Can you imagine using a phone running KitKat in 2016? We certainly can’t, but it’s apparently not that hard for HTC. The Desire 626 Dual Sim would have been a very decent phone a couple of years ago, but with Android 4.4 as an OS at launch, it was out of date before it even hit the market.
Keeping that in mind, we’ll try to keep this review as short and simple (definitely not sweet) as possible.
Build Quality: 6/10
The phone is made almost entirely of plastic and doesn’t feels cheap. Of particular note is the power button, which, while well placed, is the most mushy power button I’ve ever had to use. It’s as if the button is soaked in molasses; it takes its own sweet time getting back up. Granted, this might be an issue with this particular review sample, but it’s not like the volume buttons were any better either.
In terms of design, the volume and power buttons fall on the right of the device and the SIM card dual-SIM tray on the right. At the bottom you find a single micro-USB slot for charging and the 3.5mm headphone jack resides at the top. Very standard as far as HTC is concerned.
What’s not standard are the dual-front firing speakers which grace the front of the device. Thankfully, the rear camera also doesn’t protrude. Given the size of the device, it sports a 5-inch screen, it fit very nicely in the hand. It’s just too bad that the device felt so cheap.
The device features a 5-inch, 720p screen, 4G support, 16GB internal memory and 2GB of RAM. The processor is a MediaTek MT6752 and you get a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, both of which can record video at 1080p. The device also supports microSD cards up to 32GB in capacity.
The battery is a measly 2000mAh one and isn’t removable. The device supports Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and GPS. A pretty bland feature-set, particularly with regards to the screen. That said, a 720p resolution on a 5-inch screen isn’t bad and it’s not like you can see the pixels anyway.
The display is a bog-standard 5-inch, 720p display. Nothing outrageous here. Colour rendition was good. The brightness was good enough for use in direct sunlight and the viewing angles were okay.
The first nail in the 626’s coffin is the OS. Android 4.4.4 on a device in 2016 is just not acceptable and we can’t think of any earthly reason as to why it has to be so restricted or why HTC didn’t update it after launch. It was immensely frustrating using 4.4.4, especially after getting used to 5.0. Sense is anyway a skin on top of Android, but it’s a very mild skin that doesn’t affect too much of stock Android’s functionality.
The device performance isn’t bad at all when you’re using it. Everything responds quickly and animations are smooth. The apps and games we tried ran flawlessly, thanks in part to the lower resolution screen and Android 4.4.4.
Most benchmarks however put this device quite low down in the list, even when compared to similarly specced devices as the Lenovo Vibe S1 (though the S1 does boast of 3GB of RAM).
The camera on this device was a surprise. A surprise because we didn’t expect a decent camera in a device that HTC seems to have forgotten. The shots in daylight are fair, bordering on good. There’s a fair amount of detail in the images and the colours, while a bit on the warmer side, are also acceptable. As with the A9, the camera seems to have considerable trouble metering reds and they usually end up a shade of maroon.
Night shots were noisy and not very good, but you’ll have to take our word for it. We accidentally wiped the images from the device when returning it, forgetting to take a backup before hand. But it doesn’t matter as the output was quite noisy and focussing in low light was an exercise in frustration.
Battery Life: 4/10
While the lack of software upgrades for the device are bad enough, the problems with the battery alone will dump this device solidly in the “do-not-buy-under-any-circumstances” category. We just couldn’t get the device to charge properly with the chargers that we had at our disposal. HTC’s own QuickCharge 2.0 compatible charger would charge the device at record speed, but the device would also drain in record speed. We had to try multiple chargers before we found some low power chargers that would charge the device at a reasonable enough rate and got it to hold charge for longer than an hour.
Even after spending hours charging the device, our standard battery test would fail and thus, we don’t even know how well it fares in our battery life tests. Anecdotally we can say that the battery life was abysmal and we’d consider it a good day if the device managed to give us about 4-5 hours of usage. This is terrible because even the worst phones we tested managed to push out 6 hours of usage.
Verdict and price in India
Please don’t buy this phone. It retails for anywhere between Rs 11,000 and 14,999 and at either price, it’s a waste of money. Android 4.4.4 and battery life issues notwithstanding, there simply are better phones available at the same price and there’s no point subjecting yourselves to a device like this. The Redmi Note 3 and LeEco Le 1S Eco for example are in another league altogether and available for around the same price.