Nope, we’re not getting the One M10 at Mobile World Congress this year - but that doesn’t mean HTC has turned up empty handed.
The mid-range Desire line-up has been given a bespeckled makeover for MWC, with three new phones that pack in the features for a more affordable price than the big bucks flagship.
Unfortunately we won’t be getting the Hi-Res Audio-packing Desire 630 or the oversized Desire 825, but Blighty isn’t completely missing out; the Desire 530 is on the way, and we’ve had the chance to put one through it’s paces ahead of the official launch.
Drive me dotty
The Desire range has always opted for plastic and polycarbonate over more expensive metal, and this year is no different. The big change for 2016 is the multicoloured paint job on the back.
HTC is calling it microsplash colour, and the painting method means every single phone will have a unique pattern and texture. It’s pretty subtle, but you can definitely feel the individual bumps under your fingers.
We’re big fans of the ’Starry Sky’ blue hues, but the white handset in our photos looks pretty tasty too.
The modular construction means you’ll be able to pick and choose your favourite colours, with contrasting frames and back panels adding another personal touch to each phone. It definitely stands out, so it’d be a real shame to cover it up with a phone case.
Power me up
The Desire 530 is physically identical to the more expensive Desire 630 - in fact, a lot of the images in this preview are actually of the 630.
They’re a little different on the inside, though. The 630 gets a Snapdragon 400 CPU with 2GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera and dual SIM card slots, but the 530 drops this down to a Snapdragon 210, 1.5GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera and a single SIM card.
That makes it feel a little sluggish compared to more high-end phones and a world away from top-spec flagships, but it’s still quick enough to run Android smoothly if you stick to one app at a time. You get Marshmallow out of the box, and even with the latest HTC Sense skin running on top it responded quickly to swipes and taps.
The 2,200Ah battery is a little small for a 5in phone, but at least the 720p screen won’t drain a significant amount of power. 16GB of storage is right on the money too, plus you get microSD card expansion for adding more later.
Flash in the pan
There's no escaping the fact that the 8MP camera is one of the Desire's weak links, as there are plenty of other budget phones that have made the leap to 13MP sensors. HTC's still paired it with an LED flash, at least, so low-light shooting should still be reasonable.
The results were admittedly a little grainy, but that's probably because HTC launched the thing in a basement bar - give it enough light and it should still be able to produce details and colours worthy of your next Facebook profile pic.
The 720p screen resolution looks a little bargain basement too, but only when you've got your nose pressed up to the glass. From a regular distance things don't look too pixellated, even with the panel stretching those pixels across 5 inches.
Colours seem pretty neautral and brightness wasn't a problem either, although without taking it outside and testing against the bright Barcelona sunshine we don't know how it'll handle super bright light.
HTC Desire 530 Early verdict
It's getting harder and harder to separate budget and mid-range phones, as the specs all melt into each other and manufacturers do their best to replicate the iPhone without actually infringing on Apple's copyright. We're glad that's not the case here; the Desire 530 stands out on its own thanks to that unique design twist.
It was never going to set the world on fire for performance, but it didn't really need to; if you want to stand out from the sea of metal effect and plastic fantastic phones, the Desire 530 fits the bill.
You won't have to wait long to pick one up, either. HTC says it's on the way in March, although we don't know a price yet. Fingers crossed it comes in at under ₹20,000, but either way we'll make sure to take a more in-depth look a little closer to launch.