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HTC Desire 816 Review

HTC Desire 816

Posted: , by Nick T.




The latest Android has to offer, with a dose of Sense 6.0 on top.

HTC is launching the Desire 816 with the most up-to-date version of Android that is available – Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The platform, however, has undergone a series of visual modifications as Sense 6.0, HTC's custom user interface, runs on top. The UI is praised for its simplistic style and visual consistency – traits that rank it among the best of its kind.

Functionality has not been overlooked either. As a matter of fact, a number of features found on the HTC One (M8) flagship have been brought over to the Desire 816. Among them is BlinkFeed, which is one of the UI's highlights. Basically, it is a home screen dedicated to aggregating your social networking news feeds with articles from online news outlets, thus bringing relevant information at the user's fingertips, available at a swipe's distance. You might like this feature if you're a heavy SN user, but in case you're not, you're totally free to turn BlinkFeed off.

Further UI alterations include a lock screen enhanced with app shortcuts and gestures that take the user to either BlinkFeed or their home screen, depending on the swipe's direction. Unlike the HTC One (M8) however, the Desire 816 lacks the double-tap-to-wake function, and its camera can't be accessed by holding down the volume key.


HTC's messaging app may seem simple at a glance, but it has a number of tricks up its sleeve. Users have the option to move private texts to a secure box, where they'll be password-protected against prying eyes. An SMS backup/restore feature has been thrown in as well.

The on-screen keyboard on the HTC Desire 816 is spacious and comfortable to operate using two thumbs in either portrait or landscape mode. Accuracy shouldn't be an issue, and even if you make a typo, the keyboard can take care of it automatically. Word prediction and swype-like input are featured as well.

Processor and memory

A mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC outfitted inside a mid-range phone.

A Snapdragon 400 SoC, model MSM8928, powers the HTC Desire 816, all the while putting the “mid-range” in the phone's description as a “mid-range flagship”. The chip features a quad-core, ARM Cortex-A7 based CPU with a maximum clock speed of 1.6GHz, as well as Adreno 305 graphics. To no surprise, a setup like this produces average benchmark scores, but don't let any of this disturb you. In reality, the phone's performance is satisfactory. The UI is responsive, even though it skips a frame every now and then. We did not experience any serious cases of lag during our testing.

For those wondering whether or not the Desire 816 can handle any games, we bring both good and bad news. The phone should be able to run most new titles, including ones featuring plenty of 3D action. However, performance drops may be experienced with heavier, graphically intense games.

There are 1.5GB of RAM inside the HTC Desire 816, which is a reasonable amount for a phone of this caliber. Multitasking is not an issue – switching back and forth between tasks is a swift process.

On-board storage space on the HTC Desire 816 is scarce. Only 4.2GB are available to the user (out of a total of 8GB), which is why it is highly recommended to equip the phone with a microSD card of considerable size.

Performance benchmarks

Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 13176.6
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 22270
Sony Xperia Z2 18584
LG G2 20654
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 20934
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 31543
Sony Xperia Z2 34088
LG G2 35376
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 669
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 1214
Sony Xperia Z2 1177
LG G2 1229
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 1423.3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 2766
Sony Xperia Z2 1584
LG G2 2951
Lower is better
HTC Desire 816 1116.4
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 599
Sony Xperia Z2 925.4
LG G2 932.8
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 3.9
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 9.77
Sony Xperia Z2 12.4
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
HTC Desire 816 529.3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 1033.6
Sony Xperia Z2 1207
LG G2 772
View all

Internet browser and connectivity

With its acceptable browser performance and large screen, the Desire 816 is very suitable for web browsing.

There is a couple of web-browsers pre-loaded onto the HTC Desire 816. One of them, labeled simply as Internet, loads pages fast, but its performance isn't flawless. We've been noticing a slight lag when browsing web sites, and the heavier the page is, the more pronounced this lag becomes. And besides, we don't quite like the tab switching interface as it takes too long to go from one tab to another. The out-of-the-box alternative is Chrome, Google's own web browser. As a whole, we find it slightly more responsive, and the slight lags that may occur from time to time aren't bothering at all. Having that in mind, we can say that the HTC Desire 816 is a phone that's very suitable for browsing the web. The overall browser performance is acceptable, and the large screen allows for a comfortable viewing experience.

As far as connectivity goes, there's nothing that the HTC Desire 816 lacks. Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM radio, and NFC are all on board, along with LTE on bands 3, 7, 8, and 20. When LTE is not available, the smartphone falls back to HSPA+ at rates of up to 42.2Mbps. We must also mention that a dual-SIM model of the HTC Desire 816 is available, for those who need the functionality.

  • 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: 270; 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: 437; 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: 348; 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: 1939; 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: 2111; 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: 406; 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: 348; 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: 17; Member since: 11 Sep 2012)

Moto x best form factor ever!

posted on 03 Jun 2014, 00:22

23. Tito73 (Posts: 17; 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
PhoneArena rating:
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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