The HTC Desire 610 is an affordable device that delivers a solid level of performance for its price bracket. It’s by no an industry-rocking phone. Rather, it manages what so few phones at the lower end of the market can: a pleasingly forgettable experience.
That’s no insult; an affordable phone that can operate with a minimum of fuss is something to be appreciated.
The shape and contours of the Desire 610 are familiar indeed. It’s taken almost directly from the HTC One and One (M8) designs, but instead of brushed metal we’re given a glossy plastic rear plate with matte sides and front. The “midnight blue” option is surprisingly not-tacky when you actually get your hands on one, but we can still see more people going for the white version. It's also available in red.
Of course, the BoomSound speakers make a show, which will give you superior sound quality at the cost of a taller device. The bezels around the screen also add to the size of the front panel, leaving you with a phone that is a bit larger than you might otherwise expect from a 4.7 inch screen.
The display itself is no head-turner, but neither is it pixelated beyond tolerance. The 540 x 960 resolution will give you about 234 pixels per inch (ppi), which is a far-cry from the 326ppi of a Motorola Moto G or iPhone Retina display, or the 400+ppi of a modern Android flagship. That being said, it’s still tolerable and is less of a drain on the battery.
HTC’s Sense user interface (UI) works well on the Desire 610. The minimalist look and stylish aesthetic work smoothly on the lower-powered specs. It’s no HTC One (M8) powerhouse, but the increase in lag is minimal and only becomes really noticeable when loading up a CPU-hungry app.
As far as stability goes the Sense UI is still sturdy even at this lower end of the hardware spectrum. We had no app crashes and only one or two unexplained lag spikes.
The camera is an unfortunate fault of the 610. It’s just not very good. Photos taken during the day suffer from the kind of blurriness and noise you’d expect from an indoor shot at night time. You can get by if all you’re doing is posting to Facebook, but viewing them on anything other than a phone-sized screen will make the imperfections immediately apparent.
Once the sun goes down it’s even worse. Night shots suffer from intense light bleeding and images come out grainy at best.
This is not a phone for the photo-taker. It’ll get the job done for the odd social media post, but it high quality snapshots are your game then you’ll need a different playing field.
If the camera is the Desire 610’s weak spot then battery life is its proudest feature. We regularly got 2 full days of use out of it without having to stretch things out too much. That use generally included a couple of hours of podcast streaming over both 4G and WiFi, and a good hour and a half of eBook reading per day. On top of that was general use stuff like some light browsing, texting, social media and a few photos.
If you decide to go wild and spend half the day gaming and browsing then you’ll still be looking for a power outlet before sundown on the ‘morrow, but in general we only had to charge it every second night. Especially so if we remembered to pop it in to flight mode before nodding off.
That’s a big deal. Cast your mind back to just about any time in the past where you were running out of battery and now imagine that you still had 50% or more to go. Not needing to remember your charger if you’re staying somewhere else for the night, or having enough juice to engage in an un-planned gaming spree, is a liberating experience.
In fairness we can’t give the 610 full marks for battery because it can’t quite handle two days of properly heavy use in a row. Even so, it’s still a significant improvement over most of the current market and worthy of praise.
If you’re looking at the Desire 610 then you’re not in the market for a top-tier flagship. This is an affordable smartphone that gives you a frustration-free experience, but nothing more.
Considering the price you can pick it up for that’s a good bargain. Of course, there are other options. The Motorola Moto G is cheaper with a better screen resolution, but that’s if you go for the 3G-only model. A 4G version will cost you the same if you shop around, but has a smaller screen and no BoomSound speakers.
Being the rough equal of a Moto G 4G is high praise. All you need to do is decide which you prefer: higher resolution or a bigger display with better battery life. The latter will land you with the Desire 610 and a perfectly usable smartphone. Just keep in mind that the camera is a serious let-down, which is a trade-off that only you can decide whether or not you’re willing to make.