Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

HTC Desire 816 Review - Sense 6, Performance and Sound Quality Review


HTC Desire 816: Android and Apps

It’s pleasing to see HTC maintain largely the same UI experience throughout its line of handsets, with the Desire 816 running the new Sense 6 overlay on top of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. It’s not Android 4.4.3, though, and we have no word on if/when one could appear.

Much like the One Mini 2, you will have to make some compromises here with the Desire 816 missing out on Sense TV thanks to the lack of a an IR blaster, HTC Zoe video and shooting modes and a series of gesture controls that quite frankly most will be able to live without. In fact, most of the omissions will not adversely affect enjoying the still slick, fluid operating system.

What is carried over are the software keys, replacing the hardware buttons, that require a swipe up from the screen to reveal them, and the improved Blinkfeed is still the focal point. It combines all of your social feeds, news and calendar appointments into a single feed, which sounds like the perfect all in one solution. But it’s a feature that’s going to divide; we’d lean more towards swiping left to see Google Now as, while it doesn’t pull in social feeds, it does present important information in a more digestible and intuitive way.

Apps are largely the same you’d find on the One Mini 2, including HTC’s dedicated software for using the phone in the car for navigation, a Parent dashboard, Polaris Office 5 and the HTC music application. Most are likely to bypass most of these in favour of Google’s own native applications, most of which are on board.

The 8GB of built-in storage doesn’t leave much space for apps, but the microSD slot makes up for that.

Desire 816 photo samples 6Screenshot of a racing game with cars on the track.

HTC Desire 816: Performance

The Desire 816 is powered by a 1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU with 1.5GB RAM and the same Adreno 305 GPU found inside the One Mini 2. While its all undeniably mid-range, it’s fast enough to keep things running smoothly with very few signs of a struggle.

It does miss out on the Motion Launch processor and the Snapdragon 801 CPU featured in the One M8, although most will be able to live without the benefits of a dedicated processor for tracking movement. It handles gaming like Real Racing 3 with few problems and doesn’t strain when running multiple apps.

For reference, in the Geekbench 3 benchmark it scores 1,111 in the multi-core test, which is in the same ball park as the Moto G (1,155) and the One Mini 2 (1,120). That’s no real surprise when you realise how similar the specs are and in all instances it’s the ideal amount of power needed for the Desire 816 to cope with most tasks.

HTC Desire 816 hands-on images 2Hand holding HTC smartphone showcasing screen and speakers.

HTC Desire 816: Sound Quality

The good news is that the front-facing Boomsound stereo speakers included with the One M8 and the One Mini 2 are present, so there’s no sound muffling issues here and they are still head and shoulders above other smartphone speakers for listening to music or watching a film.

They are by no means perfect and sound a tad erratic at the top-end, but for power, loudness, bass response and richness they offer satisfying audio and are without doubt a standout feature for the Desire 816.

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words