HTC Desire 816 Full Review

I know and realized that most of people out there when you mention HTC, they only recall the One series such as the HTC One X, One X+, the HTC One M7 and the all new HTC One M8. If you can remember, these are the high end series or another word you could say the flagship devices of HTC. Well, those were the days when HTC Hero and Desire series being the top-selling smartphones from HTC.

Lets take some time and talk about the HTC Desire 816. It comes under the mid-range category from HTC, trust me you won’t agree 100% with it being categorized as a mid-range device by end of this full HTC Desire 816 review from me! 🙂

Designed to Impress

Why am I so attracted to the HTC Desire 816? There are few reasons behind this, first I tend to love huge looking phones where this smartphone is sized at 5.5-inch, it fits perfectly for my huge hands. Next reason is because of those low profile looking front facing speakers with only 8 speaker grills at each end compared to the loads of speaker grills on the HTC One M8, well this is definitely a personal preference because I do like the speaker grills on the metal body of the HTC One M8 but do you think it will be suitable to have similar design on the HTC Desire 816? Well done HTC. Lastly, the 13MP main rear camera definitely impresses me more than the M8’s 4MP Ultrapixel camera although the Duo Camera has more promising features.

The HTC Desire 816 has a plastic body both on the front and back with matte finish on the front and side meanwhile glossy finish on the back. Similar to the HTC One M8, you don’t have any capacitive buttons which is replaced by on-screen navigational buttons. The power and volume keys are designed nicely and matching with the color of the phone with good tactile feel when you press on it, which simply means you will know that it is made of good quality and would last quite some time. The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on top of the phone with noticeable noise cancelling mic right beside it. The front camera is placed on the right part of the phone. On the right side of the HTC Desire 816, you will see a removable flap which covers the nano-sim slot and micro SD slot. Yes the official Malaysian version is a single sim rather than dual sim. To compensate the little loss of having another sim on your HTC Desire 816, it is replaced with LTE connectivity enabled rather than capping at HSDPA+ on the dual sim version. Which one is your cup of tea? Moving to bottom of the HTC Desire 816, you will notice the USB port for charging and transferring data placed on the right part.Lastly, on the back of the phone, you will find the main camera and the LED flash placed on the left corner of the phone aligned equally to look neater and classier.


The HTC Desire 816 comes with the older display Super LCD2 which was introduced on the HTC One X and HTC One X+. Although this is a pretty old school display technology, the outcome out of the screen results in gorgeous and realistic natural looking images which will not make you wonder or even think about the display quality. The HTC Desire 816 comes with 720p HD display only and not 1080p Full HD which is featured on the HTC One M8. This could be one of the reason that the HTC Desire 816 falls onto the mid-range category but do remember with 720p display you could actually save a huge amount of battery as it consumes much lower power compared to any other smartphones with 1080p display.


This smartphone comes with only 8GB internal memory which makes the usable storage capacity to about 4.4GB as rest of of the storage goes to system and apps usage. Some would wonder will the storage capacity be enough for me to stock up a decent amount of files such as songs and images? Yes it will be enough for you and worst case scenario you could use the micro SD slot which comes with the phone and you can expand the storage capacity up to 128GB. The HTC Desire 816 comes with 1.5GB of RAM and I was thinking why not make it 2GB instead as I tend to realize even phones with 2GB of RAM tend to use memory up to 1.5GB but trust me most of the time you will have at least 600MB of unused RAM made available for you with common apps running on the background. Thanks to HTC for optimizing the Android OS accordingly.

BoomSound all the way

For now until today nothing beats the front facing stereo speakers from HTC, the BoomSound speakers on the HTC Desire 816 proves that even if price is lower; quality of the audio output remains. The solid bass and loudness makes you to watch movies and listen songs without even plugging in your earphones. As you would have seen in my HTC One M8 full review, the sound output on the HTC Desire 816 is almost as good as the One M8 when it comes to quality and loudness. Video below shows how awesome the sound coming out from the front facing stereo speakers on the HTC Desire 816.

Camera and Video

The 13MP rear camera on the HTC Desire 816 is awesome as I expected. Although it lacks of OIS but the final shot coming from the smartphone is considered as really good and on par with other 13MP flagship devices. For a mid-range phone, this camera is not bad at all and to be honest the quality is similar to the shots taken from Xiaomi’s Mi 3. When it comes to low light shots, the output shots turn out to be quite noisy and couldn’t compare to what you could get from the HTC One M8, so there are Pros and Cons respectively. Other than that you can see it for yourself how gorgeous the shots are taken from the  HTC Desire 816.

The front camera on the HTC Desire 816 is set at 5MP and side by side comparison with the HTC One M8 shows that the M8 has better quality lens I guess where the shots taken are slightly better than the HTC Desire 816, however both are still 5MP and you can expect it to be as similar as it can be.

Unlike the HTC One M8, the Desire 816 has limited options for the camera functions where you will be not seeing the manual mode on the camera app together with Dual Capture, Pan 360 and the Zoe camera. Well that’s the reason you pay less and you get less 😛 . However if you’re not too particular about such functions for your camera app, why bother it at the first place isn’t it? As long as we have a camera which could take great photos. I am pretty sure it is still achievable on the HTC Desire 816.

As for the video mode, you will have Fast HD capped at 60fps, the slow motion video, and the normal mode. You can’t use the Fast HD mode to capture Full HD video as you can only take 1080p video via normal mode. Below is a outdoor footage taken directly from the HTC Desire 816 in normal mode set at Full HD.

Battery Life?

This took sometime for me to find out the estimated battery life and it was quite easy for me despite having the One M8 and could compare side by side as both of these devices has 2600mAh non-removable battery. Honestly, the battery life on the HTC Desire 816 is not as good as the HTC One M8, but it isn’t that bad too. This phone can easily get a full day of battery life based on my usage pattern which is similar to the way I used the One M8. A little bit of Clash of Clans, a little bit of Facebook, songs, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber with all this and together with continuous connectivity of WiFi and cellular data accordingly. Most smartphones with similar capacity could perform similar and some slightly better but don’t you forget that you have the Extreme Power Saving mode too! Yup, you could easily get 2 days or more of usage by a little bit of tweak which will require you to root your phone. Anyway the only reason to do this is to customize the app that you could use while on this mode, so that your battery life can be extended for good purpose, if you know what I mean. 😛


For the price tag of RM1199 with the probability of getting it cheaper from bulk dealers, you can get a 5.5-inch smartphone with dual front facing speakers, a good quality screen, quite a recent version of Android(KitKat) which proves to be very smooth as HTC Sense 6.0 is as stable as sand in a windstorm when it comes to performance and stability.

The call quality on the HTC Desire 816 is okay, not too bad and as I said before, HTC smartphones seem to have great call quality and you will actually have no problems when it comes to making calls and having a pleasant conversation.

Watching movie on the HTC Desire 816 somewhat seems much better than the HTC One M8 due to its bigger screen, however the sound on the HTC One M8 is still the best yet.

This phone is light and feels nice to hold in your hands, but I really wish that the back finish could have been matte instead of glossy.

Overall, the HTC Desire 816 is a value for money smartphone because you are getting pretty much a solid build smartphone with all the feature that you would wan to have which includes LTE, more than 1GB of RAM, 13MP back camera and 5MP selfie camera, huge display and of course BoomSound stereo speakers.