairly reasonable viewing angles.
The 501 is powered by a dual-core 1.15 GHz processor, backed by 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage; there’s also a microSD slot for memory expansion. This specification is standard for the price and the minimum that we can expect on an Android handset. On the camera front, we are looking at a familiar 8-megapixel snapper with auto focus.
Externally, the 501 is a good-looking phone with bevelled edges and a slightly raised screen, which together give it a chiselled, defined look. Our test unit was a Blue model, but whichever colour you choose, you’ll have a phone which is both slimmer and more stylish than pretty much any budget handset out there.
In terms of real-world performance, the 501 is fairly good. It is fast, loads web pages quickly and is generally easy to navigate. It is also good at taking photos.
SPECIFICATIONS: HTC DESIRE 501
* Dimensions: 128.5 x 66.9 x 9.8 mm
* Display: 4.3 inch WVGA, super LCD 2
* Processor: Dual-core, 1.15 GHz
* Operating system: Android 4.1 with HTC Sense 4.0+
* SIM type: Dual microSIM
* Memory: 8 GB (internal); 1 GB (RAM
* Camera: 8 MP with auto focus
* Estimated street price: Rs 18,290
HTC Desire 601
Compared to HTC One and One Mini, the Desire 601 sports a much affordable tag of Rs 27,990. Out of the box, it becomes evident that the phone has a stylish design. It comes in three colours—white, black and red. The phone has a plastic body with a removable rear battery. There’s a 4.5 inch qHD display which is much larger than the 501.
Underneath, you’ll find a 1.4 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (decent enough to make the Android run smoothly), 8 GB of internal memory which is just adequate for storing reasonable amount of music, video and photos. Like every Desire phone, this one too runs Android. It features the latest version of HTC Sense, incorporating the Blinkfeed home screen. The speakers are similar to those of the HTC One, which give a decent stereo effect.
The HTC Desire 601 has a 8-megapixel sensor with an LED flash. It has an interesting piece of software, the Zoe mode software that grabs video at the same time as stills to animate your phone camera gallery. It shoots a burst of stills rather than a single one.
In terms of performance, the Desire 601 is a smooth and fast phone with good build quality. In my usage, the phone came across as a fast device with no observable screen lagging. Movies and videos can be played in good quality with its sharp high definition display.
If you haven’t got much money to buy the latest high-end phone in the market, then the Desire 601 is the one to get.
SPECIFICATIONS: HTC DESIRE 601
* Dimensions: 134.5 x 66.7 x 9.88 mm
* Display: 4.5 inch qHD
* Processor: Quad-core, 1.2 GHz
* Operating system: Android with HTC Sense
* SIM card type: Dual microSIM
* Memory: 4 GB (internal); 1 GB (RAM)
* Camera: 5 MP with auto focus
* Estimated street price: Rs 27,990
By Sudhir Chowdhary