Home » Mobile » Mobile Phone » HTC Desire 816

HTC Desire 816 review

Michael Sawh



Our Score


User Score


  • Great sounding speakers
  • Decent 720p HD screen
  • Smooth overall performance


  • Buttons a stretch to reach
  • Camera slow to focus in low-light
  • Lacks a standout feature

Review Price £300.00

Key Features: 5.5-inch 720p screen; Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU; microSD slot; 2,600mAh battery

Manufacturer: HTC

What is the HTC Desire 816?

The HTC Desire 816 is a 5.5-inch Android smartphone with a similar stature to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, but at a fraction of the price. Available to buy for around £300 SIM-free, it’s a big colourful phone competing with handsets like the One Plus One and the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1320. Despite its plastic body and mid-range phone specs, there’s plenty of positives that make the Desire 816 a great value phone if you prefer your phones king sized.

SEE ALSO: OnePlus One vs Nexus 5

HTC Desire 816: Design & Features

If you are on the lookout for a big phone, HTC has done a pretty good job of making this an attractive phone to own. There’s no metallic frame like the more expensive HTC One M8 or its smaller clone the HTC One Mini 2, opting instead for a combination of a glossy polycarbonate plastic non-removable back with a matte finish around the sides and the front of the phone, but it's a nice looking phone.

It’s available in a six pastel shades, including white, black, red, dark blue and green, giving it a similar kind of finish to the Nokia Lumia 1320 smartphone, one that doesn’t feel cheap or nasty to hold despite being plastic. Helping its cause further is the slim, 7.99mm thick frame and curvy corners; combined with the featherweight 165g weight, the HTC Desire 816 isn't as arduous to carry around as its imposing size suggests.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Phones Round-Up

HTC Desire 816 hands-on images 7

There are some issues we noticed, though. For example, the on/off button and volume rocker sit up on the top left edge, making it very difficult to reach with one hand. It also becomes a problem when you are trying to take a picture in landscape mode, as it’s often easy to accidentally put the screen into standby.

Getting the Nano SIM in place was a frustrating experience, too, and took several attempts to get it firmly in place before locking it away out of sight. You won't have to this often, though, and it's great to see a microSD card slot hiding behind the same hinged plastic flap. There's space for another SIM card here, too, though it's blanked out on our version.

SEE ALSO: HTC One M8 vs One Mini 2

HTC Desire 816 hands-on images 10

HTC Desire 816: Screen

The HTC Desire 816 has a 5.5-inch screen with a 720p HD resolution and a pixel density of 267ppi. That puts it into the same screen size territory as something like the LG G3, but with a resolution more like smaller phones like the Moto G and the One Mini 2.

It's clearly not a patch on the 1080p HD screen of the Galaxy Note 3, but the Desire 816’s Super LCD2 is a nice screen on which to watch videos, read web pages and play games. Maximum brightness is not as great as the One M8, but viewing angles are good and it's easy enough to view outdoors. Black levels are strong, too, making it ideal for films, and on the whole colours appear nice and accurate.

It's sharpness and clarity where the Desire 816 loses out to something like the 4.5-inch One Mini 2 (326ppi), but it's a tolerable difference provided you're not precious about it or used to smaller, higher-resolution phones. The relative lack of sharpness is only clearly evident on text and icons, and only when you look closely.

It's a very responsive screen, too, as it handles screen swipes and actions with no issues at all. Resolution aside, then, it's a very decent screen, particularly considering its size and the relatively cheap price you pay for it.

Next page
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Jason Schmitz

February 27, 2014, 4:33 am

1.5GHz of RAM? I guess if it's that fast you don't really need as much huh?


February 27, 2014, 10:44 am

Ha! Oh dear. I'll fix that. Thanks for the spot.


February 27, 2014, 2:10 pm

Looks like a great phone, though I wish they just put in the 4mp sensor from the One in there. It would have probably been cheaper if HTC did that with all of these phones as it would help the economies of scale. Also, 8GB internal storage might be a bit too little even with an SD card.


February 27, 2014, 4:30 pm

hope its better than desire c.that keeps switching on and of off its own accord


February 27, 2014, 5:58 pm

HTC's spokesperson said the 13-megapixel camera was cheaper to use actually. I think it may be because the UltraPixel sensor seems to be tied to the f/2.0 lens. Or maybe it is just a 'premium' sensor' by itself.


February 28, 2014, 2:32 pm

The problem with an SD card is that Kitkat stops phones from writing to MicroSD cards. So it can read music or video files from the MircoSD card but it can't write photos etc to it. This is a severe limitation imo.


March 1, 2014, 10:48 am

dude it can be expandable upto 128 gb via sd card!!so no worries.


March 27, 2014, 6:35 pm

Grrr when will it be released in the UK? :(

Arindam Joarder

May 7, 2014, 1:33 am

hey guys plz tell me wht is its best colour white/black/silver or blue????????


June 8, 2014, 6:34 am

Is this handset support wifi-direct ?? nd wireless streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer..plz do reply..

Rien Soewardji

June 8, 2014, 10:03 am

You can set sd card for the main storage from the beginning. But some apps can't be moved to sd card like whatsapp, chrome etc.

Songs and pictures are movable to sd card. Some 3d games with big files can't be saved to sd card. If you are a heavy gamer, this phone is not suitable for you.

But if you just want to enjoy watching YouTube, chat and you want big screen phone, this phone is for you.

manish vats

July 21, 2014, 3:26 pm

please don't take this mobile because they are so many problem in this mobile like vibration not work when you reset ur mobile. heat up during charging & long time talking no bettory beck up hanging problem also.................m


August 7, 2014, 9:03 am

is there any hanging problem ?


October 5, 2014, 3:23 pm

Hey everyone need to put a review about HTC Desire 816. I bought this phone in the month of July 2014. It was working very well up till now. But its just today all of a sudden it has stopped working. Its like dead. Tried hard to switch on the phone. I have connected it for charging but its not working at all. According to its service centers, they said it will take 7-10 days to get repaired. But till then I am without phone. Very upset.
Can somebody please help????


October 21, 2014, 5:34 am

I'm on Virgin Mobile, which lets me switch phones online in a few minutes, and I have a spare phone. So if the HTC needs to go in for service, I loan mysalf a loaner. Stuck with an 8 MP phone camera for a week or two? So it goes...


July 30, 2015, 7:47 pm

Is there anything that can be done to speed up the camera? I often miss shots because it takes so long to focus.

comments powered by Disqus