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Review: Updated: HTC Desire 500
3:00 am | November 29, 2013

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Review: Updated: HTC Desire 500


HTC offers a mean flagship, in the form of the HTC One. But the firm knows that a lot of the mobile market now lies in the budget sector, and this is where the HTC Desire 500 is pitched. It might not have the super low price of the ZTE Blade V, but even so, the price is hardly going to make your eyes water.

This puts the Desire 500 in direct competition with the Sony Xperia M and the Nokia Lumia 625, and just a little more costly than the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. It’s also worth considering the cheaper Moto G here, which sports a deceptively low price for its feature set.

So has HTC equipped the Desire 500 with the necessary weapons to beat an increasingly difficult market?

HTC Desire 500 Review

It packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 200 processor, backed up with 1GB RAM. This means that the Desire 500 might not pack the biggest punch, but the 1.2GHz quad-core chip is hardly a slouch.

While the Desire 500 does boast a 4.3-inch screen, it’s unfortunately only 480 x 800, meaning a rather low 217ppi.

HTC Desire 500 review

This is all packed into a 131.8 x 66.9 x 9.9mm plastic chassis, leading to a low 123g weight, and a rather inconspicuous footprint in your pocket. The HTC Desire 500 is ideal then, if you like wearing skinny jeans.

HTC also has also provided the Desire 500 with Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (so no dual band surfing), as well as NFC, GPS and 3G. Unfortunately, there is no 4G.

HTC Desire 500 review

Design wise, the HTC Desire 500 is very visually reminiscent of the HTC One S. So much so, in fact, that we found it a little difficult to tell them apart.

The plastic casing wraps around the screen, causing us some difficulty when it came to removing it.

HTC Desire 500 Review

We passed it around to a few friends, and eventually they all realized that just pulling gently below the screen would ease it off.

A massive hint for this was that the screen doesn’t sit flush within the casing. This is a minor niggle, but made the Desire 500 feel a lot less premium than it could have done.

HTC Desire 500 Review

Sat behind the screen is an 1800mAh battery, which is removable. We’re getting ever-more skeptical about the need for a removable battery, but it is a nice touch for intense users.

The microSD slot (supporting up to 64GB) and microSIM port are also hidden in behind the wrap around case.

HTC Desire 500 Review

The Desire 500 is by no means an unattractive device. Our review model was white and red, but we did also get a chance to play with a white-and-blue one (which we preferred), and there is an all-black version.

We can’t work out why HTC hasn’t done a black and red version, as it’s a color scheme we were big fans of on the HTC Sensation XE.

HTC Desire 500 Review

The red wraps around the edge of the Desire 500, as well as providing highlights to the camera and the HTC branding on the back.

Speaking of cameras, the Desire 500 doesn’t come packing the same UltraPixel technology that we have seen adorning the entire One range. Instead, the HTC Desire 500 comes with an 8MP sensor, as well as a 1.6MP snapper on the front. Thankfully, there is an LED flash on the rear as well.

HTC Desire 500 review

In the way of buttons, the Desire 500 comes with two soft keys, sat just below the screen. We felt that this made the handset look a little odd, given the massive gap between the back and home buttons.

Long pressing the home button doubles up as the menu key, but we can’t see why HTC wouldn’t just put in a dedicated menu button.

HTC Desire 500 review

For physical keys, the power/lock button is placed in the upper left corner of the HTC Desire 500.

The volume keys are sat on the right hand side, integrated into the red band. This is a great design touch, especially as the small break in the band allows you to easily differentiate between the two buttons, without the need for a rocker.

HTC Desire 500 review

We found that we were able to hit all the buttons easily one handed, a consequence of the smaller 4.3-inch screen.

HTC has also provided the Desire 500 with the obligatory 3.5mm headphone port (in the top right corner), and the microUSB in the centre of the base.

HTC Desire 500 review

Overall we’re impressed with the design of the HTC Desire 500. It is light, and the 4.3-inch screen means that it sits very nicely in the hand.

The screen not sitting flat with the casing is disappointing, as is the slight unbalanced feel of only having two buttons, but not enough to stop us taking another look.


Anybody who is familiar with the HTC One will know that HTC handsets now ship with Sense 5.0 on board.

This is by no means a bad thing, as we have found Sense 5.0 to be a very well designed UI, providing a far different experience to vanilla Android, or even the customization seen on Samsung Galaxy devices.

