Rediff.com  » Getahead » Can Desire 828 bring back HTC's lost glory?

Can Desire 828 bring back HTC's lost glory?

By Himanshu Juneja
January 13, 2016 15:18 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Finally, with its back against the wall, HTC has realised that it needs to rise to the occasion, and start the journey again. The introduction of mid-range handsets from the company shows intent, and drew our attention towards the HTC Desire 828. 

Here is what we found... 

HTC Desire 828

There was a time when HTC was not only Android's poster boy, it also was synonymous with high class mobile phones. HTC had the best of both the worlds.

Somewhere down the lane, that crown was relinquished to Samsung. And when the Chinese manufacturers came to the party, it was anybody's game. Biggest loser in the hullabaloo was HTC. Some slackness combined with bad decisions jolted the 

company badly.

Design

The Desire series is well known from HTC's heydays, but since HTC had to bring something to redefine itself, the Desire 828 got the elements from HTC One X as well. The handset has been rendered in high quality plastic, but a unibody design imparts a solid overall feel. The matte finish enhances the aesthetics greatly.

The phone measures 157.7 x 78.9 x 7.9 mm in dimensions, and weighs 148 gms. When held, it instantly gives the impression that there won’t be an issue handling the thin and light handset. The feeling can be attributed to the curves imparted, which assists in grabbing the handset confidently.

Accomplishing a grip is fine, but this is a decent sized phone here. Size also allowed for bringing in the notification LED, which is pleasant to see. On the right side one finds the power key and the volume rocker, whereas the left side sports the microSD and the two nano SIM slots. A big flap keeps the slots covered. 

At the bottom, one finds the micro USB port, and the audio jack is situated at the top. It was a pleasure to find HTC's BoomSound speakers on this handset, and it adds tremendous value to the phone.

There must have been a major glitch in the HTC's designing team, for they have really committed a blunder by not distinguishing the power and the volume keys. No texture feel has been imparted, and since the keys are flush with the phone's body, it becomes a big hassle in locating and telling the keys apart. HTC probably has a good reason for such a big slip up.

Display

HTC Desire 828

HTC went with a 5.5-inch full HD (1080 x 1920p) screen with the Desire 828. This gives the phone a crisp pixel density of about 401 ppi.

The text looked sharp, and the images turned out looking vibrant and non saturated. The display is definitely not class leading, but does the job well. The brightness also has been provided adequately, though we would have liked it to be a little bit more, as sunlight readability just about made it.

The cost cutting measure was evident with no Corning gorilla glass protection. Unless HTC really was pushed hard, this decision doesn't sit well. Users will find tempered glass protector a necessary purchase here.The viewing angles were good, and the display gave little to complain about. 

Specs

The Desire 828 comes with a Mediatek MT6753 chipset. The Octa core processor (Cortex A53) is clocked at 1.5 Ghz. Giving it company is the Mali T720MP3 GPU.

The 2 GB RAM felt reassuring after the missing gorilla glass protection. The phone comes with 16 GB of onboard storage.

HTC also provides users the option to expand the onboard memory storage by another 200 GB via microSD card.

Connectivity

HTC Desire 828

A dual SIM device, the phone comes with the usual technologies like Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth (ver 4.1), and of course 4G. The USB OTG connectivity was a nice surprise.

AGPS and GLONASS find their place as well for navigational assistance. HTC also included the radio option to boost the phone's chances.

Operating System

HTC Desire comes with Android 5.1 (Lollipop) as its OS, and the delightful HTC Sense 7.0 custom skin on top. The Sense custom skin is one of the best going around since quite sometime. 

HTC plays to its strength, and adds a dash of new elements as well by bringing in customisation options. Users can try out themes and personalise feature to give the phone a distinct look.

There is of course BlinkFeed to the extreme left, allowing a curated flow of content for the user. This can be disabled as well. There are few pre installed apps, and they largely enhance the user experience. For instance, the Zoe Video editor allows the user to get creative and go about creating some short clips to their liking. 

