To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

HTC Desire 500 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £210
inc VAT

A good-looking phone which can’t stand up to some extremely strong competition


Android 4.1.2 (JellyBean), 4.3in 800×480 display

Thanks to Motorola’s Moto G, which by virtue of being an almost compromise-free Android smartphone for £130 has thoroughly disrupted the budget smartphone market, new budget phones from other manufacturers were always going to struggle.

The Desire 500 is HTC’s latest effort. We liked the last budget HTC smartphone we saw, the Desire X, which won a Budget Buy award a year ago, so were hopeful the 500 would also be a wallet-friendly champion.

HTC Desire 500

First impressions are certainly good. The Desire 500 is a great-looking phone. It’s a slim handset with bevelled edges and a slightly raised screen, which together give it a chiselled, defined look. Our test handset was the Glacier Blue model, with a white back and metallic turquoise around the sides and surrounding the camera lens. We’re fans of this colour scheme, but there’s also a more restrained black model available. Whichever colour you choose, you’ll have a phone which is both slimmer and more stylish than pretty much any budget handset out there.


The Desire 500 may look top-drawer, but its specification is more modest. The screen, for example, is an 800×480-pixel model, which was fairly standard for a phone this price until the Moto G came along with its 1,280×720 display. Android looks fine at this resolution, but it’s not ideal for desktop-mode web pages; you can read headlines fine, but you have to zoom in to decipher smaller text. The display is reasonable, with clean whites and no colour tinge, but it’s not particularly inspiring. Most text is grey rather than black, and colours lack punch.


The phone has a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which is standard for the price, and 1GB RAM, which is the minimum we’d expect on an Android handset. The phone is generally a reasonable performer. It’s not quite as slick when going back and forth to the app tray as the Moto G, possibly due to some overhead from HTC’s Sense interface, but it’s quick enough to be perfectly usable.

HTC Desire 500
It’s a slim and lovely phone

One problem we noticed was when using the Chrome browser instead of the default HTC version. Chrome is very slow to respond on desktop mode web pages, with a significant delay between you swiping your finger on the screen and the phone responding. The default browser showed none of these problems. The phone completed the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark in 1790ms, which is fine for an inexpensive handset, but this was significantly slower than the Moto G’s 1,410ms. However, there was little to choose between the two phones’ web browsing performance when compared side by side.

We had less luck testing the phone’s 3D performance, though, as 3DMark refused to run all its tests. In our subjective tests using Real Racing 3, the game ran smoothly enough, but the game had dialled its resolution and detail settings right down, so the game was no longer very pretty. This isn’t the phone to choose if you want to enjoy all the fancy graphical effects in the latest Android titles.

Pages: 1 2




Main display size4.3in
Native resolution800×480
CCD effective megapixels8-megapixel
Internal memory4096MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100
Wireless dataGPRS, EDGE, 3G


Operating systemAndroid 4.1.2 (JellyBean)
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord, Excel, PowerPoint
FM Radioyes
Accessoriesheadphones, data cable, charger
Talk time12 hours
Standby time18 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£210
Price on contract0

Read more