Review: HTC Desire 601

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HTC has already had tremendous success with its One handset from 2013, and now the company is taking what it’s learned from that handset and applying it to the budget Desire range, effectively shrinking the formula for people who don’t necessarily need a premium phone.


One of the first Desire handsets we’ve seen in a while, the 601 borrows a style or two from its brothers in the One series, while also handicapping things and making everything a little more budget friendly.

There isn’t the same set of specs underneath, so we’ll start there, and HTC has equipped this smartphone with a dual-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400, down from the quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 seen in the HTC One.

Memory is different here too, with 8GB storage on the internal, but a microSD card slot found under the replaceable back, something no currently released HTC One has. There’s also less RAM, with 1GB below the 2GB sweet-spot that Android likes so much.

Android is version 4.2 here, “Jelly Bean” for those keeping up at home, with HTC loading on the latest version of its Sense interface, complete with Blinkfeed and HTC Zoe, the camera extension application we saw on the HTC One and HTC One Mini.

Except for the spec differences and material change, the HTC Desire 601 (left) looks like the spitting image of the HTC One (right).

HTC has also seen fit to equip the Desire 601 with a smaller screen, dropping from 4.7 inches to 4.5, and pushing the quality of that panel down from the Full HD of the HTC One, to quarter-HD’s 960×540 in the Desire 601.

Most of the other specs, however, are basically par for the course, including Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, microUSB charge and data port, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, GPS, and support for 4G, though HTC has made the 601 Category 4 LTE compliant, meaning anyone with access to a Cat4 connection could receive downloads as fast as 150Mbps.

On the camera side of things, there isn’t an Ultrapixel camera here, but rather a standard 5 megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, support for Full HD video capture at 30 frames per second, while the front camera is a tiny VGA camera.

You can remove the rubberised back, which will show the microSIM and microSD slots underneath, as well as the 2100mAh battery, while there aren’t many actual buttons on the handset itself. These come in the form of a power button up top, split volume rocker on the right, and two soft buttons on the very front of the handset, acting as back and home.

A 3.5mm headset jack also sits up top, while a microUSB port sits at the very bottom.


HTC hasn’t paid much attention to its Desire range of smartphones in the past year, instead looking upon the “One” as its flagship. It’s interesting as the “Desire” brand used to be the premier name for HTC’s handsets, but lately, it’s taken a back seat to the “One” models, numerous as they are.

Now representing the mid-range and budget tiers, the new Desire handsets appear to be all about showcasing some of the great design HTC has been providing to the One 2013 range, but reducing the technology considerably so that any Joe can reach in and find something they like.

We’ll start with the aesthetics, and in the Desire 601, HTC has clearly borrowed the all-in-one body design made famous in the 2013 One, though pulled back on the high-grade materials. There’s no aluminium here — no metal of any kind, in fact — and HTC has instead gone with a rubberised plastic that is soft to the touch and easy to hold.

The design is still pretty close to spot on, and HTC is even close to matching the screen size, even if the screen qualities aren’t quite in the same vicinity of each other.

As such, you’ll find a 4.5 inch screen on the Desire 601, just shy of the 4.7 inch on the HTC One, though very similar in size altogether. As we said, the quality displayed within each isn’t quite the same, with the 601 presenting merely a quarter-HD screen of 960×540 (2011’s screen of choice), which is far below the Full HD 1920×1080 of the HTC One.

That appears to be one of the premium features you pay for in the One, and not so much in the Desire 601, but despite this, the screen is still relatively sharp.

Pixel clarity puts Desire 601 at around 245 pixels per inch, which isn’t quite above the 300 mark of the iPhone 5S, but still isn’t bad altogether, and most people shouldn’t be complaining, especially in a mid-range phone.