Unfortunately, there is Sense 5.5 (now shipping on the HTC One Max, and provided as an update on the One) doesn’t make an appearance here. The Desire 500 also only comes with Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, disappointing considering we’re now on version 4.3 of the software and version 4.4 KitKat has recently made it out the door over at Google.

HTC Desire 500 review

Sense 5.0 is by no means a perfect UI. There are doubtless many users who will find the need to install a custom UI. Nevertheless, the more we played with Sense, the more we enjoyed it.

BlinkFeed is a great addition, bringing a customized news list to your home page. This is based on your interests, as well as integrating with your Facebook and Twitter feeds to provide a unique experience.

Gone are the days when Sense was seen as a sluggish, resource hogging feature: with the 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 processor moving things along nicely.

A real niggle we found with the Sense software was the persistence of the Power Saver mode in the notifications pane. This could be removed, but only by force closing the app.

This was disappointing as it means that the expandable notifications of Jelly Bean aren’t used to their full effect. It was remedied in an update to the HTC One, so maybe we’ll see it hit the Desire 500, but don’t hold your breath.

We were also disappointed with the lack of quick settings. Samsung’s Touchwiz handles this a lot better, providing quick toggles at the top of the notification pane. Instead, there is a button to take you to the settings page, so not even a dedicated quick settings pane.

HTC Desire 500 review

There are widgets on the Play Store that will sit in the notifications pane, although HTC does provide two different widgets that do the same job, but on a home screen.

These are the Power Dashboard and Data dashboard widgets, which both include Wi-Fi and AutoSync toggles. There are individual toggle widgets, as well as Androids standard power control widget, though.

Going back to BlinkFeed, we found that it was a very interesting, innovative, useful and fun feature to have. The range of feeds that you can select can seem a little minimal, but we found that it provided us with a decent selection of articles to read.

It does mean that the primary home screen is to the far left, which we found a tiny bit annoying, if only because we’re used to having it in the middle, and there is no infinite scrolling either.

The app drawer is well designed, providing a very different experience to the one found in stock Android. There is no widgets tab, for instance.

These are placed onto the home screens by long pressing empty space, or by pinching out. Widgets are then moved by long pressing, dragging and dropping, if you have space. Unfortunately there is only the option of five home screens, including the BlinkFeed page.

HTC Desire 500 review

The HTC Desire 500’s app drawer is rather well organised too, with HTC pre-organising many apps into folders. Creating your own folders is as easy as long pressing, and dragging apps onto one another.

Moving apps to the home screen is a little more convoluted, as you have to drag and drop an app onto the shortcut area (in the top left), and then onto the desired screen.

You can choose to organise apps in a custom manner, alphabetically or by date of installation. You can also increase the amount of apps displayed from a 3 x 4 to a 4 x 4 grid, as well as hiding apps that you can’t uninstall.

These are both useful features, especially as we find that there are many apps that we always hide. We won’t tell you which ones though.

On the lock screen, many might find that the lack of widgets is disappointing, especially as it is something that we have seen on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, and the newer versions of Sense.

In all, we weren’t too disappointed given that HTC Desire 500 caters to the majority of needs, such as having quick access to music controls whilst listening to tunes, and a weather clock.

You can also choose to launch into any app that is sat in your home screen dock, just by dragging upwards.

This made launching into the camera app a lot quicker and easier, and we were glad to see that we didn’t have to input our pin when loading it. You’ll need to enter it in order to access the gallery function or any of the other apps, mind.

In all we are impressed by HTC’s Sense UI on the Desire 500. As with every UI, there are a few downsides but these are easily outweighed by the amount of positives. BlinkFeed is a lot of fun to navigate, and over all the whole UI feels both well laid out and intuitive.

Calling and contacts

It might be dropping in significance when it comes to the modern smartphone, but the HTC Desire 500 does come with calling capabilities.

As with all previous HTC devices, the Taiwanese firm are either keen for you to go through the dialler app, or believe that that is where most people start, as it is the one that they put onto the home screen.


We’ll start with the People app, as we feel it is the easiest way of navigating contacts. Being an Android device, the HTC Desire 500 comes packed with the ability to draw in your contacts from varying social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

HTC Desire 500 review

This not only means that you get a much fuller contact list, but also means that contacts come with their most recent status updates

For those that are as socially awkward as us, it means that there is instantly something to talk about.

