HTC Desire 820S: The not so desired mid range smartphone from the house of HTC

  • Overall Rating

  • Performance

  • Features

  • Price

Price: ₹ Rs. 19,399

Key Specs

    5.5” LCD Capacitive HD display (267ppi), Android 4.4.4 KitKat, 1.7 GHz Quad-core Mediatek MT6752 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB internal memory & expandable up to 32GB, 13MP autofocus rear with LED flash, 8MP front camera, Dual Nano-SIM (GSM+GSM), 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, 2600 mAh battery

Pros: Large screen serves well for multimedia tasks, slim and attractive design, stable UI, good audio quality by BoomSound speakers, solid call quality

Cons: Poor resolution display, slippery construction, can only be expanded up-to 32 GB, poor battery back-up, average cameras, heats up while gaming and video playback

Bottomline: Smartphone industry is on steroids and manufacturers have to come out with something exceptional every time. Moreover, the expectations further rise if a manufacturer is offering an upgraded version of their product. Disappointingly, HTC Desire 820S fails in meeting the current market needs and feels like an overpriced device carrying a brand name.

Indian smartphone market has witnessed some real action in last one year. Consumers can now buy a decent handset with all possible features without spending a fortune. And this is the very reason smartphone manufacturers are on their toes. Having said that; HTC is one tech giant, which is quite fast in upgrading its smartphone portfolio. But is the hard work going in the right direction? It’s not a long while that the Taiwanese tech giant launched its big screen device-Desire 820 and 820Q in the mid-segment category. And now an upgraded version of the phablet with a snappier processor and 4G connectivity is available.

Let’s check out whether it is worth buying or you can skip this one.

Trendy but sort of boring design

there is no difference in design if you compare Desire 820S with 820 or 820Q

Desire 820S, 820 and 820Q looks exactly similar. This design is not bad but is becoming sort of boring now.

There is hardly any difference in terms of look and feel if you compare Desire 820S with its predecessors such as Desire 820Q and 820. The smartphones have the similar glossy body, curved edges and the plastic construction which is quite sturdy but is becoming sort of boring. We mentioned this thing earlier in one of the review that HTC should bring some change in design department of its mid-segment smartphones else it will become the second Samsung.

We got the white and blue variant, which looks trendy and despite its large body (157.7 x 78.7 x 7.7 mm), the phone with the sleek construction and curved edges can be used with one hand. Moreover with 155g weight, the phablet is easy to carry around.

The bottom of the display has the HTC branding and BoomSound speaker grill.

The bottom of the display has the HTC branding and BoomSound speaker grill.

The front of the smartphone has the similar broad black frame which surrounds the display and houses the HTC branding at the bottom just above the bottom speaker grill. The top of the display has the 8 MP front camera and the speaker grill.

The micro SD and SIM card slots are protected by a large rubberized flap on the left edge

The micro SD and SIM card slots are protected by a large plastic flap on the left edge

The left edge houses the micro SD card slot and the nano SIM card slots which are protected by a plastic flap. The power and volume rockers are located on the right edge. The back has the 13 MP shooter with a LED flash and the HTC branding.

Not even Full HD

The Desire 820 S is certainly not in the competition if we talk about the display because there are various smartphones in sub 10K category with a 720p resolution. We do not see any logic in paying more than double the amount for a screen with similar pixel resolution. HTC should have upgraded the display to full HD as the previous versions- HTC Desire 820 and Desire 820Q also has the same size and resolution. Xiaomi Mi4 which is selling at a considerable lower price after its recent price cut packs an amazing 1080p display.

A 720p display on a smartphone above 20K sounds illogical these days. However display offers good contrast and vibrant colors

A 720p display on a smartphone above 20K sounds illogical these days. However display offers good contrast and vibrant colors

Now if we talk about day to day performance, it works well for consumption of multimedia content. The 5.5 inch HD screen lets you watch movies; play games and is very useful if you are fond of reading digital content. But don’t expect an amazing level of details as the 5.5 inch space is managed with just 267ppi which shows pixilation on a closer look.

