HTC Desire Eye Review: For the Selfie Fans

The HTC Desire Eye is the latest mobile phone from HTC. It is designed for selfie lovers, offering 13MP front and back camera with dual LED flashes and built-in photo editing tools to easily enhance your photos. Taking close up pictures of yourself has never been more popular and HTC Desire Eye is catered to this growing trend. While most other phone manufacturers instils a differentiation in the lens and imaging quality between the front and rear camera, the Desire Eye bucks the trend with one gigantic lens on the front. The HTC Desire Eye sports a front 13MP f/2.2 lens with dual LED flash which is perfect for those selfie shots in dim indoor areas, the appropriate scenario would be selfies in clubs, pubs, when lighting is often inadequate. The other similar phone catered to selfie lovers would be from OPPO, with their iconic swivel camera.

Despite holding the “Desire” series moniker, which tends to be HTC mid range phones, the specs on the Desire Eye are comparable to that of their flagship One M8, although that was released about 6 months ago.

Specifications of the HTC Desire Eye

  • 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801
  • 5.2″ Inch 1920 x 1080 IPS Screen
  • Dual 13-mp cameras with dual two-tone LED flash
  • 2GB RAM
  • Boomsound stereo speakers
  • IP67 – Water-resistant to 1m for 30 minutes
  • 16GB internal storage, with microSD support
  • Nano-SIM
  • 802.11 b/g/n: There is no Wireless-AC.
  • 2400mAH Battery

Design

HTC has a pretty good track record with making beautiful phones. That design capability has extended to the Desire Eye, and despite spotting a matte plastic finish, it retains similar looks to the premium One series. The Desire Eye comes in two colors, Coral Red ( a red white combo ) and a blue ( dark blue, light blue dual tones). Opinions were divided among some of my friends, some thought that the bright colours make it look less premium as compared to a more classy aluminium / metallic finish. I personally find the colours refreshing and the plastic or polycarbonate material does feel rather durable and might be ale to do away without a casing as well. Another plus point was the use of a matte finish for better grip.

htc desire eye-front-eye

However, one common opinion was that the big lens on the front with the dual led flash was just a little too obtrusive. Sitting squarely in the middle of the top bezel, and taking up almost the full height, it draws attention to itself. Unfortunately, it looks rather out of place on an otherwise clean exterior. The dual led flash next to it also mar the clean look.

The inclusion of the 5.2-inch screen makes this a slightly bigger phone than the HTC One E8 / M8, which sports a 5.0 inch screen. HTC has reduced the bezel space somewhat, and the speaker grilles are also hidden near the edge of the screen. Screen bezels are still slightly big though. HTC has always been the top manufacturer when it comes to audio quality and the Desire Eye doesn’t disappoint. You get good, clear, and loud stereo front facing sound on the Desire Eye.

htc-desire-eye-looks

htc desire eye-red

There is a power, volume and dedicated camera button on the right side of the phone. The dedicated camera button supports a half press for AF/AE lock and a full click to capture but it doesn’t offer the same tactile feedback as a normal camera. It feels rather squishy and rather unstable when I needed to use it as a camera shutter.
The nano-SIM and microSD trays are sealed with the same polycarbonate material and you don’t need a special ejector tool, just a sharp tip or a finger nail should suffice to pry open the seal. It does feel rather secure and this phone has IP67-rating, you can dunk it up up to 1m for 30 minutes and it would still work. The micro USB and headphone jacks are water resistant without the need for any protective seal.

Performance

There isn’t anything new with the Snapdragon 801 and 2GB of ram combo on the Desire Eye. It’s an adequate performer and wouldn’t disappoint in your daily use. Antutu Benchmark score for the HTC Desire Eye is at 40169, which ranks comparably to most top end phones this year. It is more than capable to multitask and handle demanding 3D games.

Software Notes

The HTC Desire Eye runs on Android 4.4 and comes with free Google Drive 100GB storage, as part of HTC Advantage. A nice gift to HTC users, and does help to make up for the lack of internal storage on this phone.

Camera

The camera or cameras are the key aspect of the Desire Eye. It offers two 13 megapixel camera, a wider 22mm f/2.2 camera lens for the front, and a more traditional 28mm f/2.0 lens for the rear. Both pretty decent quality lens but one feature missing is the lack of optical image stabilisation. HTC has offered a dual-tone LED flash for the front camera, not a feature commonly seen. It helps to provide light of a more accurate color, not just pure white, so as to better match color tones under indoor lighting conditions. Although, I find the flash on the front could have been better calibrated or toned down since the primary use of the front flash is for selfie shots. Due to the closer proximity of a selfie, the flash strength tends to be too strong for normal arm length selfies, but I guess it’s still better to be overly exposed rather than have a blur, dark photo.

Sample shots:

Rear Lens
Rear Lens

Front Lens
Front Lens

As with other HTC phones, the Desire Eye comes with Zoe, and other software features such as photo booth and split-screen capture. The front camera photo option comes with a beautify mode which seems rather popular in Asia 3rd party photo apps, which allows you to “photoshop” your facial blemishes. Now you can do it real time.

Price and Availability of the Desire Eye Singapore

The HTC Desire Eye is marked at S$728 but it is currently on offer at SITEX at S$698, with a free monopod selfie stick and bluetooth remote shutter.

Summary

The HTC Desire Eye offers good build quality, waterproof capabilities, which is always a nice to have, a large screen still adequate for one hand operations and flagship-decent specifications. It is priced on the higher side, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a mid-tier phone either. The camera feature is definitely the primary focus on this phone, with the higher mega-pixel and dual-led flash features. The front camera does live up to the moniker of being an Eye, but the higher megapixel may not automatically translate to better selfies though. In fact, due to the proximity, there isn’t really a need for zoom in, which is really the bigger benefits of a higher megapixel count. Overall with the Desire Eye, HTC shows that they really excel in build quality and in this all plastic polycarbonate phone, they have put together a quality phone with all around good features and retain the good looks of the One series.

Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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