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?

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Now to the bit that you've all been waiting for, our final verdict on how the HTC Desire 500 performed throughout our tests.

The fact is, there is an awful lot resting on HTC's lower powered handsets, as the HTC One didn't propel the Taiwanese firm into the stratosphere in the same way the Galaxy S brand has done for Samsung, despite the fact that nigh on everyone raved about it.

A combination of tweens buying smartphones, a poorer global economy and growing infrastructure in developing countries mean that budget handsets are getting more and more important, which is where the HTC Desire 500 comes in.

We liked

Sense UI, now version 5, is one of the big features that HTC is shouting about on the HTC Desire 500. It is easy to see why. We've often resorted to third party launchers, just look at how bad the Emotion UI is on the Huawei Ascend P6. We didn't need to, though, and flicking through the visual news feed was fun and informative.

Having a quad-core underneath will also be somewhat of a talking point, given that other phones of a similar price point, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and Sony Xperia M both ship with only dual-core 1GHz processors. Unlike on the ZTE Blade V, this was well integrated making the phone feel nippy throughout.

We were also glad to see Beats Audio, even if you couldn't pump it out through the rear speaker. This gave all the tunes a little added extra, making the Desire 500 feel more like the iPod's of old. Although you couldn't put Beats through the rear speaker, it was still loud and clear.

We disliked

Let's start with the big one, shall we, the internal storage. There are so many words we could use to describe it, but we're going to stick with dire. How a phone can launch today with less than 1GB of internal storage free is beyond us, given the rise of HD movies and apps. Yes, you can put a microSD card in, but this doesn't solve the problem.

We were also disappointed that the screen didn't sit flush against the chassis. It might seem like a minor niggle, but it made the Desire 500 feel cheaper than it could have. There was also a slight scratchy feel when running your finger between the screen and the chassis, and when pressing it tight against your ear.

We also thought that the screen was a little low resolution. We know that HD screens are currently only really the preserve of flagship devices, but we would have liked to have seen more pixels inside, upping the resolution to qHD (960x540). We would have been willing to pay a little more for it as well.


The HTC Desire 500 is a phone that we really want to be able to love, with the blue and red versions that we encountered contrast nicely against the white chassis. Put on the wall of a mobile phone shop, it is a handset that will certainly garner a second look.

It is worth that second 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. We really do mean any apps, as there is just so little storage on offer.

Phones such as the impressive Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini are a better bet, as the increased storage space means you can install a range of apps, and microSD is also supported. That said, the Sony Xperia M also comes with small storage so maybe we're being unreasonable.

First reviewed: November 2013