Love it or hate it, "phablets" are here to stay. Due to the market demand, even design and ergonomics driven company Nokia released a couple of oversized phones. Rumour has it that Apple, who once ridiculed large phones, is also considering to jump on the "phablet" bandwagon. Little wonder then, the Taiwanese brand HTC doesn't want to lose out on this opportunity. The Desire 816 is company's most affordable "phablet" to reach the Indian shores. However, with a sub-25k price tag, can it compete with the likes of Nexus 5 and Lumia 925?
Design and Build HTC's mid and high end phones are known for their iconic twin front-facing speakers, and the Desire 816 is no exception. Overall, the phone borrows a lot of design elements from the One series phones. Being a mid-range device, it trades the HTC One's aluminium with plastic. Speaking of which, the matte plastic used on the front and the sides top quality. On the other hand, we don't like the glossy finish on its back. Apart from being slippery, the rear plastic gets scratched very easily. After a week's usage, it has already started losing colour at a few spots.
The Desire 816 doesn't feature a unibody (seamless design). Still, the phone's back-panel cannot be removed. Obviously, this means that the battery isn't user replaceable. The two SIM card slots are on the the right hand side. One thing worth noting here is that the Desire 816 supports nano SIMs just like the iPhone 5s and Lumia 930. Bang opposite are the Lock button and Volume Rocker. It's good that HTC has put the Lock button on sides as it would have been difficult to the top button. The biggest complain here is that the phone is unwieldy. It doesn't properly fit the jeans pockets.
Display The Desire 816 features a 5.5" HD Super LCD2 screen. That's enough pixels to produce sharp images and text. It's bright and colour reproduction is also quite good. However, it's no match for the AMOLED screens found on the similarly priced GALAXY S4 and Lumia 925. The company has not bothered to add the Gorilla Glass protection. Come on HTC, even the affordable phones such as the Lumia 630 feature Gorilla Glass 3.
Key Specifications The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset clocked at 1.6 GHz. It has 1.5 GB of RAM, and there's Adreno 305 GPU to handle games. Other features include a 13 megapixel rear camera, 5 megapixel front-facing snapper, 8 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, and 2600 mAh battery.
Software The Desire 816 ships with Android 4.4.2 Kitkat. Like any recent HTC phone, the 816 comes with the Sense UI. Aesthetically, it is undoubtedly best Android customisation in the market. The icons look flat and simple. More importantly, the animations are minimalistic. The BlinkFeed is a noticeable feature, which brings all the latest updates from the world of technology, sports, and even your social networking account in neatly stacked tiles.
While most Android phones stutter with powerful chipsets, the Desire 816 runs quite smooth on the Snapdragon 400 SoC. Undoubtedly, the credit goes to HTC's software optimisation. In multitasking also, the phone hardly showed any sign of a lag or slowdown. The Adreno 305 GPU runs most high-end games without a problem. However, just don't expect the 3D models to look spectacular as they do on the Nexus 5. Those interested in synthetic benchmarks can refer to our hands-on article.
Multimedia The phone offers excellent sound quality. Then, there's BoomSound enhancement that increases bass in audio. HTC has also added a fancy visualise, but the equaliser settings are missing. There's no Beats Audio either. It's now owned by Apple, remember? The default video player has limited codec support. However, you can play almost any popular video format using MXPlayer and QQPlayer. The 5.5-inch display turns out to be great for watching movies.
Camera Instead of the much-hyped 4 Ultrapixel cameras, the Desire 816 packs in a 13 megapixel snapper. That, we think is the best decision HTC has made over the year. Despite being a mid-range device, the 816 produces great images. The quality is better than what the flagship One series offers. The images look sharp. Colours mostly turn out to be accurate. Click here for the image sample. Moving on to video recording, the Desire 816 captures 1080p quality clips at 30 fps. These videos contain plenty of details.
Phone And Messaging As mentioned earlier, the phone comes with nano SIM cards. It features a detailed menu for managing SIM cards. The device's network reception and call quality are quite good. The on-screen keyboard is well designed. Moreover, you're unlikely to hit wrong keys on a 5.5-inch screen.
Battery The Desire 816's 2600 mAh battery powers the device for over a day and half. In our 720 video loop test, it lasted for a little over 10 hours and 30 minutes. That's impressive for an Android phone with such a large screen.
Verdict The HTC Desire 816 is priced at Rs 24,200. In this segment, it competes with the Nexus 5 and Lumia 925. The 816's camera and multimedia performance are quite good. The display isn't great, but you get what you pay for. The build quality could have been better. However, what goes against this phone is its sheer size. Well, if you like huge phones, then go for it. It's undoubtedly one of the best sub-25k phablet from a reputed brand. But, if you're looking a 'phone;, then the Nexus 5 and Lumia 925 are better options.
Features: 4/5 Design and Build Quality: 3/5 Performance: 4/5 Value For Money: 3.5/5 Mojo: 3/5