When the revamped HTC Desire 626 rolled across our desk we were intrigued to see what had done for HTC’s mid-range, especially given that the HTC One A9 is receiving stellar reviews around the world.
It certainly looked fetching enough; our review unit was a dark and baby blue, which is certainly different from the usual flock of silver/grey, white and black smartphones we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. But is there more to the Desire 626 than looks?
HTC Desire 626: More than just a pretty face
All the interface ports and buttons are located on the right side of the handset while an easy lifting flap on the left reveals a micro SIM and microSD card slot. The unlock button and volume rocker are well placed with the unlock button being easily accessible and the volume rocker being far out of the way enough so you don’t accidentally press it.
The HTC Desire 626 has a superb battery. Our standard run down test where the screen is set to 100% brightness, Wifi is switched on, automatic app updates and synchronisation are turned on and streaming music is used periodically, saw us getting two full days of use from the handset.
Being more conservative in your usage could see you get as much as three days of usage though the third day will see you experience down time towards the end.
HTC Desire 626: Work it
The 5inch HD display is great, images are crisp, it scales text very well and there are no pixels out of place or light leakage to be found. The touchscreen is as responsive as those we see in flagship phones, with commands being executed nearly immediately.
According to our benchmark scores the Desire competes well with other mid-range smartphones, out performing the LG G4 Stylus in multithreaded performance and even coming up further than half-way against bigger and more expensive phones such as the Galaxy Note 5.
While numbers do tell half the story, using the HTC Desire 626 is a joy; videos load quickly, games run well and watching video is a great experience. With that said we must point out that using work applications such as PDF readers and web browsing don’t perform as well as they did on work orientated phones such as the LG G4 Stylus but it is bearable if you aren’t using these applications all the time.
HTC Desire 626: Say cheese
Onward to the elephant in the room. A 13MP camera is located at the rear of the handset and is able to capture video at 1 080p at 30 frames per second but images look dull. When taking snaps in low light our images will looked dull and lifeless. That being said, in good lighting indoors they may just look a bit better but this isn’t ideal when you’re wanting to share your dinner with Instagram.
Our experience with the selfie camera was better. The images we took were great though the beauty filter is a bit much at its full setting. We may be marking the Desire too high for its 5MP selfie camera but after using the rear camera the improvement is noticeable and welcome.
Voice commands like “Cheese” or “Capture” can be used to take photos and “Record” or “Action” used to record video. We found this feature was a bit of a hit or miss. There were times when general conversation would activate the camera as we were trying to snap an image and record a video instead, not ideal in a crowded restaurant or public place though thankfully this can be turned off.
HTC Desire 626: Bloated, but for a reason
Much of the bloatware on the HTC Desire 626 requires you to download it so as long as you avoid that you won’t find much in the way of bloatware. With that said software included on the handset, namely Zoe and HTC Sense is actually really useful.
Using Zoe, you can combine photos and videos into video shorts that you can send along to family and friends. The software is straight forward to use with filters, music and length being editable from within the app. It works really well and those that use Instagram or Vine will love it.
The customised UI for Android, HTC Sense has been around for sometime now and the manufacturer has used this time to carve out the flaws and tweak the issues that earlier iterations brought to the fore. The Sense widget on the Home screen is great, you can choose between Home, Work or Out and using apps in either of these settings will bring the apps you use the most to the Home screen. It’s a bit of intuitive engineering that makes your experience that much better.
We should point out the HTC Desire 626 does only house 16GB of memory on-board and the available memory once you account for the bloatware brings the size down to just over 9GB. We can’t help but cry out to the heavens “WHY” but at least there is support for a microSD card.
HTC Desire 626: Conclusion
To sum up the this is a great little phone. A retail price of R4 399. puts it up against the likes of the Galaxy A3, the Huawei P8 Lite and the LG G4 Stylus, but the performance of the HTC is marginally better. What really sets the HTC Desire 626 apart is its phenomenal battery life, HTC Sense and a great display that is really better than it should be.
Unfortunately you will have to decide whether this increased performance is enough to justify a higher price and a slightly poorer camera.