HTC Desire EYE hands-on

Taking selfies with our smartphones has become a part of life, to the point where its popularity has catapulted the word “selfie” to be officially accepted into the Oxford dictionary. HTC is no stranger when it comes to outfitting its handsets with robust cameras – both the front and rear, to give shutterbugs something worthy to use. Rising in popularity, HTC is especially accommodating the trend with its latest smartphone in the HTC Desire EYE, seeing that it’s outfitted with not only a formidable 13-megapixel rear camera, but also another 13-megapixel front-facing camera for all our selfie snapping needs.


One can argue that the HTC Desire EYE has a lot to live up to after the HTC One M8, but surprisingly enough, it’s a totally different looking phone that doesn’t necessarily follow the premium design language of its sibling. Rather, the Desire Eye has a humbler approach, much like other recent Desire smartphones – like the HTC Desire 816 and 510.

Going with a plastic body, one that features a useful IPX7 certification for water resistance, it has a subtle soft touch matte finish that makes it easy to grip. However, for a handset bearing a 5.2-inch display, it’s substantially larger in overall size than other devices with similarly sized screens. Another attribute that we adore, is the way that the handset boasts uniformly flush surfaces – so that the camera lenses on the phone are not distractingly sticking out like on some other phones. Available in two color options, the handset’s design is accented thanks to the contrasting colored bezel hugging the sides of the phone.

For the intended target audience, the design of the HTC Desire EYE is fun and lively, to match those individuals who are big into taking selfies.


As much as we would’ve loved to see a quad-HD display of some sort in this, HTC has opted to bless the Desire Eye with a contemporary 5.2-inch 1080 x 1920 LCD display – similar to what we already have in the M8 and E8. For something in the Desire family, we greatly appreciate the high-res panel, which has all of the fitting qualities we’ve come to expect from this type of display technology. It’s bright, visible outdoors with the sun present, offers crisp details, exhibits a very natural color reproduction, and viewing angles are pretty decent with it.


With the pre-production model we’re checking out, it’s running HTC Sense 6.0 on top of Android 4.4.4 KitKat – so it’s essentially the same as other recent HTC smartphones. Visually and functionally, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, as it features the same very clean and modern looking interface that we’ve come to enjoy and love. Interestingly, though, they’ve focused their attention on the camera app, since it offers a few new functions we’ll talk about a bit later on.

Processor and Memory

True to being a high-end thing that’s ready to compete against the masses, the HTC Desire Eye is packing along a quad-core 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC coupled with 2 GB of RAM – a fitting piece of silicon that powers many of today’s flagships. Not surprisingly, it delivers a fair amount of spunk to the handset’s performance. Even though we’re only spending a short time playing with the pre-production model, we’re fairly confident that it can handle some of today’s processor intensive operations with barely any fluff.

Boasting a reasonable 16GB of internal storage, it can be supplemented thanks to its microSD card slot. Unlike previous implementations, the adapter that holds the card in place is on a hinge, something that kind of flaps around when it’s taken out, but we’re told that it’s needed due to its water resistance property.


Selfie loving snappers rejoice, the HTC Desire EYE is all about meeting your demands with its front and rear camera. In the back, it boasts a very respectable sized 13-megapixel camera that’s accompanied with a dual-LED flash, 28mm f/2.0 aperture lens, and BSI. Of course, this decision to outfit it with a beefy camera instead of an Ultrapixel one is something we take to heart, as the Ultrapixel camera of the M8 can’t compete with its rivals when it comes to detail. Not one to be forgotten, the Desire EYE is all about taking selfies – so we’re astounded to find a 13-megapixel front-facing camera, which features BSI, 28mm wide-angle f/2.2 aperture lens, 1080p video recording, and a dual-LED flash.

We applaud HTC for its efforts in keeping the camera lenses flush, so that neither one is sticking out absurdly. At the same time, it tells us that HTC is committed to catering to the needs of selfie-loving folks. In doing that, they’ve tweaked the camera app here with the Desire EYE. Visually, it looks identical to other Sense 6.0 running smartphones, but there are several new shooting modes available here. Specifically, they include photo booth, Selfie, Crop-Me-In, and Split Capture modes.

With Crop-Me-In, it allows us to take two separate shots, one with the front and one with the rear, where the phone automatically crops the image from the front camera, so it’s transposed over the image captured by the rear. Depending on the situation, it can make for some hilarious looking compositions. As for the Split Capture mode, it’s similar to how other companies combine the shots taken by the front and rear cameras – so this isn’t a particularly new concept. The modes are supported with video recording too, but to be frank, it’s not as versatile when compared to what we see from Samsung’s implementation.

For now, we’ll be a bit reserved with our judgment regarding the performance of its cameras, but based on the samples we’re able to snap and view on a computer, some might be surprised by the results. Overall, it definitely captures some amazing looking photos with its cameras – just as long as lighting is plentiful. However, under low light, we begin to see some distracting levels of noise that softens its look.


Something of a rare occurrence, the HTC Desire EYE is actually coming here to the US – in addition to the markets overseas where the Desire line has its roots in. Although pricing hasn’t been officially mentioned, we’re told that the Desire Eye will feature a price point that’s a little bit higher than the HTC One E8. Selfies as a whole have this connotation of being grainy shots that are meant to be more impulsive, in comparison to the calculated compositions that we tend to get with regular photos. Knowing that, it’ll be interesting to see how the HTC Desire EYE will be able to handle all of the demands of individuals who take great pride in snapping selfies of themselves. Will a 13-megapixel front camera make such a significant difference?



1. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

This HTC event was so damn weird and the phone itself ain't any exception. But, I guess we will have to see how good it is upon reviews....but damn....HTC you Weird....still love you but weird.

2. alumoyo

Posts: 392; Member since: Aug 26, 2013

IKR - I remember the LG G3 event was just as awkward. Totally weird.

6. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

I do like the very discrete boom sound speakers though.... Those are super cool.

3. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

this is just stupid. why don't more OEMS make phones with Swivel Cameras like the Oppo N1. that makes tons more sense than putting two 13MP Cameras in an ugly shell like that. HTC should've just came out with a smaller, waterproof Desire with a Swivel Camera and just kept the RE at home.

8. TerryTerius unregistered

Because from a manufacturing standpoint, it's much easier to simply put in two cameras. It's an unnecessary complication, and adding moving parts to something that is such a high-usage, high-stress item like a phone doesn't exactly seem lime it'll be reliable long term. The idea is cool, and I applaud Oppo for doing that... but it doesn't really seem all that more beneficial than just putting in two cameras. It'd actually make spontaneous photography a tad-bit slower if you have to flip it around all the time.

10. srgonu

Posts: 557; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Also we will loose the functionality of using both cameras. I use it a lot on my note 3 when taking kids photographs

4. Rapha.194

Posts: 34; Member since: Sep 23, 2014

This HTC is a Joke! Look at the size of the battery! NEVER BE A MARKET LEADER !!!!

5. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Eye... pass.

7. kopkiwi

Posts: 102; Member since: May 31, 2013

Could have been so much more. Throw an 805 processor in there, give it the looks and design of the M8 and you have a class leading phone with finally a decent camera. This was just an epic fail all around.

9. TerryTerius unregistered

... Then it would outclass the M8, which I severely doubt HTC would want. Considering the Desire range is supposed to be below their flagship. they'd be cannibalizing sales from their crown jewel. You may as well be asking them to do what Sony does and make a slightly improved version of the M8 for the holiday season. They'll probably carry over improvements from this, to the M9 next year.

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