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HTC brings style to the mid-range segment with the Desire 816 (hands-on)

The new Desire 816 is the company's flagship for a new mid-tier lineup and sports a design based on the One series of devices.

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Aloysius Low
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Aloysius Low

Senior Editor

Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.

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BARCELONA, Spain -- Dubbed the new flagship handset for its mid-tier range, the Desire 816 packs plenty of personality in its 5.5-inch form factor. While it's not HTC M8 that's set for a debut in New York on March 25, there's still plenty to like.

The HTC Desire 816 is the company's stylish mid-tier flagship. Aloysius Low/CNET

For one, the Desire 816 is patterned after the HTC One range -- but in plastic. Before you shake your head in disapproval though, I'd like to point out that the phone actually looks and feels pretty good. HTC seems to have taken a page from the Apple iPhone 5C with a glossy rear, and it comes in bright colors too.

Hey, this looks familiar. Aloysius Low/CNET

The 5.5-inch HD (1,280x720-pixels) was bright and clear, and had excellent viewing angles. I wasn't allowed to try out the UI though -- HTC said the UI just wasn't ready, but I did manage to catch a glimpse of the BlinkFeed screen, and I quite liked its look.

HTC's Desire 816 has a 5.5-inch HD screen and a cheery coloured chassis (pictures)

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While it doesn't come with HTC's Ultrapixel camera, HTC has packed a 5-megapixel front camera for people who like taking selfies, and while you can't use the front camera for HTC's Zoe, it will record HD video. On the back is a 13-megapixel camera, similar to what you'll find on the current flagship handsets.

The smartphone comes packing a rear 13-megapixel camera. Aloysius Low/CNET
A front 5-megapixel camera means high-resolution selfies. Aloysius Low/CNET

Rounding up the package is LTE connectivity -- though depending on where the handset launches, it will come in a dual-SIM flavor. HTC told me that this is actually a dual-active version, so both SIM cards will be running 3G at the same time.

HTC hasn't yet announced a price for the Desire 816, but I was told that it would be very competitive against current mid-tier smartphones. Expect to see the handset available globally sometime in Q2.

The phone has front-facing camera as well as BoomSound. Aloysius Low/CNET