Introduction

The HTC Desire 820 is a typical member of the manufacturer's mid-range lineup. It bears all of the characteristic design features for the family - a two-tone unibody plastic shell, complete with particular color accents and an oversized camera lens on the back. The handset is surprisingly thin, measuring 157.7x78.74x7.74mm and also pretty light for its size at 155g.


HTC Desire 820 official images

The Desire 820 is shaping up as a successor to the popular HTC Desire 816. The display is identical - a 5.5-inch 1280 x 720px Super LCD2.

The front-facing BoomSound speakers are still present, which is definitely great news. The 13MP main camera is identical (at least on paper), while the front-facing shooter has been bumped-up to 8MP.

Other hardware improvements in the Desire 820 include a 64-bit Snapdragon 615 chipset with an octa-core Cortex-A53, 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 405 GPU.

Key Features

  • Available as Desire 820 dual SIM or Desire 820 with LTE support, cat. 4 LTE (150/50Mbps);
  • 5.5" 720p Super LCD2 capacitive touchscreen, ambient light sensor
  • Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 chipset with 1.6GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU, Adreno 405 GPU and 2GB of RAM
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0
  • 13MP autofocus camera, 1080p video capture, f/2.2, 28mm lens,LED flash
  • 8MP front-facing camera with BSI sensor; 1080p video capture
  • 16GB of built-in memory, expandable via the microSD card slot
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS/GLONASS; FM radio; USB On-The-Go
  • Active noise cancellation with a secondary microphone
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • 2,600mAh battery; Extreme Power Saving Mode

Main disadvantages

  • Glossy finish is a magnet for fingerprints
  • Plastic is glossy and easily gets smudged and scratched
  • Rather small 2,600mAh battery

The HTC Desire 820 has a lot going for it as a solid mid-range device. It pretty much delivers everything that it promises - good camera quality for both shooters, solid sound and 4G LTE connectivity. The spirit of the Desire 816 is still pretty much present, but HTC has put a lot of effort into improving the _phone_ in several departments.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 in-house unit

The button placement is a lot more convenient and the Desire 820 seems to offer a more polished experience as a whole. The smartphone market seems to be shifting its focus more on mid-range devices that are stepping in as the new driving force, especially in emerging Asian markets. HTC has definitely caught that tendency and is putting a lot of effort into its more budget-oriented devices.

But can the HTC Desire 820 live up to the popularity of its predecessor and satisfy cost-conscious consumer needs in an ever growing and increasingly dynamic smartphone market? Follow us to the next pages for our two cents on the matter.

Unboxing

The HTC Desire 820 comes in a slick white box like most HTC phones lately.

Inside however there is nothing too over the top. The _phone_ itself comes on a separate elevated tray inside a nice sleeve protector with some initial instructions for SIM and SD card installation.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The retail package

Besides a few leaflets, the Desire 820 is also bundled with a few essentials. A pretty standard 1A wall charger is included, as well as a sturdy USB cable and a pair of headphones.

The headset is nothing spectacular, but it is definitely a nice little touch that we were happy to see, having discovered that the HTC Desire Eye did not include one. This might be a regional bundling thing, we can't say for sure.

HTC Desire 820 360-degree spin

The HTC Desire 820 comes in a surprisingly this body measuring only 7.7mm. This is an improvement over the Desire 816 with a whole 0.2mm which does not sound like a lot, but is definitely noticeable.

On the other hand the camera on the Desire 820 is rather uncomfortably big and very protruding. While this does serve as a welcome highlight on the otherwise standard look of the device, the camera really gets in the way during regular use.

We found ourselves constantly smudging and touching it while handling the device. The lens is also placed so near to the edge of the device that you have to be extremely careful while shooting in landscape mode so you don't accidentally cover it.

Design and build quality

As already mentioned the Desire 820 really follows current HTC design trends with its two-color unibody and nicely rounded corners. It is reminiscent of the Desire 816, but the Taiwanese tech giant has really been taking notes and a lot of what annoyed us with that device is now rethought, but sadly the phone is far from perfect design and material-wise.

The lock button is something we have had a long grudge with. HTC seems to be taking steps to address the issue as it has been moved once again. The initial placement above the screen, like in the flagship One M8 was quite inconvenient especially in a tall device.

On the Desire 816 it was oddly moved to the left side of the device, above the volume rockers, which is an improvement, but not ideal.

Now it seems that the Desire 820 finally got it right (as the key is literally on the right-hand side). Seeing how the device is even higher than its predecessor, measuring in at 157.7mm, it was only logical that the button should be placed in a more convenient and reachable location.

The left side now houses a neatly covered department with slots for a one or two SIM chips, depending on the model, plus a SD card.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 in the hand

Speaking of dimensions, the phablet is fairly sizable for a 5.5-inch device. The bezels are relatively thin on the sides making for 78.74mm in total width, which is still in the comfort zone for one-hand operation, although only barely. The front-facing speakers do, however make for a pretty tall device, but the extra height does not automatically translate to more weight and the unit weighs 155g and feels nicely balanced.

Materials on the Desire 820 once again instill mixed feelings. On one hand, the top and bottom plastic plates encasing the BoomSound speakers are made of a nice matte plastic. But on the other, it is really a shame that the rest of the unibody is coated with less than premium glossy material, which happens to be in love with finger-prints.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Thin and slick sides

The ease with which it gets smudged is almost ridiculous, so you can expect a full set of prints ready for forensic analysis to constantly adorn the back plate. In addition to being a grease-magnet, the plastic in question is also surprisingly easy to scuff and scratch. Our review unit got scratched without ever leaving the office and with zero exposure to pockets or cases.

For some reason HTC has also dealt away with the metal buttons on the Desire 816 and replaced them with plastic ones. The color accents surrounding them fit nicely with the camera and front. One may argue that it is all in the name of a unified design signature, but we can't help bet miss the metal details, which, while scarce, seem to add a bit of a premium feel to a device.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

New convenient button placement and well protected SIM and CD card slots

At the end of the day the Desire 820 does fit nicely into HTC's current design vision and despite the imperfect choice of materials it feels sturdy enough to last. Some of the aforementioned design elements really bring down the overall impression and take away a lot of the premium feel, but then again the Desire 820 is intended as a mid-ranged device.

Controls

Taking a look around the HTC Desire 820 we can't miss its prominent large front-facing speakers. The BoomSound offers superb audio quality, not unlike the One (M8) and are strategically placed as far apart as possible to ensure maximum stereo effect.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The 8MP selfie camera and sensors above the screen • one speaker above and below the screen

The front bears an uncanny resemblance to the HTC Desire 816, which is only natural, given that the display is identical.

