The HTC Desire 500 comes in a pillbox-shaped retail package, similar to what debuted last year with the One series. Inside, you'll find a set of all-white accessories, including a compact charger with detachable microUSB cable and a single-piece headset.
The headset is of good quality and all the accessories have a high grade finish.
Measuring 131.8 x 66.9 x 9.9 mm, the HTC Desire 500 is just a bit shorter than the HTC Desire 600, but it is also marginally thicker. The Desire 500 weight is also almost the same at 123 grams, only 7 gram lighter than the Desire 600 Dual SIM.
The Desire 500 has a very high quality finish that lends a premium feel to what is a midrange device spec-wise. This is accompanied by a solid and tight-fitting back panel that also wraps around the sides of the device. The fit is so good that most people will likely mistake it for a unibody design - which more than compensates for the slight difficulty when trying to access the card slots on the inner body.
Our unit came in a white paintjob with red trim that was not susceptible to fingerprint smudges. The Desire 500 also comes in black, which is the version, which is more prone to smudging.
As we mentioned, the back panel wraps around the sides of the device as well, which includes covering the earpiece above the display. The red accent which circles the phone has a matte instead of glossy paintjob, and ends in opposing arrows where the volume controls are - it's a nice little touch, a subtle but elegant way to brighten things up. The camera module and HTC logo on the back have matching red accents.
Below the display you'll find a pair of capacitive buttons - back and home. Starting with the new One flagship and Sense 5.0, HTC did away with the third capacitive 'menu' key. On that device they had replaced the middle button with a non-functioning HTC logo as a placeholder, but that drew too many compulsive presses so HTC got rid of it altogether.
Above the display is the earpiece covered with a grille as part of the back panel. We note an important difference compared to the dual-SIM-carrying Desire 600 - there're no front-mounted stereo speakers this time around. The other things above the screen are the front-facing camera (1.6MP / 720p) along with the proximity and ambient light sensors.
On top of the HTC Desire 500 you'll find a Power/Lock key and the 3.5mm audio jack. The bottom of the phone features the primary microphone along with the microUSB port.
The left side of the Desire 500 is clean of any buttons and ports, while the right side features the semi-disguised volume rocker, which is a nice design accent.
The 8MP camera with LED flash is the most prominent element 'round back. The camera module is accented by matte plastic of the same red color as the frame along the sides of the device. Below it there is a large HTC logo of the same color, followed by a BeatsAudio label above a speaker grille at the bottom.
Back to the camera, it's an 8MP unit with a BSI sensor that's 1/3.2" in size. It uses the original ImageChip found in older HTC devices, but is limited to just 720p video recording.
Popping off the back cover takes some work as there's no groove or slot designed for the purpose of easily removing the panel. This isn't too much of an issue, as this isn't a dual-SIM device so you likely won't be accessing the microSD and microSIM slots underneath all that often. Below the panel you'll also find the 1800mAh battery.
We found that both the microSD and the microSIM cards are hot-swappable, a nifty little bonus the benefit of which is outweighed in part by the hard-to-remove back panel.
The compact 4.3" display of the HTC Desire 500 favors comfort of handling, while the finish of the plastic back and the quality materials used building the phone make it very nice to the touch. The phone's back features a slight curve just like the One, so it fits nicely in the palm of your hand. Single-handed operation is very comfortable and pocketability isn't the least bit of an issue. Overall, the Desire 500 is a delightful phone to handle and carry around.