HTC Desire 530 review
Our Thoughts: A balance of price vs features
After an extended hands-on with the HTC Desire 530, it quickly became apparent that this is a worthy contender for king of budget Android Marshmallow smartphones.
From around £130 SIM free and from a little over £9 per month on a 24 month contract, it is truly time to rejoice.
Design - The style of 2016
If you cannot afford a metal smartphone then the very next best thing is a smartphone with a soft touch polycarbonate unibody. The HTC Desire 530 sports just such a body and this is coloured in a choice of matte colours.
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If matte colours schemes aren’t for you, then you can make a splash by choosing this phone a micro splash finish on the rear case. This is basically a splatter of coloured dots and the completely random placing of these makes no two HTC Desire 530s the same.
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The volume key is nicely placed and below this is a power key that has a textured finish and is coloured in an opposing colour. This means that you can always wake up the phone with ease, no matter whether it is day or night.
Display - As vivid as a Samsung
It is hard to deny that Samsung phones typically have the brightest and most colour vivid displays on the market. But, the HTC Desire 530 has a 5” Super LCD HD display that is just as vivid.
The resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels, which equates to 294 pixels per inch. This screen sits on a phone that is 8.3mm thick and at 140g, it is almost weightless.
Phone Set Up
Getting started - Tons of customisation
HTC phones are pretty flexible when it comes to making them unique. The HTC Desire 530 has access to thousands of HTC Themes and these give new wallpapers, app icons and sounds. It is also possible to create your very own themes at themes.htc.com.
On the home screen, the HTC Desire 530 has an app tray with Sense Home. Sense Home populates the app tray with different apps depending upon where you are and what you are doing. The three variations include home, work and out. It is also possible to choose the apps that you think should be in each of the app trays, rather than staying with the ones that HTC has chosen to be relevant.
Swiping from left to right drags in the HTC BlinkFeed screen. This is simply a live feed of updates from your social networks such as Google+, Twitter and LinkedIN. In addition to this, the News Republic app can feed into BlinkFeed with news topics that interest you.
On the opposite side to the volume and power keys is a slot for extending the memory. Of the 16GB memory, 9.8GB is free to the user and if needed the HTC Desire 530 can hold a microSD card of any value.
Operating System - Android Marshmallow
Even though the HTC Desire 530 is an absolute bargain, the full Android Marshmallow experience is ready to amaze. Three of the most useful features include:
Okay Google - This voice prompt activates the virtual assistant who can make Google Voice Searches or do a portfolio of tasks such as setting reminders, all without the need to type a single character.
Google Docs and Sheets - Open, edit and create spreadsheets and documents, without purchasing additional software like Microsoft’s Word and Excel. Docs are backed up online and available across all devices and users can even take the leap into the world of dictation with voice typing, formatting and editing.
Google Now - A long press on the home key activates Google Now, which instantly assesses the content on the page being viewed. It then gives links to hotel bookings if a hotel is mentioned, reviews if a restaurant is mentioned and so on.
The whole experience is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 1.1 quad-core processor with 1.5GB RAM. This may be far from cutting edge but even after a lengthy hands-on with the HTC Desire 530, I could find nothing to complain about.
Connectivity - Music, navigation and the internet
The least impressive feature on the HTC Desire 530 is its speakers. The phone has a dedicated amp to boosts volume and bass as well as a HTC BoomSound ‘effect’ with Dolby Audio.
In the real world, music playback volumes are just acceptable and the bass is far from overpowering. Overall, it is probably not a deal breaker, particularly when considering that the phone can connect with NFC or Bluetooth to external speakers and other media devices.
HTC gifts a free headset in the box and music playback through this is as loud as you could want it, with plenty of bass.
Google Maps is readily available for turn-by-turn navigation and it is easy to download maps for offline navigation. The HTC Desire 530 can also connect to the internet over 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi and a simple touch creates a Wi-Fi Hotspot for letting other devices, such as a laptop or games console, connect to the internet through the phone.
Camera & Video
Photography - Top notch
The 8MP camera is top notch and really easy to use. To start with there is a level line across the viewfinder that makes it easy to ensure that the horizon is level. HDR ensures that both dark and light elements in photos look detailed and the panorama mode produces excellent wide angle and detailed results.
Swiping left or right on the viewfinder switches between panorama and the two cameras. The second of the cameras is a 5MP selfie camera and the shutter can be activated by saying ‘cheese’, tapping the display or simply by smiling.
Image editing - Zoe and Google Photos
The photo editor on the HTC Desire 530 gives tons of options that you wouldn’t expect to see on a phone at this price. Filters can be applied, solid shapes or semi-transparent photos can be placed on top, animations can be added and beautification tools can reshape the face, smooth the skin and enlarge the eyes.
Zoe can turn photo albums into short videos with filter effects and music and these can be saved or shared by email or through a social network. Google Photos is well worth using here as this gives free unlimited storage and backup of photos and videos online. Google Photos can also tag photos with locations or attach maps to them.
Power - Charging rapidly
The 2,200mAh battery may charge at a standard pace when connected to a laptop or computer with a USB cable. But, charging the phone with the supplied mains charger activates rapid charging and it is surprising to see just how quickly the phone recharges.
Even with reasonable use, the battery lasts all day with official HTC figures hinting that thebattery can sustain up to 10 hours of HD video playback, 84 hours of audio playback 9 hours of Wi-Fi internet browsing, 14 hours of talktime or up to 29 days of standby.
Power saving and extreme power saving modes can also be activated for balancing performance with longevity.
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Final thoughts: The HTC Desire 530 is an absolute bargain and the only chink in its armour is the slightly under powered speaker. This certainly isn’t a deal breaker and the HTC Desire 530 deserves a 9 out of 10 when compared to other budget smartphones.
Written by: Michael Brown