Featured Review: HTC Desire 816 (Virgin Mobile)

August 30, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

HTC has always made beautiful handsets with great build quality. It’s one thing I really like about HTC and is why I’m always on their side to pull through. Last year, HTC stuck to their word and only put out one device, well they put out a mini and a phablet of that device as well, but for the most part it was one flagship. This year they’ve also kept to one flagship, but what they’ve done differently, is they are releasing various mid-range and low-end smartphones under their popular Desire brand. The Desire 610, which we looked at a few months ago.

Now it’s time to take a look at the HTC Desire 816, which is a bit larger Desire smartphone and available here in the US on Virgin Mobile. For a mid-range smartphone, it’s actually quite good. And if you’ve had a look at the Desire 816 yourself, you’ll be quite surprised with it. So let’s have  a look at it.


  • 5.5-inch 1280×720 resolution Super LCD2 Display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz
  • 1.5GB of RAM
  • 8GB of storage with a microSD card slot
  • 13MP camera on the back
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Sense 6.0
  • 2600mAh battery
  • GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100
  • LTE 800 / 900 / 1800 / 2600 – EMEA version
  • LTE 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 – Asia version



The hardware isn’t my favorite, but it does look really nice. I do wish they had went with a matte finish for the back, as the glossy plastic is a huge fingerprint magnet and doesn’t look as appealing to me. However, the sides and the front are matte. You do have Boomsound on the Desire 816, but it’s not as great as on the HTC One M8, One Mini 2 or the One Remix. The bezels are actually a bit smaller than I expected from HTC. It’s a big phone but it doesn’t feel all that big. That could be due to how thin it really is though.


On the left side there’s your power button and volume rocker. Up top is your 3.5mm headphone jack, on the right side is your MicroSD and SIM card slot while the bottom has your micro USB port. On the back is your 13MP camera with flash, and the front has your two Boomsound speakers and a front-facing camera.

As far as performance goes, it’s not bad. I’m actually a big fan of the Snapdragon 400. As it is a mid-range processor, but it’s a very good processor at the same time. I’ve used a handful of devices with the Snapdragon 400 inside, including the HTC  One Remix and last year’s One Mini. And the performance on the Desire 816 definitely holds up to those devices. With HTC’s light overlay, it really does fly. I’ve had no issues with games, or even switching through apps. And all that is with just 1.5GB of RAM on board.


The display isn’t the best, but it’s also not the worst. When you think about a 720p display on a 5.5-inch display, you think it’s going to be terrible. Well it’s not that bad. Now on a 6.1-inch display it’s worse. At times you can see the pixels, but not all the time. I mostly saw it on white backgrounds at full brightness. Which I don’t use full brightness that often, so it wasn’t a big deal to me.

Battery Life

The Desire 816 actually had pretty good battery life. I was able to easily get through a full day, even on Virgin Mobile’s network.

Screenshot 2014-08-28 13.05.33


The software is basically identical to the HTC One M8 and One Remix which we reviewed recently. You’ve even got all the Zoe features in the gallery that they took out of the HTC One Remix. You’ve still got Blinkfeed on the left side of the homescreen, and I still love Blinkfeed. As well as the vertical app drawer, which I’m less in love with, actually. There’s really not a whole lot to say in terms of software here as it is just Sense 6.0 which we’ve reviewed about 3 times already this year, and nothing’s really changed. Although I will say that Sense 6 does look even nicer on the larger display, but that’s just my opinion.

As far as pre-installed software goes, we’ve got Amazon, Mobile ID, My Account, POLARIS Office 5, Qualcomm IZat, Scribble, and Voicemail. That’s about it. And that’s about what we’d expect from a Sprint device. I know it’s on Virgin Mobile, but Sprint does own Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile anyways.



It’s a decent 13MP shooter. It could be better, but for the price, it’s not bad at all. In the gallery, you do have all the normal stuff like Zoe features and even most of the camera features you saw on the HTC One M8. You can add filters, frames, and add some effects. The effects include skin smoothing, lighting, face contour as well as Eye enhancer and a few other things.



If you’re on Virgin Mobile, this is a great device to check out. Especially if you like front-facing speakers and HTC’s build quality. If you’re not on Virgin Mobile, I’d suggest checking their coverage before heading to Virgin Mobile and picking up the HTC Desire 816. As they do run on Sprint’s network so it may not work well for everyone. With that said, the specs are good, the software is great and the price is perfect. A win-win smartphone from HTC and Virgin Mobile.