HTC Desire 816 review: Heart's desire
HTC has mostly stayed out of the phablet market but the segment is expanding so fast the Taiwanese can't afford to keep snubbing it. The HTC Desire 816 is only the company's second phablet and it's the first affordable one. It rides on the premium looks and stereo speakers of the One series, with the rest being mostly midrange specs.
The HTC Desire 816 is in a way related to the One mini 2. It may not have its aluminum unibody (unfortunately), but it has the same camera setup and is powered by the same chipset. The screen has the same resolution (720p) but is a good deal larger.
- 5.5" 720p Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, ambient light sensor
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 305 GPU and 1.5GB of RAM
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0
- 13MP autofocus camera, 1080p video capture, F/2.2 aperture, 28mm lens, dual-LED flash
- 5MP front-facing camera with BSI sensor; 1080p video capture
- 8GB of built-in memory, expandable via the microSD card slot
- Active noise cancellation with a secondary microphone
- Front-facing stereo speakers
- 2,600mAh battery; Extreme Power Saving Mode
- Power key is on top, hard to reach on a big phone
- Side buttons are poorly positioned and feel cheap
- Small battery for a phablet
- Underwhelming stereo speaker loudness
The only big deal in the negative column is the relatively small battery - 2,600mAh is phone-grade battery capacity. It does have the Extreme power saving mode, but that's not meant for daily usage. We'll run our battery test to determine how much battery size hurts the phablet.
Other than that, the HTC Desire 816 checks all the right boxes - a promising 13MP / 1080p camera, a decent selfie cam, solid audio credentials, LTE connectivity, expandable storage and the latest software.
Flagship smartphones seem to have hit a wall with innovation and have started piling on gimmicky features. So it's segments like midrange phones and phablets that emerge as the new drivers of growth and we're glad HTC didn't miss that boat.
But how good a midrange phablet can we expect from a company that has so far been most prominent in the premium smartphone business? Reception in China has been great, with millions of people genuinely interested in the Desire 816 but flip to the next page for a more Western perspective on it.