Review: HTC Desire 601
3.8Overall Score

Price (RRP): $TBA; Available on plans from Vodafone
Manufacturer: HTC

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.

Features

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.

Performance

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.