I am not going to lie, the launch and release of this smartphone went right by my nose. It was not until today that I managed to sit down and research what we have here after a nice picture of it caught my eye.

It is not over five weeks since the announcement and release of the HTC One M8 because they both went down on the same day. Funnily enough the Desire 816 was first announced even before that on the 24th of February. However, it has not seen a release in Europe until now. This handset is coming to the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Latvia, Serbia, Lithuania, and more. We already know Romania residents can buy it already. There’s more on that after the jump.

HTC Desire 816

If you want a new smartphone that looks like the M8, but doesn’t perform as well and costs much less than the Desire 816 is the best device for you. I loved the look of the M8 and I equally enjoy the design aspects here too.

The new Desire 816 has a 5.5-inch display. That is 0.5 of an inch bigger than the flagship m8. That is about the only time it manages to beat out the 2014 flagship for HTC. The screen resolution is 720 x 1280 pixels and it has a pixel density of 267 ppi. The technology behind the display is S-LCD 2. It is a multi-touch touchscreen and it also comes with a light sensor and a proximity sensor. The OS is an impressive Android 4.4.2 KitKat right out of the box and I can tell you that is nothing newer than this, although many devices are now starting to receive it OTA in updates including handsets that are mid-range and old. Arguably a bit of a let down is the Sense 5.5 in this case. HTC has developed Sense 6.0 now and we are not sure why they would not release that same UI for this device. It could be they are mixing and matching features so that the HTC M8 does have enough supremacy to be above smartphones like this one here. The good news is that there is nothing special about Sense 6.0 and it also can be updated over the air so in the future that update likely will come to this Desire.

Arguably those specs that impressed me the most with this phone is a 13 megapixel camera. The M8 had a lackluster camera on board and they tried to cover it up by calling it “ultra pixels” instead oft he usual mega name tag that we all know. Doing so made people think that it was high when, in fact, is wasn’t at all. The Galaxy S5 blew the M8 out of the water in terms of image quality with the snapper. The camera also has LED, an aperture size of F2.2 and a focal length of 28mm. The cameras also have auto focus, face detection, touch to focus, Geo tagging, High dynamic range mode and smile detection so it will time the photos to perfection or at least better than the average human. It also has an impressive 5 megapixel front-facing snapper.

Here’s where things get a bit shaky. On the hardware side of things, there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8928 system chip. Performance-Wise that is way down from challenging the best of today that are the Snapdragon 801. Even that is increasing to Snapdragon 805 during 2014. It does have a Quad core, 1600 MHz, ARM Cortex-A7 processor. Not to be confused with the Apple A7 chip we know entered the iPhone 5S. It is a similar name but a completely different (and weaker) processor here. The good news is that it does have the Adreno 305 graphics processor. System memory is not too bad coming in at 1536 MB RAM and it has 8 GB of internal memory built-in. That gets bumped to a further 128 GB of external storage space if you want to buy the microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC expansion memory cards. The SD card options also ‘double’ as a good way to backup the device so I recommend them.

To conclude, this is a nice mid-range smartphone that looks the part and to the untrained eye you could not even tell the difference between it and the 2014 flagship from the same company that cost more than double of what this does. The Desire 816 costs around $405 US in Romania, or in their native currency 1,299 RON. If you want looks, combined with a Dual SIM which can be a legal requirement when travelling from country to country in Europe then this is a great buy. It does not do anything unique, it does not carry any feature we do not already know about, but it does provide great value when we look at the specs.

Some people have a problem with the battery is not “user replaceable” meaning that it cannot be changed, but all the HTC handsets that we know about having the same problem, including the “All New One.” HTC has it in the books that this device will give 21 hours talk time and a stand-by time of 30 days with the 2600 mAh capacity. The battery fiasco is not an issue for most people as the battery will see out the life comfortably up until users are ready to buy their next smartphones. However, if you are one to worry and never feel too secure it might be a headache you could do without for the time being. Make that judgment calls yourself.