HTC Desire 510 Review

on Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Design, Features, and Call Quality
The Desire 510 looks a lot like the Desire 610 we reviewed on AT&T—it's mildly reminiscent of HTC's higher-end lineup, thanks to large black bezels framed by strips of speaker-laden plastic at the top and bottom. Sprint offers the phone in a single matte, navy blue finish. At 5.51 by 2.75 by 0.39 inches (HWD) and 5.57 ounces, it's a bit large for an entry-level phone. The Crystal is more compact and lightweight (5.17 by 2.64 by 0.4 inches and 4.97 ounces) even though it packs a larger display. Volume buttons are on the right edge, while the Power button is frustratingly positioned on the top left corner, making it a pain to reach with one hand. The back peels off to reveal a microSD card slot and removable 2,100mAh battery. In a battery rundown test, where we stream a YouTube video over LTE with screen brightness set to max, the Desire 510 lasted for a middling 3 hours, 51 minutes. 

HTC really drops the ball with the Desire 510's display and speakers. The 4.7-inch, 854-by-480-pixel TFT LCD is one of the worst I've seen in recent memory. The viewing angle is too narrow, and even from dead on, everything looks washed out and grainy. Maximum brightness is average, which makes the highly reflective screen even more of an issue outdoors. On top of that, the 510 is missing HTC's signature front-facing speakers; instead there's an anemic, rear-mounted speaker.
The 510 supports Sprint's 3G CDMA (800/850/1900) and 4G LTE (850/1900/2500MHz) networks. Sprint continues to bring up the rear in terms of mobile network speed and coverage, as we found in our latest Fastest Mobile Networks tests. The network's newer Spark LTE helps remedy the issue where it's available, and the 510 supports Spark frequencies. In my tests, call quality was only average—volume in the earpiece is sufficient, if underwhelming, and transmissions through the mic are easy to understand, but not particularly clean thanks to intermittent static. Noise cancellation works reasonably well, but don't expect any miracles on loud city streets.
There's 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but only on the slower and more crowded 2.4GHz band. Also onboard are Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS radios, both of which worked fine in my tests.
Performance and Android
The Desire 510 uses a quad-core, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC. It's similar to the Snapdragon 400 we've seen in countless low-end Android phones this year, but, as I mentioned earlier, this is the first 64-bit chip to launch on an Android smartphone. What does that amount to? Nothing, basically. The Desire 510 turned in benchmark scores that were right in line with phones using the 32-bit Snapdragon 400, and it was clearly no barnburner in regular usage. It's not a particularly slow phone relative to its price, but the 64-bit processor makes little difference at this point. Android 5.0 Lollipop is the first version to support 64-bit processors, and the Desire 510 is currently running Android 4.4. On top of that, I doubt any significant number of Android apps exist that are optimized for 64-bit processors.

HTC's Sense 6 skin runs atop Android 4.4 with a spattering of custom apps for Gallery, Music, and Videos. The BlinkFeed social and news aggregator is still enabled by default, but you can easily remove it if you want. There are two power saving modes: Power Saver and Extreme Power Saving. The former reduces screen brightness, dials down CPU performance, and limits data connections when the screen is off. The latter is similar to what we've seen in the HTC One (M8)$0.01 at Amazon, reducing functionality to feature-phone level to eke out every minute from the last few percentages of battery.
Of the 4GB of built-in storage, a pathetic 0.84GB is available to users out of the box. It's one of the worst storage situations I've ever seen, and even though you can expand storage easily with a microSD card, you can't easily move app data over to external storage. That means you'll be limited in how many apps you can install—we weren't able to install our complete set of benchmark apps, and don't even think about games like Asphalt 8, which require at least 1GB of free storage. Sprint loads a good deal of bloatware, including titles like Nascar Mobile and NBA Game Time, but most of them are removable. Even deleting every possible app leaves you with less than 1GB of storage.
Camera and Conclusions
Like the lackluster display, the 5-megapixel rear-facing camera on the Desire 510 is a letdown. It harkens back to feature phone quality, with shots that verge on Impressionistic even in good outdoor light. Details are severely smudged away by image noise and processing in low light. Video tops out at 1080p, but looks equally unusable by most standards.
Simply put, the HTC Desire 510 is a feeble flag bearer for 64-bit on Android. Its display quality is marginal even for a low-end device, and it's hobbled out of the box thanks to nearly non-existent internal storage. The Desire 510 receives no clear benefit from its 64-bit processor. Skip this phone and grab the Sharp Aquos Crystal, which features a stunning design and great 720p display.


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