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HTC Desire Eye review: A fine phone that should be a little cheaper

Jared Newman | Dec. 16, 2014
Maybe it's the name, but I expected HTC's Desire Eye to be less expensive.

Maybe it's the name, but I expected HTC's Desire Eye to be less expensive.

"Desire," after all, is the name HTC usually reserves for its mid-range phones, and the Desire Eye, with its plastic chassis and boxy frame, seems like it would fit right in. Yet AT&T is currently charging $150 on-contract for the Desire Eye — just $50 less than flagship phones like the HTC One (M8) — or $550 off contract.

The Desire Eye isn't a bad phone, even at that price, and its 13-megapixel front-facing camera is a unique feature. But overall, it's a tough sell when better handsets can be yours for just a little more.

I hope you like red

HTC makes liberal use of plastic on the Desire Eye, but in a way that seems playful rather than utilitarian. The front bezels and rear panels are white polycarbonate, as opposed to the glossy plastic found on cheaper phones, while red trim runs around the edges. That color accent carries over to the software, appearing in HTC's BlinkFeed news ticker and in various buttons and icons. But while HTC offers the Desire Eye in dark blue with light blue trim in other markets, red is the only option on AT&T.

The other downside is that the Desire Eye feels chunkier than other large Android phones, even if its 0.33-inch frame is in the same ballpark. That's because there's no tapering around the edges to help you cradle the phone in your hand.

Performance and software

HTC didn't cut many corners in the specs department. The Desire Eye uses the same 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 2 GB of RAM as the One (M8), making for smooth animations and no noticeable problems with 3D games like Asphalt 8. The phone also comes with 16 GB of storage and a microSD card slot.

The 1080p display doesn't feel skimpy, either. Some other phones have pushed resolution higher, but it's tough to make out any individual pixels on the Desire Eye's 5.2-inch display. If I had to nitpick, I'd say that black levels don't get as deep as they could.

HTC did shave a bit off the Desire Eye's battery compared to the One (M8), with a 2,400 mAh battery instead of 2,600 mAh. It showed in our video playback test, as the Desire Eye lasted 9 hours and 30 minutes — a half-hour less than the One (M8) and an hour and 15 minutes less than the Samsung Galaxy S5. To get you out of any low-battery jams, HTC provides a power saver mode that limits CPU usage and brightness while disabling vibrations and standby data use, and there's also an extreme power saver mode that limits the phone to just a handful of vital functions.

 

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