HTC Desire 816 review: Heart's desire

Heart's desire

GSMArena team, 21 May 2014.

HTC Zoe is social

HTC Zoe is a mini social network centered around sharing photos and videos. A landmark feature is the cool Highlights videos, which are created automatically for each album (more on that in a minute).

Zoe requires you to sign in with your HTC account the first time you open it. This is to enable sharing with other contacts, who can add their own photos, videos and music to the Highlight videos that are created automatically from your shots.

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HTC Zoe

You can send requests to your friends too, to give them a little nudge to add shots to your Highlights. You can manually create a Highlight video too - you simply choose from the available images, select a theme and soundtrack and you're done.

Gallery with Highlights

The Gallery app uses tabs to separate viewing modes. Timeline and location group photos accordingly, while Albums work like folders. You can manually create albums, the app will ask you to select a number of photos and videos to either copy or move.

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The image gallery creating a new album

Manually created albums get a Highlight video as their title image. You can select which items go into the video, in what order and with what effects and music. There are options to go back to the default chronological order, music and theme so don't be afraid to experiment. The start and end clips can be selected manually if you want to create a sort of title card and credits.

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Customizing an album's Highlight video

The editing options range from basic crop / rotate / flip to frames and advanced effects like simulated lighting, adjusting face contour and eye enhancements.

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Image editing options

There's a special Media gesture useful here and in the music and video players - swipe up with three fingers to "throw" the content you're viewing to a DLNA device.

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Throwing a media file to a DLNA device with a three-finger gesture

Limited video player

There's no dedicated video player on the HTC Desire 816, you browse videos through the Gallery. The video players supports the most common containers - AVI, MP4 and MKV - but codec support is spotty. DivX didn't work, while XviD support was 50/50. Sound is an issue too with no multichannel audio support, we even had an issue with MP3 audio in a 1080p AVI file.

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The video player interface

As for the interface, you get basic playback controls and the option to snap a screenshot. Subtitles are not supported.

Music player with no equalizer

The HTC Sense 6 music player uses a tabbed layout and as with other apps you can hide tabs and reorder them. The tabs sort your music library by different categories and include the relatively rare Folder view, in case you have a sort of "mixtape" folder.

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Browsing the music library

The first time you launch the music player it will ask whether it should automatically download Album art, artist photos and lyrics and you can limit it to Wi-Fi only downloads.

There's a cool visualizer on board with multiple different looks, but HTC once again forgot to put in an equalizer. All you get is a BoomSound option, which can be either on or off and only works with headphones plugged in.

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Now playing interface visualizer lockscreen and notification area music controls

Still audiophiles should be glad to hear FLAC is supported (both 16-bit and 24-bit) but you'll really need a microSD card for that as the built-in memory isn't much.

You can use the three-finger Media gesture to continue playback on a DLNA device. Bluetooth with aptX is another high-quality option to wirelessly stream audio.

The HTC Desire 816 also packs an FM radio receiver too and it has RDS support. It can play through the speakers but still needs a pair of headphones to serve as an antenna.

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FM radio with RDS

Outstanding audio output

The HTC Desire 816 may be a mid-ranger, but its audio output screams high-end. The phablet managed to put one of the most impressive performances we've seen in our audio quality test, posting sublime scores and garnishing them with nicely strong output.

The Desire 816 did absolutely impeccably in the first part of the test - posting great scores top to bottom and garnishing them with above average volume levels. More impressively, however, it showed next to no degradation when the headphones came into play - the stereo crosstalk spike was among the smallest we have seen and the resulting score is better than some smartphones manage without headphones.

Overall, there are very few devices that would do better than the HTC Desire 816 and virtually all of them come from the same manufacturer. However, so far they belonged to the One lineup of pricier devices and it's good to see HTC bringing the excellent audiophile experience down the ranks.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
HTC Desire 816+0.02, -0.08-93.893.80.0017 0.0091-94.9
HTC Desire 816 (headphones attached)+0.10, -0.01-93.993.90.0046 0.020-83.0
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra+0.02, -0.08-90.589.40.0057 0.014-92.2
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra (headphones attached)+0.32, -0.21-90.289.00.019 0.183-49.8
Nokia Lumia 1320+0.20, -0.09-89.189.10.0095 0.197-88.6
Nokia Lumia 1320 (headphones attached)+0.21, -0.06-89.189.00.115 0.198-58.5
Oppo N1+0.14, -0.11-93.793.40.0036 0.076-83.7
Oppo N1 (headphones attached)+0.31, -0.26-93.292.40.0081 0.349-55.5
HTC One Max+0.14, -0.14-93.893.80.0009 0.015-94.1
HTC One Max (headphones attached)+0.26, -0.02-93.693.60.026 0.080-80.4
LG G Flex+0.02, -0.07-98.498.30.012 0.054-83.7
LG G Flex (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.02-91.992.00.045 0.070-66.5
Sony Xperia Z Ultra+0.02, -0.08-92.592.50.00580.011-90.7
Sony Xperia Z Ultra (headphones attached)+0.48, -0.11-87.887.00.0470.168-51.9

HTC Desire 816 frequency response
HTC Desire 816 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • nadeem

In my htc 816 dual sim ...jio network is not getting...the same sim is working on my another phone htc m8 but in 816 having a problem with the signal...iz thr any solution for dis...plz help me...

  • Lucky

How dear plz tell me the procedure ... as i m also using the same bt doesnot support 4g

  • jk

Unwanted apps are in built ..mobile data always open even not in used.. Pls tell me what can I do.