Who is displayed in your contacts list can be selected by the small drop down list in the top left corner. This means that you can choose contacts from your varying social accounts.

Merging and linking contacts is also really easy, by selecting through the menu by the top three buttons in the top right.

The settings also allow you to choose whether or not to display contacts without phone numbers.

The list presented is far more attractive than those on TouchWiz devices, although Samsung has made its list a little more intuitive by allowing for swiping left and right to call or message a contact.

HTC Desire 500 review

As contacts are added, via Facebook, Twitter or otherwise, link suggestions pop up at the top of the contacts lists.

Contact cards are also populated with their social galleries, status updates and threads detailing how you’ve contacted them.

Mini contact cards can be pulled up by tapping the small image, making it slightly quicker to call or message each contact through the different mediums you have for that contact.

The dialler is a standard T9 layout, however it does support smart dialling. This means that you can dial 323 and bring up Dad, as well as any contact with 323 in their phone number. It’s a very nifty feature and one that we are always glad to see.

You can also swipe left and right to see your call logs, and right through to the favourites, contacts and groups section.


Having contacts with numbers is only good if you’re able to call them. Thankfully, the HTC Desire 500 is able to do just that.

HTC Desire 500 review

There is no fancy Adapt Sound technology like we have seen on Samsung Galaxy devices, although we didn’t see that as an issue.

We found that the signal holding was just as impressive as on any other device we’ve used and the Desire 500 matched our HTC One bar for bar throughout our review.

When it came to actually making the call though, we can’t say we were blown away. The calls were satisfactory, but it was by no means the same level that we have heard on our HTC One, or other devices.

The call was loud enough, and clear enough, but it felt a little synthetic. Somehow calls we’ve taken on other devices felt a little more natural.

Within the call itself, there is not a whole lot on offer, other than the standard Android offerings like turning on speaker phone, or switching over to a Bluetooth headset.


Perhaps something which is more important than phoning abilities on today’s smartphones are their messaging capabilities, and the HTC Desire 500 comes very well equipped.

HTC Desire 500 review

This is in part down to the fantastic Android Jelly Bean OS that sits behind all of HTC’s extra gubbins. Google has made sure that there are a plethora of options available.

We will cover all of the main ones, but we’re going to take a look at the keyboard to start with, as it is another area that HTC has given some attention over and above the vanilla Android experience.

The HTC Sense keyboard has long been one of the best features of HTC handsets, and this continues with the HTC Desire 500. This is aided by the slightly smaller size of the screen, believe it or not.

Whilst we certainly give a lot of praise, and rightly so, to keyboards found on larger screens, we found that our ham fisted-ness wasn’t such a problem.

We’ve grown very accustomed to typing with two hands on all manner of screen sizes, but we were glad to find that the screen size meant that typing with one thumb was still easy enough.

HTC Desire 500 review

Typing in landscape was also fairly easy, although we’re finding that typing two handed in portrait mode is improving all the time.

This is a mix between the increasing screen sizes of the modern smartphone (the original HTC Desire had only a 3.7-inch screen), and the increasing levels of autocorrect.

Speaking of that, HTC’s levels of correction are among the best we’ve seen. The Sense keyboard doesn’t quite live up to the same standards as SwiftKey, but we found that we didn’t ever feel the need to browse the Play Store for an alternative.

In the way of messaging apps, the SMS app that comes preinstalled on the HTC Desire 500 is a little uninspiring. The more monochrome experience might seem a little bland compared to others.

HTC Desire 500 review

That said, it creates a far more professional feel around the app, and is a lot more visually pleasing than the dark background and blue and yellow bubbles that are found on Samsung devices.

There is no way of customising the look of the SMS app though.

In the way of email clients, there are two apps preinstalled. The Gmail app is a very pleasant app that provides the Desire 500 with all the features that are found on the desktop version, such as labels and the three different inboxes for standard, social, and promotional emails.

Many users will find that they have other email addresses, and HTC has catered for this as well, with a rather well designed email app.

It brings over many decent features that are also found in the Gmail app, as well as providing an aggregated inbox for more than one account.


The HTC Desire 500 is like most Android Jelly Bean devices for browsing the internet, in the way that it comes with both Google Chrome and a HTC customised browser.

HTC Desire 500 review

Which browser you choose is going to rely a lot upon your own preferences, but we have to say that HTC has provided a lot of customisation to its browser that makes it a very decent rival to Chrome.

