HTC Desire 300 Review – the small, cheap baby of the bunch

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HTC Desire 300 Review

When I heard we were going to be reviewing another HTC phone, I couldn’t help be get excited, hoping it would be the baby HTC One. If you remember, the HTC One Max stole my heart when we reviewed it last year, and I made the bold claim that I would happily buy it as my next phone. Instead of an HTC One Mini, were were sent the baby of HTC’s line. This is the HTC Desire 300 review.

HTC Desire 300 review:

Launched in December 2013, the HTC Desire 300 was made as a cheaper alternative to the Flagship HTC One range. What’s clear, is that the Desire 300 takes styling tips from the Flagship. When first looking at it, you notice the large speaker at the top of the phone above the highlighted badge of the Taiwanese maker.

HTC Desire 300 Review

Despite being at the cheaper end of the scale of HTC phones, they haven’t given up on style. The clean lines, minimalist look and small design make for an attractive look. The front is one piece of glass, unbroken by physical buttons (relying instead on soft buttons for back and home). The top of the front is capped by a plastic earpiece where the camera sits too, accented by a slim silver ring.

HTC Desire 300 Review

The back is a single shell of plastic – black or white, depending on colour – with only two holes: one for the rear camera and one at the bottom for the speaker. This shell covers the edges too, with cut outs for the microphone and micro USB charging port on the bottom and headphone jack on the top. The power button (on the top) and volume rocker (on the right hand edge) are the only physical buttons on the phone.

HTC Desire 300 Review

To reach the Micro SIM, Micro USB and battery, you have to take the plastic shell off. This is by no means an easy task, and you are quite likely to lose nails in the process of taking it off. This isn’t an ideal design from an access point of view, but not one employed solely by HTC (remember the Moto G had the same problem). It does, however, make the phone a sturdier construction and as the utilities behind the are not something you will access every day, a liveable design drawback. The nice thing about the HTC Desire 300 is that although made entirely of plastic (other than the glass screen), it doesn’t feel cheap. In fact I prefer the design to that of my own Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in terms of materials used.

Hardware:

The HTC Desire 300 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play 1 GHz Dual-Core Cortex-A5 processor with a Adreno 203 GPU. This is backed up with 513 Mb of RAM. The less than spectacular hardware makes for a cheap and current phone, although by no means futureproof.

The display is a 4.3 inch TFT screen with a resolution of 480×800 with a pixel density of 217 PPI. Internal memory is set at 4 Gb, expandable to 32 Gb with a Micro SD card. Connection wise, there is 3G and HSUPA data connections, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and GPS.

Benchmark tests:

As always, we submitted the HTC Desire 300 to a set of benchmark tests using AnTuTu 4 and Quadrant Standard Edition.

AnTuTu Results:

With the hardware onboard, we weren’t expecting stellar results. In fact, the HTC Desire 300 managed a score of 7697, placing it bellow a Samsung S2 and Nexus 4.

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As for the 3D Graphics, it ran the OpenGL ES2.0 test and reached a score of 2055.

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Quadrant Standard Edition Results:

It was in the Quadrant SE results where I was surprised, however. We usually use this version of benchmark test to show how the devices we test compare with older devices which were out several years ago. To date, all the devices we’ve ran through Quadrant have always come out on top, usually by a long way, showing how far mobile technology has come in the last two years. However, the HTC Desire 300, despite only being three months old came out in third place bellow the HTC One X and Asus Transformer Prime TF201, scoring 3084.

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Software:

The HTC Desire 300 currently runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and HTC’s UI Sense 5.0. This means it comes pre-installed with HTC’s Blinkfeed, a home screen designed to show you all of your social feeds, news and weather in one place. Beyond the Sense UI, there is very little extra added by HTC other than a Radio (which uses the included earphones cable as an aerial), and Polaris Office.

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Camera:

HTC Desire 300 Review

The HTC Desire 300 has a 5 MP camera on the back capable of taking VGA quality video, whilst on the front, the camera is, again, of VGA quality. The sample pictures taken were by no means astonishing, but were acceptable for a 5 MP camera. It’s unlikely to become your default camera, but will be more than useful when out and about for a quick snap. Video calling won’t be great quality, but then again, with VGA resolution, you’re not likely to get any choppy video feeds.

Both the video and camera have access to a 4 x digital zoom, but on the video, this will lower the quality more (see the video sample below). The major downside, of course, is that there is no flash on the back, making low light shots (and therefore many indoor shots) out of this device’s reach.

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Battery:

Powered by a 1650 mAh battery, we managed to get good figures from it. After 2 1/2 days on standby whilst testing from a full charge, the battery was still at 75%, and that was with benchmark testing, mild use and lots of uploading to the cloud. Charge time was roughly 90 minutes. The AnTuTu stability test came out well for a little phone like this, but with only a Dual-Core processor, why wouldn’t it?

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Conclusion:

Whilst not the most impressive phone on the market, the HTC Desire 300 certainly won’t break the bank, going for £139.99 on Amazon.co.uk off contract. Most networks will supply this phone free on a contract (if not, you’re being done). Despite missing some “key” elements, such as flash, NFC or much power, the HTC Desire 300 would be a good first smartphone or even a spare to keep in the drawer in case of emergencies. Despite some good looks and a good price tag, you can’t help think there are things which would have made this phone a bit better.

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