Then there is the convenient way to view the media content from the cloud storage, be it from Drive, flickr, Dropbox, etc. Accomplish all this via the One Gallery app. 

Kid mode is something very essential in today's times, allowing kids to use the device with select few features only.

There is also the Car app which allows the user to access call feature, voice commands, music, maps etc while driving. Overall, HTC has tried to not be overtly  bothersome, and looks like that a very good experience is in store for the users.  

Camera

HTC Desire 828

This is where the Desire 828 takes the competition by the horns. The phones comes equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation, and given the price range, the move clearly packs a solid punch.

The primary camera is a 13 MP affair, and comes with LED flash. The front facing camera finally seems to be the home for HTC's UltraPixel technology, and here it houses a 4 MP camera.

The camera app is quick to respond, and comes loaded with features. Thankfully, there are enough options to keep it clean and only let the useful ones load up at the start. The focusing is pretty impressive, obtaining the locks quickly.

The default app comes with shooting modes like Panorama, Bokeh, Photo Booth, Split capture and Selfie mode. There are fair bit of options in the form of presets like HDR, Macro, Night, Portrait and manual as well. 

The manual mode gives a nice way to tweak settings like ISO, Contrast, White Balance, Exposure etc. The save custom camera allows users to save their custom settings for later use.

Adding to all the goodness around, the photos came out pretty good as well. OIS comes to good use, eliminating shakes and blurs. There was good amount of detail, and the colour reproduction was impressive. 

The colours did look leaning towards a warmer tone, but nothing alarming. The HDR mode works well, but could have had slightly better rendition. The pre installed photo editor is rich with options and can be called into service for genuinely enhancing the images.

The badly lit night shots did go haywire, and there was clear presence of noise. Thankfully, LED flash comes to the rescue to provide good captures. The front camera performs admirably too, and the selfie lovers should find the final results as more than passable.

Desire 828 is capable of capturing 1080p videos and the clips looked quite good with impressive colours and details. The ones clicked indoors however were not at the same level. The camera doesn't provides the option to capture UHD videos.

Overall, the camera is definitely in contention to take the crown for the best camera in the segment. OIS proves its worth, and HTC just may get away with the slightly higher price tag.

Performance

HTC Desire 828

Given that the Desire 828 is no powerhouse, the handset delivers a good performance. 

It is not flawless, which is a shame, and HTC really should have ironed out the sporadic jitters appearing here and there. The phone otherwise gives a largely satisfying experience.

The trial by fire generally is achieved via HD gaming, and the phone performed decently when it was thrown against Asphalt 8. There were very few lags experienced, and the BoomSound quickly allowed for letting the phone off the hook. The phone did get heated but nothing to arouse concern. The animation and effects went about smoothly, apps did show some lag effects infrequently. Nothing to sour the deal, but HTC should have ironed out the hiccups. Hopefully, the next OS update makes things better.

It is not a perfect score here, but given the overall package on offer, things are manageable.

Battery

Coming with a non-removable 2800 mAh battery, the capacity looks good but the performance is about average.

One can expect the phone to last for an entire day on a moderate usage mostly. Heavy users will find themselves getting hold of the charger, as the battery does drain faster than expected.

Thankfully, there are a couple of power saving modes available, which should ease the user's concern if push comes to shove. A quick shift to Marshmallow should improve the performance to a good extent as the doze mode has been very effective.

Verdict

Coming with a price tag of Rs 19,500, HTC has tried to price the handset competitively, but it is still a wee bit off. The Desire 828 will find Moto X Play asking some serious questions immediately. With relatively quicker updates and near stock OS experience, the Moto X Play has a good case in its favour too.

However, with Desire 828's superior OIS enabled camera  and enchanting BoomSound speakers, there is hardly any doubt that HTC nudges ahead in crucial aspects. These two factors alone should make even the non HTC fans to consider their loyalties.

To sum it up, HTC has done a decent job and it seems like a serious attempt by the company to claw back into the competition. A very slight price cut should boost the handset into the obvious choice category.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Himanshu Juneja