Over the past year or two, HTC has taken a lot of flack for their cameras in the HTC One M7 and HTC One M8. Since they went with a 4-megapixel Ultrapixel sensor. I was able to get pretty good pictures out of both devices when I reviewed them. However that wasn't the case with everyone. So this year, with a few of their newer phones like the HTC One Mini 2 (or the One Remix if you're on Verizon), they jumped to a 13MP camera. The HTC Desire EYE also has a 13MP camera on board. But not just on the back, but also on the front. There is also dual-flash on both the back and front. That's the real story here with the Desire EYE. It's a high-end smartphone with a 13-megapixel front-facing camera. So does it live up to the hype? Let's find out in our full review.
Editor's Note: We've been using the HTC Desire EYE for about a week on AT&T's network. It's running Android 4.4.4 with Sense 6.0 and on software number 1.15.502.5.
When you first look at the HTC Desire Eye, you'd think it was glossy plastic on the back and the front, but it actually isn't. It's a polycarbonate shell here, with a soft touch strip around the sides – in this case it's red, there's also a blue one. It actually feels really great in the hand and is not slippery at all, which I think is very important. It's a great looking smartphone, which HTC has always been good with making great looking, tank-like smartphones.
On the back of the HTC Desire EYE, we've got the 13MP camera with dual flash below it. There's also a microphone hole across from where the camera is. Additionally we've got HTC and AT&T logos on the back. On the right side is your volume rocker and power button. The left side houses the microSD card slot and SIM card slot. While up top is your 3.5mm headphone jack, and the bottom has your micro USB port. Moving to the front, you've got your 13-megapixel camera with dual flash, and a few sensors at the top. Along with the 5.2-inch 1920×1080 resolution display. Between the white bezel and the screen, there are your front-facing speakers, they are very subtle, similar to the Xperia Z3's front-facing speakers. While they are subtle, they are still quite loud and amazing.
Surprisingly, the HTC Desire EYE is the same height as the Google Nexus 6, but it isn't as wide. So why is it so tall? Well HTC has to have more bezel because of the front-facing speakers and the massive front-facing camera with dual flash. While the Nexus 6 does have front-facing speakers, it doesn't have this massive camera on the front. Sure they could have probably narrowed it down a bit, but I'm fine with the size of this phone. Especially since the power button is on the right side now, instead of up top. Hopefully HTC continues that.
As far as performance goes, we are running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor here with 2GB of RAM, so I wouldn't expect any issues and I haven't had any. I've been able to play games like Asphalt 8 from Gameloft and Dead Trigger without any issues. Also just the normal browsing through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc., there's been no issues. I've been quite happy with the performance on the HTC Desire EYE.
So what about that display? It's still a 1080p Super LCD display at 5.2-inches. I've always loved HTC's panels, I think they are great and the text looks like it's just floating under the glass. And the HTC Desire EYE's display is amazing as well. Since I have been using Quad HD displays lately (The LG G3, Motorola Droid Turbo, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6), I was able to see the pixels and see that it's not as good as those phones. But to the normal consumer, and the untrained eye, you won't have any issue with pixels here.
It's pretty amazing. There is a 2400mAh battery in here, and everyone's immediate reaction was that it wouldn't last all day. But I've found the opposite to be true. Even going back to the HTC One Remix, the standby on HTC devices have been pretty impressive lately. That's largely due to the fact that the "Sleep Mode" is automatically turned on. And what this does is turns off data connectivity during long periods of inactivity. Which is how I'm getting such great standby. In the images above, I streamed on Google Play Music for about 6-8 hours over those two days, as well as a few hours of screen on time. Unfortunately, Sense doesn't show you your screen on time. Which kinda sucks. But nonetheless, it should get you through a full day, as my usage did include both WiFi and LTE.
So there's not much new here compared to the HTC One M8, HTC One Mini/Remix, and the other HTC devices that came out this year. It's still Sense 6.0. You are missing a few things from the HTC One M8 here on the HTC Desire EYE. But that's mostly in the camera app, so we'll cover that in the camera section. We still have Blinkfeed, which most of us here at Android Headlines love. As you can see all your social media stuff there from Google+, Twitter, Facebook and others. As well as news from sites you follow – like Android Headlines. Additionally, you still have all of the motion launcher settings, including the double tap to wake. The app drawer still scrolls vertically instead of horizontally. Which takes a little bit to get used to since everyone else scrolls horizontally.
Sense 6 seems to be snappier on the HTC Desire EYE then it was on the HTC One M8. That could just be a placebo effect, since I haven't used the HTC One M8 since it first came out. But it definitely seems snappier, which is always a great thing. You do still have your options for the front-facing speakers as well. Although you can only turn off Boomsound when you're not using it's speakers. So that means only with headphones or Bluetooth speakers/headphones. There's also all the media gestures in here as well as options for notifications on a per app basis.
So we finally have, what some will call, a "real" camera on a high-end HTC smartphone. It's a 13MP sensor on the back. Which is a huge improvement over the 4MP sensor we had on the HTC One M7 and M8. But I'm still not super impressed with it. It does take good pictures, but after using devices like the Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3 and DROID Turbo, I've gotten used to even better cameras. You can check out some images from the camera down below.
The Desire line isn't typically known for it's high-end specs. Usually we see mid-range and low-end specs on Desire smartphones. But it is nice to see a Desire with high-end specs, and it definitely shows. This is probably the best Desire I've ever used. While I wasn't completely impressed with the camera, it's still a big step for HTC. To have a 13MP camera. The only downside here, is that it's an exclusive. In the US it's exclusive to AT&T, and in the UK it's exclusive to Three. Which sucks for those on other carriers. But that's how it is, unfortunately.
I'm really liking the HTC Desire EYE, and would definitely recommend it (in fact it's on our Top 10 AT&T Smartphones list). And it's available now from AT&T.