HTC announced a range of new handsets in mid 2016, including the 5 inch Desire 630 and the 5.5 inch Desire 825. The 825 has recently been released on the Irish market through Meteor and we’re taking a look at it today.
When this handset was announced much was made of its fashion conscious design, including a ‘micro splash’ effect on the rear which created a unique pattern for each and ever handset. It sounds nice on the page but our review unit was plain black so we didn’t get a chance to see it in person.
Apart from that it’s a very slick looking handset, with a matte, slightly textured feel on the back that’s easy to grip and feels good in the hand. It may be made of plastic but there’s a really solid feel to the 825, without any creaks or flexing.
On the front you’ll find the large 5.5 inch screen, with a speaker up top and your capacitive back, home and switch tab buttons set off the screen on the bottom. This can be a matter of preference for some user but I prefer when those buttons aren’t take up screen real estate.
The right hand side has a volume rocker and a large red sleep/wake button which adds a splash of style and features a nice texture that makes it easy to locate. The other side houses the microSD and sim card slots but I’m pleased to say are accessible without the need to locate a one of those pins that are always lost when you need them.
The back is sleek with subtle HTC branding and a rather large and protruding camera module at the top left. It doesn’t make the handset rock too much when its on a flat surface and I’d always recommend having a case on your phone anyway. The top has the headphone port and the bottom a large speaker and a red area to attach a lanyard.
The HTC Desire 825 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor inside and 2 gigs of RAM, alongside 16 gigs of storage, expandable by 128 gigs with a microSD card. So it’s not the fastest handset on the planet, competing more in the mid range.
Still in my time it never felt sluggish dealing with normal tasks, with only a hitch or two using graphically intensive games. The menus and transitions are smooth and you’ll find multitasking to be a breeze.
Part of that is down to HTC’s approach to the Android operating system. They’ve worked extensively with Google to create a skin that’s remarkably close to stock Android Marshmallow, and also refrained from adding any useless bloatware.
That’s a very refreshing change which was first seen in the HTC 10 and continues here, complete with deep integration of native apps like Google Photos for free image backup and convenience. Why have two apps when you can just have the best?
Another aspect which has been inherited from the HTC 10 is a focus on audio. The 825 features dual speakers at the top and bottom of the handset and they’re genuinely some of the best around.
With these speakers you don’t just get volume (though they are seriously loud!) there’s also great clarity and depth and a number of options to suit your ears. It pumps out 24-bit sound which is still relatively uncommon in the smartphone world.
HTC made big leaps with their HTC 10 in terms of camera quality and the 825 doesn't quite follow suit. There’s a 13 MP snapper on the back and a 5 MP camera on the front. The rear cam has an f.2.2 aperture and promises good low light performance but results are pretty muddy in all but the brightest conditions.
There’s also a disappointingly weak flash on the back and a somewhat bleary autofocus. When it does get a lock the camera is capable of decent results, and the UI is agreeably streamlined. It’s nice to see easily accessible burst and panorama modes and selfie performance is decent.
Videos at 1080p are detailed enough in generous lighting conditions but again struggle when things get dim, with a lot of noise and focus searching. With a bit of effort you can get good results out of this camera but it’s far from market leading.
Battery life is decent, with around a day of mixed use- email, music and a few photos. Expect lots of video or gaming time to bring that number down quite a bit though HTC does include a number of battery saving options, including an Extreme mode, that can keep you going much longer.
The HTC Desire 825 is a likeable handset. It looks well and is easy to use despite the large screen size, while also managing to be impressively light in the hand. Other colours are set to arrive at the market later but I actually quite like the subdued style of this black model.
It’s not the fastest device around and the camera quality could be better but if you’re a fan of using your phone as a speaker for high quality audio there’s no competition in this price bracket. Available now across Ireland from Meteor and Carphone Warehouse at €219.