As a child, you must have learnt the proverb, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” In HTC’s case, the broth is the whole Desire lineup and evidently, the cooks are the individual devices. The Desire smartphone range spreads across a wide Rs 10,000 – Rs 30,000 spectrum. However, if you take a close look, the brand has crammed devices with similar monikers and similar specifications in the portfolio. Though the company had a fairly successful year in 2014, for a while now, we haven’t come across an HTC smartphone that absolutely stands out. Recently, HTC launched the Desire 828, which is the first Desire smartphone to boast optical image stabilisation.
However, it comes with a set of specs which could remind you of the Desire 826 and Desire 820. Is the OIS enough to set the Desire 828 apart from the lot? Does the phone perform better than the rest of its siblings? We reviewed the device to answer all of that and more.
Specs at a glance
Design: not what’s trending, still trendy
Metal’s what’s in right now and phonemakers are trying to cram in whatever amount of it they can to sell their phones. Consequently, you can even find budget phones sporting metal trims. However, HTC has decided to encase the Desire 828 in a plastic body.
We had the Pearl White model with us and the brand has chosen the name correctly since the matte white back panel does come with a pearl finish. Rose gold accents complete the look. While the rear panel is likely to get dirty, it doesn’t attract a lot of smudges. The phone feels slightly slippery too, but thanks to just 7mm of girth, the Desire 828 fits in the hands quite well, despite its large 5.5-inch display. The back panel comes embellished with the primary camera module on the top left corner, including a 13MP sensor and an LED flash, followed by a noise cancellation microphone. There’s subtle HTC branding towards the middle of the phone.
The port placement is pretty standard, with the audio jack on the top edge, and the micro-USB port on the bottom. The right spine houses the power button along with the volume rockers, while on the left edge you will find a plastic flap which opens to reveal two nano-SIM slots and a microSD card slot. The buttons lay flat on the edge, and nothing protrudes. While that does give an edge to the design aesthetically, it could get slightly difficult to power on or unlock the phone.
Up front, there’s a set of loudspeaker grilles flanking the display from above and below. Towards the top, you will also find the usual assortment of sensors, secondary camera, a notification LED and the earpiece, which comes concealed by the grille itself. The grille towards the bottom also hides the primary microphones. The phone gets HTC branding below the display. The navigation keys come as a part of the software.
The absence of metal did disappoint us a tad bit when it comes to the design of the HTC Desire 828, as it does not feel very premium. However, the phone manages to look elegant and feels sleek in the hands. Despite being crafted out of plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap and features impressive build quality. If anything, you can be sure you’ll be able to flaunt the HTC Desire 828.
Display: bright, sharp, colourful
With full HD resolution, the 5.5-inch display on the HTC Desire 828 looks sharp, and it’s impossible to discern any pixels on the screen with the naked eyes. As a result, the text and images appear very crisp.
The colours look vibrant and vivid, and the screen brightness was ample. You won’t face issues outdoors in bright sunlight either. And everything remains just as good even when you view the screen from extreme angles. The touch response is decent too.
The HTC Desire 828’s display settings allow you to tweak the Color Temperature to warmer or cooler tones, in order to suit your preference.
Overall, the display is perfectly on par with what the competition has to offer and we don’t have any qualms. Watching movies, playing games and reading was an absolute delight on the Desire 828.
Camera: on fleek
The Desire 828’s optically stabilised 13MP primary camera is its USP, and comes assisted by an LED flash. On the front, you get the brand’s Ultra Pixel shooter. The default camera app packs a bunch of features, but still, the UI is quite simple.
The viewfinder gets the usual assortment of a virtual shutter key, a button to switch to the video mode, a bunch of shooting modes like Selfie, Panorama, Bokeh, Photo Booth and Split Capture, which you can access using another software key in the app, and the camera settings. Instead of the usual toggle key, to switch to the front camera, you get the option to swipe left. The front cam gets a beautification setting called Live Makeup, which you can tweak or even turn off, as per your preference.
If you turn the review feature on for your selfies, there’s an option to immediately edit the pictures with options like Skin smoothness, Lighting, Face contour, Eye enhancer, Eye brightening, and Anti-shine. Interestingly, you can click self-portraits in HDR mode as well, a feature not provided by many phones.
Other camera options include presets like Night, Macro, HDR, Portrait and Manual. You can tweak the settings according to the situation and save them with the feature using Save custom camera. Another option in camera settings allows you to save mirror image of your pictures as well. There’re video shooting modes like Slow motion video and Fast HD as well. The app’s fast, the camera focusses in a jiffy and the shutter speed is lightening fast.
The phone comes with a photo editor as well, which is loaded with features. You can add animated elements to your pictures, merge photos together, add photo filled geometrical shapes in another photo and more. While these have been segregated into an option called Flair, there are also Essentials, which include the usual resizing, adding filters and correcting red eye.
