HTC Desire Eye Quick Review

HTC Desire Eye Quick Review

The latest flagship smartphone to be announced by HTC is the Desire Eye and while the handset company no longer distributes in the Philippines, they’re still very much active in neighboring countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Our review unit was bought at the HKIA during our lay-over flight to Kota Kinabalu last week.

Announced back in October 2014, the HTC Desire Eye takes its cue from the flagship One series but adopted the Desire line moniker which used to be representative of their mid-range category.

However, nothing in the build quality and the hardware specification of the the Desire Eye points to it being a mid-range handset. And while we can’t really say that the Desire Eye is an upgrade to the HTC One (M8), it’s like a reincarnation of the M8 in another body.

The Desire Eye separates itself from the One series with a bolder design, bright and colorful palette with a matte polycarbonate material that is reminiscent of the HTC One X and HTC One S from many years back.

We continued to be impressed with HTC in the design department. They’ve been producing really beautiful handsets and the Desire Eye is no exception. HTC breaks the general perception that polycarbonate (read: plastic) materials are not as sexy and elegant as glass or metal alloy. The Desire Eye is a testament to that (we also saw and played with the HTC 820 and HTC 620, both of which had similar build and materials as the Desire Eye).

The Desire Eye has a very simple yet very clean design. The flat front and back panels have that matte ceramic finish that’s very much similar to the One X. The rounded corners are subtle with a slightly curved edge that offers a gentle comfort on the hands despite its rather large form factor. That comfortable feeling when holding the unit is almost the same as that of the iPhone 6 Plus, only lighter and less slippery.

The ceramic white finish of the front and back panel sandwiches the bright red polycarbonate band around the sides. The color combination is loud and striking yet sublte and not over the top, unlike that of the Lumia series.

The power button, dedicated camera shutter and volume controls are on the right side while the microSD and nano-SIM card slots are found on the left side, both of which are protected by a water-proof flap covers.

At the top is the 3.5mm audio port and at the bottom is the micro USB port. The unibody design gives it a compact and slim profile providing it the IPX7 water-resistance that HTC claims (a first in any HTC handset).

At the front is the large slab of glass sandwiched by plastic borders at the top and bottom. A small ridge breaks the line where the glass and polycarbonate meet. This is where the BoomSound speakers are inconspicuously placed, both at the top and bottom corner. Just like the HTC One, the speakers on the Desire Eye are as effective since they are front-facing although we noticed the sound is not as loud as its predecessors.


Running on Android 4.4.4 Kitkat, the Desire Eye comes with a custom HTC Sense UI 6.0 which looks simpler and optimized (less the fancy animation of the previous UI) but with BlinkFeed still intact and set as a secondary home screen you can pull out by swiping from the left.

Central to the design and positioning of the HTC Desire Eye is the large 13-megapixel front camera that’s paired to the exactly same 13MP rear camera. Obviously, this is where the handset got its name.

Both front and rear camera have the same optics and also have the same dual-tone, dual-LED flash to pair with each. Aside from the Oppo N1/N3 which has a rotating camera, the Desire Eye has the largest and most capable front-facing selfie-centric smartphone we’ve ever seen and tested.

The Desire Eye performs as fast as the HTC One M8, noting the fact that they both have similar hardware configuration. Here are the results of the first set of benchmarks we ran on the unit:

Antutu Benchmark: 40,507
Quadrant Advanced: 25,203
Vellamo: 1,525 (Metal), 1,893 (Multicore), 2,092 (Browser)

Majority of the benchmark scores are slightly higher than the HTC One M8 as well as several other flagship handsets of 2014 (LG G3, Galaxy S5, Xperia Z3).

In the connectivity department, the handset has everything from LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, Radio, GPS. The Desire Eye also supports wireless connection with the HTC Mini+.

We have yet to fully test the two cameras and the battery life but we’ll tackle them thoroughly in our full review next week. There are also a lot of OTA updates that we’ve downloaded in the past couple of days to improve the performance of the device.

So far, we’re liking the HTC Desire Eye. While everything else has been accounted for in the last few days that we’ve been using the unit, our final verdict will revolved around the promise of the dual-camera system and the endurance of the built-in battery.

HTC Desire Eye specs:
5.2-inch IPS LCD display @ 1920 x 1080, 424ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Snapdragon 801 quad-core CPU
Adreno 330 GPU
16GB internal memory
Up to 128GB via microSD
LTE 150Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band
WiFi Direct, DLNA
Bluetooth 4.0 A2DP, apt-X
GPS with aGPS support
FM Radio with RDS
13MP AF rear camera, dual LED, dual tone flash
13MP front-facing camera, dual LED, dual tone flash
IPX7-certified, dust-proof, water-resistant
Boom Sound
Li-Po 2,400mAh battery
Android 4.4.4 KitKat with HTC Sense UI 6.0
151.7 x 73.8 x 8.5mm (dimensions)
154 grams (weight)

The HTC Desire Eye is not officially released in the Philippines but gray market stores and online shops list them at around Php22,000 to Php25,000.

What we liked about the HTC Desire Eye:
* Great performance
* Gorgeous design and solid build quality
* Nice dual front speakers
* NFC and LTE ready
* Appropriately priced for its category

What we did not like about it:
* Low screen-to-size ratio (66.7%)
* Meager internal storage

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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