Today, HTC seems to be delivering on their promise for a stronger focus on the 150-300 USD market segment by launching the Desire 816, a phablet with a 5.5" 720p display and a Snapdragon 400, along with dual front facing speakers with an amplifier on each speaker. For now, it seems that HTC is quite tight-lipped on software, as they only state that the 816 runs "Android with HTC Sense", although based upon the press images it's clear that the hardware buttons have been removed and it may be the beginning of a trend for HTC's 2014 devices. While many are likely to object over the bezel on the bottom, it seems that this may be an unavoidable bezel, as the One, One max, LG G2, Nexus 5, and other phones all have the glass bezel area around as tall as the one that looks to be on the Desire 816. Based on the photos that I've seen for the HTC One's digitizer, it seems that the area must be used for digitizer connectors, but capacitive buttons will fit in that area.

Of course, specs are effectively the most important part of midrange phones when it comes to placing the kind of value that they have, so I made a table to summarize the key points:

  HTC Desire 816
Display 5.5" 720p LCD
SoC MSM8928, Snapdragon 400, 1.6 GHz quad Cortex A7
RAM 1.5 GB
Rear Camera 13MP f/2.2, 1080p HD recording
Front Camera 5MP f/2.8 720p HD recording
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Storage 8GB + microSD
Battery 2600 mAh, 3.8V, 9.88 WHr
WCDMA Bands 850/900/2100 MHz (Band 5, 8, 1)
LTE Bands

EMEA: 800/900/1800/2600 MHz (Band 20, 8, 3, 7)

Asia: 900/1800/2100/2600 MHz (Band 8, 3, 1, 7)

700 MHz (Band 28) for Taiwan, Australia

SIM Size NanoSIM

Overall, outside of pricing, there's not too much to talk about. It does use a NanoSIM, something that's definitely important to keep in mind for prospective buyers, and the 9.88 WHr battery is a bit small for the 5.5" form factor but based upon the performance of the One max with a 5.9" display, it shouldn't be too big of a deal, especially with the power-sipping Cortex A7s. The press release doesn't say anything about the LCD panel, but I guess that will have to be discovered at the press event. Overall though, this seems like a relatively well-designed phablet. Whether HTC's strategy will work is another question.

Gallery: Desire 816

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  • Netwern - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    HTC device naming is such a mess.
  • tim851 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Indeed. Worst marketing department ever.
  • Krinosy - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    I want to know what they're going to name the follow up to the HTC One.
  • willis936 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    At this point I'd like to propose a "law" similar to Moore's Law based off of technology and market trends:

    There will never be a decent smartphone option on Verizon again.
  • edi_opteron - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I'm sure that Nokia is a bigger more popular tech giant than HTC and today's biggest buzz was Nokia's first android devices... I just can't help thinking why anandtech deliberately overlooks Nokia...
  • tim851 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Nokia *was* a bigger, more popular tech giant. I don't think they are selling more *smartphones* (those that Anandtech cares about) than HTC now. And that's with HTC tanking. Android + iOS combined for 95.7% of all smartphone sales in Q4/13. So despite the annoyingly vocal Microsoft fanboys, Windows Phone doesn't matter at this point.
    And the X phone by Motorola is D.O.A. I'm still baffled that MS let them ship it, seems to be a giant middle finger from Espoo to Redmond.
  • Belard - Thursday, March 6, 2014 - link

    It is kind of sad as some brands are being killed off by Apple and Samsung. Its kind of like the PC era of the 80s in which there were several dozens of incompatible PCs (Atari, Commodore, Apple, Mac, IBMPC, TRS80, Ti/99, Sinclair, Z80s etc) which reduce to a handful by 1990~92.

    I just needed to replace my phone with a new one. The Blackberry Z10 is beautiful, feels great - but is obviously kind of slow and its a dying platform. Salesman laughed when I asked about NOKIA sales. Its really too bad that Nokia doesn't make Android phones with Lumia hardware. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a beautiful phone, its camera is unmatched by ANY other phone on the market - not even the Samsung S4-Zoom, which has good optics but makes for a horrible phone.
    But I, like many others do not LIKE Windows8 and sure don't want a Windows8 phone!

