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HTC Desire 500 review

With a quad-core processor for this price, something's gotta give, right?

HTC Desire 500 review
Can HTC make it at the budget end?

Our Verdict

Worth a look if you're after a phone that you can fill with music and use to take the odd snap, but it falters heavily if you plan to watch a lot of movies or install any apps on the very limited storage. The Galaxy S3 Mini is better.


  • MicroSD support
  • BlinkFeed
  • Decent camera
  • Quad-core


  • Poor internal storage
  • Low res screen
  • Screen doesn't sit flush
  • No 4G

HTC offers a mean flagship, in the form of the HTC One. But the firm knows that a lot of the mobile market now lies in the budget sector, and this is where the HTC Desire 500 is pitched. It might not have the super low price of the ZTE Blade V, but even so, the price is hardly going to make your eyes water.

This puts the Desire 500 in direct competition with the Sony Xperia M and the Nokia Lumia 625, and just a little more costly than the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. It's also worth considering the cheaper Moto G here, which sports a deceptively low price for its feature set.

So has HTC equipped the Desire 500 with the necessary weapons to beat an increasingly difficult market?

HTC Desire 500 Review

It packs Qualcomm's Snapdragon 200 processor, backed up with 1GB RAM. This means that the Desire 500 might not pack the biggest punch, but the 1.2GHz quad-core chip is hardly a slouch.

While the Desire 500 does boast a 4.3-inch screen, it's unfortunately only 480 x 800, meaning a rather low 217ppi.

HTC Desire 500 review

This is all packed into a 131.8 x 66.9 x 9.9mm plastic chassis, leading to a low 123g weight, and a rather inconspicuous footprint in your pocket. The HTC Desire 500 is ideal then, if you like wearing skinny jeans.

HTC also has also provided the Desire 500 with Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (so no dual band surfing), as well as NFC, GPS and 3G. Unfortunately, there is no 4G.

HTC Desire 500 review

Design wise, the HTC Desire 500 is very visually reminiscent of the HTC One S. So much so, in fact, that we found it a little difficult to tell them apart.

The plastic casing wraps around the screen, causing us some difficulty when it came to removing it.

HTC Desire 500 Review

We passed it around to a few friends, and eventually they all realized that just pulling gently below the screen would ease it off.

A massive hint for this was that the screen doesn't sit flush within the casing. This is a minor niggle, but made the Desire 500 feel a lot less premium than it could have done.

HTC Desire 500 Review

Sat behind the screen is an 1800mAh battery, which is removable. We're getting ever-more skeptical about the need for a removable battery, but it is a nice touch for intense users.

The microSD slot (supporting up to 64GB) and microSIM port are also hidden in behind the wrap around case.

HTC Desire 500 Review

The Desire 500 is by no means an unattractive device. Our review model was white and red, but we did also get a chance to play with a white-and-blue one (which we preferred), and there is an all-black version.

We can't work out why HTC hasn't done a black and red version, as it's a color scheme we were big fans of on the HTC Sensation XE.

HTC Desire 500 Review

The red wraps around the edge of the Desire 500, as well as providing highlights to the camera and the HTC branding on the back.

Speaking of cameras, the Desire 500 doesn't come packing the same UltraPixel technology that we have seen adorning the entire One range. Instead, the HTC Desire 500 comes with an 8MP sensor, as well as a 1.6MP snapper on the front. Thankfully, there is an LED flash on the rear as well.

HTC Desire 500 review

In the way of buttons, the Desire 500 comes with two soft keys, sat just below the screen. We felt that this made the handset look a little odd, given the massive gap between the back and home buttons.

Long pressing the home button doubles up as the menu key, but we can't see why HTC wouldn't just put in a dedicated menu button.

HTC Desire 500 review

For physical keys, the power/lock button is placed in the upper left corner of the HTC Desire 500.

The volume keys are sat on the right hand side, integrated into the red band. This is a great design touch, especially as the small break in the band allows you to easily differentiate between the two buttons, without the need for a rocker.

HTC Desire 500 review

We found that we were able to hit all the buttons easily one handed, a consequence of the smaller 4.3-inch screen.

HTC has also provided the Desire 500 with the obligatory 3.5mm headphone port (in the top right corner), and the microUSB in the centre of the base.

HTC Desire 500 review

Overall we're impressed with the design of the HTC Desire 500. It is light, and the 4.3-inch screen means that it sits very nicely in the hand.

The screen not sitting flat with the casing is disappointing, as is the slight unbalanced feel of only having two buttons, but not enough to stop us taking another look.