Review: HTC Desire 601

Using the phone, HTC has left the same soft buttons at the bottom of the screen, the now familiar “back” and “home,” and everything else you’ll be able to do on the 4.5 inch touchscreen.

Android 4.2 “Jelly Bean” runs here, and it does so with HTC’s latest incarnation of Sense, supporting multiple homescreens, widgets, two different grid sizes for the menu, and even the social and web connected service “BlinkFeed” which sadly hasn’t matured much and still relies on you picking services that HTC has selected for you, and not your own RSS feeds. Sigh.

Under the hood, the dual-core processor works quickly enough, though you might see some lag jumping across apps and depending on what you’re doing. We didn’t experience too much, though when it did happen, it was noticeable.

Not the fastest benchmarks around.

Benchmarks won’t equally impress anyone, part and parcel of this being a mid-range phone and barely better than some of last year’s models, though at least it’s nice to know that the 4G performance hasn’t been spared, and as far as downloading on the go, the Desire 601 flies.

Speeds as high as 91Mbps down were reported, making it a solid 4G LTE performer, and perfect for anyone in an Australian metropolitan area if they’re downloading video, audio, or surfing the world wide web.

In fact, the inclusion of Cat4 LTE makes it ideal for the Vodafone network it’s launching on, which is fitting, because it appears Vodafone has the exclusivity on this one.

For the most part, the Desire 601 is basically a budget HTC One, even taking the excellent design and putting it on a diet, ditching the aluminium and replacing it for a rubberised plastic that’s easy to grip and keep in the pocket, even if it’s not as cool and sleek as the metal-bodied HTC One we’ve loved to date.

But it’s also not totally that phone, and it’s in the camera and battery life that customers might feel a little let down.

That battery life is merely a day, and while you might be able to get a little more than one day out, good luck.

Part of this comes down to the fact that the Desire 601 isn’t using as big of a battery as in the One, though the difference is minor, and given the processor differences, we’re surprised to not see a touch more life from the 601’s battery.

In any case, think a day if you’re a frequent phone user, with texting, web surfing, social networking, and even the odd phone call or two, because we hear people still use their phones for this activity.

You also miss out on Near-Field Communication and the infrared port used in the HTC One, premium wireless omissions that don’t surprise us, though it is useful to know, nonetheless.

The camera also isn’t exactly up to scratch, and is vastly different from what HTC offered in the “Ultrapixel” cameras of the One and the One Mini.

Interestingly, there are more megapixels in the Desire 601 — one, in fact — with a 5 megapixel standard shooter included over the 4 “Ultrapixel” of the other devices, though the sensor size and quality from the images is much better from the Ultrapixel camera.

In fact, while you get some of the niceties from the One here — like “Zoe,” HTC’s answer to shooting images quickly and replacing objects from scenes — you get pretty mediocre quality images from both the front and rear camera regardless, and we wouldn’t rely on this as a dedicated camera replacement any time soon.

Conclusion

HTC’s Desire 601 is an interesting smartphone, if only because the company has taken a lot of what made the HTC One extremely good and thrown it into a mid-range phone.

Sure, there are differences between the processor and camera, but by and large, this is a budget HTC One, and in some ways it feels more like a properly budget HTC One than the Mini did, with rubberised back, expandable memory, and those lovely speakers that really make it pointless to have a Bluetooth speaker carried around with you at all times.

Ultimately, if you like the simple design of the HTC One, but didn’t want to spend a fortune and really love the idea of expandable memory, the Desire 601 is an easy recommendation.

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Like a slightly cheaper version of the excellent HTC One handset; Fast 4G; Supports expandable memory, something we wish both the HTC One and HTC One Mini would; Still features the HTC BoomSound speakers on the front, meaning the sound from the phone is loud;
Plastic body; One day battery life; Mediocre camera that isn't up to the "Ultrapixel" quality set out by the HTC One; No NFC; No infrared;
3.8