The front-facing camera is in the exact same position and you have to really look at it closely to notice the larger lens size. The BSI sensor has been bumped up to 8MP and now offers even better quality shots and 1080p video recording.

Right below the camera is a cleverly concealed status LED that lights up when charging and blinks for notification. You can chose which events trigger the light - missed calls, messages, email, calendar events and alarms.

The bezel is not excessive but does strike as a little too wide at the top and bottom of the screen. It almost feels like HTC intended to fit a larger display on the handset, but decided to go with 5.5-inches at the last minute.

The logo on the bottom black strip does fill up some of the space but we can't help but feel that the whole area would be perfect for two dedicated buttons. Sadly, HTC has decided to go down the simpler road with only software Back and Menu buttons available.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Glossy back • 13MP camera with LED flash • a long flap that covers all the card slots

The main 13MP camera is a very prominent design feature on the Desire 820. As already mentioned, it is rather oddly placed at the very edge of the top left corner of the device. The rather physically large lens is framed by a circular plastic rim it and definitely draws the attention to itself.

Holding the device with two hands in portrait mode can consequently be a hustle as one hand needs to be slightly offset for the camera to be exposed. It is simply a little annoying that you have to be constantly aware of where your hands are when shooting. We can't help but feel that this was absolutely avoidable by the design team.

The main shooter also protrudes quite a lot which means that it is inevitably going to get scuffed or scratched. And if the rest of the plastic is any indication for material quality, we can only imagine that it won't be long until photos start to come out blurry and fuzzy.

Speaking of the back panel it is part of the unibody design and is thus non-removable, just like the one on the Desire 816. It houses the 2,600 mAh Li-Po battery, which really seems rather unprepared to handle the power requirements, but more on that later.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

OTG-enabled microUSB 2.0 port on the bottom • 3.5mm audio jack and noise cancelling mic on top

SIM and SD slots are positioned on the side of the Desire 820, nicely tugged away behind a plastic flap in their own little compartment. We weren't too eager to play around with it as it seems kind of flimsy and could potentially suffer if caught on a pocket edge or other piece of clothing.

On the other hand, this setup does offer ease of access to the cards and is a welcome sight with all the recent cradle and caddy designs, which are often a struggle.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The buttons feel cheap and plastic

The top of the phablet features a 3.5mm audio jack and a secondary mic for noise cancellation. The bottom is home to just the microUSB 2.0 port. It supports USB On-The-Go so you can hook up a mouse, -keyboard or external storage.

Display

The HTC Desire 820 is equipped with a 5.5-inch 720p display. It is nothing spectacular by today's standards, but is nonetheless, a solid choice for a mid-range smartphone.

With its 267ppi it falls just a little short of what's become known as Retina-grade pixel density (300+ppi).

As already mentioned the panel is identical to that found in its predecessor - the Desire 816 and is consequently plagued by much the same problems.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The 5.5" 720p LCD on the Desire 820 has excellent viewing angles

While the panel does use IPS technology and hence offers excellent side viewing angles, the edges on the screen elements looks a little jagged under close observation.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Bet perhaps the biggest concern is the poor brightness. The phone doesn't come off as exceptionally bright, but this is more or less compensated by the good contrast, which definitely improves outside visibility.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Lenovo Vibe X2 0.16 188 1196 0.38 447 1188
Oppo N3 0.31 290 931 0.59 551 937
OnePlus One 0.39 317 805 0.75 598 799
Xiaomi Redmi Note 0.3 305 1001 0.52 536 1016
HTC One (E8) 0.2 250 1268 0.51 615 1208
Sony Xperia C3 Dual 0.13 152 1207 0.56 642 1153
HTC Desire 816 0.15 164 1087 0.46 478 1032
HTC Desire Eye 0.24 329 1345 0.62 806 1311
HTC Desire 820 0.18 235 1299 0.45 598 1327
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo 142 389


Looking at the specs sheet, we can't help but notice that although the Desire 820 borrows the display from the 816, the lack of screen protection has been addressed and the handset is equipped with Gorilla Glass 3. What good is a quality screen that is all scratched-up. HTC definitely deserves credit for improved attention in this department.

The added protective layer seems to be have led to a slight increase in reflectivity as the blacks on the Desire 820 apper a bit brighter than on the Desire 816. On the other hand maximum brigtness seems to show a slight improvement, boosting the whites and consequently, the contrast.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery life

The HTC Desire 820 is equipped with a rather modest 2,600 mAh battery. It is also absolutely identical to the one found in the Desire 816, but surprisingly enough, while the Desire 816 scored quite favorably at 64h, this is not exactly true for the phone at hand.

Our tests showed an oddly low 49h endurance rating and may we remind that this is a mixed result from fairly favorable conditions. We had the display set to 50% brightness and frankly, this made it too dim to be comfortably used outdoors even on an overcast day.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Still the numbers speak loud and clear and the Desire 820 will not be winning any endurance races any time soon. The question remains as to why this anomaly exists.

The two devices seem similar enough for the scores to match up, but seeing as this is not the case, we can perhaps point a finger towards the new octa-core Snapdragon 615 processors or, if not that, software issues that need some tweaking.

The possibility of a faulty test unit is also there, but it seems very unlikely. You can check out our battery testing procedure in detail.

There are also two separate power-saving modes implemented in Sense UI 6 that could potentially help better the battery life.

Power Saving dims the screen and slows the CPU down, while the Extreme Power Saving mode does away with multitasking and background tasks altogether and switches the UI to a very simple version, meant for only the most basic of tasks.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The Extreme Power Saving mode turns the Desire 820 into a feature phone

While this is extremely useful to have and could potentially get you out of a tight situation, the two modes are for emergency use only and therefore had no place in out measurements.

Connectivity

The HTC Desire 820 comes in two versions - single and dual SIM. The device uses only nanoSIM cards, despite the ample room, but it is far from the only offender in this department.

The on-board modem itself offers quad-band 2G/EDGE support, along with 3G HSPA+ (max 42Mbps downlink) and 4G LTE (up to 150 Mbps). The LTE connectivity covers different bands depending on the region - FDD Band 1,3,7,8 / TD-LTE Band 38,39,40,41.

Keep in mind that, as expected, the second SIM slot is only 2G/ 2.5G - GSM/GPRS/EDGE enabled. The built-in Dual network manager also allows the manual selection of the mode of each slot, so you can change which slot will be 3G-enabled from the UI without having to physically rearrange the cards.

As far as local connectivity goes, the Desire 820 is equipped with Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 with the aptX audio codec as well as DLNA. Naturally, a GPS module (with GLONASS support) is present.

HTC's website does not disclose anything in regard to NFC functionality, but we are happy to report that our unit does have this functionality onboard. It might be a regional option, as was with the Desire 816, so be sure to check before you buy a unit.

