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Hands-on with HTC’s new selfie monster, the Desire EYE

The first part of the hardware story at HTC’s ‘Double Exposure’ event in New York; the HTC Desire EYE is the latest landmark in the selfie phone story and we went hands-on with it.

Selfie monster: the HTC Desire EYE
Selfie monster: the HTC Desire EYE

We recently commended the Nokia Lumia 735 for its impressive selfie skills, but HTC just dropped a bomb with its new Desire EYE – an Android smartphone packing 13-megapixel cameras on the front and back, both with dual-tone LED flashes. We haven’t ever seen a handset from the Desire family boasting such high-end specs.

Underneath the Desire EYE is essentially a repackaged HTC One (M8) powered by the same quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, clocked at 2.3GHz and twinned to 2GB of RAM. Internal storage sits at 16GB, but you can also bump that up by an additional 128GB with a microSD card if you wish. To finish things off there’s a 5.2-inch Full HD LCD on the front, just underneath that massive selfie-snapper.

So what’s that name about? Where we’d usually see numbers, we’re given ‘EYE’, relating to the company’s new mobile imaging experience. HTC’s clearly been working hard to help give its handsets something special to stand out with and the HTC EYE experience is a major step in this direction.

The thicker, more colourful, more waterproof HTC Desire EYE underneath the HTC One (M8)
The thicker, more colourful, more waterproof HTC Desire EYE underneath the HTC One (M8)

Debuting on the Desire EYE, users can snap timed selfie and grab a picture-in-picture still or video using both the front and rear cameras, but the EYE update will actually let you superimpose your image from the front camera into the environment being captured in the back to create some on-the-fly pseudo-Photoshop fun.

Thanks to the robust hardware, the Desire EYE can also face track with what appears to be an impressive level of accuracy, letting you set the phone down during a video chat, whilst still letting you move around freely as view for the recipient remains cropped on your face. In fact, the system is smart enough to keep tabs on four faces at once, so an entire family could video chat with someone on a sofa, and all take centre stage.

This early prototype stand case will help prop the HTC Desire EYE up during serious selfie sessions or for video chat. A compatible Dot View cover is also in the works.

Despite the sensor bump, there’s still no 4K video recording, but by dropping the UltraPixel and Duo Camera technology of the One (M8) certain consumers may be able to more readily get behind the media offering doled out by the Desire EYE.

In the hand, this is a big device, but it’s got to make a big impression to ensure the company doesn’t run into financial trouble. We’re certainly intrigued, let’s just hope consumers will get to see the potential of the Desire EYE for themselves (ahem).