Here are a few pictures clicked from the Desire 828’s camera (right click and open in new tab to view full-sized images).
As you can probably make out, the Desire 828 fares well in almost all shooting conditions. The details captured are truly amazing, and overall results are delightful, barring the slightly warm colour reproduction, and a bit of grain found in the night shots. The secondary camera is also capable of shooting decent pictures, but it doesn’t replicate the amount of detail the rear shooter does. The HDR mode works well too and the overall output of the camera department in the Desire 828 is nothing less than stellar. For an in-depth take on the camera performance read the HTC Desire 828 camera review.
UI: laden with Sense
There’s nothing drastically different about the UI as the Desire 828 gets a few new additions to the usual Sense UI features.
There’s the good old Blinkfeed to keep you updated about your social networks and news. A personalisation widget lets the user customise the apps that are featured on the home screen with a single tap, depending on whether you’re at home, work or outdoors.
HTC has taken the personalisation factor up a notch by getting inspired by the Chinese phonemakers and hence, you’ll find an app called Themes. You can download new themes, wallpaper and fonts to change the look and feel of the UI. That said, there’s another option called Personalize in the settings menu itself, with some preloaded fonts, accent colours and different navigation bar settings.
Other pre-loaded first party apps include One Gallery, Car, Zoe Video Editor, Power To Give and Kid Mode. While One Gallery lets you view all you online saved photos at one place, without uploading any content from the device on the cloud, the Zoe Video Editor can be used to create short clips and videos.
Car is an app which uses voice commands, letting you control music, access maps or take calls without having to directly use the phone, while you’re driving. HTC Power To Give is a social initiative by the brand, which allows you to donate your phone’s unused processing power, to help power research projects in various fields. The Kid Mode app is a collection of games, videos, and books to help kids learn in a fun way. In terms of third party apps, the Desire 828 gets Facebook, Clean Master, POLARIS Office 5, and all apps from Google.
In terms of gesture control, the phone doesn’t get much options apart from double tap to wake up the phone from stand by, swiping left to access Blinkfeed or swiping right to access the widget panel. You can also swipe down from top of the display to enable voice dialling.
The interface is almost bare, with all the aforementioned apps being placed in the app drawer. There’s minimal bloatware on the device and the plethora of customisation options only enhance the overall experience. Henceforth, UI is another department where the HTC Desire 828 scores well.
Performance and Battery: just about average
CPU: Octa core, 1.5 GHz, MediaTek …
Memory:16 GB + Up to 2 TB
SIM Slots:Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
With a processor as basic as MediaTek MT6753, you cannot expect the Desire 828 to be a performance beast, and that is precisely what the case is with the phone. That said, the phone doesn’t disappoint completely.
We tried our hands on our favourite heavy graphics games like Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8: Airborne, and barring a few jitters here and there, the Desire 828 managed to take on them head on. The BoomSound tech with Dolby Audio did enhance the gaming experience. We can’t deny some heating up after long usage, though. Coming to regular usage, after using the device for a month or so, having the big bunch of apps we use on regular basis, the phone did show some signs of lagging. But it’s not something which should sour the deal. Multi-tasking should also be smooth on the Desire 828, but we did encounter a few freezes and app crashes.
The HTC Desire 828 gets 16GB of storage, out of which you get about 9GB for your use. Apart from the microSD card slot which can be used to expand the storage up to 2 terabytes, there’s USB OTG support as well, and you can plug in your flash drives for more storage options. Apart from USB OTG and 4G, other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS with A-GPS, and GLONASS.
With almost everything about the phone being decent, battery life in the Desire 828 disappoints a bit. The 2,800mAh battery struggled to keep the device alive for the full day, with 4G connectivity and regular usage. On our standard battery test, where we run an HD video on loop, with the screen brightness and volume both set to 50 percent, till the battery drains from full to zero, the Desire 828 lasted for 7 hours, which is a very average result. However, there are a couple of power saving modes, which include an Extreme Power Saving mode as well, should you get into a situation where you must at least be able to make calls.
In a nutshell, the Desire 828 is not among the most powerful devices we’ve come across, but should be sufficient for most users.
While the HTC Desire 828 is one of the most promising devices from the company offering decent good value for Rs 19,990, there’s some major competition it faces. The Moto X Play (review) with its pure Android experience and Moto enhancements, is already one of the most formidable contenders in the price segment, but its excellent battery life gives the Desire 828 an additional blow. However, the HTC Desire 828’s camera is way better than the X Play’s. The QiKU Q Terra (camera review) on the other hand, is almost an all rounder with its metal chassis like a cherry on the cake. If you prefer a top-tier brand like HTC though, the Desire 828 is worth considering, especially if camera quality is one of your top priorities.