Review – Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 626s: The perfect stocking stuffer?

One of the most recent phone trends is making good devices inexpensive and inexpensive devices that perform well. Almost every major smartphone company, including HTC, is hopping on this trend, with the exception of Apple. The Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 626s is a perfect example of this trend. For a minimal price, is this phone the best holiday gift for the price or just simply cheap?

Starting with the look and feel, there almost is nothing to argue about. Even today, in the age of humongous, unwieldy devices, the 626s is a great size, and to quote Goldilocks, it is feels “just right” in the hand. The smooth, rounded plastic of this thin phone coupled with great placement of buttons (volume rocker and power on side of the phone) give the phone a great feel. There is the classic HTC look, with bezels on the top and bottom around the glass. On the top, there is an in-call speaker and a front-facing camera, and on the bottom there is a loudspeaker for media along with a microphone. All things considered, it has to be one of the best-looking phones on the market right now.

Speaking of the front of the phone, the front-facing speaker is a great idea. Many HTC products, like the Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 816 4G LTE, incorporate a high quality speaker system dubbed “Boomsound” on the front of the device. The 626s doesn't have this, but its speaker is sufficient, and its location makes it great for video, music and speakerphone calls. It may not be the absolute best audio in the industry, but for its price tag, you really can’t complain.

Above the speaker is the device’s screen. The 626s's screen is a 720x1280 pixel 5-inch HD display with about 294 ppi. The 720p HD display is a great balance, as it looks good yet uses very little battery. Also, for its price range, a 720p HD display is pretty great. Most everyday actions don’t require a screen better than this anyway. The screen is still able to deliver vibrant colors and deep blacks.

The device is running Android 5.1 with HTC Sense version 7.0. With 1 GB of RAM and a 1.1 GHZ quad-core processor, the Desire 626s is responsive and snappy in almost every normal gesture. When running processor-intensive games, there was only a small amount of lag, which isn’t bad considering the $130 price tag. The device only comes with 8Gb of internal storage, but has a Micro SD card slot that supports up to 200Gb of external storage, so storage is definitely not a problem. HTC’s Blinkfeed lets you see everything you want in one place, and Quick Settings give you access to a lot with a simple swipe of the finger. Once you get around to customizing the 626s, the vast amount of ways to do so may surprise you. There are so many ways to customize this phone’s look and feel. You can change app skins, accent colors, gestures, every sound, as well as so many other things, making me feel like the phone was truly mine.

One downfall of most budget Smartphone’s is their cameras. The 626s (unfortunately) is guilty of this as well. Sporting an 8 megapixel back-facing camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera, the 626s’s cameras aren’t particularly flashy, but it can produce some high-quality images in daylight, especially when compared to most devices in a similar price range. The device is capable of 720p HD video recording. The camera is the one feature I’d like to see improved, but it gets the job done.

One thing to take note of on the 626s is the battery life. The 2000 mAh battery is more than enough for this phone. With its 720p HD display, it really doesn't use much battery at all, and the 2000 mAh battery will last you at least a whole day on average. If you are a very heavy phone user, or simply forget to charge your phone sometimes, don't worry. The 626s has two built-in battery saving programs ready for you to use. There is Power Saver mode, which does exactly what most phones’ power savers do, and then there is Extreme Power Saver mode. Extreme Power Saver only allows select applications to run and turns off many features and ultimately will extend battery life tremendously when you need it to. With so many flagship phones dying halfway through your day, it is refreshing to have a phone fix that problem at a quarter of the cost.

The Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 626s is simply a great option for a new Smartphone. At its price, it may just be one of the best phones for the money. The phone performs great and looks even better. The Virgin Mobile HTC Desire 626s rises above its competition and is a highly recommended buy for the holidays!


Jonathan Fogel, Posted 12/1/2015

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