New Product Review : HTC Desire 820 SmartPhone

HTC's mid-range phablet, Desire 816 got a good response from Indian consumers with its good feature to price ratio (when it launched in June). Now, the Taiwanese company has launched the phone's successor that packs in a more powerful processor, a better front camera and Gorilla Glass 3 screen protection, among other improvements. Other than these, the phone is very similar to Desire 816. Is it a good buy? We try to find out in our review...

Build & design :

HTC Desire 820 looks very similar to the company's mid-range phablet Desire 816, complete with the unibody plastic shell, rounded corners and front dual stereo speakers.

Since the phone sports a big, 5.5-inch display, the overall footprint is also large. That said, it doesn't look unwieldy.

Unlike the Desire 816, the 820 sports dual-tone colours with the second colour making its presence felt in form of accents surrounding the front panel, volume rocker and power keys, micro-USB jack, camera lens and LED flash and the HTC logo.

The phone doesn't sport physical keys at the front and uses onscreen keys for navigation. Unlike the Desire 816, the Power/Screen lock and the volume rocker keys are located at the right edge of the phone and offer good tactile feedback. The left side sports a plastic flap that hides the two nano-sim card slots and a microSD card slot. Other than that, there's no major difference between the two phones in terms of design. Even the dimensions are almost identical.

The display is flanked by dual stereo BoomSound speakers on both sides. The speaker grill fits in a single line, with bigger holes unlike the HTC One's grill that is spread over four lines.

The 8MP front-facing camera lens sits above the display and is prominently visible. The 3.5mm headset jack sits at the top while the micro-USB port is placed at the bottom edge. 
The back of the phone features the 13MP rear camera and an LED flash. It sports a glossy finish and gets easily smudged.

Although made of plastic with a glossy finish, the build quality of the Desire 820 is pretty good and exudes a premium feel.

Display :

HTC Desire 820 sports a 5.5-inch Super LCD 2 display with a resolution of 720x1280pixels. Although, the number of pixels packed are less due to the large size of the display, we did not notice any pixilation and images and text appeared sharp and crisp.

The screen is optimum for watching videos and playing games thanks to its large size. Having said that, single hand usage becomes a little difficult due to this attribute. 
Viewing angles were also good and colours appeared vivid, though not as vibrant as that on HTC One (M8). Under-sun legibility was also good.

Desire 820's display comes with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, improving upon the Desire 816, which was more susceptible to scratches.

Software :

HTC Desire 820 comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat with Sense 6, the latest version of HTC's custom UI, running on top.

Unlike HTC One (M8), Desire 820 does not offer support for gestures like 'double tap to unlock' and 'swipe to unlock' to a home screen/Blinkfeed. The gestures would have made more sense on 820 given its bigger form factor and the awkward placement of the Power/Unlock key.

While the UI looks very different from stock Android, we quite like the Sense 6 interface. It doesn't look very different from that of the previous version of Sense.

It sports the on-screen navigation keys which hide while playing games and using apps that make use of Android's new immersive mode. For more on the user interface, you can check out our HTC One (M8) review.

Camera :

Just like the Desire 816, Desire 820 doesn't feature an UltraPixel camera. Instead, it includes a 13MP BSI sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a 28mm lens.

Desire 820 also doesn't come with HTC ImageChip. This means that features like the Zoe mode are not included and the camera takes extra time to process the image after capturing it. 
Images shot with the phone in optimum light looked great. Colour reproduction, exposure and contrast were just right and images looked natural. We had some issues capturing macro images as the focus lock was not very responsive. We compared it with the Desire 816 and found that strangely focus-lock was faster and responsive on the 816. This could be a software issue.

Low-light photos (without the use of night mode) looked noisy and lacked detail. The camera also offers Panorama and HDR modes.

