HTC aims for the Mona Lisa of #selfies with HTC Desire Eye and its 13MP front camera



“Watch out, Mona Lisa… you’ve got some competition.”

HTC has been studying consumer behavior and they’ve noticed something about you: you’ve been taking an awful lot of selfies. Unfortunately, even on today’s newest flagship phones, front facing cameras are severely limited in capabilities compared to their rear facing counterparts. The megapixels are usually capped at about 5, there’s no flash, lowlight quality is hideous, and unless you’re in the most amiable of photographic conditions the final product is often mediocre at best. Why should consumers have to make such a huge compromise on an activity that takes up a good portion of their phone’s use?

According to HTC product managers, you shouldn’t have to compromise. And with the newly announced HTC Desire Eye smartphone, you won’t have to: it makes selfie compromising a thing of the past by stuffing two 13MP cameras into the device (one front and one rear). It doesn’t stop there, though: both front and rear cameras have dual LED flash.

That’s right. The HTC Desire Eye has a 13MP front facing camera with Dual LED Flash. Watch out, Mona Lisa… you’ve got some competition. Beautiful 13MP selfie-galore is on the way.

Other key HTC Desire Eye specs:

  • 5.2-inch screen
  • 2.3GHz Quadcore processor (Snapdragon 801)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB onboard memory
  • MicroSD slot
  • Zero Gap Construction
  • Front camera: 22 millimeter SLR equivalent
  • Rear camera: 28 millimeter SLR equivalent
  • 2400 mAh battery

See the full HTC Desire Eye spec sheet

In case you’re wondering, the 22mm equivalent vs the 28mm equivalent is deliberate decision that will help capture more people in one photo by having a wider field of view.

Beyond the Megapixels

Putting such a powerful camera on the front of a smartphone is a pleasant departure from the norm, but the Desire Eye doesn’t only aim at being a camera beast in the hardware department. HTC is investing a lot of time and energy into creating a more complete photography experience that includes software features and services, too.

Some simple ones you’ll find both familiar and helpful:

  • An auto-selfie mode will snap a picture when it detects subjects are smiling.
  • Voice commands like “say cheese” and “rolling” will trigger the shutter and video recording.
  • Split capture mode functions like the popular app Front Back.
  • Crop Me In lets you copy yourself in one picture and paste it in another
  • Others include: Face Tracking, Screen Share, Face Fusion, Live Makeup, Photo Booth

The most gimmicky feature might be my favorite: it’s called “crop me in” but it would more appropriately be named “photobomb”. As you can probably guess it cuts you out of a selfie, then allowing you to insert yourself in another picture. Our friends on Google+ might be reminded of a similar featured from a few months back when David Hasselhoff photobombed everyone auto-awesome style for April Fools.

These features (and more) will debut with the Desire Eye as part of the “Eye Experience” but they’re indicative of a bigger HTC shift towards enabling consumer tech experiences beyond traditional smartphones. You should not only expect the Eye Experience to roll out to other HTC smartphones, but also other devices (both Android and iOS) and other product categories. HTC seems set on identifying and fulfilling unmet needs, something the Desire Eye certainly achieves.

Zoe camera

One piece of software that illustrates this shift is HTC’s Zoe camera. In addition to becoming compatible with all Android devices with Android 4.3 and up, HTC will also offer an iOS client starting next year.

What’s new in Zoe camera on the Desire Eye? It’s got a collaborative feature that could be pretty impressive. We’ve seen phone manufacturers and social networks explore the concept of grouping together media by location and relationships and automatically generating highlight reels; now HTC is bringing similar functionality to Zoe. Imagine friends at a baseball game all pooling their resources together, all easily able to gain access to eachother’s pics and mash their collective media into a short, compelling clip that tells a story. And get this: you can collaborate with an unlimited number of people, including strangers.

One small addition that Instagrammers will appreciate is the ability to automatically share to Instagram, something that’s been missed in Zoe to date.

What about Boom Sound?

My first reaction to seeing the “we don’t compromise” 13MP front camera was, “but what about Boom Sound”? It was (and still is) one of my favorite features on the HTC One M8 (among other devices). Given the engineering required to pack the camera tech into that tiny frame and seeing the absence of the huge speaker grills, I assumed Boom Sound was the compromise.



That was not the case: smaller speaker grills, yes, but Boom Sound is alive and well on the top and bottom of the HTC Desire Eye. Cranking the volume up still yields beautifully crisp, clear, and loud audio. Yahtzee!

Rock Solid, Rock On

The Desire Eye was manufactured with a shock injection molding process that creates a device with:

  • Optimal structural integrity (rock solid)
  • A pretty awesome 2 color/material design (rock on)


Structural integrity has been a hot topic lately, so you’ll feel safe knowing that the Desire Eye “won’t warp and creek” from regular wear and tear or create gaps and crevices over time that will catch hair and dust and other unpleasant things. And no, this is not a warrant or license to start trying to bend it in half like an idiot.

Pricing & Availability

Perhaps the most disappointing feature of the HTC Desire Eye is that – at least for now – it’s an AT&T exclusive. Pricing and availability remain to be seen, but HTC representatives described it as the “flagship of the Desire phones” which means considerably more affordable than the HTC One M8 but the most expensive of the Desire phones.

At the moment the only secondary color for the Desire Eye will be the red pictured above but, if we had to guess, other colors will soon follow-namely blue and white. Expect the phone to launch in time for the holidays.

HTC Desire Eye Pictures and Hands-on Video

HTC Desire Eye Forums

Questions about the Desire Eye? Planning on getting one? Can’t decide? Head on over to our HTC Desire Eye Forums to discuss with other Android enthusiasts, courtesy of Android Forums.

