HTC revived its budget smartphone lineup this year with two new additions to the long-running Desire series - the Desire 12 and Desire 12 Plus. The Desire series is renowned for bringing top-end features in a wallet-friendly but unremarkable package.
The tech-packed HTC Desire Pro 10 released almost two years ago and helped HTC break the cycle of mediocrity by offering a handset worth getting excited for. The Taiwanese manufacturer looks to achieve the same effect with the Desire 12 and 12 Plus by bringing large screens, premium design and stronger build qualities at a lower cost.
The specifications look fairly modest considering the price, and falls short of current rivals such as the Honor 7x, Nokia 6 and Moto G5S Plus, which offer higher resolution screens, pixel-packed cameras and faster chipsets in the same price range.
There are some brilliant budget phones on the market today with more being released every year like the Moto G6 and the upcoming LG Q7. Will HTC’s budget compromises be enough to reinvigorate the Desire series or will the Desire 12 Plus fall to HTC’s curse of mediocrity?
Price and Availability
- Launch price of AED 899
- Now available at leading retailers
The Desire 12 Plus is priced at AED 899 and is now available online and at retail marketplaces. It will initially come in two colors, Cool Black and Warm Silver, with a signature shiny Royal Gold in the works for a later date.
Pricing is a little awkward as it puts the phone at the higher end of budget phones but just shy of other budget and mid-range rivals that offer more features in the same price bracket.
- Posh design with a reflective mirror finish
- Light and comfortable to hold
- Fingerprint magnet
The HTC Desire 12 Plus strikes a premium look at first glance. It mimics the polished Liquid Surface look from HTC’s U11 flagship but is made of durable acrylic instead of glass and is just as much a fingerprint magnet.
This is a large phone measuring at 158.2 x 76.6 x 8.4mm but it totes a slim profile and a very manageable weight of 157.5 grams. It’s a well built phone that sits snugly in your hand and is quite skinny but it’s not waterproof so you’ll want to be cautious around liquids.
The front houses an earpiece and an 8MP selfie camera sans flash on the top. It is covered in 2.5D glass that softly curves around the matte plastic frame that runs along the phone, while the rear edges curve smoothly into the flat back panel, giving the phone a great and comfy in-hand feel.
On the back, you’ll find an array of dual-cameras tucked away at the top-left edge together with a well-placed fingerprint scanner that works without a hitch and unlocks the phone quickly, even with partial finger placements.
The bottom is home to a microUSB port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a neat-looking grille for the mono-speaker, while the volume rocker and textured power button are positioned on the right side opposite the hybrid dual-SIM tray.
Overall, the Desire 12 Plus feels rather premium given its price, and is pleasant to hold thanks to an optimum 18:9 aspect ratio and a thin profile.
- Generous 6-inch HD+ display
- Crisp but not very bright
The Desire 12 Plus packs in a sizeable 6-inch IPS LCD screen with an HD+ resolution of 720 x 1440, resulting in an acceptable pixel density of ~281ppi. Images on the Desire 12+ are sharp and have an impressive level of clarity despite the modest resolution. It doesn’t pack the punch of an OLED screen, but it does a fine job of producing natural looking colors and detailed images.
The 18:9 aspect ratio is great for viewing content whether it’s websites, ebooks, games, apps and videos. It also keeps the bezels small so that you get more screen for your buck.
Colors are a touch on the warmer side straight out of the box, but that can be fixed by using the color temperature option in the Display settings. If you want to fine tune and play around with contrast and gamma, you’ll have to rely on a third-party app.
Speaking of contrasts, the HTC Desire 12 Plus definitely has one of the better IPS panels offering deeper blacks than most phones, and great viewing angles for when you want to watch a video with other people. There’s also a Night Light mode that reduces blue light on the screen to protect your eyes and help you fall asleep easier.
One area where it falls short is brightness levels. Where most IPS displays are remarkably visible under direct sunlight, the Desire 12 Plus is just okay, often requiring you to squint your eyes to get a better glimpse of the screen.