Before we go any further, however, we will give a quick nod to the screen. Whilst perfectly capable, the lower resolution does mean that web pages don’t seem to have the same gloss as HD smartphones like the HTC One Mini do.

When it comes to choosing the browser on the HTC Desire 500, we have to mention just how useful the Google Chrome browser is, especially if you’re one of the many that uses the Google Chrome desktop program.

It syncs across your tabs, your bookmarks and your history. This makes it very easy to move between desktop and mobile, and to any other Android or iOS devices that you have Chrome installed upon.

The native HTC browser is fast, though. The quad-core insides helped everything tick over very nicely. We were never going to see the same levels of speed that flagship phones produce, but we were never left waiting.

HTC Desire 500 review

The HTC app also comes with something that many people will consider invaluable, despite the best efforts of Apple and Adobe; a Flash player. This can be enabled in the settings menu, allowing you to view all manner of mobile videos.

Alongside Chrome, you can also open a variety of tabs. Navigating between these might not be as easy as in Chrome, but it is a big step up from before.

The URL bar has also had a look at, as it now disappears to give you the whole screen to play with. Moving upwards will bring the bar back, although this disappears if you don’t select it. We were also very pleased to see a ‘.com’ button appear on the keyboard.

We did find throughout our tests that the URL bar didn’t always reappear. This might be because we had the Quick Gestures turned on, we’re not entirely sure.

Within the menu, you can also navigate to the Labs section. This allows you to load up a clever gesture based system, which is operated by sliding your thumb in from the left or right hand side of the screen.

HTC Desire 500 review

Our only real criticism of it is that we found we were often a little too quick. It takes a certain level of precision, but we got the hang of it quickly. Rather than swiping in, it is a lot easier to just press and hold the side of the screen.

Bookmarks are also well handled, if not as well as in Chrome. HTC’s browser will allow you it sign into your Google account, and then will port over all the bookmarks that you have associated with it.

These come in an attractive list, populated with little thumbnails of the page if you use them regularly.

Other than that, there is not a whole lot that we can say about the HTC browser. It offers a large amount of built in functionality and is more than adequate replacement for the Google Chrome offering.

Don’t forget, HTC is also the king of automatic text reflow. You can pinch and zoom to your heart’s content, and the HTC Desire 500 will redraw web pages making it easier to read.

Obviously everybody will have their own opinion on this, so it is definitely worth giving Chrome a try, but we really don’t see why you’d need to.


We could easily call the HTC Desire 500 camera a disappointment, if only because it comes with a distinct lack of UltraPixel technology that has helped boost the sensors on the HTC One range.

HTC Desire 500 Review

Instead, HTC has opted to fit the Desire 500 with a more standard 8MP sensor (complete with flash), with a 1.6MP sensor adorning the front.

One of the biggest bonus’ we found on the Desire 500 camera was that we could quick launch it from the lock screen, even with security settings enabled. This was only possible, though, with the camera app placed in the home screen dock.

HTC Desire 500 review

Launching the app by swiping up from the lock screen was exceptionally fast, aided by the quad-core Snapdragon 200 chip. We played around with the ZTE Blade V which also comes with a 1.2GHz quad-core chip, but in terms of camera speed, there was no contest.

As with every app, you can select the camera menu through long pressing the home button, but there is also the Google standard three dots in the lower right corner of the screen.

This brings up access to toggles including Scenes, Night, HDR and Panorama modes, as well as an Anti-shake function. In terms of scenes, we were impressed by the amount of modes on offer; Normal, Portrait, Landscape, Backlight, Text and Macro.

HTC Desire 500 review

Panorama mode brings up a horizontal line on the screen, making it easier to know how to keep the camera steady whilst you sweep left or right. We have seen this handled a little better, we prefer the method on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini where there is a little box.

Other settings allow you to turn on a self-timer, how you want to crop the photo (wide, regular or square), ISO, white balance, continuous shooting and a grid. We generally feel that these are the mainstay of more seasoned photographers, where the HTC Desire 500 is pitched at the lower end.

HTC Desire 500 review

Filters are also provided, allowing you to quickly add real time effects to your shooting. Rather than being given names, these have been given smaller visual representations, so you can easily see what you’re going to snap.

We found that these filters slowed down the cameras ability to process the images, taking a second or two before loading them up. This was especially noticeable whilst taking self shots.

