Most of the attention given to HTC this year has gone to the flagship HTC 10 phone (well, alright, most of it went to the Vive), but HTC isn’t ignoring the rest of the pricing tiers. Their budget phone, the Desire 530, is hitting a couple carriers this week, although with its specs, it looks like tough sledding once again for the struggling smartphone maker.
The good news for HTC is that the Desire 530 looks pretty cool. Unsurprisingly, the back shell is made of polycarbonate instead of metal, but HTC is dressing that budget look up with a micro splash effect — basically, they have spray nozzles jetting random dots of paint onto the backs of their phones during molding, making each phone unique. And, for a budget 5″ phone, it’s pretty thin and light at 8.3 mm thick and 140 grams. Not bad!
Those good looks will have to outweigh the spec sheet, which looks pretty dire. The 1280 x 720 display is OK, but 16 GB of storage, 1.5 GB of RAM, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 SoC look dated — we wouldn’t expect very good performance, and at $180, that’s expected these days. Fortunately, the storage problem is mitigated by an increasingly elusive Micro SD card slot that supports cards up to 256 GB. The 2,200 mAh battery is a bit small, but with these specs, we’d expect the Desire 530 to have pretty solid battery life nonetheless. Rounding things out are a Micro USB charging port, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, GPS, and NFC, although the latter will vary by market.
Fortunately, HTC phones usually have strong cameras and audio, and that seems to be the case here. For a budget phone, the 8 MP BSI rear sensor is decent, while the 5 MP front camera is a little better than we’d expect, and can take selfies with voice commands. On the audio side, the Desire 530 has HTC BoomSound technology, along with an internal amp.
The Desire 530 is coming to T-Mobile and Verizon, and will be available in Blue Lagoon, Sprinkle White or Stratus White colorways. Pricing will vary by carrier, but you also have the option of buying a Sprinkle White Desire 530 unlocked from HTC for $180. That pricing might be too aggressive — we’re seeing more and more mid-range phones bordering on high-end for between $200 and $250. The Desire 530 is firmly positioned as a low-end phone, making it a tough sell, even if that micro splash finish is awfully pretty.