HTC Desire 820 review

The super-powerful selfie phone

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Our Verdict

HTC has given the Desire 820 some really interesting party pieces in the form of a 64-bit processor, an 8MP selfie camera and low price tag, yet somehow misses its mark by some distance.

For

  • Brilliant UI
  • Loud Boomsound speakers
  • Powerful CPU
  • Superb keyboard

Against

  • Grainy selfies
  • Noisy wide shots
  • Low screen resolution
  • Fiddly card slots
Ratings in depth

HTC Desire 820 review
HTC Desire 820 review
HTC Desire 820 review
HTC Desire 820 review
HTC Desire 820 review

Things are really starting to heat up in the 64-bit mobile market following the launch of the iPhone 5S and its A7 processor. Since then we've had a plethora of rumours surrounding countless phones bringing the new tech, but with the 5.5-inch HTC Desire 820 we have another 64-bit phone we can actually hold.

The HTC Desire 820 is an Android KitKat toting phablet running on Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 615 SoC backed up with 2GB RAM. Although the price has yet to be confirmed you should expect it to land between £249 and £299.

The massive 5.5-inch screen gives some hints that the HTC Desire 820 is perhaps going to be targeted more for the Asian market, an area where oversized screens have really gained traction. While that might not be ideal for Western consumers, it could help HTC return to the mobile powerhouse it once was.

HTC Desire 820 review

It's hard not to be a little excited about the HTC Desire 820. Sure, the screen is a little low res given its massive size, the 720 x 1280 resolution only offers 267ppi, but with four 1.5GHz and four 1GHz cores and 2GB RAM there is certainly enough for the Taiwanese firm to shout about.

Elsewhere in the polycarbonate chassis is a 13MP rear camera, as well as a whopping 8MP sat on the front to offer up some of the best selfies you can imagine. We might not be looking at the likes of the HTC Desire Eye, but the Desire 820 has even the likes of the HTC One Mini 2 and Nokia Lumia 735's 5MP sensors beaten hands down.

HTC Desire 820 review
The rear camera has 13MP

Unfortunately as mentioned, the Desire 820 has to launch with Google's Android KitKat. However, when Android Lollipop does make it to the Desire 820 it will be perfectly placed to make the most of Lollipop's 64-bit support.

Measuring in at 157.7 x 78.7 x 7.7mm and weighing in at 155g, the Desire 820 towers over a lot of the competition. This size means it will be competing at the iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3's end of the market, but where it lacks a little on specs it also goes lower on price.

HTC Desire 820 review
This is a large phone and may feel unwieldy at first

This sized frame does mean that initially the Desire 820 feels a little unwieldy in the hand, with even my larger hands having to stretch a little even just to hold it, although this was never really a problem as I tend to operate using both hands to type out messages.

It also felt a little large in the pocket, but after a little time this soon became second nature. Though if you're a fan of super tight jeans this might not be the handset for you.

HTC has also managed to come up with a new manufacturing process for the plastic casing, allowing it to come in a two tone shell, and HTC also claims it won't fall apart or crack over time. I can also safely say that I never felt like the HTC would suffer from a similar #bendgate scandal.

HTC Desire 820 review
The two tone design is available in a range of colours from Tuxedo Grey to Blue Misty

The two tone shell is a really attractive design feature. My review handset has come in what HTC terms 'Santorini White' (referring to the blue domed white houses on the Greek island), while 'Marble White', 'Tuxedo Grey', 'Milky-way Grey', 'Tangerine White', 'Saffron Grey', 'Flamingo Grey', 'Blue Misty' and 'Monarch Orange' will also be available. You can probably work out what each of those means.

Navigating the Desire 820 is all done through the three standard Android on screen keys, leaving the face free to house the HD screen, stereo speakers and massive selfie camera. The only physical keys are the volume rocker and power/lock key which are both located on the right hand edge, and are both easily accessible one handed.

HTC Desire 820 review
There are only two physical buttons on the HTC Desire 820: power/lock and the volume rocker

This leaves the top free of buttons, housing only the 3.5mm headphone port, with the microUSB charging port on the bottom edge. HTC seems to have developed a penchant for creating sealed units meaning that popping in the nano SIM and microSD cards can be a little fiddly as they sit covered on the right hand edge. This sealed design also means that the 2600mAh battery is not removable.