HTC seems to be covering all of its bases when it comes to releasing new smartphones, and the Desire 610 is definitely meant to cover the middle ground. At £240 SIM-free it was never going to be able to compete with the likes of the HTC One M8, but that’s clearly not what HTC was going for when it designed it. The mid-range smartphone market has an awful lot of competition, especially with the growing trend of budget devices, but with a Snapdragon 400 processor, HTC Sense 6, and Android KitKat, you;d expect it to be similar to the HTC One Mini right?
It’s fairly large for a budget handset, with the 4.7-inch screen only slightly smaller than the One M8’s 5-inch screen. What was a surprise, considering how big the phone is, was how light it actually felt. That’s obviously down to the plastic casing, but having the 610 weigh in at 144g was a pleasant surprise.
As with the M8 and the Mini 2 the 610 comes with front facing BoomSound speakers, which is always a plus since it means you can listen to something without leaving the screen face down. Why more manufacturers don’t do this I’ll never know. It also comes with 4G and NFC, which should be a given seeing as how most of the competition has both features.
Like the M8 and the Mini 2, the 610 comes with Android 4.4 (KitKat) bundled with HTC Sense 6 and all the features the two provide. Worthy of a mention is the Extreme Power Saving mode which will turn your phone into a dumbphone in order to conserve battery when you really need it. Like the Mini 2 it also comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, and it works absolutely perfectly. There’s no noticeable lag when using the phone and it’s one of the things HTC really did right.
The camera is OK. At 8MP with LED flash it’s nothing special, but it really isn’t anything to brag about either. What is good is that the camera can record 1080p video, but it’s a little ironic since the phone can’t play them in the same resolution (more on that later)
The 2,040 mAH battery might seem like a step down from the Mini 2’s 2,100 mAH, but it’s actually about right for the 610. Streaming a two hour film vis Wi-Fi with the brightness on maximum only depleted the battery to 61%. Similar to the M8’s 66%, and the Mini 2’s 65%
What’s not so great
Honestly, the 610 feels like a toy. It’s thick, chunky, plasticy, and collects finger smudges as soon as you start using it. It feels like the kind of thing you’d give to a child to make them think they have their own smartphone. It also doesn’t have any of HTC’s usual metal options, this time only coming in red, white, or blue. These choices aren’t bad per se, but it would be nice to have more options.
If you’ve experienced the BoomSound on the M8 and the Mini 2, it’s going to be a disappointment if you use it on the 610. It doesn’t go anywhere near as loud as the other two, and even then the sound is weak and tinny. Not to mention the fact that is vibrates through the phone as it’s playing. VoomSound might be a legitimate reason for some people to buy a phone, but here it’s a major disappointment and doesn’t live up to expectations.
The 610 also only comes with 8GB of internal storage. While it could be a lot worse, 8GB really isn’t enough for most people. Fortunately the 610 does allow microSD expansion up to 128GB, but it’s annoying that you have to fork out some more cash to be able to really make the most of your phone.
The display is the real clincher here, and it’s difficult to try and begin to explain what’s wrong with it. The main thing is that 610 only has a qHD display. That’s not a Quad HD display, that’s a quarter HD (960×540) — the same display that was included with 2011’s HTC sensation. That’s really quite poor, and considering cheaper handsets managed to include full HD displays it makes you wonder what HTC was taking when it decided this was a good idea. The poor resolution also comes paired with a screen that seriously oversaturates the colours an a brightness level that’s remarkably sub-par. Th worst part? The 610 doesn’t even come with Gorilla Glass, which is basically a standard feature in the smartphone world.
Considering you can get better phones made by other manufacturers for less money, or you can get spend an extra £60 and get yourself one of Google’s far superior Nexus 5 handsets, there isn’t much going for the Desire 610. Unlike the Mini 2, it doesn’t really have the problem of being compared to other HTC handsets simply because it’s nowhere near the same standard. You’d be better off comparing it to 2011’s HTC Sensation.
The 610 has some nice features, but much of the phone’s features are seriously outdated. They might have gone down quietly in 2011, but this is 2014 and there’s really no excuse for things like a qHD display that isn’t made of Gorilla Glass. If you’re an HTC fanboy/girl then you might go out and buy this anyway, but honestly you can do much better for a similar price.
By Tom Pritchard | July 23rd, 2014