HTC Desire 500 Review

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HTC Desire 500 Review

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HTC Desire 500 Review

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HTC Desire 500 Review

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HTC Desire 500

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HTC Desire 500 Review

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The video app and the camera app are both bundled into one on the HTC Desire 500. This means that it is a lot easier to select, with you only having to choose between a snap or record button, rather than toggle between the two.

This also allows you to take still photos whilst you’re recording, so you don’t miss out on special moments because you were in the wrong mode.

HTC Desire 500 review

Video settings on the HTC Desire 500 are little lacking in comparison with the camera app.

You can choose between a set focus, or whether the video will refocus as you’re filming. This kept more of the video in the right focus as we filmed.

Video quality can also be toggled, meaning that you can choose to record in 720p HD, Wide screen 800×480 or MMS quality 176×144.

We doubt that many people these days will select MMS quality, given that MMS isn’t a service that is used an awful lot. It does mean, though, that you can record and send more video via WhatsApp.

In the way of scenes, there is normal and slow motion, so no extra fancy stuff there. The fancy filters on the camera are also unavailable whilst filming, and won’t be applied to any photos that you snap during filming.

YouTube :


It is hard to say that the HTC Desire 500 is a phone that has been geared up for media consumption. Let’s be clear, it will never rival the likes of the iPhone 5S, or even the cheaper iPhone 5C, as these are both significantly more expensive.

All the current indicators suggest that the lower costs of the device have meant that media has been placed lower on the priorities list. The lower resolution screen and poor internal storage both add up to a device that is more centred around communication.

That said, you can pop in a microSD card to boost the storage by a further 64GB. We wouldn’t recommend watching HD movies on the Desire 500, but you can put in a fair whack of music.

Music Player

Music playing is clearly what the HTC Desire 500 has been geared towards, given that it is probably one of the last phones that comes shipping with Beats Audio on board.

Sound quality was never going to rival the HTC One, at least not via the external speakers. Unfortunately, the Beats Audio isn’t available through the single rear speaker on the Desire 500.

This means that you won’t be blaring out your tunes to all and sundry, making you a far more respected citizen as you sit there with it pumping through your earphones. Again, HTC hasn’t provided the same fancy earphones that come with One.

HTC Desire 500 review

Maybe we’re being overly harsh comparing the Desire 500 to the One, given that it is shipping at around £300 less, but HTC liked to point out that it brings HTC One features to a lower price point, so the comparison is easier to make.

Despite the lack of Beats, the speaker on the back of the HTC Desire 500 is more than adequate. It is clear and loud, if lacking the same levels of bass that the Dr. Dre technology provides.

One of the key features of the music player is the fact that you can manipulate it through the lock screen. A basic widget pops up, allowing you to pause and skip tracks. This is a god send, as there are devices out there that don’t *cough Samsung Galaxy S3 cough*.

In all, the music player isn’t the most inspiring of apps, although it comes with the large album art that we have become accustomed to, alongside all the basic buttons.

The HTC music app does also allow you to search the songs you’re listening to via SoundHound, as well as updating cover and artist photos through GraceNote (if it can find it), or streaming the music to another device by Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

As most tracks listened to will be MP3, we don’t foresee running into any play back issues. The HTC Desire 500 does support eAAC+, WMA, WAV and FLAC file types, however.

An FM radio is also bundled inside the Desire 500, which can be used when you have some headphones plugged in. In all, it did a decent job of finding different stations, although they weren’t always as clear as we would have expected.


When it comes to video, we should mention the screen quality again. It might seem like a bigger problem than it actually is on the Desire 500, but for those that are looking for a device with serious movie playing capabilities, this isn’t the one for you.

Perhaps you could use the spare change, though, to go buy a cheapish tablet like the Google Nexus 7.

The screen is actually rather bright, meaning that you won’t be too disappointed if the HTC Desire 500 is the only player that you have with you. It is just the resolution that makes the movies seem a little below par.

HTC Desire 500 review

We commented that we thought the auto-brightness was a little low when watching movies on the HTC One, thankfully we didn’t feel that this was an issue on the Desire 500.

We foresee the majority of video being watched on the Desire 500 coming from the likes of YouTube, or through videos shared by friends via WhatsApp or Facebook, so we can’t knock it too much.

The player does also manage to play a large variety of movies, thanks to its support for the DivX, XviD, MP4, H.263, H.264 and WMV file types.

