HTC Desire 626 Review: Great for HTC Lovers on a Budget

HTC Desire 626 Review: Great for HTC Lovers on a Budget

I feel like I’ve been writing articles about HTC phones like this a lot lately. The HTC One M9 overheated, didn’t have the best display, and it didn’t have the best camera, but if you love HTC Sense, it’s perfect for you. It reminds me of the iPhone 5/5S days when Apple wasn’t producing anything particularly exciting, but if you love iOS, the iPhone 5 was for you.

Now don’t get me wrong, HTC Sense is one of the better Android skins out there. This is why I say “great for HTC lovers” rather than “terrible for everybody”. HTC provides a certain kind of a smart phone experience. They’ve put a lot of work into it, and it’s worth checking out.

The HTC Desire 626 comes in at about $180, so we’re expecting a budget phone here. Note that for a budget phone, the HTC Desire 626 actually packs quite a punch. It features an 8 MP rear camera with a flash, a 5 MP front camera, and an HD display. Of course, it also includes HTC Sense 7.

HTC Desire 626: Specs

Finding the specs for the HTC Desire 626 wasn’t easy. I looked it up on GSMArena and it gave me the specs for two models that were not the one I had. These two models either includes an octa core MediaTek processor or a quad core Snapdragon 410. As it turns out, mine was the U.S. model.

CPU 1.1 GHz Quad Core Snapdragon 210
GPU Adreno 304
Display 5″, 720p, 294 ppi, IPS LCD
Body 146.9×70.9×8.2 mm, 140 g
Camera 8 MP, 3264×2448, 5 MP Front
Video 720p – 30 fps, Front 720p – 30 fps
Storage 16 GB, Expandable to 200 GB
RAM 1.5 GB
Battery 2000 mAh
Price $180

I think that the spec sheet here is interesting, to say the least. From the looks of it, they meant to make a solid mid-range here. You have 1.5 GB RAM, which is pretty good, since your standard lower mid-range device is 1 GB. You get 16 GB of storage, which is really solid for a lower mid-range.

You also have an 8 MP rear and 5 MP front camera. From there, it looks like a really solid mid-range. Then you see the 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 210 processor and you’re like, ooooooo.

I feel like the HTC Desire 626 is tragically underpowered. I was happy to finally be able to spend some time with Qualcomm’s latest generation of low end processors, but I was disappointed in the results.

The Snapdragon 210 is a quad core ARM Cortex-A7 processor that only goes up to 1.1 GHz, making it a slower clock speed than the original Snapdragon 200 could handle. It does, however, support LTE and a better GPU (Adreno 304).

Now, here’s the thing. The Snapdragon 200 and Snapdragon 400 were both generally 1.2 GHz quad core ARM Cortex-A7. The benefit in the Snapdragon 400 was the Adreno 306 GPU where the Snapdragon 200 has an Adreno 302 GPU.

So enter Qualcomm’s next generation of Snapdragon processors and we have the Snapdragon 210 and the Snapdragon 410 on the lower end. The Snapdragon 210 is a minor upgrade, supporting LTE and a better GPU; however, the Snapdragon 410 is a massive upgrade.

The Snapdragon 410 is ARM Cortex-A53, which is a big difference from ARM Cortex-A7. It’s also 64 bit where the Snapdragon 210 is still 32 bit.

This is why we’re seeing more and more lower end phones using the Snapdragon 410 instead of Snapdragon 210, such as the LG Lancet, Blu Win HD LTE, Blu Win Jr LTE, the new Moto G, the new Moto E, and so on.

There’s a reason that I’m going on and on about this, and that’s that the Moto G comes in at the same price point as the HTC Desire 626, and it’s unlocked.

HTC Desire 626: Rear Camera

The rear camera on the HTC Desire 626 is an interesting one, to say the least, mostly because I was able to find out almost nothing about it. I couldn’t find the aperture anywhere. This one is 8 MP, although international models are 13 MP.

It’s the HTC Camera app you’d expect, but it only has three settings, which are your main camera, your front camera, and panorama.

That’s really all I can say about the rear camera without showing photos.

As we can see, photos look pretty good. Nothing looks too oversaturated or washed out. Low light performance isn’t great, but the single LED flash works well.

HTC Desire 626: Front Camera

The front camera is one of the better aspects of the HTC Desire 626. It’s 5 MP, which is quickly becoming the standard in a front camera. It seems like only a year ago that OEMs were using 2 MP front cameras. Oh wait, that was a year ago, and it’s unacceptable today, even in a lower end device like this one.

As we can see, the front camera is just fine. I was particularly impressed with how well it handled bright lighting. It handled low light pretty well as well. The fact that you can see my face at all in a photo taken with the front camera on a device at this price is remarkable.

HTC Desire 626: Benchmarks

Benchmarks suck. They so rarely reflect the real world usage of a device. Unfortunately, they are the best tool we have for “grading” the performance of a device.

I use Geekbench 3 for battery tests on Android and iOS. It has two settings, dim screen on and off. The dim screen is toggled off on the left. On the right, it’s, you guessed it, on.

HTC Desire 626 Battery

So, battery life is pretty great on the HTC Desire 626, which is pretty much the device’s saving grace. The HTC Desire 626 has some pretty nice features, which are pretty much what HTC Sense is all about; however, the vastly underpowered processor really hurts it, but it does help the battery life.

Next, we’ll look at Geekbench 3 and AnTuTu scores.

HTC Desire 626 Bench

OK, so as we can see here, the multi core score is under 1,000. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Snapdragon 200 devices to compare it to but I’d love to know if anyone has one. I mean, the Snapdragon 210 is Qualcomm’s next generation low end processor, but it seems less powerful, as it loses 0.1 GHz and it’s still ARM Cortex-A7 and 32 bit. If they dropped 0.1 GHz and it was ARM Cortex-A53, it would be a different story.

Next up, graphics tests. The first test will be GFXBench 3.1, which tests OpenGL 3.1 and the second test is GFXBench 3, which tests, you guessed it, OpenGL 3.

HTC Desire 626 GFX 3.1 HTC Desire 626 GFX 3

OK, so the graphics scores here aren’t fantastic, but at least it performed the test. The Moto G didn’t run the OpenGL 3.1 test at all. It said out of memory every time I tried to run it.

HTC Desire 626: Review

Every time I review a phone, I make a video review before I write the written review because some things are just better talked about, so here’s that.

The big benefit to the HTC Desire 626 is Sense 7. Android skins got a bad name because of Samsung’s Touchwiz and let’s face it, earlier versions of HTC Sense sucked. Around Sense 6, it really started to get pretty good.

With the HTC Desire 626, you get themes, you get Blinkfeed, and you get the Sense Home widget, which is really awesome stuff. Here’s the catch: you really have to like HTC Sense.

Make no mistake, the HTC Desire 626 is underpowered and there is noticeable lag. If you like HTC Sense and you’re on a budget, the HTC Desire 626 is the phone for you.

There is one other alternative. You can always grab one of the international models of the HTC Desire 626. I mean, it’s a pretty sweet phone all in all. The international models have 2 GB of RAM instead of 1.5 GB and a 13 MP rear camera instead of 8 MP.

Also, the international model can either come with a quad core Snapdragon 410 or an 1.7 GHz octa core MediaTek processor, both of which are ARM Cortex-A53. I’d love to get my hands on the international model. Unfortunately, I haven’t, but it seems clear that they’d be well worth it.

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About the author
Rich Woods

Being a computer programmer wasn't enough to fulfill his love of technology. In 2013, Rich founded For the Love of Tech and has been writing about his love of tech ever since.