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Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and HTC Sense 4.5 on the phone are two editions older than the current ones.

The Sense 4.5 user interface is loaded on the HTC Desire 501, coating the almost two-year-old Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This iteration of Sense doesn't have the HTC BlinkFeed news and status aggregator, as well as the HTC Zoe artsy collage maker that come standard with Sense 5.0 and above, for instance.

This HTC Sense version is characterized by a lot of animations and colorful 3D elements, and 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. Moreover, the heavier visuals don't run as smooth and seamless as the newer, simplified Sense editions, so prep yourself for some lag while swiping and scrolling, though it's nothing you can't live with.

HTC Sense is a pretty uniform-looking and functional interface, with a lot of helpful features, but the default on-screen keyboard here on the Desire 501 is not one of those. The keys are squished too tight to one another, with little distinction, making you tap two or three at once. The 4.3” screen size means you can do it with one hand without having to prop the phone with the other as is the case with so many big-screen handsets these days.

Dual SIM

One of the selling points for the Desire 501 is that is supports Active dual SIM functionality, meaning that you can get a call on the second card while talking on the first one, but the faster 3G download speeds (up to 14 Mbps) can be perused on only one of the SIM card slots. The other one maxes out at EDGE speeds.

There is an app called Dual network manager, which takes care of assigning your preferred SIM slot, renaming the cards, and turning the individual connections on or off.

Processor and memory

The basic NovaThor processor has some issues with the heavily-skinned interface.

The HTC Desire 501 comes with a 1.2 GHz dual-core NovaThor U8500 processor by ST-Ericsson, and Mali-400 graphics. This SoC is far from the speediest out there, so while we can confirm that the phone is responsive most of the time, we were annoyed by the sometimes laggy process of switching between apps or interface elements. When it comes to gaming, most games run fine, but some of those heavier 3D titles might run at unimpressive frame rates. HTC has put 1GB of RAM in the handset, and 8 GB of internal memory (5 GB user-available), plus a microSD slot with up to 32 GB cards support.

Quadrant Higher is better
HTC Desire 501 2854
HTC Desire 500 5046
Motorola Moto G 8512
LG Optimus L7 II 2823
AnTuTu Higher is better
HTC Desire 501 10493
HTC Desire 500 11211
Motorola Moto G 17014
LG Optimus L7 II 6674
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
HTC Desire 501 407
HTC Desire 500 390
Motorola Moto G 499
LG Optimus L7 II 331

Internet & Connectivity

Panning and scrolling are acceptable in the browser, but it has web page rescaling issues when you zoom out.

The stock web browser on the HTC Desire 501 is okay, but we have definitely seen better. In terms of speed, it loads web pages in a timely manner, and we can't complain about lack of responsiveness while interacting with them. However, the zooming gesture behaves weirdly, causing the page to shift to the side when you zoom out. Having the text reflow feature turned off eliminates the issue. We must mention that the web browser comes with built-in Adobe Flash support, but don't expect it to work perfectly on all pages.

The phone sports European/Asian network setup, and you can enjoy 3G download speeds up to 14.4 Mbps on the primary cards, while the other slot supports 2G only. The phone also features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and DLNA connectivity, which is a pretty decent laundry list for the category.

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