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HTC Desire 500 review

 Review: December 2013  

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: If you're looking for a mid-range smartphone that's cheaper and more compact than the flagship HTC One, then the HTC Desire 500 could be a good choice, especially if you want a good camera phone.

Today's best buy: hTC Desire 500 4GB White Red ... from Amazon (£180)


Design & looks

The Desire 500 looks similar to the HTC One, but it's smaller, curvier and lacks the premium materials of the One. It's all plastic, but still solidly built and attractively-designed, and quite light in weight too. It's not what we'd call superslim, but it's definitely pocket-sized.

The screen is a reasonably big 4.3 inches. That's a good size for a mid-range smartphone, and gives you plenty of space for viewing photos, watching videos, or just browsing facebook. The screen has a moderate 480 x 800 pixel resolution - just like almost every other smartphone in this price bracket.

Camera performance

So far, so average, but it's the Desire 500's camera that is supposed to set this phone apart. We're pleased to note that this is an 8 megapixel camera, which is a nice high resolution. We weren't impressed by HTC's experimental low megapixel camera in the HTC One, so it's good to have a camera that takes pictures you can really zoom into.

As well as having plenty of megapixels, this camera performs well in other respects. It uses a BSI sensor for improved low-light performance and has a very large f2.0 aperture to capture as much light as possible from each scene. A smart LED flash automatically adjusts depending on the distance to the subject, and there's autofocus too. In other words, all the necessary ingredients for a great camera are here. Image quality is excellent and there's probably nothing in this price range that can beat it.

The camera also has a dedicated HTC ImageChip, so it's fast to use and can be used for continuous shooting. It can also be used to record HD video and a secondary front camera is available for selfies or video chat.

Android plus BlinkFeed

This is an Android Jelly Bean smartphone and it comes with HTC's excellent BlinkFeed home screen. BlinkFeed replaces the boring old Android home screen with content streamed from sources like facebook, twitter, calendar events and news feeds. It's a nice feature that we like a lot.

Quadcore power

The hardware specs are a match for the camera, with a very fast quadcore processor being the star. It's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor running at 1.2GHz and it delivers more than we deserve for this amount of money. With 1GHz of RAM available, we have absolutely no complaints on the performance front.

We do have an issue when it comes to storage though. With only 4GB of memory built in, and quite a lot of this eaten up by the system, memory is really tight for a smartphone. HTC really should have given us 8GB to store all our stuff. However, the Desire 500 does come with a memory card slot, so we can add up to 64GB of extra capacity with a microSD card.

Audio quality is good, with Beats Audio settings included.


Connectivity is pretty good, with all the essentials here. The Desire 500 isn't a 4G phone, but it has fast 3G with HSPA delivering download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are also included, as well as DLNA, so you can easily share your content with your home network.

Unfortunately NFC is missing, but most people probably still regard NFC as a bonus feature. We can live without it.

Battery life

The Desire 500 comes with a pretty decent 1800mAh battery. It should deliver around 12 hours of use. That's pretty good for a mid-range smartphone. It's certainly not the best, but we've seen worse. Much, much worse. If you're a heavy user, you may complain about the battery life, but ordinary folks should be OK charging every other day.


The mid-range smartphone sector is troublesome for professional reviewers. Every phone that's built to a budget comes with inherent compromises and limitations. There's never a perfect phone.

The HTC Desire 500 isn't a perfect phone, but it's getting close. It may have fairly ordinary looks and an average screen, but it has an excellent camera, a very fast processor and a good sized battery. On the other hand, it only has 4GB of built-in memory and is missing NFC.

As a package, it's a definite 4 star phone - not outstanding, but really quite excellent. You'd be well advised to also consider the Motorola Moto G before deciding, but the Desire 500 is the phone to choose if camera performance really matters.

HTC Desire 500 features include:

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hTC Desire 500 4GB White Red ...
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HTC Desire 500 Vodafone blac ...
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HTC Desire 500 user reviews

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Average rating from 3 reviews:

Reviewed by temilia from romania on 18th Nov 2014
Nice phone, quite fast, good camera...when it functions, because now i can take only selfie pictures....i am trilled you can imagine. Maybe someone can tell me what mind of problem can be .... Thank you

Reviewed by Farley J. Liverpool from Trinidad & Tobago W I on 14th Aug 2014
very slim & nice great pic ijust got to know it better & it's true functions

Reviewed by Adrian from UK on 28th Feb 2014
Bought this for our youngest son, 14yrs old, and it's a cracking phone. It's fast, screen is bright and has good colours in depth, and for a mid-range phone the camera is excellent. Pictures are clear and vibrant to the eye. Ok, by todays standards maybe the screen size is relatively small at 4.3 inches, but it still packs a punch. Overall it's a cracking phone, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. In some places it can hold it's own against premium handsets. Excellent

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