    I thought the Moto X was going to do very well, it has great reviews (Especially this site), it feels great in the hand. It looks great, with its large selection of colors. Which I'd admit, you could spend a lot of time playing with the color tools to order the phone.

    At&t only has the HTC ONE & mini, a few LGs, a few Nokias, several Samsungs and the iPhone line. I don't care for all the junk on Samsung and can't stand the cheap plastic feel. Other than the expensive huge FLEX, the older LGs also use cheap plastic and the controls feel strange. HTC is old with weak battery compared to newer phones. I really don't care for these HUGE phones on the market. The HTC mini is really flimsy and cheap and the Galaxy S-Mini is really older-tech with newer body style.

    Even thou the MOTO X has a weak camera in some ways (best from Motorola so far), that is what I went with. I chose my own color design that will stand out from all the black or white phones on the market. (Yeah, it took me over an hour to settle on my choices) I even considered putting the printed label on the back "SAMSUNG" or "iPhone " and "iPhone Suck Balls" for laughs. It doesn't have the 5~5.5" screens of most of todays phones - but its 4.7" display and thin body feels great to hold, its well balanced and I can tell instantly if its upside down. I hope the MOTO X2 was out (if it does), but I couldn't wait.

    What sucks on ALL NEW Android phones is the horrible Google Maps 7.x. Its functionally useless (but looks pretty). It missing features, its NAV doesn't work very well, it takes far more clicks to get to where you need to go - if its there at all. For example, if you detour off the route, it'll keep trying to get YOU back to the original path, rather than adjust for the detour. No map saves. No street names, or you can't see them... the 3D building looks are pretty, but means nothing with a useless MAP function. Thank god there are tricks to installing 6.14(hacked) along side of 7. Hopefully Google will get their heads out of their butts and fix it with version 8.
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I know some people either hate contracts or use providers other than AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile, but for me these 'midrange' phones couldn't be less interesting. I use my phone for an hour+ per day, so the hardware cost per hour/day of use is extremely low. Saving less than $200 in the contract paradigm or even $300+ in the no contract world doesn't seem worthwhile with how important a phone is day-to-day for most people.
  • Bobs_Your_Uncle - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    A General Note:
    Joshua: You're a recent arrival to AT & we now get to witness your mettle under short-form rapid-fire conditions. (You've certainly been no slouch so far!) Best Wishes To You!

    More generally on topic:
    I confess to some degree of confused amazement over the failure of ANY mfg. except HTC to implement dual/stereo front firing speakers. Sure, physics inarguably limits what can be realized in such a small form factor, & I get cost/benefit, etc. But when this feature was introduced on the One, I thought the industry would experience a collective moment of, "How could I/we have conceivably EVER missed this!" While maybe not everyone's 1st priority, sound quality does matter & I just really don't get HTC's exclusivity here.

    Re: HTC:
    I've had positive experiences with HTC in years past & I wish them well in achieving a focused, well reasoned future path. While I freely acknowledge their seemingly directionless, mumbling shuffle around some corners of the room in the more recent past, I still consider the HTC One to be one of the finest (if not the absolute finest) phones ever to be designed & commercially released; even while allowing for it's arguably significant shortcomings (Ultra-Pixel execution, etc.).

    HTC's history boasts a number of exceptionally innovative (honest usage of "innovate": no gratuitous "buzz word de jour" usages allowed!) ... innovative approaches & industry achievements. Consumers & the broader market can only benefit from the technological progress driven through participation of strong competitors. Here's hoping HTC is one of them!
  • bhima - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    Besides the occasional speakerphone use... what is the point for a manufacturer to waste cost on the speaker in a phone? It will NEVER be better than even a $10 pair of earbuds, let alone the nicer headphones out there. Better to spend that money on a nicer DAC inside the phone.

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