HTC Desire 820 & Desire 820 dual SIM review: The doppelganger

GSMArena team, 20 January 2015.

Performance

The HTC Desire 820 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with Sense 6 out of the box. It's powered by a Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 chipset with four Cortex-A53 processor cores at 1.5GHz and another four, clocked at 1.0GHz, all along an Adreno 405 GPU. It has 2GB of RAM.

This is a notable improvement over its predecessor, the Desire 816, but interestingly enough, the fairly comparable eight A53 cores do not fair all that well against the four Cortex A7 ones, found inside the A7. This might just be due to the higher clock rate on the Snapdragon 400, but all in all, in a lot of respects the Desire 820 does not seem to offer as big of a performance increase as we would have liked to see.

We kick off with a simple CPU benchmark that, interestingly enough, places the Desire 820 between the Xiaomi Redmi Note (Octa-core 1.4/1.7 GHz Cortex-A7) and the OnePlus One (Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400), both cheaper and solid competition in terms of price to performance ratio.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    3647
  • HTC One (E8)
    3229
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2911
  • Oppo N3
    2704
  • OnePlus One
    2663
  • HTC Desire 820
    2586
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2435
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    2172
  • HTC Desire 816
    1510
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    1181

Results with the Basemark OS II were really inconsistent on the Desire 820 for some reason and we found ourselves having to retest several times. The total score is expectedly a bit ahead of the Desire 816, but single and multi-core tests just seem a little off. Perhaps it's a software bug or some optimization issue, but in any case the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Oppo N3
    1280
  • OnePlus One
    1196
  • HTC One (E8)
    1146
  • HTC Desire Eye
    1122
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    930
  • HTC Desire 820
    688
  • HTC Desire 816
    520
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    452
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    169

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    2579
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    2571
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2478
  • Oppo N3
    2417
  • OnePlus One
    2213
  • HTC Desire 816
    1739
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    1701
  • HTC Desire 820
    1670
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    1507

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    13999
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    12771
  • OnePlus One
    10234
  • HTC One (E8)
    10219
  • HTC Desire Eye
    9495
  • Oppo N3
    9320
  • HTC Desire 816
    7071
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    6440
  • HTC Desire 820
    5483

Going forward to the AnTuTu test, the numbers seem quite expected, placing the Desire 820 just above the comparable Sony Xperia C3 (Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7). Keep in mind that the chart might also be a little misleading as the Desire 816 is absent and for a good reason. It was tested under Antutu 4, which had a different scoring chart, but the difference between the two is pretty much identical to the one observed in GeekBench.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    46857
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    46666
  • HTC Desire Eye
    40296
  • Oppo N3
    39245
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    32487
  • HTC Desire 820
    27070
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    18466

The Adreno 405 GPU is nothing spectacular and the Desire 820 fails to amaze in most rendering tests but definitely holds its own. Real-life performance is of course, a whole other question and as evident from the onscreen scores, the mid-ranged device handles rendering nicely. The lower screen resolution has certainly attributed towards the respectable scores.

The Adreno 405 offscreen graphics test at 1080p resolution is rather disappointing, but expected for the particular chip.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus One
    28.3
  • HTC One (E8)
    28
  • HTC Desire Eye
    23.4
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    17.8
  • HTC Desire 820
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    15
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    9.8
  • HTC Desire 816
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    5.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    12.3
  • OnePlus One
    12.1
  • HTC Desire Eye
    10.3
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6.1
  • HTC Desire 820
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.7
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.7

The onscreen performance is much better and the device delivers very respectable frame rates almost topping the charts.

As already mentioned, the lower screen resolution does aid a lot but one thing is for sure, the Desire 820 delivers playable frame-rates on graphics-intensive tasks, something that the Desire 816 is badly struggling with.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus One
    30
  • HTC One (E8)
    29.9
  • HTC Desire 820
    26
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    25
  • HTC Desire Eye
    24.6
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    17
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    13.3
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    11
  • HTC Desire 816
    11

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus One
    12.9
  • HTC One (E8)
    12.9
  • HTC Desire 820
    12
  • HTC Desire Eye
    10.9
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    4.7
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    4
  • HTC Desire 816
    3.9

JavaScript performance is not great, though it's in line with what we can expect from a mid-range device. In the BrowserMark 2.1, an HTML5 test, the HTC Desire 820 score was proportional to the JavaScript score. These tests fully stress the browser (we used the stock browser, by the way), in daily browsing the phablet works without annoying slowdowns.

Interestingly enough, looking back at the Desire 816 yet again, we can't help but notice a very slight improvement in overall browser performance.

Taking into account the fact that the pair uses the same HTC Sense software, we have to deduct that the Desire 820 is mostly under-optimized rather than underpowered and this, while fixable is all up to the manufacturer to address at this point.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    4747
  • Oppo N3
    6460
  • HTC One (E8)
    6460
  • OnePlus One
    7008
  • HTC Desire Eye
    11093
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    12416
  • HTC Desire 816
    13564
  • HTC Desire 820
    13568
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    15737

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    2211
  • HTC One (E8)
    1362
  • OnePlus One
    1339
  • HTC Desire Eye
    1009
  • HTC Desire 820
    991
  • HTC Desire 816
    774
  • Oppo N3
    730
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    588

The HTC Desire 820 is a middle of the road device when it comes to performance. It's not sluggish by any means and it will do okay for daily multitasking, browsing and even 3D games. From a user point of view, we didn't experience any major hiccups and the UI does look and feel very polished and functional, but more on that later.