By the way, the HTC Mini+, a phone-shaped Bluetooth headset is compatible with the Desire 820 so you can keep the large phablet in your bag and still accept calls and control the music player. Speaking of that, the Bluetooth-enabled HTC BoomBass cube can pair wirelessly with the stereo speakers on the phablet for even better sonic experience.

Finally, HTC Media Link HD adds DLNA support to TVs that don't have it natively.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

User interface

Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Sense 6

The HTC Desire 820 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat, with HTC's own Sense UI layer on top, matching the One (M8) and the Desire 816. HTC Sense 6 is feature-rich and offers a smooth and fluent user experience.

Here you can see a quick video of the Sense 6, running on the Desire 820.

The lockscreen features a clock with weather info plus four shortcut slots. Missed calls and incoming messages are duly displayed, too, of course. Widgets are optional and disabled by default.

Swiping up the unlock button gives you three different options. Swiping up takes you to the last app you used, while swiping to the left or to the right will take you to the homescreen or BlinkFeed respectively.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Sense 6 lockscreen with optional widgets

Unlike the HTC One (M8), the Desire 820 phablet cannot be unlocked with a swipe or double tap, meaning you have to reach for the power/lock key.

This generation of HTC products features on-screen buttons with the classic arrangement of Back, Home and App switcher. HTC's custom scheme of only Back and Home key has been dropped (and we don't miss it).

The leftmost homescreen pane of the Desire 820 is once again reserved for HTC BlinkFeed. It aggregates content from your social networks, as well as from over a thousand news sources. You can pick the topics you're interested in and BlinkFeed will automatically pull relevant content. You can also search for specific content.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

BlinkFeed combines social updates with news articles

Homescreens are fully customizable with links and widgets. If you don't find BlikFeed particularly useful and don't want it lingering on the front you can do away with it just like any other widget.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

BlinkFeed panel can be fully removed • regular homescreens are available too

The notification area features quick toggles similar to those of vanilla Android. They can be accessed via the dedicated button or with a two-finger swipe. The toggles can't be reordered or hidden, but a long press brings out the relevant Settings page, just like in Samsung's TouchWiz. Some (like the Brightness toggle) are multi stage so you tap them several times until you reach the desired mode and often have a more precise slider option in the settings area.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Power toggles made it to the notification area

Note that the status bar on top of the screen is normally semi-transparent or black, but select HTC apps change its color to match their own highlight color, similar to iOS. This doesn't seem to work with third-party apps though.

The default layout of the app drawer is a 4 x 5 grid of app icons. A 3 x 4 mode is also available but that's a waste of a 5.5" screen. You can sort app icons alphabetically, chronologically or manually and you can hide the ones you don't need but can't uninstall (bloatware).

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The app drawer • sorting options • searching

HTC has remodeled the task switching interface - recent apps are displayed in a 3 x 3 grid of thumbnails. This allows more apps to fit on the screen but since there's no scrolling, a total of 9 is all the recent apps you'll see. This does not limit multitasking, but you can easily lose track of older open applications.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Custom app switcher complete with a shortcut for the Running apps screen

HTC Sense has a dedicated Car mode screen, which can be preset to launch automatically when the phablet connects to your car's Bluetooth.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Car mode with big, easy to hit buttons

HTC Desire 820 also has a built-in restricted access Kid mode. It is an app that lets you set up a profile for each of your kids - with a photo and birthdate - and pick which apps they can have access to.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Kid Mode

Performance

The HTC Desire 820 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with Sense 6 out of the box. It's powered by a Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 chipset with four Cortex-A53 processor cores at 1.5GHz and another four, clocked at 1.0GHz and Adreno 405 GPU. It has 2GB of RAM.

This is a notable improvement over its predecessor, the Desire 816, but interestingly enough, the fairly comparable eight A53 cores do not fair all that well against the four Cortex A7 ones, found inside the A7. This might just be due to the higher clock rate on the Snapdragon 400, but all in all, in a lot of respects the Desire 820 does not seem to offer as big of a performance increase as we would have liked to see.

We kick off with a simple CPU benchmark that, interestingly enough, places the Desire 820 between the Xiaomi Redmi Note (Octa-core 1.4/1.7 GHz Cortex-A7) and the OnePlus One (Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400), both cheaper and solid competition in terms of price to performance ratio.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    3647
  • HTC One (E8)
    3229
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2911
  • Oppo N3
    2704
  • OnePlus One
    2663
  • HTC Desire 820
    2586
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2435
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    2172
  • HTC Desire 816
    1510
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    1181

Results with the Basemark OS II were really inconsistent on the Desire 820 for some reason and we found ourselves having to retest several times. The total score is expectedly a bit ahead of the Desire 816, but single and multi-core tests just seem a little off. Perhaps it's a software bug or some optimization issue, but in any case the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Oppo N3
    1280
  • OnePlus One
    1196
  • HTC One (E8)
    1146
  • HTC Desire Eye
    1122
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    930
  • HTC Desire 820
    688
  • HTC Desire 816
    520
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    452
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    169

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    2579
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    2571
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2478
  • Oppo N3
    2417
  • OnePlus One
    2213
  • HTC Desire 816
    1739
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    1701
  • HTC Desire 820
    1670
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    1507

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    13999
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    12771
  • OnePlus One
    10234
  • HTC One (E8)
    10219
  • HTC Desire Eye
    9495
  • Oppo N3
    9320
  • HTC Desire 816
    7071
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    6440
  • HTC Desire 820
    5483

Going forward to the AnTuTu test, the numbers seem quite expected, placing the Desire 820 just above the comparable Sony Xperia C3 (Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7). Keep in mind that the chart might also be a little misleading as the Desire 816 is absent and for a good reason. It was tested under Antutu 4, which had a different scoring chart, but the difference between the two is pretty much identical to the one observed in GeekBench.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    46857
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    46666
  • HTC Desire Eye
    40296
  • Oppo N3
    39245
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    32487
  • HTC Desire 820
    27070
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    18466

The Adreno 405 GPU is nothing spectacular and the Desire 820 fails to amaze in most rendering tests but definitely holds its own. Real-life performance is of course, a whole other question and as evident from the onscreen scores, the mid-ranged device handles rendering nicely. The lower screen resolution has certainly attributed towards the respectable scores.

The Adreno 405 offscreen graphics test at 1080p resolution is rather disappointing, but expected for the particular chip.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus One
    28.3
  • HTC One (E8)
    28
  • HTC Desire Eye
    23.4
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    17.8
  • HTC Desire 820
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    15
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    9.8
  • HTC Desire 816
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    5.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (E8)
    12.3
  • OnePlus One
    12.1
  • HTC Desire Eye
    10.3
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6.1
  • HTC Desire 820
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.7
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.7

The onscreen performance is much better and the device delivers very respectable frame rates almost topping the charts.

