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HTC Desire 816 Review

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HTC has taken its Desire range of smartphones from strength to strength. The general vision behind any Desire smartphone is offering specs from high-end HTC phones at a mid-range price tag. It also carries forward the beautiful form factor that seems to be a general mandate for all HTC phones. Well, the HTC Desire 816 continues that line of thought, albeit a little differently.

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The HTC Desire 816 phablet comes to India after a successful innings in China, where it created records of sorts for HTC. The phone has a glossy form factor, a 1.6-GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and runs on Android Kitkat and Sense 5.5. Its price tag of Rs. 23,990 though lands in a very competitive market, that boasts of stalwarts like the Gionee Elife S5.5 and the just landed Xiaomi Mi3. The thing that works in its favour then is, that it is a beautifully crafted handset and makes an effort to give you the HTC One M8 experience at half the price tag.

The HTC Desire 816 has to kind of pull people away from the temptation of getting these phones. From the China repertoire, we can kind of believe that it has some chances of success in this very competitive market. Well, mostly because it rides on the HTC reputation of awesomeness, renewed  with the success of the HTC One M8.

HTC Desire 816 specs:

  • 5.5 inch display
  • 1280 x 720 pixels resolution
  • 1.6 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor
  • 1.5 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal memory
  • 13 MP rear facing camera
  • 5 MP front facing camera
  • Google Android v4.4 KitKat
  • 2600 mAh battery

Hardware

The HTC Desire 816 is designed for those who aspire for an HTC One M8 but can’t invest around half-a-lakh in it. But the form factor takes a totally different route. Instead of the metallic awesomeness that the HTC One M8 posessed, the company has opted for a glossy form factor for the HTC Desire 816.

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But that doesn’t mean that this phone doesn’t have a bit of panache. For starters, instead of the signature BoomSound speakers on the M8, it has stylish dual-speakers which come in the form of drilled holes at the top and bottom of the display. Also, the top speaker is accompanied by a front cam and an LED notification light.

HTC has, following a recent trend shifted both speakers at the front rather than the back. It actually feels good – for e.g. you can actually listen to a YouTube video on speaker, which feels pretty cool.

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The back of the handset though has been kept pretty simple. It is glossy with a camera on the extreme left, accompanied a flash. Besides this, there is an HTC logo in the middle and nothing else which is noteworthy. I got a black handset for review and the back is actually quite smudgy. Also, not to forget, it is non-removable.

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The power button is located at the left of the handset along with a volume rocker. It makes operating this handset with one hand a little tough. Both buttons come with a metallic lining and look pretty cool.

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The MicroUSB slot is located at the bottom, while the  3.5mm jack is located at the top.

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A plastic flap located at the right side of the handset opens up to show dual Nano-SIM slots and a MicroSD card slot.

The HTC Desire 816 is a little thick at 8mm and a tad heavy. Overall,the handset looks pretty cool, but I feel that HTC could have used a better kind of plastic. I guess it will look better in other colors.

Display

The HTC Desire 816 comes with a 5.5-inch display. It is surprisingly not a full HD display but a 720p display. This is one thing that makes it stand out in the mid-range smartphone segment. Other similarly priced handsets come at 5 inches like the Gionee S5.5 and 6-inches like the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra. The Super LCD2 panel looks awesome even though it has a pixel density of 267ppi.

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The HTC Desire 816 display is generally pretty sharp. The viewing angles are great. The sunlight visibility is good. Unlike the back of the handset, the front is less smudgy. The brightness is generally cool, but once you switch it on to full brightness, then only will you realize its awesomeness.

The HTC Desire 816 actually a big display, but it is not uncomfortably big, I found it actually pretty easy for regular usage.

Software

The HTC Desire 816 comes with Android 4.4 – Kitkat OS and Sense 6.0. The sense 6.0 UI is what brings this handset in close proximity with the HTC One M8. It comes with a simple menu layout. HTC has kept it simple on purpose, endowing the handset with folders to encompass icons easily.

