Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/6/2014 4:04:12 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
13MP front and rear cameras.
IPx7 rating makes it waterproof without closing the ports.
Gimmicky camera features.
By Sunetra Chakravarti
With the Desire Eye, HTC have created a phone which occupies the gap in the market that lies between the premium high-end devices and budget options. To call it mid-range would be prudent especially because of the pricing but we are reluctant to do so as it has none of the plastic-y build of budget phones and packs features that stand head and shoulders above other mid-range phones in the market.
Even though HTC have, historically called their budget line of phones Desire, the Desire Eye is anything but… Price-wise it is akin to any other mid-range phone out there but spec-wise, it is top class.
The phone is plastic. HTC use the word ‘Polycarbonate’ but that’s just posh for plastic. Using their double shot technique, it is a seamless unibody design which feels premium. Available in two colour variants red/white and blue/dark blue, the back panel is matt and a variant of matt plastic that does not pick up finger prints. A week in my rather messy bag and not a grimy print on it!
The speaker grills for the Boomsound speakers on the top and bottom of the phone front are very very slimline, inhabiting the space between the Gorilla Glass screen and the bevel. Not noticeable at all unless you run a nail along it to check. However, what is definitely visible is the camera- almost distractingly massive in its size- you will not miss it on the top of the phone.
For a non-flagship phone, the Desire Eye is staggering in its range of specs. Internally, there's 16GB storage but it is expandable to a mind-boggling 128GB via microSD card. It is quad-core and has a 2GB RAM with Sense 6.0- HTC's UI overlayed on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat. Blinkfeed makes an appearance here as well so you can get a low-down on all the happenings around the world by curating feeds from your favourite media sources.
During the past two weeks that I have been using the phone- I noticed no lags or stutterings. Whether it was hopping between apps or intensive social media use, the Desire Eye ran without a hitch. Infact, I was hard pressed to find any performance level differences between it and the iPhone 6.
The phone is a whopper- 5.2 inch screen makes it very difficult for us to use it one-handed on the tube. The absence of the curved back- previously seen on the One (M7) and the One (M8) doesn't make an appearance here and the texture of the phone makes it quite susceptible to slipping out of your hands.
The volume rocker and the power buttons are on the right while the micro USB port and the SD card slot sit next to each other on the left. We have a gripe about the placement of these drawers… they are not labelled and so it is very easy to often get the incorrect drawer- necessitating a phone reboot.
Absolutely snaptastic- notice the usage of teenage lingo. Because for most users that is what the camera is.
All my friends were won over by the razor sharp clarity on the front-facing camera which has hitherto been known for fuzzy out-of-focus snaps.
Front-facing cameras have always been woefully ignored in the megapixel war and so 13MP on both front and rear snappers makes it a first for for any smartphone. Selfies came out pin-sharp in well lit conditions but the cameras (note the plural) faltered in low light conditions.
HTC pack too many gimmicks into their camera editing tool to even make cynics like me chuckle... face fusion of me and my partner was just bizzarre- it struck me more as a joke app feature than one they seriously thought would be used by 'Beliebers' to daydream what their sprogs would look like.
The beautification tool doesnt just rub out blemishes but makes pictures almost ghoulish by over softening them and the front and back picture in one image- well, picture stitching apps are dime a dozen on the Play Store, so it is another of those unnecessary features.
The 2400mAh battery- a tiny step down from the 2600mAh on the HTC One (M8) goes far and beyond all expectations we had from a mid-range phone. Incessant Pinterest use as well as streaming media didnt dent it much... Infact I could get a good day and half before the battery saving mode would kick-in.
HTC call the Desire Eye a super selfie camera and with 13MP front and rear cameras on board, why wouldn't they? It is a first for any smartphone to rock same specs on both the front and rear cameras, but I am not convinced if the selfie camera is its best feature. IP67 rating without the ports closed is pretty amazing, as is the beautiful linear design. The robust battery life and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor make it an absolutely cracking deal.
The size guarantees it a place in the pit with other phablets, but we would definitely not call it a budget option, specifically because HTC didn't scrimp on the features or looks when they came up with it.
It is an alternative- an alternative to the HTC One (M8) in a polycarbonate body with some fantastic features. And we aren't even talking about the camera.