Comparing a mid-level smartphone to a high-end smartphone isn’t exactly what you’d call “playing fair” — then again, it’s not supposed to be. Here’s how the HTC Desire 816 stacks up against the HTC One M8.
Both devices run Android Kitkat 4.4.2 with Sense UI 6, although certain features found on the One M8 are missing in the Desire 816. Tap-to-wake is missing on the 816, as are the quick gestures to launch the camera. UFocus and Zoe are missing, too. Rounding up software, we doubt there will be a Google Play edition of the Desire 816, but thanks to all the refinements in Sense UI 6, there probably doesn’t need to be.
Speaking of the camera, on the surface, the Desire 816′s 13MP shooter looks like a huge improvement over the One M8′s 4MP sensor. In practice, images shot in perfect lighting have more detail and better resolution than the One M8. However, since many pics are shot in less than ideal situations, the One M8′s camera, despite having fewer megapixels, edges out over the Desire 816.
Despite their similar design, once you look a little deeper obvious differences surface between the Desire and the One become fairly evident. To start with, the Desire 816 is a little heavier than it’s “big” brother, weighing in at 5.82 ounces for the 816, compared to 5.64 ounces for the One M8. The batteries feature the same 2600 mAh capacity, but the screen on the Desire is a bit bigger: 5.5-inches versus the 5-incher in the One M8.
That’s not where the screen differences end. The Desire 816 uses a Super LCD2 panel with a 720P resolution at 267ppi. The One M8′s smaller screen uses LCD3 technology to deliver a 1080P resolution at 441ppi. Don’t let that fool you! The display on the Desire is big, bold, bright, and looks fantastic. HD video feels right at home on a more-than-adequately sized screen.
Flanking the screen on both devices are a pair of front-firing stereo speakers. Although the grills look different, thanks to BoomSound, both phones sound great!
Tucked neatly behind the glass of the Desire 816 is a 1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 and an Adreno 305 GPU. The One M8, on the other hand, is powered by a 2.3GHz (or 2.5GHz, depending on configuration) Snapdragon 801 with an Adreno 330 GPU.
The Desire also includes a bit less RAM, 1.5GB compared to the One’s 2GB. We’re glad HTC split the difference and didn’t go with a single gig here.
When it comes to data, both phones have LTE, though we haven’t been able to test how well it works on the Desire — it’s only compatible with T-Mobile’s EDGE bands. When it comes to WiFi, however, the Desire 816 doesn’t include the 5GHz band, which means it doesn’t have any 802.11a or ac like the One M8 does. For why that’s important make sure you check out our editorial.
Another wireless technology that’s missing from the Desire 816 is NFC. Though we can live without the Google Wallet and Isis features, not being able to tap to beam content from one device to another is a major disappointment.
Of course the HTC One M8 is going to win all the benchmark tests around. In practical use, we didn’t notice any lag, any slowdowns, or really any speed differences between the two phones. What we did notice, however, was how much longer the Desire 816 lasted when compared to the One M8, thanks to it’s lower resolution screen and “slower” SoC, battery life is significantly better on the Desire 816 than the One M8.
For a phone that’s supposed to be “mid-tier”, the Desire 816 seems like it’s a lot closer to the top-tier One M8 than it is to the bottom.