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HTC Desire EYE review

 Review: January 2015  
 

Rating: 5 stars

In a nutshell: The HTC Desire EYE is the ultimate phone for selfies, with dual front and back 13 megapixel cameras. It's a great all-rounder too, with a superslim water-resistant body, top notch display, and superfast processor.

Best buy: D-Park HTC Desire 820/Dual S ... from Amazon (£24.95)



 

Introduction

Got your selfie stick? Got your cheesy smile? Good. Then all you need is your HTC Desire EYE. But selfies aren't everything (no, they're not), so how does the Desire EYE stack up as an all-round smartphone?

Design & looks

Like the other handsets in HTC's mid-priced Desire range, the EYE has a polycarbonate body. Yet though it lacks the brushed aluminium unibody of HTC's flagship One M8, it shares a lot of the same design language. The EYE feels like a premium product. It's a big phone, with an even larger screen than the One M8. It's slimmer however, and has a flat back rather than the One M8's curved design. It's a shape that's easy to handle, either in the hand or on a desk. We like the form factor very much, although some may find it too large to use comfortably. The EYE lacks the speaker grilles that give the One M8 a certain edginess in its appearance, but the two-tone styling is an appealing bonus. It's available in a choice of Blue or Coral Pink.

One interesting feature is that the plastic unibody is watertight and conforms to the IPX7 standard. This means that you can use it under water for up to 30 minutes to a depth of 1 metre. You can even take photos underwater. This waterproofing does mean that the buttons on the side can be a little stiff to press.

The EYE incorporates HTC's BoomSound dual front-facing speakers with built-in amplifiers for enhanced music and audio. The EYE uses speaker slits instead of grilles, but produces the same rich, punchy sound. Voice quality is excellent, and the phone uses 3 microphones to help block out background noise.

As we mentioned, the screen is very large, measuring 5.2 inches diagonally. It's a bright LCD display with a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. That results in a super-sharp 424ppi pixel density, making this a top-notch screen. 

Cameras  (x2)

Since the EYE is all about the camera, or cameras, let's move on to this right away. We're delighted to see that HTC is quietly dropping its "UltraPixel" cameras in favour of conventional cameras with high resolutions. In the EYE, both front and rear cameras have a generous 13 megapixels, which means that you can crop and zoom and still retain high resolution.

It's unusual for a front camera to match the specification of the rear camera, but that's the EYE's unique selling point. We think that HTC has this just right. In our opinion, all camera phones need two equally good cameras. After all, who do you want to take photos of the most? That's right - it's you, you gorgeous thing!

Both cameras are fully equipped with all the latest gear - 13 megapixels, BSI sensor, wide angle lens, HDR capability, autofocus and dual LED flash. They also both offer Full HD 1080p video recording. Perfect! The front camera has a slightly wider angle lens (22mm), so it can capture you, your friends and a background image. You can of course crop this and zoom closer if you wish.

The phone has a dedicated camera button for ease of use, and fires up quickly, so you never need to miss a shot. Alternatively you can take a picture by voice command, or simply smile for a smile shot. Swapping between cameras just requires a swipe, and you can view both cameras at once in a split screen view.

In addition, there are easy editing tools available on the phone. The HTC Eye Experience includes features such as Face Tracking, Screen Share, Split Capture, Face Fusion, Live Makeup, Auto Selfie, Voice Selfie, Photo Booth, and Crop Me In. The Crop Me In feature lets you take photos from both cameras simultaneously and paste yourself into the picture!

Flagship performance

While selfies are all well and good, they shouldn't be at the expense of anything else. Fortunately, although it's significantly cheaper than the flagship One M8, the Desire EYE doesn't skimp on capabilities. It uses the same quadcore Snapdragon 801 processor as the One M8, combined with the same 2GB of RAM, so anything you can do with the One M8 you can also do with the EYE.

The built-in memory is 16GB with a microSD card slot accepting cards up to 128GB, so we have no complaints here either.

The EYE runs the same OS as the One M8 too - Android KitKat (4.4.2) with the latest version of HTC Sense.

Connectivity

Full marks here too. As well as being a 4G phone, the EYE has everything you need - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, micro-USB 2.0, DLNA, NFC, HTC Connect and a stereo headphone jack.

Battery life

This could be the one box that isn't properly ticked. Like most HTC phones, the EYE has a smaller battery than its rivals from other manufacturers. Rated at 2400mAh, we'd say it's too small for the job. By way of comparison, the Sony Xperia Z3 is fitted with a 3100mAh battery and the Google Nexus 6 a 3220mAh one. The capacity of the EYE is around 25% less, and that translates directly into reduced usage time. Even so, it should last a full day between charges, unless you use it literally non-stop.

Conclusion - we love it!

A phone with excellent front and rear cameras - such an obvious formula, it's surprising it took phone manufacturers this long to deliver it. HTC has got in first, but we expect to see this become a standard feature by the end of the year.

But the EYE is no one-trick pony. It's not a pony at all, but a racing horse. While it misses out on the aluminium unibody of HTC's flagship models, it does everything else that the more expensive One M8 can do, and a fair bit cheaper. We actually like the plastic unibody design very much. It's ultraslim, is ergonomic, and has the benefit of water-resistance.

The Desire EYE is a top-notch all-rounder with great capabilities. The one thing we're not excited by is the battery performance.


HTC Desire EYE features include:

Best buys
£24.95
D-Park HTC Desire 820/Dual S ...
Click for details

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Reviewed by Pooja from India on 23rd Jan 2015
Its awesome.
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