The Desire 516c falls in a category where there are some very good smartphones now available, thanks to the competition. But again, there arises a question in the buyer’s mind whether those competitor devices are still worth a buy against this, because the latter has a better brand value? Let’s check out, whether the Desire 516c is really worth the price, or not.
The Desire 516 was already out in the market, and the 516c is the Dual SIM variant of the same, with one CDMA SIM slot. There is nothing different, except for the connectivity that led to different models and names. But the more important point here, is that we could possibly be comparing this smartphone with the likes of Moto G 2nd gen, Xiaomi Mi3, Asus Zenfone 5 16GB variant and Lenovo S850. Though the device in question here is no where close in specs, are there any surprises packed in?
HTC is a brand known for making some beautiful smartphones, in any price range. No exception with the Desire 516, which is made to give a good comfort to the users, and though it won’t stand to claim to be one of the slimmest, the curves towards the sides ensure that you don’t feel the phone to be large, for a 5-inch screen size. At the same time, don’t expect this phone to have a heavy metal body, as it is all plastic from front to back, and the polycarbonate back cover is removable. Though we had to put some force in, with the equal risk of that thing breaking while trying to pop out the back cover from the slot provided in the bottom.
On the front, the earpiece and HTC branding occupy a little space beside the front camera above the display, and below the display, are the three touch sensitive navigation buttons, which do not light up and they come with the standard white border as a part of the design. The power/lock button is on the right frame, while the volume rocker buttons are on the left side. The slots for MicroUSB and headset are both on the top, and the device has just a single microphone, towards the bottom.
On the back, there is a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, and the HTC branding towards the center is a good silver engraving. The speakers are given on the back, near the bottom, which although is given a good mesh cover underneath, isn’t placed at the right spot. Upon lifting the back cover, you’d notice a removable battery, slots for SIM cards and a MicroSD card slot.
The display is low on resolution, with 960 x 540 pixels giving it a low pixel density at 220 PPI. It is not very bright on maximum brightness, and it was hard to read the content on the display under sunlight. As this is a good 5-inch screen. HTC chose not to waste space for the navigation keys, thus you get to see those touch buttons below the display area and the entire display can be used for the app content.
The colors are brilliantly shown on the display of Desire 516c and this isn’t one of those displays (recently on Samsung and Sony phones) where there was an extra bluish tinge and that was unnatural, but here, no such issues.
OS, User Interface and Apps
It is that UI which HTC uses (Sense UI) on their smartphones, and it always looks very good with vibrant colors and the transitions that keep the users interested. As we write the review, the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS on this device does receive a software update, but that isn’t a major update to the next version. Still, it is clear that the device isn’t being ignored and HTC is still looking to address minor issues to keep the UI clean and free from bugs, even if it isn’t the latest OS version.
There is Blinkfeed, the RSS service which gives stores from the best sources, and that takes place as the first home screen among the multiple ones which can all be customized to have app shortcuts, widgets and such. The app drawer has the pages in vertical orientation, and only the grid size can be changed.
There are several pre-installed apps, and with “several”, we mean it. Over 50 applications are pre-installed (including Settings and such sections as well), and that doesn’t include the social networking apps that user installs as soon as he/she starts using a smartphone. This being a Dual SIM device, there are settings for both of them over voice and data connectivity.
Out of the 4GB internal storage, what is available to the user is 1.58GB (again of which about 450MB is available for apps, unless you make more space available by deleting the unneeded pre-loaded apps). But the MicroSD card slot is a savior here, for those who had no problem storing media files in an external source.
Under the GPS settings, there are options to switch between GPS locking using satellites, WLAN & mobile network and Assisted GPS (server to assist GPS). Nothing else is interesting or new in this interface, than the fact that it looks similar to the interface in other HTC devices, good and easy to use and navigate.
The 5-megapixel camera doesn’t impress at all. Below are a few camera samples to back up the views. The issue with the camera was that we couldn’t get the focus right on the object even after multiple tries (manual focusing was possible though). While having the flash turned on, there is no use of focusing manually before hitting the shutter button, because after you hit the shutter button, it takes a couple seconds when the flashlight is kept on and then focuses on the object by itself before finishing the capture.
The camera app interface although is simple to look at, it confuses a little in the settings. There is HDR mode available, and the other options include color effect, face detection, touch Autofocus, saturation, contrast, sharpness, Anti banding, ISO, Exposure, White balance, Flash mode, countdown timer and storage position setting.
The panorama at least looked better than the normal captures, because on 180-degree rotation, there was no visible demarcation between any possible frames, or it could be because the camera is taking everything in a single frame like a video, and then generating the picture. Whatever the case, the panoramic capture came out pretty well.
Performance, Battery and Others
Performance wise, if you want to squeeze out a lot from a device powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, you are asking a lot already. But you still expect this to give you no issues or lags while using the Desire 516c normally. The phone does take it with ease, and out of the 1GB RAM (about 896MB in actual), a fresh boot gives about 510MB free and that is still enough for some multitasking.
The high-end gaming experience wasn’t good though. For example, we played the Asphalt 8 game and within the first few seconds after the game started, the app crashed. The Desire 516c very easily played some other games, like Minion Rush and Angry Birds, and the video playing on Youtube was possible without a problem. We again could see some issues when playing a 1080p video directly in the device.
The battery life is more than what we had expected, because it lasted for over a day. The battery never drained aggressively on web browsing or even when the screen was on for long. The 1950 mAh battery isn’t bad at all, and the overnight battery drain when the 3G was active, was just about 8%.
The voice quality on calls is good, and the speakers on the back are loud but not very clear. The only issue here is the placement, because it is on the flat surface on the back, and not towards the curve, thus the sound output is not to the highest level when the device is placed on its back.
The Desire 516 Dual SIM is not a bad choice if you are looking at a smartphone from a well known brand, but if you have a wider view on choices, there are several devices that beat this one in competition. For this price range, you can go for the 2nd gen Moto G, Asus Zenfone 5 or even the Gionee Marathon M3, each of which have something better than the Desire 516 Dual SIM, though it has a good battery life compared to the ones from Motorola and Asus.