The affordable smartphone market has been really active in India for the past few quarters with the entry of the likes of Xiaomi, Motorola, and Asus, however Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has been conspicuously absent from the price-segment and has only focussed on the high-end and the mid-range smartphones.
The company is now hoping to change that with the launch of Desire 526G+ smartphone in the country, which retails starting INR 10,400. Due to the heavy competition, HTC’s task isn’t going to be easy and the company’s new smartphone will be taking on some of the popular devices like Lenovo A6000, Asus Zenfone 5, and Moto E in the country.
In this review, I will find out whether the Desire 526G+ is capable of carving out a space for itself in the crowded budget smartphone segment.
Made out of glossy plastic, the HTC Desire 526G+ does look nice when you first pop it out of the box because of the shiny plastic, but that doesn’t last long as the body is a fingerprint magnet and the smartphone back as well as the front will be full of smudges within hours. Having said that, the smartphone is sturdy and a little heavier than other phones in this price-segment. The added mass helps with the grip as the glossy plastic isn’t the best material to use with the products that need good grip when using them.
HTC has not gone for the usual blocky look in the Desire 526G+ and the smartphone sports curved corners as well as two large speaker-grills on the front, which are slightly recessed than the screen, thus giving it a distinct look, which is not usually seen in the smartphones. It is important to note here that despite the presence of two speaker grills, there is just one speaker on the phone, the other grill covers the ear-piece and has been placed to give a phone a design uniformity.
In terms of the specifics, the phone houses a MicroUSB port as well as the microphone on the bottom, while the 3.5mm audio jack has been placed on the top. There is no secondary microphone in the device and the volume rocker and power button are present on the right-side of the smartphone.
The back of the Desire 526G+ is pretty much clean apart from the HTC logo and 8MP rear camera with LED flash. The back cover can be removed and gives access to the two SIM card slots as well as MicroSD card slot. As the base model of the smartphone comes with just 8GB of internal storage, users will find the MicroSD card slot very useful.
Coming to the display, the smartphone packs a 4.7-inch qHD (960x540p) screen, which is although not bad, but includes less resolution than the more prevalent 720p HD screen in its competitors. The display provides good colour reproduction and has average viewing angles as well as under-sun visibility. The touchscreen performance is okay for a budget phone, but I have seen better capacitive panels in several affordable smartphones.
HTC has increasingly started using MediaTek chips in its affordable smartphones and Desire 526G+ is no different. So, if you were somehow expecting the phone to pack a Qualcomm chip, you are out of luck. The octa-core MediaTek MT6592 processor in the phone is however no slouch and worked great during my testing. The smartphone offered a snappy performance and I didn’t find any jitters or slowdowns apart from occasional lag.
During my task-specific tests like playing 1080p videos or graphic-intensive games like Dead Trigger 2 or Riptide SGP2, the smartphone sailed through without issues. The smartphone also worked great during basic tasks like Bluetooth file transfer, Wi-Fi connectivity, call quality or 3G support.
On the software front, HTC has included Android 4.4.2 with a lite version of its Sense UI in the smartphone. In terms of the Sense UX features, you will only notice the Blinkfeed social feed, a browser-named Internet, Backup and Restore utility, File Manager, HTC Camera app and Video Highlights, rest of the smartphone is pretty much stock Android with little visual touches. The uncluttered version of Android helps in the performance of the phone and will also allow the company to update the software quicker, if it plans to.
My review of the performance section won’t be complete without the mention of the weird behaviour, which I experienced on one of the testing days. During my normal usage on the day, the phone suddenly started acting up and opening apps and settings on its own. As it happened only one time and a quick restart fixed the problem, which I haven’t encountered since, I believe that it could be some small issue with my review unit specifically, which seems to be a pre-production unit. As I haven’t heard anything similar from users on social media or forums, I don’t think that there is some problem with all Desire 526+ units, however I will update the review if I hear anything new on the same.
The Desire 526G+ comes with an 8MP rear camera sensor as well as 2MP front shooter, both are decent for the affordable price-tag of the smartphone. In good lighting conditions, the rear shooter captures nice images with good colours, however the low-light images are average. The front shooter works as expected and you will get good selfies and won’t have any issues in the video call quality.
You can check out some sample shots below:
HTC has packed a 2000 mAh battery in the phone, which although not great, but is decent for a smartphone, which comes with a relatively small 4.7-inch display with just qHD resolution. During our video test, the phone lasted 5 hours and 5 minutes with full brightness and constant Wi-Fi connectivity.
Moderate users will be able to last the day with Desire 526G+, however heavy users might need to carry a power bank or wall charger to avoid losing connectivity on the go. HTC has also included a CPU power saving mode, which helps with the battery life, but don’t expect a big impact. Also, the power saver mode reduces the overall performance of the phone to limit the battery-usage.
The battery is removable. So if you want a bigger battery, you can always swap the installed one with a battery from third-party accessory manufacturers, however I am yet to see any available online.
HTC’s attempt to get some entry-level smartphone users might not be earth-shattering but it is a decent attempt. If you hate participating in flash sales or don’t want to go for Indian smartphone vendors, HTC Desire 526G+ is a good option. However, if you want to get bang for the buck, you are better off with Lenovo A6000, Asus Zenfone 5 or even Moto G (2nd Gen) (for normal display size users) (phablet users can go for Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G or Yu Yureka, both are better devices than Desire 526G+).
Price & Availability: HTC Desire 526G+ 8GB version: INR 10,400 (only available at Snapdeal), 16GB version: INR 11,400 (available at all major retail stores)