As already mentioned, the lower screen resolution does aid a lot but one thing is for sure, the Desire 820 delivers playable frame-rates on graphics-intensive tasks, something that the Desire 816 is badly struggling with.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus One
    30
  • HTC One (E8)
    29.9
  • HTC Desire 820
    26
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    25
  • HTC Desire Eye
    24.6
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    17
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    13.3
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    11
  • HTC Desire 816
    11

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus One
    12.9
  • HTC One (E8)
    12.9
  • HTC Desire 820
    12
  • HTC Desire Eye
    10.9
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    6.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    4.7
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    4
  • HTC Desire 816
    3.9

JavaScript performance is not great, though it's in line with what we can expect from a mid-range device. In the BrowserMark 2.1, an HTML5 test, the HTC Desire 820 score was proportional to the JavaScript score. These tests fully stress the browser (we used the stock browser, by the way), in daily browsing the phablet works without annoying slowdowns.

Interestingly enough, looking back at the Desire 816 yet again, we can't help but notice a very slight improvement in overall browser performance.

Taking into account the fact that the pair uses the same HTC Sense software, we have to deduct that the Desire 820 is mostly under-optimized rather than underpowered and this, while fixable is all up to the manufacturer to address at this point.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    4747
  • Oppo N3
    6460
  • HTC One (E8)
    6460
  • OnePlus One
    7008
  • HTC Desire Eye
    11093
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    12416
  • HTC Desire 816
    13564
  • HTC Desire 820
    13568
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    15737

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    2211
  • HTC One (E8)
    1362
  • OnePlus One
    1339
  • HTC Desire Eye
    1009
  • HTC Desire 820
    991
  • HTC Desire 816
    774
  • Oppo N3
    730
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    588

The HTC Desire 820 is a middle of the road device when it comes to performance. It's not sluggish by any means and it will do okay for daily multitasking, browsing and even 3D games. From a user point of view, we didn't experience any major hiccups and the UI does look and feel very polished and functional, but more on that later.

Threaded phonebook

The People app groups the dialer, call log, contacts, favorites and groups in tabs, which can be reordered or removed.

A dropdown allows you to filter contacts by source - stored in the phone, coming from an online phonebook or a social network.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The phonebook

Individual contact info is displayed in tabs too, a Sense tradition. The first tab shows basic contact info like phone numbers, emails, work info plus individual options for ringtones, blocking the contact and adding them to Private contacts. Private contacts is a discrete option that hides the name and photo of a contact when there's an incoming call.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Viewing a contact's basic info

The second tab, Thread lists all communication history between you and the given contact - texts, emails and calls. The third and final tab displays the contact's social networking updates for easy access. Tabs here can be reordered and hidden, too.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The Thread tab for texts, emails and calls • Social networking tab

Telephony with DND mode

The dialer on the HTC Desire 820 displays the last call with a contact photo so you can easily redial someone. There's smart dialing that looks for both names and contacts. You can even switch to a regular QWERTY keyboard though you have to do this each time you open the dialer and we still find that the dial pad is quicker, it was invented for a reason after all.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The Standard dial pad • a QWERTY keyboard for better smart dial searching

There's a Large dial pad mode, which predictably makes the buttons bigger but also displays the full call log behind the pad (instead of just the last call as with the Standard dial pad).

When you try to scroll the list, the dial pad gets out of the way. For these reasons we preferred this mode over the Standard. It is just a more user-friendly experience.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The Large dial pad has bigger keys and a full list of recent calls

The HTC Desire 820 can ring louder when it detects it's in a pocket, quiet down when you pick it up and shut up altogether when you flip it over.

The Do not disturb mode can mute all notifications (including timers and alarms if you like) on a given schedule with multiple rules, e.g. not on weekends and not on weekdays after 19pm. Only contacts on the exceptions list can get through in case of emergency.

Contacts can be added to the blocked list to filter out unwanted calls even outside of Do not disturb mode. If you dial an unknown contact, the dialer can ask you if you want to save it to the phonebook (this is disabled by default).

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Advanced call options • Do not disturb mode • blocked numbers

The phablet borrows the BoomSound speakers from the premium One family - two speakers on the front. They put out nice sound though in tuning for audio quality HTC lost some of the loudness. Voice and music levels are virtually equal with the Desire 816.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
HTD Desire 816 66.6 65.7 66.6 Below Average
HTC Desire 820 65.6 61.1 75.7 Average
Sony Xperia C3 Dual 66.2 61.1 75.3 Average
HTC Desire Eye 65.7 65.3 74.2 Average
Lenovo Vibe X2 66 67.7 71.8 Average
Sony Xperia C3 Dual (Clear Audio) 68.3 65.8 71.6 Average
HTC One (E8) 65.8 65.7 75.7 Average
Xiaomi Redmi Note 65.9 66.7 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo N7505 68.4 64.4 75.8 Good
Oppo N3 68.2 65.8 75.7 Good
Oppo N3 with Maxx Audio 77.9 69.8 80.4 Excellent
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent


Messaging with great features out of the box

The HTC Desire 820 uses the traditional threaded view for SMS and MMS messages, which share a composer. Some threads can be moved to a "secure box", which requires a password to be opened. There's built-in functionality to block messages from certain numbers, those go in the Block box where you can view them later if you like or set the app to discard them immediately.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Threaded messaging • Secure message box • blocked messages box

The look of the app can be tweaked with color schemes and custom backgrounds, font size and how many lines are used for preview in threaded view.

The Messages app can also backup and restore messages, so you don't need a third-party app for that.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The HTC Desire 820 comes with two email apps - a skinned version of the stock email app and the dedicated Gmail app. The native one has a combined inbox and supports options for peak and off-peak syncing. For both you can have the app check for new mail after a preset periods or use Smart Sync to learn your habits and automatically figure out the best interval.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The Mail app has a combined Inbox

The keyboard offers big, comfortable keys and you can run a calibration tool if you think the default setup slips up. A Swype-like Trace option is available and you can enable bilingual prediction (vital with so many English terms entering every day speech in most languages).

Other customization options include switching between layouts (e.g. QWERTY, AZERTY), adding arrow keys (for the portrait keyboard only) and a personal dictionary of words that can be backed up to the microSD card or an email.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The Sense QWERTY keyboard • Trace • landscape keyboard

HTC Zoe is social

HTC Zoe is a mini social network centered around sharing photos and videos. A landmark feature is the cool Highlights videos, which are created automatically for each album.

