Saturday, June 14, 2014

Review: HTC Desire 501 – A mid-range no brainer!

Pros – HTC premium build quality, Good quality front & back camera and Design
Cons – Slightly overpriced, slightly under performing and slightly dated Android OS

The HTC Desire 501 was launched in India with a price tag of Rs. 16,000 in January 2014. This mid-range dual sim offering from HTC is powered by a humble 1.15 GHz dual core NovaThor U8520 processor, 1 GB RAM, MALI 400 GPU, 8 GB internal memory with microSD support up to 32 GB, 8 MP primary camera, 2.1 MP secondary camera, 4.3 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen and Android 4.1 JellyBean.

A couple of years back HTC had an upper hand in the mid-range segment with two very nice phones of the One series – HTC ONE V and HTC ONE S. Both sold well but from quite some time, there has been hardly anything from HTC which is remarkable, fresh or exciting. HTC already suffers from their over pricing strategies, poor marketing, uncertain Android OS update support and unexciting product line up. But then HTC phones have a charisma which is sorely missed in other manufacturer's phones. I myself is a big fan of HTC’s design and premium build quality. HTC Desire 501 is an attempt by HTC to rejuvenate  mid-range segment once again like they did before.

Screen & Build Quality

As always HTC designs stand out of the crowd. They are sophisticated, elegant yet simple. The phone carries the cues of premium HTC phones like the One. It is made up of fine grade plastic body which, however, cannot match the premiumness of unibody build quality but both have their shares of pros and cons. The phone is premium to hold and use. And the best part is that it is very light at 130 grams.

HTC Desire 501 sports a 4.3 inches  TFT capacitive touchscreen offering resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and ~217 ppi pixel density which is pretty ok for a screen of this size, however it could have been a notch better. The screen supports multi touch gestures. Day time visibility is good, color contrast ratios are also at par. Watching movies and reading text is quite easy on eyes. On the glossy back panel, there is an 8MP camera along with LED flash. HTC and Beats Audio logos are imprinted on the case. A 2.1 MP front camera is integrated on the top of the screen near the ear piece which is inspired by HTC One.

Camera, Buttons & Call/Audio Quality

HTC Desire 501 is equipped with very impressive front and back cameras. The 8 MP primary camera captures images with max res of 3264 x 2448 pixels. It has features like autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, face and smile detection, simultaneous HD video and image recording. The secondary  2.1 MP front camera is brilliant for skype video calling. For those who are looking for a phone with exceptional quality front camera, HTC Desire 501 is perfect for them. HTC Desire 501 has standard camera app as available in most of its phones. Important point to consider about its camera is that it is equipped with a BSI Sensor (For Better Low-light Captures) and Dedicated HTC Image Chip which results in far superior image quality when compared to 8 MP snappers on other phones. In other words, an 8 MP camera performs like an 8 MP camera and not like a 5 MP camera!

It has a power/sleep button on the top along with 3.5mm audio jack, Volume controller on the right hand side of the phone, USB cum charging port on the bottom of the phone along with noise cancellation micro phone. No dedicated shutter button on this phone. It would have been a perfect package for photography enthusiasts if HTC provided a camera button on this phone. Button quality seems to be good and should last prolong use. The audio quality is great, thanks to the beats audio hardware firing up the vocals and bass. Speaker is loud enough for usual alarm and ringtone sounds. Call quality is also pretty fine at both ends.

OS/Performance and Battery

HTC Desire 501 has a decent if not fiery hardware specifications which makes it worthy for casual users but power users just might not be satisfied with it. It has a 1.15 GHz dual core NovaThor U8520 processor, 1 GB RAM, MALI 400 GPU, 8 GB internal memory with microSD support up to 32 GB, 8 MP primary camera, 2.1 MP secondary camera and  Android 4.1 JellyBean. In the time when we have 4.4.2 on board on many devices, 4.1 jellybean looks passé. There is no promise of an upgrade either which is expected considering the 1.15 GHz dual core processor. Though 1 GB RAM, handles all applications pretty well but it is just not as snappier as it could have been due to the under performing processor. 

All apps and most games works well on this phone. No overheating complaints either. Web browsing using the stock browser is simply great. The stock browser provided by HTC is head to head with Chrome browser. HTC has provided usual apps like 7digital, soundhound, tuneinradio along with 25GB cloud storage with DropBox app. HTC Sense Interface is familiar yet still pleases all. The phone app, messaging apps are easy to use and customise. HTC Desire 501 also supports Near Field Communication i.e. NFC.

HTC Desire 501 has Li-Ion 2100 mAh battery which should last a day on moderate use like little gaming, youtube, texting, fb, whatsapp and calling. HTC has not provided official backup time specs for unknown reasons. It comes with 1 year manufacturer warranty for Phone and 1 year warranty for in the box accessories, other manufactures provides only 6 month warranty for in box accessories.


All in all, Desire 501 is a good phone for a casual user who wants a smartphone which performs all necessary tasks, has a good design and build quality and exceptional camera quality. No matter if it doesn't have a power hungry hardware under the hood but it handles all jobs of a smartphone in a niche manner. It could have set the sales charts on fire only if it was a grand cheaper, had a slightly better CPU and came with newer if not latest Android version out of the box.

Ratings (out of 5 stars)

Build Quality ****
Screen ***
Camera *****
Performance ***
Value for Money ***

Overall ****

 Specs at a glance

4.3 inches  TFT capacitive touchscreen offering resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and ~217 ppi pixel density

1.15 GHz dual core NovaThor U8520 processor
Mali-400 GPU
8 GB internal memory with microSD support up to 32 GB
8 MP Primary camera + 2.1MP front camera
Network Type
Dual SIM, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 GPS, GPRS/EDGE, 3G, FM Radio, NFC
Li-Ion 2100 mAh battery
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
66.9x128.5x9.8 mm
130 grams

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1 comment:

pankaj said...

Its very interesting post, good job

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