HTC Desire 816 first impressions: Finally, HTC gets the mid-range formula right


HTC is throwing out the old rule book and starting afresh. For 2014, the company will be delivering region-specific products that will cater to the need of the hour rather than just filling a void. HTC will be focusing on churning out key products at price segments that they feel will have the most volume. It’s a smart strategy that’s only doing wonders for companies like Motorola so we don’t see how this could not work out for HTC.

 

Their first move in this direction is with the Desire 210 and 816. Two phones, that were launched at two critical price segments which seem to be the sweet spot for Indian consumers at the moment.  Let's look at the higher-end one of the two first.

 

The Desire 816 was launched a couple of days back for a retail price of Rs 23,990. In this price segment, it competes with handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Grand 2, Motorola Moto X and the  Gionee Elife E7. However, its biggest competition is the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra Dual, which happens to have very similar specifications as well.

 HTC Desire 816 first impressions: Finally, HTC gets the mid-range formula right

A handsome looking fella

Plenty of features form the One series make a comback

Plenty of features from the One series make an appearance

 

The HTC Desire 816 is handsome looking phone. It’s built mostly of plastic and feels a bit cheap to hold, but then again, it’s designed to be a budget handset. The large 5.5-inch SLCD 2 display has a decently dense pixel resolution (HD). Images and text are sharp and vivid. You get a host of goodies from the One series as well like Sense 6.0 and Android 4.4.2 KitKat. There’s also BoomSound thanks to the dual speakers up front.

The chunky buttons are easy to use

The chunky buttons are easy to use

 

The 816 one again ditches capacitive buttons for on-screen buttons. The buttons on the sides are nice and chunky and offers good tactile feel. Thankfully, the power button is also on the side but a bit close to the top, making it slightly difficult to reach.

The back is a little too plain if you ask me

The back is a little too plain if you ask me

 

The back is quite bland with no texture or pattern to add any visual relief. There’s a 13MP snapper up top along with a LED flash, along with HTC branding in the middle.

The 816 supports GSM and CDMA networks for voice

The 816 supports GSM and CDMA networks for voice

 

The HTC Desire 816 is a dual-SIM handset where one SIM is for GSM while the other supports CDMA. There’s also a microSD card slot beside it. The 816 is aesthetically very pleasing and comes with a good feature set for it to stand on its own.

The 816's arch nemesis

The 816's arch nemesis

 

 

Looking at the 816 and the Sony T2 Ultra side by side, the Desire is a lot more pocketable due to it’s restrained screen size and rounded edges. It’s also powered by the same Snapdragon 400 SoC as the Sony, but HTC has clocked it at 1.6GHz instead of 1.3GHz. They’ve also added a larger 5MP sensor for the front camera compared to Sony.

Sizing them up

Sizing them up

 

In the short time we had with the device, we do see a lot of potential in the 816. At last, HTC has woken up and are delivering budget phones with sensible specifications. Compared to the existing line up of Desire handsets, which are quite lacklustre to be honest, the 816 is the much needed breath of fresh air. The Desire series were designed to be, well, desirable, but post the One series, the phones that came out were anything but that. HTC’s renewed focus in the budget segment could very well be the first steps in reviving this series that was once the highlight of the company.


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