The HTC Desire 816 and the Samsung Galaxy A7 are two of the most recent mid-range phablets launched in the U.S. and across the world. While HTC always strives to give users the best when it comes to audio quality and software, Samsung is more focused on design and camera functions and quality, and the HTC Desire 816 and Samsung Galaxy A7 are perfect examples of this difference between the two companies. We’ve chose to compare the HTC Desire 816 against the Galaxy A7 so that we can form an opinion on which mid-range phablet is best, for what type of smartphone user and why. Consider this an incipient form of a smartphone guide for those who are looking for an affordable smartphone that still has a few extra features that are worth their money.
First off, let’s start with the HTC Desire 816 price. On Amazon and Best Buy, the HTC Desire 816 price is around $240 for the LTE-equipped, unlocked version. The Samsung Galaxy A7 price on the same retailer websites is around $500, which is double the price. Let’s see what the HTC Desire 816 4G has to offer and whether its specs and features are worth the $240 that you will have to pay for an unlocked version.
Starting with design, the HTC Desire 816 4G reflects the standard HTC design language, right down to the details. Although you’re not getting a full metal unibody like you would if you were to buy the HTC One M8 or HTC One M9, you are getting dual front-facing speakers, thick bezels on the top and bottom, and a polycarbonate body. The design isn’t special, especially if you’re familiar with the Taiwanese company’s gadgets. That means that while the money you might be paying for the phone does not have to do with the design that much. That leads us to believe that the specs and hardware within the phone are worth it.
First off, since the HTC Desire 816 4G is a mid-ranger, the first feature that your money is paying for is LTE. Although LTE is a given these days, it still adds to the cost of smartphones, but in the case of the HTC Desire 816 4G, the price is still pretty low, considering the rest the phone has to offer. The HTC Desire 816 display is pretty admirable, as it’s a 5.5 inch IPS display with a 720 x 1280 resolution that adds up to about 270 ppi pixel density. While that resolution is not ideal, it is oddly enough for a phone this size. Once you get the device in your hands, you won’t notice individual pixels, at least not at first with natural use. If you look closely, you might notice them, especially when viewing videos. But the experience with the screen is overall positive, but HTC could have done a bit better on this. For the price, it’s still decent.
Moving on to hardware, the HTC Desire 816 4G specs incleude a Snapdragon 400 CPU clocked at 1.6 GHz, backed by 1.5 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage, with a microSD card slot available for extra storage in case you need it. The smartphone is shipped with Sense 6.0 and Android 4.4.2 KitKat on board, but you can upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop, and Sense 7.0 will reportedly hit the device later this Summer, so you will be getting the best out of software. The HTC Desire 816 4G Android 5.0 Lollipop update is already rolling out since April, so you will be able to update soon enough, depending on where you are and what carrier you’re with.
I personally love Sense 6.0 and I’m very happy with the user experience because it is smooth, easy to use, and doesn’t come with as much animations and skinned effects as others do (like TouchWiz). Nonetheless, the HTC Desire 816 performance can leave you hanging on occasion. It rarely happens, but the phone will still stutter with heavy use. Animations can get slow and switching between apps can be a bit slow sometimes. Also, the phone tends to overheat on occasion when running graphics-intensive apps and games. The performance isn’t bad, but it could have been made better. We’re hopeful that Android 5.0 Lollipop fixes these issues and Sense 7.0 improves the user interface more.
The camera setup of the HTC Desire 816 4G is representative of a mid-ranger, so you shouldn’t expect too much out of it. We are fairly used to HTC’s bad post-processing software, which has been the target of many HTC One M8 critics who were unhappy with the 4 MP Ultrapixel camera. The HTC Desire 816 camera on the rear measures 13 MP and comes with autofocus and an LED flash. The camera is actually quite good, but there’s nothing special about it. The Eye Experience software from HTC has added a lot to the camera experience, and has improved the user experience, so overall, we’re pretty happy with the HTC Desire 816 4G camera. The front camera is a pretty standard 5 MP shooter with extra features in Eye Experience.
The batter life of the HTC Desire 816 4G is average, and the smartphone will most likely take you into the second day with medium usage. With light usage, it will most likely take the second day like a champ into the night. The battery within the gadget measures 2600 mAh, which is a fitting size for a 5.5 inch display that doesn’t have too high of a resolution. When we were testing the HTC Desire 816, we were pretty happy with the battery life and it charged pretty quickly, so there are positives there.
For $240, the HTC Desire 816 4G does offer quite enough. First of all, 4G LTE is a bonus, as is the decent camera, the decent display, front-facing speakers and decent battery life. We’re not very happy with performance, but compromises have to be made to be able to sell a phone for an affordable price. Bang for buck for the HTC Desire 816 4G is pretty high and I would definitely recommend this phone for a medium user who doesn’t delve into graphics-intensive gaming that much.
Read on the next page about the Samsung Galaxy A7 and what it has to offer and find out which of these mid-rangers takes the bang for buck trophy.