Mobiles & Tablets

Leaves little to desire

Sabyasachi Biswas | Updated on June 04, 2014


The Desire 816 is HTC’s big mid-range launch. But does the smartphone pack more than just a good design?

HTC did quite well in the mid-range smartphone market nearly a year ago, with its Desire series of devices. However, this segment was taken over by Samsung and Sony with devices that were priced better for the specs offered.

The other thing that HTC lost out to, in the mid-range segment, was the increasing popularity of a bigger screen. The last big-screen phone from the manufacturer, intended to be slotted in the mid-range segment, was the Desire 700 Dual SIM. After using the phone for some time, we were of the opinion that though the 5-inch smartphone was good enough for its specs, it was priced too high for that time. Users could simply get a Google Nexus 5.

However, with the new Desire 816 it seems like HTC wants to make an impact – we were impressed by the pricing right away. But to see if it stood up to our other expectations as well, we tested it thoroughly. And the results were mildly surprising.

Design and build

The Indian variant of the Desire 700, for some strange reason, toted a different design as opposed to its global counterparts. That was quite sad because we liked the international variant’s design (it was drawn from the HTC One). But, with the new Desire 816, we have been blown away by the smartphone’s design.

We were actually expecting the next mid-range device from HTC to incorporate some of the new HTC One M8’s design features, but the Desire 816 has its own, outstanding looks. The smartphone features a big display at 5.5 inches, but it is encased ever so beautifully. The construction is a mix of polycarbonate and glossy plastic, and is quite sturdy to hold. The metal volume rocker and power button on the left-side spine add a touch of class as well.

The phone itself is quite slim, at just 8mm, but with curved edges it’s got the ergonomics in order too. Instead of a grille to cover the front-facing BoomSound speakers, there are machined holes on the top and bottom of the fascia, differentiating it from the rest of the line-up. The only problem with the design is that glossy back panel is a smudge-and-scratch-magnet.

Specs and performance

The new Desire 816 packs a decent punch with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor that is rated at 1.6GHz, with an integrated Adreno 305 GPU. This is supplemented by 1.5GB of RAM and, which together translates into very satisfactory performance. The phone runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, under the HTC Sense 6.0 skin. We used the device for a variety of apps, and the Desire 816 didn’t buckle under pressure unless we really started throwing very heavy gaming apps at it. On our Quadrant benchmark, it scored a healthy 12,412 points.

You get 8GB of internal storage which isn’t adequate if you’re looking forward to load the phone with your media. Fortunately, the microSD card slot allows an expansion of up to 128GB.

The 720p, 5.5-inch Super LCD2 screen is quite impressive for multimedia consumption. It is bright and colourful, and is very usable under strong daylight too. We also loved the speakers’ sound quality – they’re quite loud and clear. With a healthy full-day backup from its 2,600mAh battery, this smartphone keeps the entertainment alive.

The best part about the device, however, is its camera performance. The HTC Desire 816 packs a 13-megapixel rear camera with a flash and a standard sensor on the back, and HTC has generously thrown in a 5-megapixel front camera that captures selfies in great detail.


With its running specs, the HTC Desire 816 can be compared to the Moto G, but given its pricing we’d rather compare it with the Moto X. However, the 816 is a different device altogether. It’s got beautiful premium design at a very reasonable mid-range price tag. It’s got a big display and brilliant sound, dual-SIM card slots which are complemented by CPU performance good enough for everyday usage. And, most importantly, the cameras are brilliant. It’s everything that you expect from a phone in this price segment – unless you really want a hardcore number crunching device like the Moto X.


Love – Brilliant cameras; beautiful design

Hate – Back panel is a scratch-and-smudge magnet

Published on June 04, 2014

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