HTC has had a solid 2014, its One (M8) rightly impressing as the best Android phone of the year.
But the Taiwanese company is still not out of the woods financially, hence it’s pushing mid–range handsets like this, the new Desire Eye.
Billed as the ultimate selfie phone, the Eye launched with much fanfare at a New York event in the autumn.
But is it more than just a one–trick handset? Read our complete HTC Desire Eye review and we’ll give you the lowdown.
First impressions and design
Pull the HTC Desire Eye from its box are there are two things you’ll notice.
Firstly, that huge camera lens up top, replete with a dual LED flash, designed primarily for taking razor sharp selfies.
Secondly, its hulking frame. This is one big phone, even if its 5.2–inch screen is dwarfed by the likes of the Google Nexus 6.
It feels chunky and somewhat old school, especially when stood next to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.
The plasticky finish is not wholly in keeping with HTC’s impressive design nous, which has seen it become a byword for classy devices in recent years.
The hard key lay out also leaves a lot to be desired. We continually kept tapping the volume rocker above the power button, suggesting the former should really have been placed on the other side of the device.
The Desire Eye runs on Android KitKat.
While there’s no word on when an update to Google’s latest Lollipop software will happen, HTC has promised its flagship device will get the new OS within 90 days of it receiving code from Google.
That should mean early 2015, all being well.
On top of Google’s software sits HTC’s Sense 6.0.
This is far less obtrusive than older versions, offering the same neatly dynamic home screens for weather information and HTC’s superb Blinkfeed for aggregating all of your social media in one place.
The excellent Car app, designed for hands–free activity while behind the wheel, remains one of HTC’s biggest selling points.
All that winning software, though, can be found on other HTC phones.
The big draw here is inescapably that front–facing camera. At 13 megapixels, and with a dual LED flash, it makes a mockery of Microsoft’s recent Lumia selfie phones.
Admittedly, such a tool is only really a big deal if you’re into taking snaps of yourself or your buddies, but it is to be admired nonetheless.
The flash makes all the difference when it comes to reeling off pics late at night, when selfies can look grainy and, ultimately, like they were taken on a camera phone from 2004.
The sharpness and detail is hugely impressive, while the ability to tweak brightness and generally tool around with settings before you press the shutter button is also incredibly helpful.
The automatic timer also means you cut down on the chances of you or your pals gurning or blinking in frame. As a video tool it’s also very helpful, serving up crisp Skype video calls.
The rear camera offers exactly the same setup. While that means it’s not quite as good as cameras such as that on Sony’s Xperia Z3, it does offer a more than decent alternative to your compact camera.
As with all HTC phones, getting to grips with the Desire Eye is breezy.
The home screen setup is self explanatory and the array of native apps isn’t so overwhelming as to be off–putting.
As mentioned, the only real usability issue comes with hard key placement along the right hand side of the device.
Users will find they constantly press down on the volume rocker when they mean to power the device up. It’s an issue that quickly becomes annoying.
The Desire Eye is a solid mid–range phone, with an impressive HD screen and a price tag that won’t hammer your bank balance.
It’s chunky, yes, but its imaging smarts make it a winner for those who love taking selfies or making video calls.
For those who aren’t so fussed about preening for the camera, there are other, similarly specced phones that do a similar job for the same price.
But if you’re a social media fiend who can’t get enough of the selfie craze, then this phone is for you.
- Screen: 5.2–inch, 1920 x 1080 HD
- Dimensions: 151.7mm x 83.8mm x 8.5mm
- Battery: 2400 mAh
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad–core 2.3GHz
- Camera: 13 megapixel front–facing, 13 megapixel rear–facing, dual LED front and back
- Video: 1080p at 30fps
- Connectivity: 4G LTE, HSDPA, Wi–Fi