HTC's latest smartphone is an entry-level handset offering Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) for around £190 SIM free. It sounds like a bargain on paper, with NFC support an added bonus.
But we're not so sure the Desire C does its job well enough — even at that tempting price. Any smartphone needs to deliver its core feature set well, and the 600MHz processor used here means that things can run slowly.
Apps take a noticeable time to launch, some websites render too slowly for comfort, and pressing the play button on music tracks gives you far too much time to anticipate the upcoming tune. Perhaps it's just our impatience after experiencing the lightning-fast speeds of high-end quad-core smartphones, but we're not sure we could live with the Desire C's lack of speed long term.
The 3.5in. screen is just about large enough for today's smartphone usage patterns, but its 240-by-320-pixel resolution is low. This means that video viewing suffers, and website reading can be difficult — we did a lot of panning and zooming of web pages, which quickly becomes irritating.
HTC has done a good job on the design, though, with a solid construction and a touch of individuality here and there. A case in point is the bright red interior that greets you when you remove the backplate.
HTC equips the Desire C with its now-standard 25GB of Dropbox storage to complement the internal 4GB and supplied 2GB microSD card. Anyone who needs to create or edit texts will find the provided copy of Polaris Office useful. There's an important caveat here, though: the 3.5in. display makes for a cramped on-screen keyboard, and accurate typing will be a challenge for many users.
The Desire C includes HTC's recently introduced capability to shoot stills on the flashless camera while simultaneously capturing video. It's a pity, though, that video capture limited to a maximum of 640 by 480 pixels.
We're not entirely convinced that HTC's Desire C offers enough functionality for the price. This end of the smartphone market is packed with competition, and there are other handsets that offer arguably a better user experience. We're fans of the low-cost Huawei G300, for example, and although this doesn't currently run Android 4.0, an upgrade is expected.