Battery life and connectivity

In our ever increasingly hectic lifestyles, we expect more and more from our smartphones. Consequently, we expect more and more from their supplied power packs. As many of us don’t carry around extra, its vital that the on board supply is sufficient.

HTC Desire 500 review

Thankfully, we can put many fears to bed because the 1800mAh battery that sits behind the plastic casing of the Desire 500, is more than sufficient.

We managed to get it through a day of normal use, with Wi-Fi connecting and disconnecting a fair few times, and sending a large amount of text and Facebook messages.

This could be in part because of the Sleep Mode that HTC has fitted its devices with, as it shuts down the data connection when the phone hasn’t been used for a while.

Power saving mode is also easily engaged via the notifications bar, allowing you to limit CPU power, the display brightness, disable vibration and data connections

Given that HTC’s have previously been known for their unpredictability when it comes to battery life, it is nice to that its current devices seem more than able to keep up with our modern life styles.

HTC Desire 500 review

A lot of this might be able to be attributed to the better software that Google has put out, as Android Jelly Bean runs Project Butter. This keeps everything running a lot smoother and as such, keeps the battery running a little longer.

We did find that we were able to keep the screen on auto-brightness, as it was able to keep up with the variety of bright situations we threw at it, and the smaller size will have also helped.

Having 1GB RAM also takes the strain off the processor, one that we thought might HAVE harmed the life of the battery as more cores means more power needed.


When it comes to connectivity, the HTC Desire 500 can hardly be called lacking. It comes with the wide range of features that the modern smartphones now ship with.

Bluetooth? Yes, 4.0 with A2DP. GPS? Yes, with A-GPS support (no GLONASS). The Desire 500 also comes with 3G (not 4G) mobile internet to HSDPA 7.2 / HSUPA 5.76 Mbps.

HTC Desire 500 review

The HTC Desire 500 does also come with Wi-Fi on board, to 802.11 b/g/n standard, meaning that there is no fancy dual-band technology. The charging port also doubles up as a microUSB port for connection to a PC.

We were also glad to see that the Desire 500 comes with DLNA streaming inside, something that we commented upon during the media section. This is something that we are seeing on a greater number of devices, so its inclusion here was nice.

NFC is also bundled inside the Desire 500, which can be enabled or disabled via the Settings menu. Portable Wi-Fi hotspots are also enabled.

As we mentioned, connecting to a PC is done via a microUSB cable, that comes bundled with the Desire 500 when you purchase it.

This then gives you the option of connecting via mass storage, or via the HTC Sync app. It is a smart desktop application, which allow you to manipulate your Desire 500, changing wallpapers and setting ringtones via the PC.

In all, we can’t say we were blown away by the connectivity options that are on offer with the HTC Desire 500, but at the same time we weren’t ever left disappointed.

Then again, to that, HTC would need to omit Wi-Fi or mobile data for us to ever be seriously disappointed in connectivity.

Maps and apps

HTC used to bundle in its own HTC mapping software, but has since lost that. The focus now, as with every Android device, is on the super impressive Google Maps application.

HTC Desire 500 review

We won’t go into huge detail on how the program works, as the chances are that you know exactly what we’re going to say. It is an app that nigh on everyone will be familiar with, as it incorporates the majority of features found on the full desktop version

Location speed was really impressive, load up the Maps app and it knew immediately where we were. It also loaded up the map of the surrounding area quickly, with larger cities also getting 3D modelling.

Multi touch gestures are also supported. A simple two finger swipe changes the perspective to give a more sat-nav like experience, and moving your fingers in opposite directions means you can rotate the map. Pinch to zoom is also enabled.

Saving maps seems a little convoluted, however this can be achieved by typing ok maps into the search bar, with a little notification popping up after to let you know the area has been cached.

HTC Desire 500 review

The need for a dedicated sat-nav has also severely diminished given that the Google Navigation software is so impressive. It does require a decent data connection and in-car charger though, to be fully useful.

The 4.3-inch screen is also a little small for you to be able to make the most out of it.


Being an Android powered device, a lot of the app attention for the HTC Desire 500 is on the Google Play Store. We’ve mentioned before how awesome it is, so we won’t cover that again.

