HTC Desire 816. Photo: AFP
The new HTC Desire 816 proves that plastic can be chic and that a handset aimed at the mid-tier can be packed full of premium touches.
The Taiwanese firm won't be taking the wraps off its 2014 flagship phone (the replacement for the HTC One) until March, but if it's anything like the Desire 816, launched Monday at the mobile World Congress, there's a lot to get excited about.
Essentially a flagship for everyone else, the HTC Desire 816 is a mid-range phone in the same sense that the iPhone 5C is.
As the company's CEO, Peter Chou, explains: "The HTC Desire 816 marks the beginning of an exciting new era for the mid-tier. Incomparably beautiful to look at and hold with the technology and software to match, the HTC Desire 816 challenges everything that people expect from lower cost smartphones. It is bringing genuine choice to the category by delivering stunning design and high-end performance at unbelievable value."
Technically a phablet because its 720p display measures 5.5 inches, the Desire also packs a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and, to prove that it has its finger on the pulse of popular culture, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.
Combine that with the phone's huge screen and you've got the ultimate selfie handset.
In terms of design, the Desire takes its cues from the HTC One, but is closer to an homage in plastic. The screen is pretty much side to side -- so with a very small bezel -- and there are no physical buttons so the device won't feel too big in smaller hands.
And while HTC will be pricing the handset competitively (however it is yet to confirm pricing) it will also be offering a smaller, less powerful phone in the form of the Desire 610. Its qHD display is only 4.7-inches and its cameras (8 megapixel and 1.3 megapixel) lose a bit of resolution, but it will still offer the same look and feel as its big brother.
What's more, both handsets will offer superior audio playback thanks to built-in BoomSound stereo speakers. However, the Beats technology found in HTCs of old is missing after the two companies went their separate ways at the end of 2013.
The HTC Desire 816 will launch globally in April and the 610 is expected to follow in May.