The phone is capable of capturing 1080p videos and did not disappoint us in terms of audio and video quality. 
Desire 820's front-camera has an 8MP sensor with f2.0 wide angle lens for taking selfies. It also includes a timer switch and touchup feature for enhanced selfies. The phone clicks good-quality selfies and offers a number of options to eliminate blemishes, fix red eye and whiten skin tone. The 8MP front camera is the highlight of the phone and will please all self lovers.

Performance :

HTC Desire 820 is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor and 2GB RAM. Even though it is a mid-range device, the 820 never felt underpowered with the hardware being capable of supporting multitasking and gaming without hiccups.

It's worth pointing out that the 64-bit architecture is not supported by Android 4.4. Also, phones still need more memory to fully leverage 64-bit capabilities (better memory management) and 2GB would not really suffice.

In our use, we did not notice any lag while launching and switching between apps, editing photos, browsing the web, clicking pictures, watching high definition videos, or playing graphics-heavy games on Desire 820.

In synthetic benchmarks, the phone scored 24,013 in Antutu, 10,861 in Quadrant, in 2515 Geekbench 3(Multi-core) and 59.9 in Nenamark 2 benchmark tests. Surprisingly, benchmark scores of the phone were lower than that of Micromax Yureka YU, which is also powered by the same processor and sports similar hardware specifications. The scores (barring Quadrant) are significantly better than Desire 816's scores though.

We don't endorse benchmark tests and do not recommend a phone based solely on benchmarks as real world performance is different at times.

We were able to play videos of popular file formats without any issues. Additional file formats can be played through third party video player apps. The phone also comes with FM Radio.

HTC Desire 820's front stereo speakers offer enhanced sound quality in addition to delivering sound that's much more powerful and clear compared to many phones.

Call quality was excellent and the phone works well even in weak signal areas. We also observed that 820 catches even weak Wi-Fi signals. The phone comes with GPS and A-GPS for navigation and maps, and it was easily able to lock a signal. 
The phone supports Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX codec support. This allows the phone to deliver CD-like sound over Bluetooth (usually, the sound quality deteriorates over Bluetooth). We found that the phone offers good sound quality even when connected to a Bluetooth stereo headset.

The phone comes with a 2600mAh battery and will last you one day with moderate to high usage including about one to two hours of making calls, playing games, clicking some pictures, listening to music and browsing the web. We noticed that battery backup was inferior compared to the 816 even though both the phones have similar batteries. Perhaps this is due to the 820's new processor.

The phone comes with an Extreme power-saving mode, activating which will make the phone's battery last much longer. The mode restricts background data and offers access to Phone, Messages, Mail, Calendar, and Calculator apps.

Gaming :

We were able to play games like Looney Tunes Dash, Leo's Fortune, Riptide GP2 and Asphalt 8 (with Visual Quality set to High and Engine at 100%) without encountering frame drops or freezes. The phone tends to get a little warm after long gaming sessions.

At Rs 24,990, HTC Desire 820 is a not a bad smartphone to buy but the mid-range landscape has changed quite a bit and there are other good options available in the market. 
While the Desire 820 offers a good mix of features and hardware specifications, the average battery life and plastic, glossy build are downers. If you want a better big-screen smartphone and are not hassled by the company's 'invite' system, the OnePlus One is a much better option that comes with a superior chipset, full-HD display and better build quality, at a lower price. Of course, it doesn't support dual-sim.

The Lenovo Vibe X2 and Huawei Honor 6 are great options if you can settle for a 5-inch display. The Vibe X2 even offers dual-sim. You can also look at Desire 820q, an inferior version of the Desire 820 which comes with a a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor and has 1GB RAM.

HTC Desire 820 Specifications :
- 1.5 GHz+1 GHz Snapdragon 615 Octa Core Processor
- 2 GB RAM
- 5.5 Inch HD IPS Touch Display
- Dual Nano SIM
- 13 MP Rear Camera With LED Flash
- 8 MP Front Facing Camera
- Dual Front-Facing Speakers
- HTC BoomSound
- HTC Blink Feed
- 3G
- WiFi
- 2600 MAh Battery
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