There you have it, the HTC selfie machine makes no compromises. But be warned: avoiding compromising selfies themselvies is still up to yousies.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

HTC RE vs. GoPro: which is the better portable camera?

Previous article

HTC RE: $199 GoPro alternative to easily capture life’s special moments [VIDEO]

Next article

You may also like


  1. Again, with the double bezel on the bottom…

    1. Otherwise,a nicely spec’d phone,a shame that they didn’t reach back further in the past to the M7 & restore the capacitive buttons….

      1. Seriously. If you’re going to have that space be solid black, you might as well throw some buttons on there.

        1. You know the speaker is right under the bottom bezel. God damn

          1. Just gonna throw one of HTC’s very recent quotes right back in their face:

            “We honestly don’t think they’ve gotten it right”.

          2. Just because you don’t like, does not mean anything. But hey I guess you design phone for a living so you must know better. Oh right you don’t

          3. On the HTC Design team are we?

            Chill out dude, or, must one be a fanboi to post comments?

            I’ll run my comments by you first next time, OK?

          4. I am not the one riding the bandwagon here. People like love to hate but can do any better.

          5. OK,so you’re saying that since I’m not an engineer or developer that I shouldn’t voice my opinions if they happen to be less than favorable to the phone/etc?

            Your post screams of fanboism & your logic is asinine at best,later dude…………..

          6. Lol you are funny, I don’t think you can see your own asinine logic if it hit you in the face. In many of your post you pretty much say unless you like it then it is not right. You voice your opinion like it is the end all be all.

          7. I think they got it absolutely right. I mean… there is such an obvious need for Boom Sound but they’re the only ones who have really done it right (unless you want to count the G’zOne Commando). Speakers on the front just make sense. Having a halfway decent camera pointing forward is the same thing…why wouldn’t you?

            This device has both and it’ll be cheaper than the HTC One M8. They’re getting a bunch of stuff right IMO and innovating in ways that are actually useful and productive based on existing observations about the way people use their phones.

          8. I guess we can agree to disagree on what’s important on a phone.

            Even though I have the OPPO N1,which has that crazy-ass swivel camera,I’ve yet to use it in “selfie-mode”.

            As for the dual Front-facing speakers,one would suffice for me,especially if having a 2nd one results in a cluttered screen w/the virtual navigation buttons.I’m good w/bottom or rear speaker(s).

            HTC does do a lot of things right.I’m a big fan of BLINKFEED & SENSE TV.

            But,just as w/most mfgs,they shoot themselves in the foot,or,it’s planned obsolescense,borking it w/the JayLeno chin once again.

            Make an M8-spec’d phone w/this camera & capacitive buttons & I’ll be back in HTC’s camp again.

          9. Your point is…?

          10. That is where the speakers are. That is the point.

    2. Double bezel? It’s a single bezel with glass that doesn’t extend all the way. If you like the screen cracking with every drop, then they may be able to extend the glass to the edge, as every other manufacturer likes to do. Do bezel haters also complain about doors on their cars? “Doors make the car too wide.”

  2. Any word on BLINKFEED/I-R Blaster/Wireless Charging?

    1. No IR from the looks of it. No wireless charging either, but Blinkfeed IS there.

  3. I’m guessing I’m the only one who likes this phone…

    1. Even if that were true,don’t let that be a deterrent in picking it up. :-)

      1. I hear ya Kolio. But its for AT&T..I Have Magenta. Eyes are on the Z3..preferably Z3 compact…. I’m disappointed by the Nexus 6…I may just keep my trusty GS3 and slap CM11 on it…..and wait until something interests me..: )

        1. CM11 is nice, it’ll breathe new life into the GS3,enough until something you like rolls out.

  4. Why the hell does it have to be an exclusive….

    1. My biggest complaint. The rest of the package is kind of hard to argue with depending on price.

      1. Apparently it’s just a launch exclusive. Probably will make it to other carriers. But it doesn’t make any logic anyway. If you want to expand, and make a big deal about this particular phone, might as well make it available at least in the big 3, at least.

  5. So, there was no M8 EYE?

    1. I guess not. Unless they do a random launch without a big conference. Plus, apparently it’s some sort of chinese exclusive, so we wont be seeing much.

    2. It has similar specs to the M8, just no metal body.

    3. For now it looks like the only news is that the m8 eye is available to pre-order in China.

  6. no removable battery? not waterproof? although the 13mp up front is better than anything else out there, it’s prob the same 13mp as the E8 which was pretty poor. phone manufacturers really should spend a little more and put in good cameras. waterproof it, wireless charging, removable battery. and then offer that in dif screen sizes, 4, 4.7, 5, 5.5, 6 and correspondingly larger batteries for each. why is this so hard for them?

    1. It is waterproof, down to one meter for 30 minutes.

  7. If it comes to Verizon, and if it’s black/red (or just black)…then this will likely replace my Galaxy Nexus.

  8. I might be the only one that absolutely LOVES what they did with the speaker grills. HTC is showing that it’s possible to throw on front facing speakers without making them overly massive. I’m sure some of the front bezel has something to do with the speakers, but I’m not a person that minds a little bezel so I love it.

  9. This phone is awesome. I love what they’ve done with the cameras and flashes… yes…flashES, the boom sound, not to mention it’ll come with latest version of sense. HTC are really trying to stand out from the pack. Might have to give up my G3 for this.

  10. Buying it!

  11. If it’s not aluminum it’s not premium. I’m not going to buy.

  12. Samsung note 4 for me. Been with htc since 2006, time to let it go and try something new. Complete let down.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Featured