The HTC Desire 300 is a mid-range Android smartphone that is surprisingly well built and good looking. Outwards, the Desire 300 looks great with its pleasing curves and a spacious but not excruciatingly large 4.3-inch display. Moreover, it comes at a very affordable price.
The Desire 300 is a plastic device, but we would not count this against it as it feels every bit as good as plastic can. HTC has nestled the innards in a curvacious yet still thin soft-touch plastic body. It feels great to hold and since it’s matte plastic it does not stain easily so the phone looks as clean as new even after long use. In case you somehow ruin the back, though, it easily comes off and can be replaced.
In terms of build quality, the whole device feels very solidly put together without any screaking parts. It does not feel fragile at all and that’s a good thing.
In a world of 5-inch and larger phones, this comparatively smaller handset feels very comfortable to hold and great to use with one hand. The physical buttons are located on top and on the right side and we find them clicky, easy to press and to find without even looking. There is a volume rocker on the right and a lock key on top.
Overall, with very clean and eye-pleasing design and great ergonomics, the Desire 300 has the good looks and feel, close to that of premium devices. HTC offers the phone in black and white color versions.
The HTC Desire 300 features a 4.3-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. With no on-screen virtual buttons, the handset has all of the 4.3” screen real estate to itself and the display does not feel undersized. The screen is not among the sharpest out there, but it’s not terrible either; we have to admit that text and icons are pixelized.
We are pleased by the vibrant colors that the Desire 300 puts out, especially given its affordable price. The screen has very deep blacks and nice contrast to it. It is not without its slight flaws of course and if we had to pick the nits, we’d mention that colors tend to be on the colder side and reds appear a bit muted.
The screen is not the brightest out there, but it has enough luminance to be readable in broad daylight. Viewing angles are very good and images preserve their natural colors even at more extreme angles.
Interface & 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 & 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.
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