HTC Desire 610 review

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
235
inc VAT SIM-free

Great performance, but oversized bezels, mediocre screen and noise-riddled camera make it an average handset

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 4.7in, Screen resolution: 960x540, Rear camera: 8-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 143x70x9.6mm, Weight: 143g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2

The Desire 610 is soon to be replaced by HTC's Desire 620 (review coming shortly), but HTC's mid-range 4G phone for 2014 is in many ways the superior handset. It has a slightly better battery life, it's just as quick and its screen has more accurate colours.

However, with a new successor on the doorstep, the Desire 610 is becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of now, and anywhere that does still sell it have kept their prices relatively stationary since it first launched, making it a tough sell for anyone looking for a new handset. Moreover, there are several other phones that have come out in the intervening year that beat the Desire 610 hands down, such as the newly-announced 4G version of Motorola's 2nd Gen Moto G. Even the 4G 2nd Gen Moto E puts up a good fight against the Desire 610, as this has an even better battery life and is almost £100 less SIM-free. Still, if you're a die-hard HTC fan and are reluctant to upgrade to Android 5.0, then read on. 

The Desire 610 is surprisingly large for a 4.7in handset as its thick bezels and BoomSound speakers add a considerable amount of extra bulk around the screen. Compared to a Motorola Moto X, for example, which also has a 4.7in screen, the Desire 610 looks enormous. In fact, it's only a little smaller the flagship HTC One (m8), which has a 5in display.

HTC Desire 610 size comparison

^ The Desire 610 has the same size screen as the Moto X (left), but it's almost as big as the One M8 (right)

This is great if you want a large, cheap phone, but we think the empty space actually detracts from the Desire 610's overall appeal. The phone's glossy plastic chassis certainly doesn't help in this respect, as it not only looks a little cheap, but it also picks up fingerprints like mad. 

The large bezels also have the effect of making the screen look smaller than it really is. This wouldn't be so bad if the Desire 610 had a large resolution to help keep everything looking sharp and defined, but the screen only has a resolution of 960x540. This is the same resolution as the Desire 601, but the Desire 610's larger screen size means the 610 has a lower pixel density of 234 pixels-per-inch (PPI) compared to the the Desire 601's PPI of 245.

This is much lower than we'd expect to see on a phone at this price, but HTC's Sense UI still looked sharp and crisp. App icons were occasionally a little jagged round the edges, but text was clear and legible. It wasn’t so good when we browsed desktop-based sites, though, as we always had to zoom in to read news stories and smaller pieces of text to save us from straining our eyes.

This is a shame, as the Desire 610's web-browsing performance was excellent. Its quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 produced some of the fastest scores we've seen from this processor, as it finished the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in just 1,187ms.

This is a similar result to the Desire 610's more expensive cousins, the Desire 816 and One Mini 2, and it's also quicker than a lot of cheaper phones that also use the Snapdragon 400 processor, namely the Motorola Moto G which only finished in 1,410ms. As a result, web browsing was smooth and largely judder-free, although image-heavy desktop pages such as The Guardian's home page still caused the Desire 610 to stutter occasionally when we scrolled up and down the page at speed.

Graphics performance was equally as good. The Desire 610's graphics processor scored 5797, or 24fps, in our 3DMark Ice Storm test, which once again puts it on par with the Desire 816 and One Mini 2. We were also able to get a very smooth 49.2fps in Epic Citadel on Ultra High quality settings, so the Desire 610 should be more than capable of handling any game on the Google Play Store.

The Desire 610's screen quality was less impressive as our colour calibrator showed it was only displaying 84.1 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. This is below average for a phone at this price, and we’d only expect to see this coverage on the very cheapest handsets. This meant colours weren't nearly as rich and vivid as phones we've seen with higher colour accuracy scores, and blues and yellows were particularly cool and washed out.

Black levels were also riddled with shades of grey, measuring 0.29cd/m2 and whites were almost pale blue despite a reasonable peak brightness measurement of 337.2cd/m2. Contrast was good, though, measuring 1,154:1. This meant we could see a good level of detail in our high contrast test images, but viewing angles were still relatively poor as the screen darkened considerably when we put it down on a table.

This is partly due to the screen's highly reflective panel, which seemed to catch a lot of light in our office, but we also noticed the Desire 610 picked up a lot of fingerprints. We found we could use the Desire 610 outside as long as we didn’t view it in direct sunlight.

We weren't great fans of the Desire 610's 8-megapixel camera either. There are 10 picture modes to choose from, including Night, Sweep Panorama and Macro modes, but when we took photos outside using the default Auto mode, all of our shots were riddled with noise and compression and colours were very cool across the board. Areas of fine brickwork blurred together toward the edges of the frame and the sky was overexposed in several of our test shots. 

HTC Desire 610 camera test 01

^ The sky was very overexposed in our test shots, and the level of detail wasn't great either.

Switching to HDR mode helped even the exposure on bright patches of cloud, but we still ran into the same compression problems nearer the edges of each photo. Colours were still on the cool side as well and noise was present throughout.

Battery life was more promising, as the Desire 610's 2,040mAh battery lasted 11 hours and four minutes in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to half brightness. This means you should be able to get a full day's use out of the Desire 610 on a single charge.

Ultimately, though, a decent battery life isn't enough to save this otherwise very average handset. The HTC Desire 610 may have excellent performance for its price, but its mediocre screen and camera are severely outclassed by the competition. If you're looking for an excellent mid-range handset and don't mind spending a little more money, the Motorola Moto X is well worth the extra expense.

Hardware
Processor Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
RAM 1GB
Screen size 4.7in
Screen resolution 960x540
Screen type LCD
Front camera 1.3-megapixel
Rear camera 8-megapixel
Flash LED
GPS Yes
Compass Yes
Storage 8GB
Memory card slot (supplied) microSD
Wi-Fi 802.11n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
NFC Yes
Wireless data 3G, 4G
Size 143x70x9.6mm
Weight 143g
Features
Operating system Android 4.4.2
Battery size 2,040mAh
Buying information
Warranty one year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT) £215
Price on contract (inc VAT) Free on £16-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT) £220
SIM-free supplier http://www.expansys.com
Contract/prepay supplier http://www.three.co.uk
Details www.htc.com/uk
Part code Desire 610

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