However, the colours look vivid and the sunlight legibility is also good. You can use the display in outdoor conditions for watching videos and reading.

The snappy Octa-core Mediatek chipset with the stable Sense UI 6.0

Desire 820S packs an Octa-core Cortex-A53 (MT6752) CPU clocked at 1.7GHz. The 64-bit eight cores chipset provide enough juice to quickly load applications without any noticeable lags. There is 2 GB of RAM to handle your multitasking which also serves well.

We did not encounter any such issues with the computing performance of the device, so does with the Mi4 that integrates 3 GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 800 CPU at a lower price. And even with Yureka, that packs the 2 GB RAM and a Snapdragon 600 CPU and costs one third of the price 820S comes at.

What we try to explain here is that the only thing that differentiates Desire 820S from previous its predecessor 820 is not actually a big leap. It is just the same old Desire with a new processor and 4G connectivity.

The gaming performance was good, however the device tends to heat while graphical intensive gaming sessions.

The gaming performance was good, however the device tends to heat while graphical intensive gaming sessions.

We also played graphical intensive games such as Injustice- Gods among us and Asphalt 8. The smartphone with the Mali- T760MP2 GPU unit handled the graphics smoothly but after 20 to 30 minutes of continue gaming, it heats up. And this is not only with the gaming as the smartphone also heats during HD video playback and camera usage.

It is no doubt that the Sense UI is one of the most stable UI we have tested in Android smartphones. Desire 820S ships with Sense UI 6.0 over Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. It comes with HTC Blinkfeed, Motion Launch gestures such as Double tap to wake the smartphone, Swipe up to unlock, Swipe down to activate voice dialing among many. You also get Extreme Power saving mode which works well if you are low on battery and the HTC Zoe. We did not encounter any issue with the software performance on the Desire 820S.

HTC’s BoomSound speaker units deliver good sound and we really liked the audio quality on the Desire 820S. Both the speakers were able to generate loud and clear sound during video playback and gaming sessions.

Cameras: Bigger on papers and average on performance

Desire 820S has a 13 MP Autofocus rear camera with LED flash and an 8 MP front shooter. It is quite fair to expect decent image quality at this price point keeping in mind the current market scenario. However; that’s not the scene here. The cameras are only capable to deliver satisfactory images. Though the pictures have good detailing but they look very dull, even after setting the screen at full brightness. Overall the images are kind of life less. Xiaomi Mi4 delivers far better results than the Desire 820

The glossy back has the HTC branding in the center and a 13 MP camera with LED flash

The glossy back has the HTC branding in the center and a 13 MP camera with LED flash

We also found the autofocus on the rear camera quite inconsistent. Sometimes it’s quick to catch the subject and then it is just sluggish. The images in low-light conditions also have noticeable noise. We have to say that HTC has not made any improvement in the camera module and the image quality on the 820S is just average.

Battery back-up and storage disappoints

Desire 820S is a big device, a 5.5 inch display, big speaker units and an Octa-core chipset. All of this is backed by a 2600 mAh unit which disappointed us as the smartphone was not able to last 12 hours with regular usage that includes calling, browsing, camera, some gaming and music. We also ran our standard video playback test (HD video at 50% brightness and sound) and Desire 820S lasted 4 hours 50 minutes, which is more than an hour less from most of its competitors.

Just to make the point clear, the smartphone was at standby (no Wi-fi or data was on) with 19% battery and I found it switched off after 6 hours. This is really not expected from a smartphone of this price point.

Another let-down is the storage restriction. HTC Desire 820S has 16 GB in-built storage and you can expand it up-to 32 GB via micro SD card. Yes you read it right, it is the upgraded version of Desire 820, which has the support of up-to 128 GB via micro SD card.

Talking about connectivity, Desire 820S integrates Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 2G/3G and 4G connectivity, so the smartphone is future proof if you want faster data connectivity. And like other HTC smartphones, we did not encounter any issues with the call quality on Desire 820S.

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