HTC Desire 300 Review
Interface and Functionality
The Desire 300 runs on the somewhat dated Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean platform with HTC’s own Sense 5.0 skin on top. This clean and modern iteration of Sense is familiar to smartphone afficionados as it’s been used in a bunch of phones by now, starting with the HTC One and down to HTC’s more affordable devices.
The key feature of the Sense skin are cleaner looks compared to older HTC user interfaces and the BlinkFeed news aggregator that brings together social updates and news in a Flipboard-like vertically scrolling list. You cannot disable it, but you can put it in the right-most home panel so it does not stand in the way, if you don’t like it.
Apart from BlinkFeed, HTC Sense is characterized by its charcoal color scheme that is not as bold and cartoonish as say Samsung and LG’s skins. In terms of actual functionality, it’s a mixed bag. We don’t like that oft-used functions tend to get buried down in menus and simple actions like adding a shortcut to your homescreen or adjusting the screen brightness are unnecessarily complicated.
On the flipside of things, most core apps like the dialer and messenger look good. HTC’s contacts app allows you to conveniently swipe between tabs. The keyboard is great - after mixed feelings initially, we’ve come to love it for its large and spacious keys that provide for an awesome typing experience.
Processor and Memory
Performance is where the so far nearly picture-perfect Desire 300 image starts to fall apart. The handset feels underpowered from the get-go - a stutter appears quite often when you navigate around and some core apps often lag or take a long time to open.
The reason for this lies under the hood. The Desire 300 runs on the most basic Snapdragon S4 chip, the MSM8225. It’s a dual-core 1GHz chip, but unlike most other S4s it is build on an older and less efficient, 45nm technology and is based on the dated ARM Cortex A5 architecture. It’s a chip that became available in the first half of last year and in late 2013 it definitely feels slow. The fact that the handset packs merely 512MB of RAM on board does not help either.
In terms of graphics, you get Adreno 203 and this will be enough to get less demanding yet still popular games to run. Temple Run 2 and other endless runners for instance would work with a slight stutter, but playable.
We ran our usual suite of synthetic benchmarks and here are the results we got, as you might have guessed they are not very awe-inspiring.
Another big gripe with this handset is the low amount of storage on board. The Desire 300 comes with 4GB of internal storage, but the user available space is below 2 gigs. That is definitely insufficient. Luckily, storage is expandable and you can add up to 32GB more via microSD card.
Internet and Connectivity
HTC has equipped the Desire 300 with both its own browser and Google’s mobile Chrome for accessing the web. We like both solutions - HTC’s browser feels just a bit richer in options, but has a clunkier user interface, while Chrome is clean, simple and speedy with a brilliantly optimized mobile UI. You can feel a slight stutter in browsing on both, especially when scrolling around, but nothing terrible.
The Desire 300 does not support 4G LTE connectivity and is instead limited to 3G. Downlink speeds max out the fairly low 7.2Mbps, and you may feel this if you stream a lot of videos or download larger files to the device.
Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n and GPS, but fancy stuff like NFC is missing.