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(Pocket-lint) - The HTC Desire 601 is the latest mid-range Android smartphone from HTC and sits above the recently announced HTC Desire 500, but below the HTC One flagship range and in particular the HTC One mini. In many ways the HTC Desire 601 could be seen as the plastic HTC One mini.

Pocket-lint was given access to the new device, which will come in black, white, and bright red, to find out more ahead of its official unveiling.

We've anecdotally called it the plastic HTC One mini in the Pocket-lint office because there are plenty of similarities at first glance. The Desire 601 features the same front-facing BoomSound stereo speakers, which dominate the design. There is also Beats Audio, a feature of HTC's existing range, and it comes with those familiar HTC Sense 5 features, like BlinkFeed and Zoe capture, making it a similar proposition.

Baby soft, not aluminium hard

Of course that's at a quick glance, but you soon realise that the HTC One and more importantly the HTC One mini are light years ahead. The Desire 601 comes in a non-removable plastic shell rather than the familiar aluminium finish of the Ones and although HTC has done its best not to create something cheap - people within the company are referring to the material as baby soft - it's still no way near as premium as the HTC One's finish.

Pocket-linthtc desire 601 pictures and hands on a mid ranger that sounds good  image 14

The Desire 601 gets a 4.5-inch 960 x 540 pixel resolution display, that's a reasonable 244ppi, but that's a step down from the excellent 341ppi of the HTC One mini. In the flesh you'll notice that too. At 4.5-inches, it's a little softer than you might like, but that's perhaps acceptable for the level this is pitched at.

Then there are the internals. A 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM power this handset, the same as the HTC One mini. As we found in our review of the One mini, that's plenty of power for day-to-day tasks, put comes with some limitations. There is 8GB of internal storage and a rare a microSD card slot that lets you expand the storage quota up to 64GB. That 8GB will have to house the OS, as well as any apps you want to install, so if you were thinking of downloading some bigger Android games, you might want to think again, as you'll lack space.

Other specs including a/b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 4 connectivity as well as the usual DLNA support. This is also an LTE-compatible handset, likely to be offered as one of the most affordable devices on 4G networks, so if it's data speed for not much cash, this might be the phone for you.

The camera is a step down from the HTC One mini - a regular 5-megapixel sensor with a f/2.0 aperture and 28mm lens as opposed to the UltraPixel camera found on the One range, but a different sensor from the Desire 500's 8MP sensor. You do get 1080p video recording and HTC's SmartFlash though, along with the Zoe camera software rolled into Sense, meaning you'll be able to capture those moving moments.

The HTC Desire 601 is powered by a 2100mAh battery that promises 12.8 hours of 3G talk time. It measures 134.5 x 66.7 x 9.88mm and weighs 130g.

Should you care?

HTC told Pocket-lint that the Desire 601 will get a global rollout at the end of September, but is unlikely to be available everywhere, and is unlikely to be heavily pushed where the HTC One mini is already available and on sale. That means for the UK and the US it's unlikely to be pushed or featured by operators because of its close proximity to the HTC One mini in terms of price and performance, especially when bought on a monthly contract.

In fact compared to the HTC One mini, it's probably not worth the bother. Go for the former - perhaps in the new blue colour - and you'll be very happy with the result.

First impressions

The HTC Desire 601 is a nice enough Android smartphone and what it has managed to snatch from the One range is welcomed. However unless HTC prices this considerably cheaper than the HTC One mini there doesn't seem to be much point in considering it. Those BoomSound speakers might sound good, but there's little else to rescue the Desire 601 from the cluttered mid-range. The HTC One mini is a great handset and this really seems to be for those operators who want a cheaper, alternative, mid-range HTC device.

READ: HTC One mini review

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Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 30 August 2013.