HTC Desire 816G first impressions: taking a leaf out of Samsung’s ‘note’-book

“First look at the HTC’s most affordable phablet and how it’s different from its pricier sibling”

When HTC’s launch event was underway at New Delhi yesterday, the Taiwanese brand delivered on expectations by bringing the world’s first 64-bit octa-core smartphone to India, the Desire 820 (first impressions). But it also managed to surprise us by showcasing another device, the Desire 816G. At first, we were confused if it’s a mistake since the 816 is already available in the Indian market, but then we noticed the ‘G’ in its moniker. Simply put, the Desire 816G is a lower-priced variant of its extremely popular mid-range brother, the Desire 816 (review | FAQs). So what exactly does it borrow from its sibling and what all has changed to reduce its pricing? Let’s answer that with our first impressions about the smartphone.

When it comes to design, there’s not much to talk about since the 816G is an exact replica of its sibling. Right from the familiar plastic-based unibody design to the glossy finish, you won’t notice a difference between the two. The front is dominated by the display panel along with the BoomSound speakers above and below, along with the secondary snapper and a few sensors on the top. There are no navigation buttons, since like most of HTC’s recent offerings, they are available as software overlays.

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While the right edge is home to the volume rocker and the power button, the left side offers the slots for inserting SIM cards and a microSD card hidden underneath a flush flap. Up top, you’ll find an audio jack, while a micro-USB port for charging or data transfer can be found on the bottom.

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At the back of the Desire 816G, you can find the main camera unit along with an LED flash, and HTC’s logo. The rear features a glossy finish again , which registers fingerprints quite easily.

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Not only the back of the handset, but the display panel (measuring same as the Desire 816 at 5.5-inches) is also a fingerprint magnet. The IPS display offers a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels and reproduces good visuals. However, we felt that the screen wasn’t extremely responsive and we had to press hard for initiating actions.

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In terms of handling, we have to give credit to HTC’s designers as they’ve managed to pack in such a large display panel without increasing the weight. Tipping the scale at 158g, the Desire 816G is quite lightweight, even lower as compared to its pricier sibling. With thickness of 8mm, the phablet is quite sleek as well.

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The camera combo in the HTC Desire 816G is same as the Desire 816, with the 13-megapixel BSI sensor handling the primary shooter’s responsibilities and a 5MP BSI sensor at the front offering the ability to capture high-quality selfies. Both the snappers are capable of recording full HD videos. While we weren’t able to test out the camera properly during the event, we believe it would be same as its sibling, which passed our intensive camera test with flying colours.

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When it comes to software layer, the underlying Android 4.4.2 KitKat is topped with the brand’s proprietary Sense custom skin. However, we noticed that the device was running the older iteration of Sense, i.e version 5, instead of Sense 6.

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While HTC’s new offering seems quite similar to its progenitor till now, the difference arises in the hardware department. Instead of a 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, the Desire 816G is powered by MediaTek MT6582 quad-core SoC ticking at 1.3GHz. The RAM has also been reduced to a gigabyte, instead of 1.5GB in its sibling. The performance was smooth during our brief usage, but it remains to be seen how well it manages to run processor-intensive tasks .

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The in-built storage stands at 8GB in the Desire 816G, which is same as its sibling. Although, you can extend it further with the use of a microSD card, but only to 32GB against the 128GB support available on the Desire 816.

For connectivity, the HTC Desire 816G has skimped on the CDMA support available in its sibling, and offers the usual features such as 3G compatibility, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Powering the show is a 2,600mAh battery, which is same as the Desire 816.

While checking out the smartphone, we couldn’t help but recall our observation with the HTC One (E8) (review | FAQs), when we stated that the Taiwanese brand is following Samsung’s multi-device strategy quite well. The Desire 816G can be considered akin to Samsung’s Neo series of devices, since it borrows the popular traits of the Desire 816 and strips away those which won’t hamper the usability, and thus offer the package at a more affordable price point. The HTC Desire 816G will retail at Rs 18,990 – a good Rs 5,000 less than the Desire 816, and thus will compete in a different price bracket. What’s more interesting about the latest device from HTC is that there aren’t many offerings that can compete with it, especially from tier-one manufacturers. That said, there are some octa-core-toting options such as the Micromax Canvas Gold and Huawei Ascend G750 (first impressions) that can pose a tough challenge.

Video by Pratik Vyas

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