Zoe requires you to sign in with your HTC account the first time you open it. This is to enable sharing with other contacts, who can add their own photos, videos and music to the Highlight videos that are created automatically from your shots.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Zoe

You can send requests to your friends too, to give them a little nudge to add shots to your Highlights. You can manually create a Highlight video too - you simply choose from the available images, select a theme and soundtrack and you're done.

Gallery with Highlights

The Gallery app uses a Lollipop style navigation drawer to separate viewing modes. Timeline and location group photos accordingly, while Albums work like folders. You can manually create albums, the app will ask you to select a number of photos and videos to either copy or move.

Mass selection of photos seems to be lacking which is rather annoying and photos have to be moved one by one. A nice little addition to the gallery is the custom search function. Interestingly enough it not only does through photo meta data, but can also do a sort of reverse image search and find similar photos to a preselected one.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The image gallery • creating a new album • custom search function

Manually created albums get a Highlight video as their title image. You can select which items go into the video, in what order and with what effects and music. There are options to go back to the default chronological order, music and theme so don't be afraid to experiment. The start and end clips can be selected manually if you want to create a sort of title card and credits.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Customizing an album's Highlight video

The editing options range from basic crop/rotate/flip to frames and advanced effects like simulated lighting, adjusting face contour and eye enhancements.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Image editing options

There's a special Media gesture useful here and in the music and video players - swipe up with three fingers to "throw" the content you're viewing to a DLNA device.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Throwing a media file to a DLNA device with a three-finger gesture

Limited video player

There's no dedicated video player on the HTC Desire 820, you browse videos through the Gallery or File Manager. The video players supports the most common containers - AVI, MP4 and MKV and even WMV - but codec support is spotty. DivX didn't work at all, while XviD support was 50/50, with older versions refusing to play.

Sound is an issue too with no multichannel audio support, we even had an issue with MP3 audio in a 1080p AVI file. AC3 seems to be all but unavailable.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The video player interface

As for the interface, you get basic playback controls and the option to snap a screenshot. Subtitles are not supported.

Music player with no equalizer

The HTC Sense 6 music player uses a tabbed layout and as with other apps you can hide tabs and reorder them. The tabs sort your music library by different categories and include the relatively rare Folder view, in case you have a sort of "mixtape" folder.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Browsing the music library

The first time you launch the music player it will ask whether it should automatically download Album art, artist photos and lyrics and you can limit it to Wi-Fi only downloads.

There's a cool visualizer on board with multiple different looks, but HTC once again forgot to put in an equalizer. All you get is a BoomSound option, which can be either on or off and only works with headphones plugged in.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Now playing interface • visualizer • lockscreen and notification area music controls

Still audiophiles should be glad to hear FLAC is supported (both 16-bit and 24-bit) but you'll really need a microSD card for that as the built-in memory isn't much.

You can use the three-finger Media gesture to continue playback on a DLNA device. Bluetooth with aptX is another high-quality option to wirelessly stream audio.

The HTC Desire 820 also packs an FM radio receiver too, though it doesn't have RDS support. It can play through the speakers but still needs a pair of headphones to serve as an antenna.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

FM radio (no RDS)

Good audio output, but not quite perfect

When we start referring to an audio output as good as the one on the Desire 820 as "slightly disappointing", this tells you all you need to know about the status HTC was able to achieve in terms of audio reproduction. It's not that the phablet does bad, in fact it's quite good, but it's not as perfect as its stablemates we've reviewed lately.

The HTC Desire 820 showed high volume levels in the first part of our test - the one where it works with an active external amplifier. Its output was very clean too as testified by the majority of its scores, which were excellent. The sole exception was stereo crosstalk, which was slightly above average for this scenario.

Plug in a pair of headphones and you get a lot of extra crosstalk as well as some distortion, leading to a less than perfectly clean output. Volume levels are still fairly high and the output is overall above average, but it's not a class-leading performance as we we've come to expect from HTC handsets.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
HTC Desire 820 +0.03, -0.20 -92.3 92.4 0.046 0.047 -72.2
HTC Desire 820 (headphones attached) +0.09, -0.12 -92.1 92.1 0.158 0.176 -39.7
HTC Desire 816 +0.02, -0.08 -93.8 93.8 0.0017 0.0091 -94.9
HTC Desire 816 (headphones attached) +0.10, -0.01 -93.9 93.9 0.0046 0.020 -83.0
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra +0.02, -0.08 -90.5 89.4 0.0057 0.014 -92.2
Sony Xperia T2 Ultra (headphones attached) +0.32, -0.21 -90.2 89.0 0.019 0.183 -49.8
Nokia Lumia 1320 +0.20, -0.09 -89.1 89.1 0.0095 0.197 -88.6
Nokia Lumia 1320 (headphones attached) +0.21, -0.06 -89.1 89.0 0.115 0.198 -58.5
Oppo N1 +0.14, -0.11 -93.7 93.4 0.0036 0.076 -83.7
Oppo N1 (headphones attached) +0.31, -0.26 -93.2 92.4 0.0081 0.349 -55.5
HTC One Max +0.14, -0.14 -93.8 93.8 0.0009 0.015 -94.1
HTC One Max (headphones attached) +0.26, -0.02 -93.6 93.6 0.026 0.080 -80.4
LG G Flex +0.02, -0.07 -98.4 98.3 0.012 0.054 -83.7
LG G Flex (headphones attached) +0.12, -0.02 -91.9 92.0 0.045 0.070 -66.5
Sony Xperia Z Ultra +0.02, -0.08 -92.5 92.5 0.0058 0.011 -90.7
Sony Xperia Z Ultra (headphones attached) +0.48, -0.11 -87.8 87.0 0.047 0.168 -51.9

HTC Desire 820 frequency response

HTC Desire 820 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Still and video camera

The HTC Desire 820 has a 13MP camera. Instead of a low-resolution UltraPixel sensor HTC went with a more traditional BSI sensor with a 28mm lens (in 35mm equivalent) and f/2.2 aperture. It's a 4:3 sensor too, meaning you lose some resolution when taking 16:9 shots.

The shooter seems to be absolutely identical to the one in the Desire 816, which is in no way a complaint, as it has already proven its worth.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Camera interface

This phone does not have a dedicated image processing chip as more expensive HTC models so naturally, some features are missing (Zoe mode most notably). It does have HDR, Panorama (with a digital horizon level), geo-tagging and image effects. The settings are hidden by default, but you can control ISO, exposure compensation, white balance and image adjustments.

A long press on the screen will lock exposure and focus. You can set the volume rocker to act as a zoom lever or a shutter key.

The HTC Desire 820 has an 8MP front-facing camera with a BSI sensor and a dedicated selfie mode.

From the settings you can enable smile shutter and adjust the Make-up level, which tries to digitally pretty you up.

