HTC Desire 816 dual-SIM first impressions: a stylish phablet that doesn’t cost the earth

“Looking for a stylish large-screen smartphone? The HTC Desire 816 could be it”

The HTC Desire 816 saw first light of day at MWC this year, and it’s now making its way to Indian shores. Officially HTC’s second foray into the phablet segment after the One Max, the Desire 816 is positioned in the mid-range and offers noteworthy design and specs. Now, this segment is fairly crowded in India, and making a choice isn’t easy. However, it’s to HTC’s credit that it’s managed to make its offering stand out from the crowd. We played around with the device for a bit at the launch event, and here are our first impressions.

Sporting a 5.5-inch display, the device is quite svelte, but comes across as fairly large in size with its dual-front speakers (BoomSound in HTC speak) adding to the overall dimensions. It’s clad in glossy white plastic, with the sides finished in matte.


Despite the plastic construction, it feels well built. It could be tough to get rid of the plasticky feel, but that said, it doesn’t come across as cheap. Apart from the screen, speaker holes on top and bottom, front camera, earpiece and sensors, there’s nothing else adoring the fascia since the standard Android keys are now implemented as software overlays. This is similar to smartphones like the Nexus 5, Moto G, Moto X and even HTC’s own One (M8)


The bottom is home to a microUSB port, while the top is where you’ll find the headset socket. A metal-finished power key and volume rocker are placed on the left.


Since the device features a sealed unibody design, a large plastic tab has been provided on the right, opening which reveals a pair of nano-SIM slots and a microSD card slot for expanding the 8GB internal storage (supporting microSD cards up to 128GB in capacity). 3G is supported only on the first SIM slot, while other connectivity options of the Desire 816 include Bluetooth 4.0 and DLNA. 


At the rear, there’s a 13-megapixel snapper boasting f2.2 aperture and a BSI sensor, while HTC is offering a 5MP snapper in front, again with a BSI sensor for selfie lovers. Both cameras support 1080p video capture. Fuelling the show is a 2,600mAh non-removable battery. 


Software-wise, the Desire 816 runs the latest version of Android, i.e. KitKat 4.4.2, which could be one of the feathers in its cap since there still aren’t too many smartphones that offer the latest Android build. As usual, HTC’s proprietary skin that goes by the name of Sense runs atop, also offering software features such as BlinkFeed


The smartphone’s innards are home to a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor running at 1.6GHz, and in the limited time we spent with the device, it does seem fairly zippy. The 5.5-inch 720p display seems quite sharp as well. Needless to say, we’ll have a much deeper analysis of the smartphone’s real-world performance and a conclusive verdict when we get to review the device properly. 


The HTC Desire 816 dual-SIM has been priced at Rs 23,999 in India, and at that cost, the Gionee Elife E7 kills it as far as pure specs are concerned, but then, the latter is not a dual-SIM device. Other phablet rivals in the same price range include the Sony Xperia T2 Ultra and the Nokia Lumia 1320, but it could be too early to pass judgement. Specs aren’t everything, as we’ve learnt, and based on our limited time with the device, we think the Desire 816 could be a compelling option for those who need a trusty dual-SIM phablet. Watch this space for the full review. 

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