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HTC Desire 816 Review

HTC Desire 816 8.5

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HTC Desire 816 Review

HTC Desire 816 Review
HTC Desire 816 Review
HTC Desire 816 Review
HTC Desire 816 Review
HTC Desire 816 Review

Until recently, one could easily figure out whether a given Android smartphone was a low-end, a mid-range, or a high-end device solely by having its size into consideration. The bigger the phone, the higher its rank was in the Android ecosystem. Things, however, have changed a bit over the past couple of years or so. Mid-range handsets of phablet caliber have started popping up already, and HTC is one of the newcomers to the party.

Meet the HTC Desire 816. Described by its maker as a “flagship mid-range” phone, it strikes a great balance between price and features with its generous 5.5-inch display, quad-core processor, and 13MP camera. At the same time, goodies borrowed straight from the company's flagship, the HTC One (M8), are making an appearance in HTC's phablet, including the gorgeous Sense 6.0 interface and the awesome pair of front-facing BoomSound speakers. All of this can be yours for around $400 off-contract, which seems like a pretty sweet deal. Or is it?


A plastic device at its core, but with a solid, reassuring feel to it.

HTC has taken a minimalist approach when designing the Desire 816. With its straight lines, subtle curves, and flat front and back sides, the handset is both a pleasure to hold an admire. Sure, it is a plastic-made phone in essence, but it feels solid, sturdy, and reliable. The trim around the sides has a matte finish and an almost rubbery-like feel to it, which provides plenty of friction for a surprisingly comfortable grip. On the downside, the glossy plastic back of the phone attracts a certain dose of finger smudge, but a quick wipe with a soft piece of cloth is enough to get rid of it. i

Of note is also the considerable physical size of the HTC Desire 816. Measuring 6.17 by 3.10 inches (156.6 by 78.7 centimeters), it is difficult to operate single-handedly and to carry in a pair of jeans' side pocket. Moreover, it is a rather tall handset, presumably to accommodate the pair of BoomSound speakers. Yup, the 816 offers stereo front-facing speakers, just like the HTC One (M8), but we'll save our comment on their quality for later.

The power and volume keys on the HTC Desire 816 are positioned on its left side. These can be hard to reach unless one resorts to their second hand in order to operate them. Furthermore, the keys lack in feedback and travel. Virtual on-screen buttons are used for navigating through the software's interface. These, at least, are easier to reach by the user's thumb. On the right side of the HTC Desire 816 reside the microSD and Nano SIM card slots. These are protected by a flap that rests flush with the handset's side, thus not disrupting the design's seamless lines.

HTC Desire 816
6.17 x 3.1 x 0.31 inches
156.6 x 78.7 x 7.99 mm
5.82 oz (165 g)

HTC Desire 816

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches
151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm
5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Sony Xperia Z2
5.78 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches
146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Sony Xperia Z2

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches
138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm
5.04 oz (143 g)


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


Plentiful real estate with satisfactory resolution make for an overall likeable display.

The massive LCD display is one of the HTC Desire 816's key selling points. It measures 5.5 inches in diagonal, which puts the handset in the trendy phablet category. Some potential buyers, however, might find its pixel count a tad disappointing – the panel has a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels, producing a PPI figure of 267 pixels per inch. On one hand, this is clearly not the sharpest smartphone display in existence as the 400 ppi barrier has long been shattered. But on the other hand, we find its resolution perfectly acceptable given the Desire 816's class. We can comfortably browse our favorite internet sites and read articles after zooming a bit on them. Watching videos and photos, as well as playing games, are also pleasurable experiences thanks to the screen's generous size.

As far as color reproduction goes, we're mostly satisfied with what our eyes see. However, the Desire 816's screen has a color temperature of 7404 Kelvins, which is a bit off from the reference figure of 6500 K. Whites have a slightly cold tone as a result, although the deviations are tolerable. Primary colors come pretty close to their reference points, as our measurements confirm. Colors do not exhibit any significant under- or oversaturation.

Using the HTC Desire 816 under broad daylight is possible thanks to its decent brightness output of 389 nits. Things, however, get a bit hard to see if light is reflected straight at the user. On top of that, the display's surface can easily get covered in fingerprints, which could potentially hinder its outdoor usability. The screen's minimum brightness of 12 nits is okay. Having this figure in mind, the user's eyes should not be subjected to too much strain while the phone is used at night.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
HTC Desire 816 389
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 360
Sony Xperia Z2 458
LG G2 438
View all

  • Options

posted on 29 May 2014, 03:10 4

1. ihavenoname (Posts: 1693; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)

Great phone, hopely it sells well.

posted on 29 May 2014, 10:10

14. GTR722 (Posts: 268; Member since: 20 Oct 2012)

They need to put this phone in Amazon, unlocked, global. Moto G did that, and it sell like crazy...why more companies dont do that is beyond me.

posted on 29 May 2014, 03:36 1

2. Anshulonweb (Posts: 434; Member since: 07 Feb 2014)

I hope the size was little smaller.... it us same size as LG g pro 2 which has 5.9 inch screen.......and I think snapdragon 400 is quite average processor for price range. n..200$ moto g has it......I wish not only htc but sony,LG and Samsung start putting snapdragon 600 in the price range......

