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HTC Desire 600 > Review > HTC quality at a value price

I’ve been stuck on Samsung phones now for quite a while, and I’ve been using a Note 2 as my daily driver. But my first Android smartphone was an HTC Desire and, I have to admit, I do miss the HTC heft, hand-feel and overall quality.

So when I got my hands on the HTC Desire 600, it was a bit like welcoming an old friend back — that is, if your friend had a major makeover and got hormone shots to stay with the times.

You can say that the Desire 600 is HTC’s “Upper-C” offering, with the totally awesome HTC One as their top-of-the-line A product, the up-and-coming HTC Butterfly S as their slightly-more-affordable premium driver, and this, the Desire 600, as a more mainstream but still super-esque phone.

And as a super-esque smartphone, the Desire 600 has:

  • Dual SIM slots
  • 4.5″ Super LCD2 540×960 display with 245 pixels per inch
  • Quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A5 processor with Adreno graphics processor and 1GB RAM
  • Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean + Sense UI 5.0
  • 8 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash
  • 1.6 megapixel front camera
  • 8GB of on-board storage + microSD slot
  • Beats Audio

A quick scan of the essential specs above says that this is not a bad smartphone at all, and perhaps the only disappointment is the amount of onboard storage. Dear HTC, with all the selfies and videos that people are bound to take, you’d want to make 16GB your new normal from here on. Just saying. Yes there’s a memory slot, but still. You’d want a phone where you won’t even be bothered to get extra memory.

Especially because it’s kind’a hard to open up the plastic backside. I have tough nails, and still it took a while before I mastered the art of prying the back out.

DSCN2113

And memory will be an issue if you shoot videos on this thing–which you’d want to do once you realize that it’s a pretty serious 720p videocam shooting at 30 frames per second, with slo-mo ability. Note, however, that “slo-mo” simply goes to half-speed and that’s it. Don’t get all excited about doing bullet-time shots now.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back to…

Mouth feel -er- hand feel

HTC seems to have made a name for itself for the excellent hand-feel of its products, particularly for their gorgeous heft and texture. The Desire 600 does not stray from this design choice. It feels terrific in the hand, down to its signature rubberized feel for the backside.

Heft? Yes, and yet it’s a really light phone, weighing in at just 130 grams. With its squared corners and light weight, it is nearly reminiscent of the old Samsung Galaxy S2. Its light weight can be traced to its plastic-laden construction, unlike the metal-clad HTC One. And yet, HTC somehow manages to make plastic classy. Heck, why is it that when Samsung makes plastic phones, people groan… but when HTC goes plastic people are perfectly fine with it. That’s how good their design points are.

If you’re a purist, you won’t want to put a screen protector on the gorgeous touchscreen — it feels good on the fingers too. The problem, however, is that this is not Gorilla Glass. We don’t know how much abuse this screen can handle. And yet, having lived with pre-Gorilla HTC devices in the past, I for one know that as long as you don’t use your smartphone as a hammer, it should stand up to regular daily use with no problems. It should be suitably scratch resistant.

20130916-HTC-Desire-600-review-BoomSound-TechnoodlingMultimedia

You can see the HTC One’s DNA rubbing off on the Desire 600 particularly on the speakers: the Desire 600 also sports the front-firing amplified speakers (“HTC BoomSound”) that make a whole lot of sense and which made the HTC One such a multimedia delight. Yes, this phone is also meant to be a media player from the get go. It is indeed loud enough. Perhaps not the loudest, but it’s the quality of the sound that is important here, and the quality of the highs and lows is pretty good.



Couple that with the more than decent display and you’ve got a worthy personal media player with which you’d be tempted to spend nights lying on your back and watching videos with.

Daily duties

20130916-HTC-Desire-600-review-BlinkFeed-TechnoodlingWhile the Cortex-A5 isn’t the fastest processor around, if you’re a casual user you won’t find anything to fault with the Desire 600. Response is snappy, and the HTC BlinkFeed homepage, which gives you an at-a-glance look at what’s happening in the world, is minimalist-gorgeous, with lovely big iconography that’s easy on the eyes.

One problem though. This phone gets warm. And fast. Do something for a bit and you’ll feel the heat building up at the backside, easily penetrating the back cover. There is no noticeable throttling of speed as it gets hotter, so performance doesn’t seem to be affected. But the warmth may be a minor annoyance if you hold your phone for long.

Battery life: tests around the web peg the Desire 600 as a middle-range performer, which means that if you’re a casual user the phone should last you the whole day, while more prolific users would likely need to do a booster charge sometime late in the day.

Camera: It may not be the best camera in the world, but if all you’re gonna do is take selfies or pictures of your pet cat, then this is more than adequate. Colors are vivid, although strong light sources tend to affect the sensor much and tends to wash away images. Then again what do I know, I’m not a photographer. All I’m saying is that if camera quality is one of your priorities for choosing a phone, then the Desire 600 may not be at the top of your list.

All in all…

Again, this is not a top-of-the-line phone. But the HTC Desire 600 is great for what it is. If you’re looking for an excellent Android smartphone at a sub-20K price point, and your priorities hover more towards social media and music or video playback than on photography or games, then this could be a great phone to consider. It has great build quality and terrific media player features.

HTC Desire 600

SRP PhP 18,990

Likes

  • The same terrific HTC build quality, despite predominantly plastic construction
  • Terrific as a front-facing media player, with gorgeous stereo sound and a crisp display
  • Nicely implemented HTC BlinkFeed home page

Dislikes

  • The camera is nothing to write home about. It’s passable but if you prioritize image quality, look elsewhere
  • What, no Gorilla Glass?
  • The heat! This thing gets hot fast. Could be a sign that it could use a bigger engine

 

Art

Art

Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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