Taiwan-based HTC is known in the mobile world as a premium smartphone brand. It is not a part of the league that includes manufacturers which make smartphones for every budget, while compromising on specifications and the end-user experience.
While the company has tried to break into the budget category (below Rs 10,000) in the past with products like Desire 210 and Desire 310, its latest offering – HTC Desire 526G+ Dual SIM – is being seen as the mobile manufacturer's serious effort at wooing customers who don't want to spend too much on a smartphone but still want to enjoy premium experience.
Launched in January this year and available for around Rs 10,500, HTC Desire 526G+ Dual SIM is available in two variants – 8GB version and 16 GB version, and runs Android 4.4 with HTC Sense UI 5.0. The UI includes HTC Blinkfeed, a magazine that displays customisable content ranging from social networks to news, sports and entertainment. This content is even available for offline reading once updated over Wi-Fi or mobile data.
The phone comes in four colour options – Lacquer Black, Glacier Blue, Stealth Black and Fervor Red (the last two don't appear to available in India at the moment – neither online nor in brick-and-mortar shops).
The device has a candy bar design and sports two grilles – one at the top and the other at the bottom. However, the phone doesn't have two speakers and BoomSound set-up like other HTC offerings. The top grille is for earpiece while speaker, which has good sound quality, is housed inside the bottom one. The display is slightly raised compared to the rest of the front design which lends the phone a look which we haven't seen in any contemporary phone.
The 4.7-inch qHD screen with dimensions 139.8 x 69.65 x 9.8 mm may not have the best of displays but it's still sharp and crisp, and has an accurate colour reproduction. The 960 x 540p resolution though may disappoint some as better resolutions are available in other brands for a similar price.
The build quality of the phone is solid but it comes without any protection for the display. Albeit the phone is a bit heavy as it weighs 154 grams, yet it is easy to hold, especially with its curved-edge back.
With an octa-core MediaTek processor clocked at 1.7 GHz and 1 GB RAM, the phone performs all possible tasks smoothly without any noticeable lag. Also, 16 GB storage is a boon to those who prefer internal memory over SD cards, and love to load their phone with games, photos, songs and movies. The storage can further be expanded by upto 32 GB using MicroSD cards.
For gaming-enthusiasts, the phone packs Mali-450MP GPU.
The Dual SIM (micro) functionality will help users to manage their personal and official numbers better. While both the SIMs are 3G supported, only one will however work in 3G mode when both SIMs are functional.
Call quality of the phone is great and signal reception is also decent.
The phone boasts of a decent 8MP rear camera with flash, auto-focus functionality and capability to record 1080p Full HD videos. It may not be comparable with the 6.7 MP camera on my Nokia Lumia 720 (the price gap explains the difference), but will easily meet day-to-day requirements. However, camera enthusiasts may not be happy with the quality of photos taken by 526G+.
The 2MP front camera, however, is good for selfies and supports 720p video recording.
The 2000 mAh battery is a big plus of the HTC Desire 526G+. It takes a little over two hours to go from near zero to 100% charge, and doesn't drain like other Android smartphones. With mild to heavy usage, it can easily last for a day. Battery back-up is great in standby mode, quite good while Wi-Fi is on and decent when 3G connection is active.
In terms of other specifications, the 526G+ has an accelerometer, a proximity sensor and an ambient light sensor. It supports 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM bands and 900/2100 MHz WCDMA bands.
The phone also supports Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n. Compatible audio formats include amr, ogg, mid, mp3, wav, 3gpp and video formats include 3gp, mp4, avi.
For a phone that costs just over Rs 10,000, HTC Desire 526G+ has almost everything going for it – premium brand, solid build quality, fast processor, enough internal memory, good battery back-up and decent cameras.
Its main competitors include Micromax Yu Yureka and Xiaomi Redmi Note, but what may work in this device's favour is easy availability (not sold through online flash sales), premium branding and good specifications.