Angled view

Quick take

The HTC Desire 626 is built to be an affordable and worthwhile purchase. While it isn't the frontrunner of the class, it still packs a punch. The battery life, design, and easy expansion of storage space are fantastic even when the trade off is a lower resolution screen and a single speaker.

The Good

  • Awesome battery
  • Great size and design
  • SD slot for expanded storage

The Bad

  • Single speaker
  • low resolution
  • below average load times

desire 626 wood backing

Desire 626 Full Review

The affordable Desire line from HTC have been staples of European and Asian markets for years, and now that the US it getting in on the action there's even more reason to pay attention to these phones. In a market that already has some strong contenders HTC definitely needs to make an impression. The Desire 626, with its $230 unlocked price tag, is certainly versatile enough to catch the eye of a fickle consumer base, but maybe lacks the power needed to seal the deal for everyone.

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HTC didn't go for any one feature that is amazing, instead opting to build a solid device from top to bottom. The software and design are fantastic, even when the phone does fall short in other arenas. It's also got the addition of HTC's Blinkfeed and Sense 7 software to really give you an edge on easily customizing your experience. As the trend of affordable devices continues, it's interesting to see what that means to different companies.

Here is our review.

About this review

We're publishing this review after using a 16gb white Desire 626 for two weeks This unit is running Android 5.1 with Sense 7 (Build 1.10.502.1). It's running exclusively on the AT&T Network in Baltimore, MD which has great coverage.


oh so pretty

Desire 626 Design

The Desire 626 has a plastic unibody casing that has a great feel to it. There isn't any way to open it up, or access the battery with minimal ridges even where the main and contrast colors meet up. You do get a slot on the side which allows you sim card access, and gives you an SD slot if the onboard 16GB of storage doesn't cut it for you.

Though it is a plastic unibody, the case is solid, without any bend or flex to it. It's a good size too, fitting easily enough into my hand that I can use my phone one handed. The Desire 626 doesn't have any kind of shiny finish on the case, which means it doesn't feel slippery, or like I might lose hold of it at an inopportune moment.

I've got the 626 in white with a grey stripe of contrast, but it is available in a bunch of colors. They all follow the common theme of a main color, with a contrast stripe. The main color of the phone covers the back, and front, with the contrast running around the sides. It also has soft rounded corners which gave me more confidence that I wasn't about to drop it.

For whatever reason I just couldn't get it through my head that the power button was on the bottom, with the volume rocker above it.

There are only two actual buttons on the Desire 626, and they're both seated on the right of the phone. The volume rocker is at the top, with the power button seated underneath it. They're both of a decent size, and protrude from the side just enough that you can feel them without having to go looking. I did keep having an issue of hitting the volume bar when I meant the power button, and vice versa. For whatever reason I just couldn't get it through my head that the power button was on the bottom, with the volume rocker above it

The casing extends to the front of the phone, before meeting up with the screen. Above and below the screen are speaker grills — although there is only a single speaker. The HTC branding is evident under the screen, and in the middle of the back of the smartphone. The front facing camera is on the upper right, and just barely recessed from the casing. The rear facing camera is of course on the back, with the flash. We'll get to that in a minute.

I definitely enjoy the look and feel of the HTC Desire 626. It's got a sturdy, solid feel in my hands and doesn't feel slippery in my grasp either. The colors are well chosen, and everything is right where it needs to be. There isn't anything groundbreaking here, but the design looks and feels great.

HTC Desire 626

Don't expect miracles

Desire 626 Hardware

HTC didn't pack anything amazing into the Desire 626, which isn't a big surprise. The phone still works well with minimal stutter, and a slightly longer loading screen than I'm used to. When running multiple apps, or downloading a large file the casing got a little warm but it never got uncomfortably hot in my hand.

Category Features
Display 5-inch HD (1280x720)
OS Android 5.1 with HTC Sense
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 quad core @ 1.1 GHz
Storage 16GB with microSD card
Size 146.9 x 70.9 x 8.19 mm
Rear camera 8MP with backside illumination, autofocus, 720p video
Front camera 5MP with BSI, 720p video
Battery 2,000 mAh
Sensors Ambient light, proximity, accelerometer
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.1, Wifi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

The plastic casing for the Desire 626 does tend to get a little warm with extended use, running with a Snapdragon 210 processor. It never got super hot, but it definitely got warm enough that it became noticeable. Generally this was when I had been playing a game for a while, or watching videos, and it cooled back down again quickly.

Battery life is absolutely fantastic.

The processor can leave just a bit to be desired. If you're running multiple apps, it tends to slow a bit. You can definitely expect to wait an extra few seconds for apps to open, but it still gets the job done. There are occasionally a few stutters, but each time the phone recovered quickly and went back to being nice and smooth.

The battery life on the Desire 626 was absolutely fantastic. I could plug it in to charge overnight and not have to plug it back in all day, starting my day around 11am and ending around 2am. Since I'm constantly on my phone throughout the day, this was fantastic to see. On the off chance I did need to charge, due to an extended gaming session or something, I'm immediately tethered to the wall for a couple of hours if I want a full charge. The lack of Quick Charge is understandable, but frustrating all the same.