This is perhaps one of HTC's primary selling points for the phone. Few contenders can offer such a nice front-facing shooter in this price range and seeing how the selfie fad is not going away any time soon the Desire 820 is a perfect choice to fill up your social networks.

This is perhaps the reason HTC has put in additional effort into tweaking the software adding extra features like Split Capture and Photo booth modes.

The camera on the HTC Desire 820 is undoubtedly its strongest feature. While in other departments the phone may be slightly lacking or even kind of mediocre, you can definitely count on amazing photos from the mid-ranged handset.

HTC has obviously struck gold with the particular camera hardware and thankfully, it is here to stay for the time being. As already mentioned the Desire 820 seems to be equipped with the superb camera found in its predecessor, the Desire 816.

Photos are amazingly sharp. We are more than pleased with the way the camera picks exposure and colors, even in mixed light.

Digital noise is visible but it's not that obvious as it takes the form of only luminance noise. There are no color blotches. There's equal sharpness edge to edge and there are no noticeable lens issues.

The white balance is sometimes a bit too warm but some people like it that way.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 camera samples

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 macro sample

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820: front-facing camera sample

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820: HDR off and on

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 panorama sample

Photo quality comparison

The HTC Desire 820 has one really nice camera. The only downside is that it tends to pick a warmer white balance to most photos, which results in a yellowish tint, which is noticeable on our sample images, and especially the first chart.

Here, in our photo quality compare tool you can see how it stacks up against competing phablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo (8MP) and the OnePlus One (13MP) by following the links below.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

HTC Desire 820 in our photo compare tool

Solid video camera with slight software improvements

One again HTC is sticking to what works and video quality seems all but unchanged from the Desire 816. There are a few small software changes, most notable that video recording is no longer a dedicated mode, but rather integrated in a second button in the primary shooting screen.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Video shooting is no longer a dedicated mode

This is convenient, but sadly it brings about the much familiar hustle with not having a clear idea of the actual video viewport prior to recording. This is a problem that many manufacturers seem to overlook, but is genuinely annoying when you thinks you are aiming at something, but are actually capturing something else.

The Desire 820 shoots 1080p videos at 30fps, though there's also a special Fast HD 60fps mode at 720p. The front-facing camera can also record 1080p videos.

Other options include slow-motion video, image effects and settings for ISO, exposure compensation and white balance.

The 1080p videos from the main camera have a 20Mbps bitrate and the audio is recorded in stereo with a bitrate of 192kbps.

Another thing to note is that the colors seems a bit oversaturated, but oftentimes it's how users prefer them. Below you can see a regular 1080 pixel video sample as well as a Fast HD 60fps one.

You can also download an untouched video sample - 0:10s, 26.1MB.

Video quality comparison

The midrange Desire 820 fares quite well when compared to identically price phablets, as you can see in our Video comparison tool. Unfortunately, that's only true in good light, as in low light the level of resolved detail drops dramatically.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

HTC Desire 820 in our video compare tool

Web browser

The HTC Desire 820 has a Sense-ified version of the stock Android browser and Chrome out of the box. It packs the usual features of Incognito tabs Find in page and Desktop view. Note that GIF animation needs to be enabled from the settings.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Stock browser • tabs • pages and videos saved for later consumtion

Besides the usual bookmarks, you can keep a Reading list of pages to read later and a Watch list of videos. Pages are saved on-device so they can be read offline, but videos are not.

The Watch list feature works on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. It detects multiple videos per page (so you can add them all) and when you're ready to watch it shows just the video with no distractions from the page it was on.

Google Chrome is becoming the most popular mobile browser and should be fairly familiar to any Android user. It has advantages over its vanilla buddy, including switching between tabs with a wide swipe from either the left or right of the top bar.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Google Chrome • tabs • incognito tabs • syncing with other devices

Chrome has Incognito tabs, too. Speaking of tabs, it can sync what you have open on other devices (desktop, tablets) with the phone. This feature also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites and can remember passwords and login data.

The Reduce data usage option sends web pages to be compressed on Google's web servers before loading them on the device to save data and speed up slow connections. This doesn't work for SSL-protected pages and Incognito tabs for privacy reasons.

Other pre-installed apps

The HTC Desire 820 comes with Polaris Office 5, which can view and create Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, it can display PDFs too. The app handles files stored locally along with ones in your Google Drive account. The View Together option lets you do a presentation on multiple devices by connecting them together wirelessly.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Polaris Office 5 with Google Drive integration

HTC has skinned the calendar to match Sense 6 looks. Adding an event lets you specify time (with a warning if there's a conflict with another event), who will attend and where the meeting will be held. Multiple online calendars are supported.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Sense 6 calendar

The Tasks app is another way to organize time. It can handle multiple separate lists of tasks and syncs with your Google account. Each task can have a due date and a location associated with it. Map view lets you easily find nearby tasks, though we would have loved a "Navigate to" button here.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Tasks • multiple lists are supported • putting tasks on the map

HTC Backup can do manual or scheduled backups of your apps, messages (texts and emails), contacts and accounts (mail and social). The data is sent either to Google Drive or Dropbox and you can limit the app to transfer over Wi-Fi only.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Backup • backup settings • backup location • Wi-Fi only data transfer

The alarm clock application can handle multiple alarms, each with its own start and repeat time. The stopwatch and timer are self-explanatory.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The clock app

HTC also preloaded Stocks and Weather apps powered by Yahoo! And AccuWeather respectively.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The weather app • Stocks

Google Maps is the default navigation app and is the only one a typical user needs. It allows you to download offline maps of an area and even plan routes without a data connection. It can plan driving, public transport, cycling and walking routes. With a data connection it will also display traffic alerts.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Google Maps • planning a route • navigating • saving part of the map for offline usage

Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Google Now

It provides traffic information to your work or home, knows the scores of sports teams you follow and gives you the weather forecast for your location. It's great for at-a-glance info, but can handle voice input as well. It also has a dedicated homescreen/lockscreen widget.

The HTC Guide app is an excellent app for beginners. It contains tips and help, troubleshooting info and a display of the vital phone stats the support call center might ask you about. The phone health option offers some self-help tools like running diagnostic on individual components (speakers, backlight, buttons).

The app will also help you manage the storage with a handy option to clean unwanted files and trackers for call minutes, texts and data plan megabytes.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Guide • vital info • managing storage • tracking voice call and data plan usage

Another great support tool is Android Device Manager. It's available for all Android devices with a Google account can help you find your Desire 820 by ringing it and if it's not at the house, by finding it on the map. If it's stolen, you also have the option to lock the device and delete all data (so make sure you have HTC Backup set up so you don't lose your data).

