HTC Desire 816

25th Feb 2014 | 17:00

HTC Desire 816

HTC recommends you gloss regularly

After getting our eyes up close to the HTC Desire 816, we couldn't wait to go one step further and actually touch the damn thing. So that's exactly what we did, and there was nothing you could have done to stop us.

In case you missed it, HTC announced its mid-range phablet at MWC, and aside from the naff name, the phone brought made pretty agreeable promises along with its 5.5-inch screen.


But the most notable thing about the Desire 816 probably isn't the size - it's that plastic, glossy finish. HTC told us that this was (as you might expect) a decision to keep the price down, but while "plastic fantastic" might send you running away, let us assure you that it actually feels pretty good.


Size-wise, the Desire 816 site between the HTC One and the HTC One Max, the latter of which will be too unwieldy for some - the 816 is the perfect answer for smaller hands.

Meanwhile, the glossy, plastic coat feels more premium than we initially expected. The comparisons with the iPhone 5C (especially the red) are inescapable, but on a bigger device these curves are much more appreciated by our hands.

We only got to try out the white version, but the handset will also be touching down in black, orange, dark blue, grey and green.


The handset we played with was running Sense 5.5 (no sign of Sense 6 just yet) but we wanted to make sure that the UI was running as fast as expected with the 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and 1.5GB of RAM. The good news: it very much was.

The eager-eyed among you will already have noticed the lack of capacitive buttons. HTC has moved these on-screen, just as it's rumoured to be doing with the New HTC One. Hinty hinty.


Of course, we don't know how demanding Sense 6 will be when it appears, but HTC has said that the Desire 816 will arrive with the next UI onboard. What we do know is that 5.5 was performing beautifully during our demo.


We weren't able to test them out, but the front-facing Boomsound speakers make a welcome return on the 816. We certainly don't suspect the quality will be a problem there but you'll have to wait for our full review to find out.

We did, however, have a quick go with the rear 13MP camera, which is an impressive feat for a mid-range handset such as this - as is the 5MP camera on the front.


You're going to want a decent screen to show those high-quality snaps off, and the Desire's 1280 x 720 pixel-resolution display is lovely and rich. Combine that with the 8GB of storage - expandable via microSD - and the Desire 816 makes for a pretty decent multimedia device.

Early verdict

It's hard to know just how good the performance of the Desire 816 will be without trying it with HTC's as-yet-unannounced Sense 6, but we're liking everything so far. The best news is that the build quality doesn't feel cheap despite the plastic back, and we can see this being a solid option for anyone who doesn't want to quite stretch their fingers to the HTC One Max.

HTC Desire 816 MWC MWC 2014
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