Summary

Review Price to be confirmed

Key Features: 5.5-inch 720p screen; Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU

Manufacturer: HTC

HTC Desire 816 review | First Impressions

HTC gets colourful with this good-looking mid-range phone

The HTC Desire 816 is a large, colourful, plastic-bodied phone. Once the Desire range was home to HTC's top phones, but now it has become a lower-cost alternative to its One models.

Although we saw the 816 during a strictly a no-touching preview at MWC 2014, we've had a good look at the phone and had a chat with an HTC representative to find out what the HTC Desire 816 is all about. It's a phone that HTC says will cost a fraction of the HTC One Max's price.

HTC Desire 816 1
HTC Desire 816 – Design

The HTC Desire 816 is a striking phone, especially in some of its bolder colours. HTC has caerfully selected the colour tones so that they're bright, but have a hint of pastel to avoid becoming outright garish. And where white plastic phones can look cheap, this one looks quite stylish.

There's a mix of glossy and matt finishes on the phone, which be tricky to pull off, but I think HTC has done it this time. Its massive size will turn some off, but I think it is a lot more visually cohesive than the HTC One Max. That's this phone's higher-end brother.HTC Desire 816 3

It's also slimmer and lighter than the Max. The HTC Desire 816 is 7.99mm thick and 165g – a massive 50g-plus lighter and more than 2mm thinner. It really does show up the Max.

It doesn't trade away many hardware features to do so, either. The Desire 816 has the same BoomSound series speakers as the HTC One, and a rep promised that they are not watered down versions but the same drivers used in HTC's more expensive phones. That's a huge win for a phone that should make an excellent games and movies device.
HTC Desire 816
The glossy back of the phone pops off to give access to a memory card slot (missing from One-series phones) and a nano SIM slot. Unless this is a typo in the 816's spec roster, it's the first time we've seen a nano SIM in an HTC device as it normally uses micro SIMs. It could be a sign of things to come in the HTC One 2.

A pull-off back probably won't feel quite as nice as the unibody style of the HTC One, but it does let the Desire 816 keeps its sides clean and clear.
HTC Desire 816 2
Here's the purple version

HTC Desire 816 – Screen

The screen doesn't escape compromise, though. It is 720p resolution where HTC's larger One-series phones are 1080p. A pixel density rating of 267ppi means sharpness will be pretty good, but a little short of perfect.

We didn't really get close enough to assess the contrast and colour reproduction of the panel, but there are no major viewing angle issues. I expect this phone uses either an S-LCD2 or S-LCD3-type screen, with similar performance to an IPS display.
HTC Desire 816 4

HTC Desire 816 – Power and Other Specs

The HTC Desire offers a pretty good spec list, but it's one of a mid-range phone, not a high-end one. It has a Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, and it is the quad-core variant using Cortex-A7 cores rather than the dual-core Krait version seen in the HTC One Mini.

You get 1.5GB of RAM and – something a mid-range phone wouldn't have had 12 months ago – 4G mobile internet. Internal storage is a fairly lowly 8GB, but as there's a micorSD card slot on the phone, it's not a major issue.

HTC Desire 816 5

HTC Desire 816 – Cameras

As part of the Desire series rather than the One range, the HTC Desire 816 doesn't get an UltraPixel camera. Instead, it uses a more normal, but much higher-res, 13-megapixel sensor with an LED flash. Oddly enough, this should actually get you much more detailed photos in bright sunlight than an HTC One Max. But low-light performance and dynamic range are likely to be a good deal worse.

The camera uses an f/2.2 lens, though, which is fairly fast. We'll assess the camera properly when we get a Desire 816 in to review.

It's actually the front camera that's more notable, though. It has an unusually high-res 5-megapixel sensor. We've seen advanced front-facing cameras on Huawei phones like the Ascend P6, but spreading out to other major brands in major phones means it could soon become the norm. All it means is much higher-quality selfies, but as such things were prominent enough to become the OED's 'word of the year 2013', it's probably tech worth investing in. Kids, eh?HTC Desire 816 6

First Impressions

We can't yet tell whether the Desire 816 might be let down by a flimsy-feeling body, but my first take is positive. I like the colours, I like the look, and including BoomSound speakers on a lower-cost, large-screen phone is an excellent addition. We'll look to get an HTC Desire 816 in for a proper assessment soon.

Next, read all about the HTC One 2 M8's camera

comments powered by Disqus