The features that have become staples in the One line are still missing here, especially double tap on the screen to open your phone. It can take some adjusting to get used to if you're moving from a phone with these abilities, but it's understandable to keep the phone affordable.

The screen is a decent 5-inch display, but the quality isn't great. I'm a big fan of pictures, and everything you view on the Desire tends to render a bit weird. It ends up looking like someone took a sharpening tool to the pictures. This probably a move from HTC to compensate for the lower resolution of the display. It works well for text, but if you're used to photos on a higher quality display, you'll occasionally notice things aren't quire right.

Adequate but not amazing

Desire 626 Audio

Sadly the HTC Desire 626 is equipped with only a single speaker — that double audio grill on the front is just for looks. The speaker isn't particularly amazing, but it isn't terrible either. Its pretty strong for a single speaker, but clearly not BoomSound.

With headphones on audio quality is mid-range. There is no way to manually fiddle with options to adjust the levels or anything baked in without a third-party app. You'll get decent mids and tolerable highs, but bass is flat and software isn't likely to fix that.

Using the Camera

getting the job done

Desire 626 Camera

The camera on the Desire 626 is fun to use, provided you are in a well lit environment without any sudden movement. Like many smartphones in this class it takes great pictures given decent lighting to work with. However both cameras tend towards graininess when you are dealing with low lighting, and without OIS movement is almost always a problem.

The HTC camera app gives you plenty of options. You can grid out the screen to make it easier to get the exact shot you were looking for, and the face sensor is pretty good as well. At the bottom of the camera screen is where you can set a timer, switch between photo or video, see your gallery, and access options like switching between your front and back camera.

After taking photos there are some built in editing options. This means applying flair, themes, rotating crooked shots, and removing red eye from your phone. There are some filters as well, mostly in different colors. IT's a lot of simple stuff, but nice to have at your fingertips after taking a shot.

While the camera for the Desire 626 works well in ideal conditions, it just doesn't perform great otherwise. The graininess of photos was the biggest problem. The onboard editing can help this to a degree. It's also not that the pictures are terrible, they just aren't quite up to par with what I am used to.


An old favorite with new tricks

Desire 626 Software

You can expect to see the Desire 626 running Android 5.1 as soon as it comes out of the box. For the most part everything is where it should be, but there are a few tweaks to be aware of.

The Home widget remains as a suggestion platform to get you the apps you need, for where you are. It's actually a 3 sets of apps; one for home, one for work, and another for away. You can adjust which apps show up when, and it will automatically detect which screen should be showing based off of GPS. One of the bubbles that can't be customized on this widget are the suggestions; filled with apps that HTC thinks you might like depending on your usage.

Desire 626 screenshots

BlinkFeed might be a little bit of a shock if you aren't already used to using it on HTC devices. It's an aggregated newsfeed, which pulls from the social media accounts you connect to it. I'm not a huge fan of BlinkFeed because I like getting lost in my newsfeed, but it is a great way to get all of your news and info in a single place. It's also a great way to catch up when you've only got a moment to spare and several social media accounts to check in on.

quick settings

Customization is where you can get excited about the Desire 626. It comes equipped with HTC Sense, which means you get access to themes. Instead of giving you a few themes built into the phone, Sense gives you access to hundreds of user made themes in dozens of categories. There really is something for everyone, and it's easy to adjust how each theme will show up on your phone.

There is some bloatware to be found on the Desire 626, which really shouldn't come as a surprise. Since it's an AT&T phone you can expect their take on navigation, transferring info, and more all preinstalled for you. There are a few apps, but they honestly aren't so bad and can be easily dealt with.

The software is certainly solid. There isn't an egregious amount of bloatware, and the inclusion of Sense and BlinkFeed give you some real customization options to pursue.

Desire 626 optical illusion

Hardy and pretty

Desire 626 In the end

HTC has done a good job of making the Desire 626 a contender with it's options, instead of with its specs. There isn't anything about the phone that is done in an over the top manner, instead giving you a good starter phone that is solid across the board.

While it is somewhat underpowered compared to other phones in the affordable smartphone market, the addition of HTC's Sense and BlinkFeed do make a pretty impressive difference. Sense in particular gives you far more customization options than you might see otherwise, at least so easily anyway.

With a lower price point than many of it's opponents, HTC seems to be banking on you saving a few dollars rather than enticing you with features meant to catch the eye. The resolution on the screen can be a bit jarring, but it's easy enough to adjust for. You are after all, getting what you paid for. With the HTC Desire 626 you're paying for a solid device to get the job done, not anything super shiny.

bottom screen

Should you buy the Desire 626? Maybe.

The Desire 626 is a decent phone, but nothing about it is amazing. Compared to some other phones in the same price range like the Moto G, the Desire 626 comes in a bit underwhelming. If you're a already a fan of HTC's Sense software, and you're looking for a phone in the $200-$300 range then this is a decent choice. Otherwise, it's worth shopping around to find the best bang for your buck. best bang for your buck.