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The notifications and the app drawer are also pretty simple to access. The menu shortcuts are actually pretty easy to access just like ones on the HTC One M8. Just like the flagship phone, the HTC Desire 816 comes with Blinkfeed access and shows your news and aggregated social content beautifully. This is one of the perks that might tempt you to own this phone. An amazing thing is the drop down menu which lets you access stuff easily.

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HTC has thankfully not overloaded the handset with its own apps despite the existence of Google apps, like it has been done on the Samsung Galaxy S5. HTC has understood that two voice apps, two media apps and other apps that are present in twos on most handset are not practical and end up cramping the handset.

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A  useful app from HTC though, is the Car app, which makes one-handed use easy, despite the size of the handset.

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There is also a Kids mode on board to protect your precious data from your little slugger.

The apps work amazingly well, the icons are soft and well-arranged and the whole layout is pleasing to the eye.

Camera

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The HTC Desire 816 comes with a 13-megapixel rear cam with an accompanying LED flash, along with a 5-megapixel front cam. Both cameras are capable of 1080p video playback. It is the same Zoe camera app as the HTC One M8.

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As you open up the camera app, you can also access all the necessary camera shortcuts. There are a variety of modes, ISO sensitivity and frames.

One good thing about the camera app is that you can zoom in and zoom out using the volume rocker. It is generally easy to use the camera app and it gets good pictures even in the automatic mode. Generally light interpretation is good. The autofocus though, could have been a little faster.

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PIctures in HDR Mode

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The general performance of the camera is pretty great

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Auto Mode

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HDR Mode

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Anti-Blur Mode

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Portrait Mode

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Selfie

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Edited Selfie

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Sweep Panorama Mode

Unlike the HTC One M8, there are only three camera modes – the camera, the video and the selfie mode.

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Sadly, there is no dual camera mode or even selective focus mode. The Zoe app indicates ‘coming soon’. Last I checked, it showed the same status a month back. It isn’t yet known how soon would be soon for HTC.

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The selfie  mode, works pretty awesomely. The video capture also didn’t leave room for complaining. The frames  and editing options are also amazing. You can also shoot these videos in slow motion mode.

The gallery app works well too. There is an old gem here, the Zoe videos which compile your photos in a video mode, accompanied by music.

The HTC Desire 816 camera, on the whole works pretty well.

Performance and Battery Life

The performance and battery  life of HTC Desire 816 is generally amazing. It scores decently on the benchmark test too. The performance is generally smooth and the HTC Desire 816 lets you easily work through the day without any lags.

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The HTC Desire 816 comes with 8 GB built-in memory but makes it up with 128 GB MicroSD support. Sense 6.0 is simple and easy to use and not to heavy on the processor.

But the star of the HTC Desire 816 is actually its battery life. It actually lasts amazingly long. The 2600 mAh battery is non-removable. It has a good amount of stand up time, but the phone kind of gets hot sometimes. The phone can easily last a couple of days on standby. There are also Power saving and Extra Power Saving Modes on board, which let you easily regulate the battery life. It is actually needed in every handset, no matter what segment of the market it belongs to.

Generally, you will be satisfied by what the HTC Desire 816 offers in terms of performance and battery life.

Verdict

The HTC Desire 816 will generally offer you a satisfactory smartphone experience. It is a handset that is designed for people who would go for a big handset, but feels like the 6-inch display size is too big for comfort. Well, according me 5.5-inches is the biggest you can get for a comfortable  smartphone experience. As a mid-range handset, it does pretty well for itself.

At Rs. 23,999, it is mostly a worthwhile handset, if you would rather go in for the HTC brand value in front of what Gionee and Xiaomi offer.

The front facing speaker, the audio quality and the display quality are great. The HTC Desire 816 doesn’t have a full HD display but you won’t feel too bad about its absence. The 720p display does well for itself. The camera works well. But, I feel that the back and the power button placement could have been a tad better.

This is one phone you will definitely want to consider if you are looking at a mid-range handset. Most of the stuff is great and the handset generally delivers in a good manner.

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