It's a weird time at HTC, where its flagship smartphones earn so much praise, but the bottom line continues to evaporate at an alarming rate. It's the mid-range and low-end that the company now needs to improve in the hope of recouping some of Robert Downey Jr.'s fee. That's what the Desire 601 is for, a second-tier smartphone that shares more than a little of its DNA with the company's highly-lauded flagships. We got to spend a couple of minutes with the device, the first Desire handset to ship with LTE, and we'd like to share with you our very first impressions.
HTC Desire 601 hands-on
When the Desire 601 was pulled from under the sheets, we did think we were looking at a tweaked version of last year's One X. Fortunately, the trickle-down of features from the premium brand means that the phone gets BoomSound, Sense 5, BlinkFeed as well as Zoe share, albeit clad in a cheaper molded polycarbonate body. Fitting, since it's designed to slot in-between the Desire 500 and the One Mini in HTC's product range that it feels as if the back of the former and the front of the latter have been welded together.
Prospective purchasers will be looking into a 4.5-inch qHD 960 x 540 display that seems to do a job, although our instincts tell us that the backlight might struggle in direct sunlight. Internals-wise, there's a 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 paired with 8GB storage / 1GB RAM, and it certainly managed to cope with whatever we threw at it during our brief time with the device. There's also a microSD card slot which'll let you add up to 64GB more storage as well as DLNA and Bluetooth 4.0. The company has emphasized the importance of browsing for this device, so we decided to test the claim with a cheeky run of SunSpider 0.9.1. We found that the 601 produced a benchmark of 1027.7, which beats what we found on the One Mini -- although take an isolated benchmark on a pre-release device with the requisite pinches of salt.
Naturally, devices of this nature require a certain amount of cost-cutting, and the company has ditched its Ultrapixel tech here in favor of a more traditional 5-megapixel shooter. Understandably, the results aren't as strong as we've seen on HTC's other devices and we may have even been a little underwhelmed. There's also a VGA-front facing lens that we didn't get the opportunity to test, but we imagine that it'll be serviceable when it comes to the odd Skype chat and little else. Still, when it comes to the main camera, we hope that the company has the time and opportunity to make a few tweaks before the handsets big debut.
Overall, we're intrigued at this device's potential, and will look forward to seeing how it'll do when it arrives. Speaking of which, buyers will have a choice of colors: white, black and red, and the Desire 601 will be on sale in various markets shortly. All that's left to do, therefore, is check out our hands-on gallery and wait for its imminent arrival.
Oh, and while we're here, HTC also launched the entry-level Desire 300, which wasn't available for us to rub our meaty paws all over for your edification. Understandably, this one doesn't come with the headline-grabbing hardware features that we saw on its bigger brother. Instead, you'll get a dual-core, 1GHz Snapdragon S4 paired with 512MB RAM and 4GB Storage, a microSD card slot that'll boost your space up to 64GB and a 5-megapixel rear and VGA forward-facing cameras. There's a 1,650mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0 and, naturally, HTC Sense and BlinkFeed. It'll arrive in select markets from October, presumably at the bottom-end of the price spectrum.
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.
Category-changers: HTC introduces new mid-range Desire 601 and entry-level Desire 300
New HTC BoomBassTM supercharges BoomSoundTM for the ultimate HTC One® audio experience
London, 3 September 2013 – HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announced the addition of the HTC Desire 601 and HTC Desire 300, to its popular smartphone family enabling consumers to enjoy a premium experience at any price point. Changing the face of the mid-range, the HTC Desire 601 introduces LTE speeds and innovative features from the flagship One family, including HTC ZoeTM with Video Highlights and HTC BoomSound. Setting a new standard for entry- level smartphones, the HTC Desire 300 offers a powerful, large-screen browsing experience and HTC BlinkFeedTM.
In addition to extending its range of affordable Desire smartphones, HTC is also bringing new choice and performance enhancements to its acclaimed HTC One family. HTC BoomBass, a Bluetooth subwoofer, combines with the One family's HTC BoomSound to offer a fully-immersive audio experience like no other. A new 'Vivid Blue' HTC One and One mini also introduce a bold new option for those who want a handset that stands out from the crowd.
"For the last 17 years HTC has challenged the mobile industry to develop innovations that change the way in which people use their mobile phone. Now we're not only changing the way people view the mid-range and entry-level market but setting the bar even higher when it comes to our premium devices and capabilities," commented Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. "We are committed to offering the most innovative portfolio of products on the market. Our Desire family has become synonymous with affordable quality. Offering some of the most advanced capabilities of any smartphone, these phones truly represent premium quality in a more affordable price bracket."
HTC Desire 601: A powerful value smartphone for everyone
The HTC Desire 601 comes complete with many of the features that have led the HTC One to be crowned the best phone in the world. HTC BlinkFeed, HTC Zoe with Video Highlights and HTC BoomSound make this the most advanced mid-range smartphone available on the market today.
The rear-facing 5MP camera captures HTC Zoes, bringing images to life in three-second videos. The simple editing capabilities of HTC Zoe support advanced features such as Sequence Shot, Always Smile and Object Removal, making it easy to achieve incredible results with minimal effort.
Video Highlights takes the camera experience to the next level by creating highlight reels displayed on the HTC Desire's 601's 4.5" qHD screen. Accompanied by a range of pre-set themes for a more personal memory, these stunning 30-second video montages are simple to create and instantly sharable.
Superfast streaming, sharing and browsing
The HTC Desire 601 combines a Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 400, dual-core, 1.4GHz processor and LTE connectivity to enable superfast HD video and music streaming with no compromise on quality. Changing the way you experience media on the go, dual, front-facing HTC BoomSound speakers join with the large screen to create a completely immersive audiovisual experience. Delivering richer, sharper tones, the raw power of the speakers lets you take the "big screen, big sound" home entertainment experience with you, wherever you go.
HTC Desire 300: A personal and powerful entry-level smartphone
The HTC Desire 300 enhances the entry-level browsing experience with HTC BlinkFeed making personal and up-to-date content and social media updates available instantly on your home screen. Its stunning 4.3", full lamination display is perfect for reading your customised HTC BlinkFeed updates, watching videos, viewing photos and surfing the web, whilst the Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM dual-core, 1GHz processor means that you'll never be short on performance.
Boosting the bass for HTC One
In the HTC One, HTC redefined the smartphone sound experience with HTC BoomSound and has now raised the bar again with the introduction of a new accessory for the HTC One family. HTC BoomBass, a compact, Bluetooth-enabled subwoofer with a dedicated amplifier, provides clearer, more powerful bass when combined with the HTC One family's BoomSound. The subwoofer enables HTC BoomSound's speakers to produce enhanced quality of lower range frequencies so, no matter what music you're playing or video you're watching, you are guaranteed immense and exceptional sound that can travel with you.
The new HTC Desire 601 will be available with mobile operators and major retailers in select markets across EMEA from September 2013. The HTC Desire 300 will be available in select markets from October 2013.
The new Vivid Blue HTC One models will be available in select markets from Q4 2013 and HTC BoomBass will be available from the HTC Accessory Store from mid October 2013. (http://www.htcaccessorystore.com)