Review : HTC Desire 310 – Missing The Mark

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Introduction:

For almost a year and half, HTC disappeared from the budget segment of smartphones. Company was relying on some old and outdated handsets from Desire range to the work. And that didn’t seem to work, especially against the forces of Samsung, few Indian OEMs and now recently our beloved Motorola. It was also due to HTC’s obsession to provide quality handsets in every possible range but keeping prices down simultaneously was a problem. Not that their intentions were bad, but it hurt them where company could have made fortunes. Company has apparently found a way to manage both, meet Desire 310.

Design:

Desire 310 is certainly not a looker. It looks bland, to be honest. It looks like any other similarly spec’d handset from Indian OEMs. It’s just another touchscreen phone in this form factor. Precisely, it lacks the design we’ve come to expect from HTC. It doesn’t even come close to its predecessors, Desire C and Explorer, let alone the Desire 300. Our dark blue colored trial unit looked especially dull. But the overall finishing could have been better.
Front is taken by the 4.5 inch LCD display. Desire 310 has quite thick bezels, especially below the display. To cut the costs, HTC have chosen to go with on-screen buttons instead of physical (touch-sensitive buttons). Instead, below the display you’ll see HTC logo. There’s a earpiece grill above the display which tries to look stylish. Next to it sits the front facing camera with VGA resolution. Desire 310 lacks the usual ambient light sensor and proximity sensor.

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Turn to back and there’s a 5MP snapper seating at the near the top-center but without flash. At the middle there’s embossed HTC logo while near right bottom there’s Desire 310’s loudspeaker.

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3.5mm audio jack is on the top, microUSB port is on the bottom. Right side hosts volume rocker and power/unlock key while left side is naked.

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Under the back cover seats its 2000 mAh battery. Above it is microSD card and couple of standard size SIM slots, in double-decker format. None of them is hot-swappable.
Desire 310 gives good hold, partly due to the matte finish of the back. We’d advise you to avoid the dark blue color of the handset in any case. At least in photos, Desire 310 looks good in white and red colors. We can not help ourselves but wonder why HTC didn’t think of using Desire 300’s design with new hardware. It would have kept company’s name for sure.

Specifications, Performance & Battery:

Desire 310 is HTC’s first phone to run on the MediaTek hardware. This one in particular runs on MTK6582 SoC which has a quad core CPU running at 1.3GHz. There’s 512MB RAM present too. At this price-point you can easily get twice the RAM but with Indian OEMs. It’s got 4GB of internal memory out of which around 1GB is available to user. The 4.5 inch display on Desire 310 has FWVGA resolution with pixel density around 217 ppi, so it’s acceptable. But the display has very poor contrast ratio and viewing angles. From certain angle onwards, colors will look washed out. With so much of awareness, we’re sure users too would be looking for HD displays (at least 720p) and there exist handsets with such displays.
As far as performance is concerned, and we mean what we felt while using it as our daily driver, not benchmark numbers, it was very much decent. We too were skeptical of its performance as it has MediaTek SoC and lower amount of RAM. But the OS loaded has been tweaked to its maximum and we must, must give credits to HTC for this.

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One visible trick here is that, HTC has done very little customization to the OS. There are very few traces of its traditional Sense UI. Even the icons have been taken from stock Android. This as a whole, leaves fair amount of RAM for user applications. Desire 310 posted good numbers in benchmarks too.

Operating System: Android Jellybean (4.2.2) and (less) Sense UI

Desire 310 runs on Android Jellybean (4.2.2) which is fairly outdated now. While that doesn’t impact functions users get, latest versions will always be welcomed by us and users. Since the handset doesn’t have very power hardware to handle the load of the UI customization, HTC has kept the customization to the minimum. This in itself is a good news. We already know how much load OEM customization put on the hardware and then messes up the user experience by slowing down the handset. During our extensive trial, Desire 310 didn’t show any signs of sluggishness.

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As a part of the minimized Sense UI, users get the famous Blinkfeed option, which is a part of the homescreen. For those who don’t know, Blinkfeed is a hub where you can see updates from various sites and services, such as news sites and social networks. In this particular version of the Sense UI, Blinkfeed can completely be turned off. Maximum number of homescreen panes you get, however, is limited to only four, whereas in standard Android it is seven. We, for one, are happy with the number.

App launcher too has been replaced by the Sense launcher. It consists of vertically scrollable pages of app icons. This time around HTC has used stock Android icons. You can arrange icons in different orders.

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Notification bar, however, doesn’t get any Sense UI treatment. It is also taken from the stock Android, so icons in the notifications bar didn’t look quite as good as their counterparts from Sense UI. There’s standard toggles or quick settings panel available too.

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Keyboard is one more component which has been carried forward from the Sense UI. But the washed out display makes it really tough to see the keys on the dark keyboard. Especially the symbol keys on the keyboard look very faded.

Rest of the UI is totally stock android. It uses Gallery from Android but users do get separate Video Higlights app from Sense UI which creates small videos of their photos in the gallery.