The HTC Desire 500 comes with a Kid mode, something that we’re now seeing a wider range of devices. This allows you to give your phone to a child without running the risk that they will buy stuff from the internet or send a picture of who knows what to your boss, or worse, your girlfriend. The main interface is pre-loaded with games and activities

HTC Desire 500 review

The only annoying thing is you have to enable Kid Mode, where on Windows Phone the service is accessible from the lock screen, which saves you from a child with sticky fingers nabbing your phone.

HTC has put in a Notes app, that integrates itself with Evernote. Through the app, you can record voice and typed notes at the same time and see where they match up afterwards. This is a big help for those transcribing notes, so ideal for students in lectures. This will require you to get pretty hot on the keyboard, though.

Polaris office is on offer and will allow you to view and edit a whole host of document types. It’s an irritating app in that when you download a PDF it won’t let you read it – but then when you try to open it with Adobe Acrobat (which you have to download) you’re presented with an option to open in Polaris, and it does it better than Adobe. Grrrr.

Beyond that, we’re into the same territory as previous HTC devices, with the handy flashlight locked deep away in the menu, so make sure you turn it into an app shortcut if you live in darkness or like poking through stuff quietly.

And finally, the HTC Weather widget. How we love you. While Sense 5 has stripped away the temperature graph of old and replaced it with a list of temperatures for each hour, it’s still light years ahead of the competition, which push you onto a mobile site to just see how cold or hot it’s going to be later that day.

As we mentioned in the media section, the internal storage is pretty low. We found that over 3 of the 4GB internal storage was filled, so you’ll need to pop in a microSD card if you plan on installing pretty much anything.

This does provide a massive stumbling block as you’re left unable to download apps of any significant size before moving them over to the SD card. Students, or anyone for that matter, with a penchant for avians of a violent disposition will be left extremely wanting.

Hands on gallery

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review

HTC Desire 500 review


Now to the bit that you’ve all been waiting for, our final verdict on how the HTC Desire 500 performed throughout our tests.

The fact is, there is an awful lot resting on HTC’s lower powered handsets, as the HTC One didn’t propel the Taiwanese firm into the stratosphere in the same way the Galaxy S brand has done for Samsung, despite the fact that nigh on everyone raved about it.

A combination of tweens buying smartphones, a poorer global economy and growing infrastructure in developing countries mean that budget handsets are getting more and more important, which is where the HTC Desire 500 comes in.

We liked

Sense UI, now version 5, is one of the big features that HTC is shouting about on the HTC Desire 500. It is easy to see why. We’ve often resorted to third party launchers, just look at how bad the Emotion UI is on the Huawei Ascend P6. We didn’t need to, though, and flicking through the visual news feed was fun and informative.

Having a quad-core underneath will also be somewhat of a talking point, given that other phones of a similar price point, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and Sony Xperia M both ship with only dual-core 1GHz processors. Unlike on the ZTE Blade V, this was well integrated making the phone feel nippy throughout.

We were also glad to see Beats Audio, even if you couldn’t pump it out through the rear speaker. This gave all the tunes a little added extra, making the Desire 500 feel more like the iPod’s of old. Although you couldn’t put Beats through the rear speaker, it was still loud and clear.

We disliked

Let’s start with the big one, shall we, the internal storage. There are so many words we could use to describe it, but we’re going to stick with dire. How a phone can launch today with less than 1GB of internal storage free is beyond us, given the rise of HD movies and apps. Yes, you can put a microSD card in, but this doesn’t solve the problem.

We were also disappointed that the screen didn’t sit flush against the chassis. It might seem like a minor niggle, but it made the Desire 500 feel cheaper than it could have. There was also a slight scratchy feel when running your finger between the screen and the chassis, and when pressing it tight against your ear.

We also thought that the screen was a little low resolution. We know that HD screens are currently only really the preserve of flagship devices, but we would have liked to have seen more pixels inside, upping the resolution to qHD (960×540). We would have been willing to pay a little more for it as well.


The HTC Desire 500 is a phone that we really want to be able to love, with the blue and red versions that we encountered contrast nicely against the white chassis. Put on the wall of a mobile phone shop, it is a handset that will certainly garner a second look.

It is worth that second look, if you’re after a phone that you can fill with music and use to take the odd snap, but it falters heavily if you plan to watch a lot of movies or install any apps. We really do mean any apps, as there is just so little storage on offer.

Phones such as the impressive Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini are a better bet, as the increased storage space means you can install a range of apps, and microSD is also supported. That said, the Sony Xperia M also comes with small storage so maybe we’re being unreasonable.

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