Final words

In a lot of ways the HTC Desire 820 is the natural continuation of the mid-range handset line and can be considered more or less an upgraded version of the Desire 816. It is a solid device on its own, but HTC could have tried a little harder and addressed some of the issues in its predecessor better.

HTC has built-up a formidable reputation for offering some of the best-built devices on the market. The Desire 820 definitely looks put together well enough, but the choice of materials is a letdown, perhaps even more than with the Desire 816, and that's plain disappointing.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

If there is one thing this job has taught us is to keep our expectations in check when we approach a device for review. We won't expect much from an entry level smartphone, but an upper midrange device like the Desire 820 deserves a higher quality finish than the fingerprint mess that the plastic back panel becomes in no time.

The hardware on the Desire 820 definitely looks improved on paper, but sadly it does not outperform its predecessor by a whole lot, which is surprising, given the new octa-core CPU. Perhaps software optimization is lacking or the chips are intentionally under-powered so as not to diminish the problematic battery life even further. In any case, the 720p display goes easy on the resources and real-life performance is more than satisfactory.

HTC Desire 820 key review findings:

  • Build quality is adequate for the price range but plastics are rather fragile and a magnet for fingerprints.
  • The 2,600mAh battery is rather inadequate and results in average battery life.
  • The screen is not particularly bright but makes up with good contrast.
  • Speakers sound great and sound is crisp. Headphones do show a significant amount of crosstalk, though.
  • The octa-core CPU does not set the device far above its predecessor in benchmarks, but real-life performance is excellent.
  • The 13 MP camera is superb for the price range and is only complimented by the improved 8MP front-facing shooter.
  • Low-light video recording is disappointing.
  • Video player is kind of lacking. DivX didn't work at all, while XviD support was 50/50, with older versions refusing to play. AC3 sound is also unsupported.

Still, the Desire 820 definitely has a lot going for it. It offers a beautiful, big screen, now complete with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, and is arguably a really fresh and slick looking handset. The bi-color unibody gives it a more youthful vibe and we can definitely see HTC appealing to precisely such a crowd.

The software is also equally visually-appealing and functional. Sense 6 may not be Material Design, but is arguably better looking than other popular Android skins with its flat design and pastel color scheme.

One department that HTC is definitely not skipping on is the camera. The main-shooter on the Desire 816 was a pure struck of genius and is definitely flagship-quality. We were very pleased to find the same piece of hardware on the Desire 820, along with an improved 8MP front-facing camera.

Another area where the Desire 820 punches above its weight is audio - the stereo BoomSound speakers sound great and the audio quality with headphones is quite good as well.

The upper midrange segment is already overpopulated with nice looking smartphones but thanks to its oversized screen, the Desire 820 belongs to a subset that's hardly overflowing of choices.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo is a more affordable version of the company's flagship Note 3 phablet. It has a 5.5" 720p Super AMOLED screen with deep blacks and bright colors and also comes in a dual-SIM variant. You get a pressure-sensitive stylus too, plus the Note 3 Neo is a full 8mm shorter, but about 10 grams heavier.

Both devices boast pretty comparable performance scores, with the Mali-T624 arguably a little better than the Adreno 405 in the Desire and they are almost identically priced at the moment.

RAM and onboard storage are also the same, at 2GB and 16GB respectively, and so is the display size. The Samsung however offers punchier colors and deeper blacks, thanks to its Super AMOLED panel, a much bigger 3100 battery and comes with an S Pen stylus, which is definitely handy.

The faux leather back of the Galaxy Note 3 Neo may not be to everyone's taste, but it's miles ahead of the glossy plastic HTC used.

Both devices currently run Android 4.4 KitKat, but Samsung's TouchWiz is very different from HTC's Sense. It is again a love it or hate it situation, but the Note 3 Neo does seem to put a lot more emphasis on multitasking.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo

Sony currently has a couple of direct contenders to the Desire 820 that may also be worth checking out. On one hand we have the Xperia C3, which has pretty much the same display and is about $100 cheaper and on the other hand, there is the Xperia T3, which is a pinch smaller at 5.3-inches, but is a better performer than the Xperia C3 and is still a little cheaper than the Desire 820.

Both of these devices come with 1GB of RAM and a quad-core Snaprdagon 400 SoC, so they fall a bit behind in the performance department. Their cameras are definitely not as nice either.

On the flip side though, Sony has gone to great lengths to offer premium quality materials for a budget price tag. Both devices look slicker and overall better than the Desire 820. Metal and glass are a nice leap over the unsatisfactory plastic on the HTC.

Sony Xperia T3
Sony Xperia C3

Sony Xperia T3 • Sony Xperia C3

We cannot fail to also mention the OnePlus One as a very remarkable contender in the same size and price range. Including it is kind of a cheat, due to the fact that getting one is still rather difficult, but with availability improving, it is only fair to give credit to this budget flagship.

The OnePlus has pretty much the same display as the one on the Desire 820 at 5.5-inches. But this is where the similarities stop. For just a few dollars more you get a powerhouse Snapdragon 801 SoC with 3GB of RAM, a Full HD screen and a very nice 13MP camera.

Its hardware is unmatched in the price segment and besides the front-facing stereo speakers, superb camera and dual-SIM variant the Desire 820 has little to offer that doesn't dwarf in comparison.

OnePlus One

OnePlus One

Xiaomi has definitely become a formidable force in the mobile realm and it is only natural that there are similar device offerings by the Chinese giant. The Xiaomi Redmi Note in particular comes to mind. The smartphone has a very similar 5.5-inch display and is powered by a Mediatek octa-core CPU, 1 or 2GB of RAM and a very similar camera.

Besides being incredibly similar to the Desire 820, the Redmi Note is about $100 cheaper. It also comes in a dual-SIM variant and for a couple of bucks more you can get the 4G version, equipped with a Qualcomm snapdragon 400 CPU.

The Xiaomi, however is not big on looks. It has equally tacky plastic and is noticeably thicker than the Desire 820, but considering the price tag, most of this can be easily overlooked.

Xiaomi Redmi Note

Xiaomi Redmi Note

In many respects the Desire 820 is a slightly tweaked and updated version of the Desire 816, which is both a good and a bad trait. The device is well executed and has a lot to offer to the right customer. The only thing missing is the superior build quality that HTC flagships are known for. Sadly, this hasn't made it down the ranks. The rest of the device is pretty good but of course, it all comes down to pricing.

HTC has a track record of slightly overpricing their newcomers on the European market and consequently, while the handset is a pretty good deal in Asia, in Europe there are a few notable alternatives that are worth checking out, as already mentioned. This might all change with a future price drop, as the HTC Desire 820 is a well-rounded package and while it may not win any awards, it sure isn't any worse than most other midrange phablets.