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 22:07

24. Canaan (Posts: 346; Member since: 25 May 2014)

Perhaps the snapdragon 600 is still expensive? It came out about a year ago and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One (2013) are equipped with it; I would hardly call those two mid rangers.

posted on 29 May 2014, 03:39 1

3. najib1312 (Posts: 154; Member since: 08 May 2013)

Current prices in Malaysia:

1) HTC Desire 816 - RM1,150 ~ USD357
2) Sony Xperia T2 Ultra - RM1,030 ~ USD320
3) Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo - RM1,120 ~ USD348

Overall, Galaxy Note 3 Neo wins!!

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:25 1

4. bornatalebi (Posts: 2; Member since: 05 May 2014)

Current prices in Iran:

1)HTC Desire 816: 1.570.000 Tomans
2)Sony Xperia T2 Ultra: 1.100.000 Tomans
3)Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo: 1.400.000 Tomans
4)Xperia Z Ultra: 1.400.000 Tomans

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:33 2

5. pyradark (Posts: 882; Member since: 10 Jun 2012)

I rather get T2 Ultra due to its great battery life and camera

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:48 3

7. UglyFrank (Posts: 1930; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)

Note 3 Neo has the best processor out of the bunch and S Pen can't be overlooked

posted on 29 May 2014, 13:48 2

15. Kamehameha (Posts: 44; Member since: 21 Apr 2014)

I'd choose better speakers over S Pen any day. Both are really good. But speakers are more important.

posted on 01 Jun 2014, 19:19

20. TheGenius (Posts: 339; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)

But ots also 170.000 tomans costly

posted on 02 Jun 2014, 04:45

21. Kamehameha (Posts: 44; Member since: 21 Apr 2014)

12% price difference is significant, but acceptable given the awesome speakers and their utility whenever you watch anything in your mobile.

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:45 2

6. waqarzec (Posts: 64; Member since: 09 May 2013)

hey phonearena why are u always opposite HTC........for one mini 2 u rated it at 8 score and for the top HTC one m8 u gave only 8.8 ...u know what have u done there.....u know except u the gsmarena,phonedog and pocketnow all have rated it with higher blessings.....it's the no1 ......why pa why......why with HTC......and same have u done in the case of HTC desire 816

posted on 29 May 2014, 04:55

8. maccess (Posts: 742; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)

8.5 seems too good IMO.. for me it's a 7.7..

posted on 29 May 2014, 05:53 1

9. craigy72 (banned) (Posts: 41; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Good review -

posted on 29 May 2014, 07:03

10. Epicness1o1 (Posts: 280; Member since: 30 May 2013)

I think a M7 is a better deal

posted on 29 May 2014, 07:46

11. farhad_per (banned) (Posts: 128; Member since: 26 Mar 2014)

Good phone but I definitely prefer Note 3 neo and Grand 2..

posted on 29 May 2014, 07:48 2

12. tiara6918 (Posts: 2110; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)

Best mid range of its class

posted on 29 May 2014, 09:17

13. jai11 (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 May 2014)

does it have gorilla glass?

posted on 30 May 2014, 00:24

17. Mpkninja (Posts: 3; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)

No gorilla glass :S

posted on 29 May 2014, 18:14

16. Neo_Huang (Posts: 1067; Member since: 06 Dec 2013)

BTW the T2 Ultra does not have higher resolution.

posted on 30 May 2014, 03:32 1

18. brasstax (Posts: 392; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Whats up with "mid range" phones being outfitted with snapdragon 400 socs? With the s801 socs already becoming standard for flagships & s805 socs expected soon, any mid range phone/phablet needs to have the snapdragon 600 soc.

posted on 30 May 2014, 08:36

19. ahhxd717 (Posts: 332; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)

I was wondering why the S600 hasn't been used in more mid-range type phones. I think its still a great processor, especially with the better GPU compared to what's offered in the snapdragon 400 series

posted on 07 Jun 2014, 22:10

25. Canaan (Posts: 346; Member since: 25 May 2014)

Just realized I responded to the wrong person further up, but I'll repost what I told him:

Perhaps the snapdragon 600 is still expensive? It came out about a year ago and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One (2013) are equipped with it; I would hardly call those two mid rangers.

posted on 09 Sep 2014, 04:04

26. ARITRA (Posts: 45; Member since: 07 Dec 2011)

i heard s600 has been discontinued! but im not sure..

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 00:07

22. Tito73 (Posts: 15; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)

Moto x best form factor ever!

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 00:22

23. Tito73 (Posts: 15; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)

But Htc one m8 best phone ever, no way to beat him because is faster, smoother, ...than anyone else, for me 1 problem is jack for headphones under, keys on screen are now ok because flagging hide keys ....you get 5 inch full in browsing, lack of beats audio software stock! Sense 6 just fantastic, I wish was as easy as Samsung to root, install recovery and change rom, I am a bit concerned to go on with modding....thanks Htc, camera is ok but OIS hardware and 8 ultrapixel dualcamera, for what I paid it, was just obligatory! Imo!
Last but not least waterproof! Gestures are perfect! Wifi and data signals are really strong 3 to 4 second to lock the signal and keeps it where my old z1, note 2, s2, iphone 5 didn't!
My note n8010 is crying, ...kitkat still isn't home,....

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HTC Desire 816

HTC Desire 816

OS: Android 5.0 4.4.2
view full specs
Display5.5 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (267 ppi) S-LCD 2
Camera13 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Quad-core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A7 processor
1.5 GB RAM
Size6.17 x 3.10 x 0.31 inches
(156.6 x 78.7 x 7.99 mm)
5.82 oz  (165 g)

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