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HTC Desire C VS Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

The low to mid range phone category is bustling with Android handsets priced between £170 and £220 and the HTC Desire C and the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 are two of the finest. The Desire C sits at the lower end of the price scale with the Ace 2 costing around £50 more. In terms of hardware, a glance at the spec sheets shows the Galaxy Ace 2 to be a much more capable device than the Desire C, but specs aren’t everything. How do these mid-rangers compare in real world use?

HTC Desire C VS Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: Design

Despite being cheaper, the HTC Desire C is the instant winner in terms of design. It turns on the charm with its soft touch backing and the pebble-esque form sits well in the hand. It’s personality shines with red accents which peak through the micro USB and explode when you remove the back cover. Despite feeling light and being plastic, it feels and looks significantly better than some more premium handsets, like the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2.

HTC Desire C and Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 comparison shot 1. HTC Desire C and Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 comparison shot 2 - back cover. HTC Desire C and Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 comparison shot 3 - back cover removed.

The Galaxy Ace 2 definitely feels more corporate and frill free. It packs curved corners and a larger display which softens the look slightly, however it boasts considerably less personality than the Desire C, doing the job if you’re on the market for a nondescript – but smart – phone.

HTC Desire C: 4/5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 2.5/5

HTC Desire C VS Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: Screen

The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 wins the screen stakes. The Ace 2’s 3.8-inch WVGA 800×480 display trounces the Desire C’s 3.5-inch HVGA 480×320 panel. Both are good in their respective size / resolution classes  and are responsive, however the Desire C is just too low resolution for comfortable web browsing and movie watching. 

HTC Desire C vs Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 screen comparison: 50%. HTC Desire C vs Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 75%. HTC Desire C vs Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 100%
In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2’s display is nice and sharp. It uses LCD technology, offers good viewing angles and relatively rich colours. It’s also responsive and shows off most of the Apps in Google’s Play store much better than the Desire C.

HTC Desire C: 2.5/5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 4/5

HTC Desire C VS Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: User Interface

Both these phones run Android, however the HTC Desire C runs the latest version, Ice Cream Sandwich or Android 4.0. Android 2.3 Gingerbread resides on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, which is now two versions out of date. Custom skins sit on top of both of these versions of Android though, so the majority of what you interact with is HTC’s Sense on the HTC Desire C and Samsung’s TouchWiz on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2.

HTC Desire C User Interface Screenshots

The latest version of HTC Sense is rife with subtleties and charm, more so than TouchWiz. While both cram in a host of widgets and refinements, HTC edges ahead with a combination of design sensibility and utility. We prefer the HTC Keyboard to that of the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2. Despite shipping with a smaller screen, the Desire C is very easy to type on, with great auto-correct.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 User Interface Screenshots

TouchWiz looks good on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2’s high resolution display, but it’s the same version as that released on the Samsung Galaxy S2 over a year ago. It’s starting to look a little tired and even when it launched it was busy with loud icons, backgrounds and widgets.

HTC Desire C: 4/5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 3/5

HTC Desire C VS Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: Camera and Multimedia

When it comes to camera and multimedia, it really is an easy call, with the 5-megapixel sensor on the Samsung Galaxy Ace packing a flash and autofocus, both of which are missing from the HTC Desire C and its 5-megapixel camera.

Both deliver pretty good picture quality though. The HTC Desire C produces some good landscape shots for a simple snapper with greater saturation and has some great filters and modes, however it really can’t compete in close-up or low-lit scenes. Detail is naturally better on the Samsung Galaxy S3 thanks to auto-focus, though you can get away printing photos from either up to about 6×4 or 7×5-inches.

HTC Desire C, left. Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, right.

Video is recorded at VGA resolution on the HTC Desire C and 720p resolution on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2. Neither have continuous auto focus, though both deliver solid frame rates and colour reproduction. The lack of photo light means that the HTC Desire C can’t cope at night, though it should suffice for most YouTube and Facebook clips. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 however is that bit more versatile and thanks to the higher resolution, content shot on it will hold up if exported to a TV.

Thanks to the on board 3.5mm headphone jacks, you can use your own cans with either phone, though sound quality on the HTC Desire C is definitely superior. We’re not sold on the Beats by Dre brand on the whole, but the Desire C has a richer lower end than the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and the Beats audio profile can be turned off when you feel it’s overdoing the oomph. The Galaxy S3 has sound effects that can be applied to improve the music player experience, however these don’t extend to third party apps like Spotify, as found on the Desire C.

HTC Desire C Music Player, Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 Music Hub

Speaking of the music player HTC Sense’s interface is more charming and usable than that of the Ace 2. You can also purchase music directly from it, unlike Samsung’s offering which forces you to open another app, Music Hub. Music Hub delivers the same 7Digital content available through HTC’s Music Player but looks less appealing. HTC’s player also has Soundhound and TuneIn Radio access which gets you one the ground running.

Video looks significantly better on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 than the HVGA Desire C and what’s more, with its dual-core processor, the Ace 2 can handle higher quality video files. The inclusion of AllShare means it’s also set up for streaming out of the box with a compatible TV, though neither has a video out port.

HTC Desire C: 3/5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 4/5

HTC Desire C vs Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: Connectivity and Storage

Both these phones ship with all the connectivity options we’ve come to expect from Android phones, 3G, WiFi-, GPS and Bluetooth. The Desire C also manages to cram NFC into the mix as well. In terms of ports, the Ace 2 and Desire C only offer a 3.5mm jack and micro USB and both are expandable via microSD card with 1GB internal to get your off the ground.

HTC Desire C Web Browser - Google Chrome, Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 Web Browser, WebKit

Web browsing is a confusing one. On the one hand, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, with its faster processor, bigger and better screen wins hands down when it comes to the sensory experience. On the other hand, the HTC Desire C runs Ice Cream Sandwich and that means it supports Chrome Browser. This is our preferred browser as it syncs bookmarks, passwords and history across desktop and mobile devices. So while the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is the better, faster web crawler, the Desire C isn’t without its merit.

HTC Desire C: 3.5/5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 3.5/5

HTC Desire C vs Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: Performance and Battery

Single Core 600MHz vs Dual-core 800MHz, on paper and in practice, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is winning. As with web browsing though, while the Ace 2 has the performance round in the bag, the Desire C isn’t a lost cause. For general UI swiping and music playback, the processor discrepancy isn’t too noticeable. Where it really becomes evident is with multi-tasking and 3D gaming. We were able to play Angry Birds, but Temple Run was a push and Riptide a no go. In contrast, the Ace 2 steamrolled through them all.

Battery life on both handsets tends to be a day to a day and a half which is good by Smartphone standards. That said, with the HTC Desire C’s humbler processor and screen and cell capacity (1230mAh as opposed to the Ace 2’s 1500mAh), it charges considerably quicker which is very handy.

HTC Desire C: 2.5/5
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: 4/5

HTC Desire C VS Samsung Galaxy Ace 2: Conclusion

Given the £50 price discrepancy, there are plenty of reasons to opt for the cheaper HTC Desire C. Anyone not in need of a work horse in their pockets who values better design both inside and outside will be well served with it. It also makes for a great MP3 player with its slick music interface and expandable memory. Having said that, for many it will be underpowered and if you’re getting your phone on a 24 month contract, the extra money will go a long way in getting you a more powerful machine. Lacking in charm it may be, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 will run virtually all the apps on the Google Play Store glitch free and packs a significantly better camera. So while we prefer the HTC Desire C thanks to its charm and design, we’d feel considerably more comfortable with the better specced, albeit more expensive Ace 2 nuzzled in our pocket.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

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