Unboxing

The HTC Desire 820 comes in a slick white box like most HTC phones lately.

Inside however there is nothing too over the top. The phone itself comes on a separate elevated tray inside a nice sleeve protector with some initial instructions for SIM and SD card installation.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The retail package

Besides a few leaflets, the Desire 820 is also bundled with a few essentials. A pretty standard 1A wall charger is included, as well as a sturdy USB cable and a pair of headphones.

The headset is nothing spectacular, but it is definitely a nice little touch that we were happy to see, having discovered that the HTC Desire Eye did not include one. This might be a regional bundling thing, we can't say for sure.

HTC Desire 820 360-degree spin

The HTC Desire 820 comes in a surprisingly this body measuring only 7.7mm. This is an improvement over the Desire 816 with a whole 0.2mm which does not sound like a lot, but is definitely noticeable.

On the other hand the camera on the Desire 820 is rather uncomfortably big and very protruding. While this does serve as a welcome highlight on the otherwise standard look of the device, the camera really gets in the way during regular use.

We found ourselves constantly smudging and touching it while handling the device. The lens is also placed so near to the edge of the device that you have to be extremely careful while shooting in landscape mode so you don't accidentally cover it.

Design and build quality

As already mentioned the Desire 820 really follows current HTC design trends with its two-color unibody and nicely rounded corners. It is reminiscent of the Desire 816, but the Taiwanese tech giant has really been taking notes and a lot of what annoyed us with that device is now rethought, but sadly the phone is far from perfect design and material-wise.

The lock button is something we have had a long grudge with. HTC seems to be taking steps to address the issue as it has been moved once again. The initial placement above the screen, like in the flagship One M8 was quite inconvenient especially in a tall device.

On the Desire 816 it was oddly moved to the left side of the device, above the volume rockers, which is an improvement, but not ideal.

Now it seems that the Desire 820 finally got it right (as the key is literally on the right-hand side). Seeing how the device is even higher than its predecessor, measuring in at 157.7mm, it was only logical that the button should be placed in a more convenient and reachable location.

The left side now houses a neatly covered department with slots for a one or two SIM chips, depending on the model, plus a SD card.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

HTC Desire 820 in the hand

Speaking of dimensions, the phablet is fairly sizable for a 5.5-inch device. The bezels are relatively thin on the sides making for 78.74mm in total width, which is still in the comfort zone for one-hand operation, although only barely. The front-facing speakers do, however make for a pretty tall device, but the extra height does not automatically translate to more weight and the unit weighs 155g and feels nicely balanced.

Materials on the Desire 820 once again instill mixed feelings. On one hand, the top and bottom plastic plates encasing the BoomSound speakers are made of a nice matte plastic. But on the other, it is really a shame that the rest of the unibody is coated with less than premium glossy material, which happens to be in love with finger-prints.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Thin and slick sides

The ease with which it gets smudged is almost ridiculous, so you can expect a full set of prints ready for forensic analysis to constantly adorn the back plate. In addition to being a grease-magnet, the plastic in question is also surprisingly easy to scuff and scratch. Our review unit got scratched without ever leaving the office and with zero exposure to pockets or cases.

For some reason HTC has also dealt away with the metal buttons on the Desire 816 and replaced them with plastic ones. The color accents surrounding them fit nicely with the camera and front. One may argue that it is all in the name of a unified design signature, but we can't help bet miss the metal details, which, while scarce, seem to add a bit of a premium feel to a device.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

New convenient button placement and well protected SIM and CD card slots

At the end of the day the Desire 820 does fit nicely into HTC's current design vision and despite the imperfect choice of materials it feels sturdy enough to last. Some of the aforementioned design elements really bring down the overall impression and take away a lot of the premium feel, but then again the Desire 820 is intended as a mid-ranged device.

Controls

Taking a look around the HTC Desire 820 we can't miss its prominent large front-facing speakers. The BoomSound offers superb audio quality, not unlike the One (M8) and are strategically placed as far apart as possible to ensure maximum stereo effect.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The 8MP selfie camera and sensors above the screen • one speaker above and below the screen

The front bears an uncanny resemblance to the HTC Desire 816, which is only natural, given that the display is identical.

The front-facing camera is in the exact same position and you have to really look at it closely to notice the larger lens size. The BSI sensor has been bumped up to 8MP and now offers even better quality shots and 1080p video recording.

Right below the camera is a cleverly concealed status LED that lights up when charging and blinks for notification. You can chose which events trigger the light - missed calls, messages, email, calendar events and alarms.

The bezel is not excessive but does strike as a little too wide at the top and bottom of the screen. It almost feels like HTC intended to fit a larger display on the handset, but decided to go with 5.5-inches at the last minute.

The logo on the bottom black strip does fill up some of the space but we can't help but feel that the whole area would be perfect for two dedicated buttons. Sadly, HTC has decided to go down the simpler road with only software Back and Menu buttons available.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

Glossy back • 13MP camera with LED flash • a long flap that covers all the card slots

The main 13MP camera is a very prominent design feature on the Desire 820. As already mentioned, it is rather oddly placed at the very edge of the top left corner of the device. The rather physically large lens is framed by a circular plastic rim it and definitely draws the attention to itself.

Holding the device with two hands in portrait mode can consequently be a hustle as one hand needs to be slightly offset for the camera to be exposed. It is simply a little annoying that you have to be constantly aware of where your hands are when shooting. We can't help but feel that this was absolutely avoidable by the design team.

The main shooter also protrudes quite a lot which means that it is inevitably going to get scuffed or scratched. And if the rest of the plastic is any indication for material quality, we can only imagine that it won't be long until photos start to come out blurry and fuzzy.

Speaking of the back panel it is part of the unibody design and is thus non-removable, just like the one on the Desire 816. It houses the 2,600 mAh Li-Po battery, which really seems rather unprepared to handle the power requirements, but more on that later.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

OTG-enabled microUSB 2.0 port on the bottom • 3.5mm audio jack and noise cancelling mic on top

SIM and SD slots are positioned on the side of the Desire 820, nicely tugged away behind a plastic flap in their own little compartment. We weren't too eager to play around with it as it seems kind of flimsy and could potentially suffer if caught on a pocket edge or other piece of clothing.

On the other hand, this setup does offer ease of access to the cards and is a welcome sight with all the recent cradle and caddy designs, which are often a struggle.

HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim
HTC Desire 820 Dual Sim

The buttons feel cheap and plastic

The top of the phablet features a 3.5mm audio jack and a secondary mic for noise cancellation. The bottom is home to just the microUSB 2.0 port. It supports USB On-The-Go so you can hook up a mouse, -keyboard or external storage.

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