HTC released many devices in 2012 and the highlight of the range is the One X+. At the opposite end is the humble Desire C, which is an update to the Wildfire S, released in 2011. In most respects, the Desire C is very much an entry level handset but it does have a few surprises.
Hardware specifications are not always relevant when it comes to lower end handsets as potential customers are more interested in features and design rather than clock speeds and memory capacities. In this respect, I believe that HTC have almost hit the nail right on the head: the handset's only real weakness is that it's sluggish, which makes itself known by some lags using the interface and especially when browsing complicated websites. I appreciate that part of the reason why I find the Desire C a little sluggish is because I'm used to the Google Nexus 4, which is anything but sluggish!
The Desire C uses HTC Sense 4 over Android Ice Cream Sandwich, which still looks and feels contemporary. Taking the back off this handset reveals a startling bright red interior complete with a 1,230 mAh replaceable battery. The core specification consists of a 600 MHz Cortex A5 processor with 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB of internal storage. If you buy the HTC Desire C you also receive an extra 23 GB of Dropbox space for two years. It has a 3.5″ 320 by 480 pixel screen, the same size as the first five iPhone handsets but in a much smaller and lighter chassis. Around the back is a 5 Mpixel fixed focus camera, which lacks a flash or HTC's ImageSense camera technology that the more expensive models have. You'll also find a MicroSD slot, Dr. Dre's Beats audio enhancements, high speed WiFi, Bluetooth 4 and on my review model, NFC, which is optional depending on the market.
As you can see from the list of included technologies and radios, the Desire C might be a lower end handset, but it has a full set of features.
Thanks to the Desire C coming with plentiful internal storage, there's lots of space for applications, something of a weakness of HTC's earlier lower end handsets. The screen is nothing special in this day of 720p and 1080p HD screen resolutions, but I found it sensitive enough in use. HTC Sense 4 is easy and refined to use, but occasionally suffers from lags to remind you of the slow processor.
Battery life is respectable with the caveat that downloading over 3G is hard on the battery. In day to day use and with plenty of music, mostly in range of WiFi but sent to my Bluetooth wireless headset, the Desire C would last until the middle of the following morning. Your mileage will vary. I also appreciated that the handset did not take long to recharge; I'm used to larger handsets with comparable battery life but much larger batteries, which take longer to top up!
Just on that note, I found the Desire C to be a superb music companion as it works well with Google's Play Music and my 32 GB MicroSD card. Beats Audio is to my taste most of the time and if it's not, it can be disabled.
From a productivity perspective, I find the Desire C to be respectable. It has plenty of space for applications and worked well with Dropbox and Documents-to-Go. The biggest compromises are that you need to wait for the device to complete tasks and scroll more on the smaller, lower resolution screen. The Desire C is capable enough to handle document edits, Google Currents, news websites and of course the email and social network accounts. The slow processor means that it takes a moment to open a long document but we are talking a dozen seconds rather than a second for the Nexus 4 or HTC One S.
And so to summarize: the Desire C may be HTC's entry level 2012 handset, but it has plenty of software and hardware features and only one real weakness: the sluggish processor. Although I like the handset and it's a great introduction to HTC Sense and Android, I cannot help but feel that some people will outgrow the device very quickly. For everybody else looking at using a smartphone, there is a lot to recommend about the Desire C.