The HTC Desire 820 comes in a slick white box like most HTC phones lately.
Inside however there is nothing too over the top. The phone itself comes on a separate elevated tray inside a nice sleeve protector with some initial instructions for SIM and SD card installation.
Besides a few leaflets, the Desire 820 is also bundled with a few essentials. A pretty standard 1A wall charger is included, as well as a sturdy USB cable and a pair of headphones.
The headset is nothing spectacular, but it is definitely a nice little touch that we were happy to see, having discovered that the HTC Desire Eye did not include one. This might be a regional bundling thing, we can't say for sure.
The HTC Desire 820 comes in a surprisingly this body measuring only 7.7mm. This is an improvement over the Desire 816 with a whole 0.2mm which does not sound like a lot, but is definitely noticeable.
On the other hand the camera on the Desire 820 is rather uncomfortably big and very protruding. While this does serve as a welcome highlight on the otherwise standard look of the device, the camera really gets in the way during regular use.
We found ourselves constantly smudging and touching it while handling the device. The lens is also placed so near to the edge of the device that you have to be extremely careful while shooting in landscape mode so you don't accidentally cover it.
As already mentioned the Desire 820 really follows current HTC design trends with its two-color unibody and nicely rounded corners. It is reminiscent of the Desire 816, but the Taiwanese tech giant has really been taking notes and a lot of what annoyed us with that device is now rethought, but sadly the phone is far from perfect design and material-wise.
The lock button is something we have had a long grudge with. HTC seems to be taking steps to address the issue as it has been moved once again. The initial placement above the screen, like in the flagship One M8 was quite inconvenient especially in a tall device.
On the Desire 816 it was oddly moved to the left side of the device, above the volume rockers, which is an improvement, but not ideal.
Now it seems that the Desire 820 finally got it right (as the key is literally on the right-hand side). Seeing how the device is even higher than its predecessor, measuring in at 157.7mm, it was only logical that the button should be placed in a more convenient and reachable location.
The left side now houses a neatly covered department with slots for a one or two SIM chips, depending on the model, plus a SD card.
Speaking of dimensions, the phablet is fairly sizable for a 5.5-inch device. The bezels are relatively thin on the sides making for 78.74mm in total width, which is still in the comfort zone for one-hand operation, although only barely. The front-facing speakers do, however make for a pretty tall device, but the extra height does not automatically translate to more weight and the unit weighs 155g and feels nicely balanced.
Materials on the Desire 820 once again instill mixed feelings. On one hand, the top and bottom plastic plates encasing the BoomSound speakers are made of a nice matte plastic. But on the other, it is really a shame that the rest of the unibody is coated with less than premium glossy material, which happens to be in love with finger-prints.
The ease with which it gets smudged is almost ridiculous, so you can expect a full set of prints ready for forensic analysis to constantly adorn the back plate. In addition to being a grease-magnet, the plastic in question is also surprisingly easy to scuff and scratch. Our review unit got scratched without ever leaving the office and with zero exposure to pockets or cases.
For some reason HTC has also dealt away with the metal buttons on the Desire 816 and replaced them with plastic ones. The color accents surrounding them fit nicely with the camera and front. One may argue that it is all in the name of a unified design signature, but we can't help bet miss the metal details, which, while scarce, seem to add a bit of a premium feel to a device.
At the end of the day the Desire 820 does fit nicely into HTC's current design vision and despite the imperfect choice of materials it feels sturdy enough to last. Some of the aforementioned design elements really bring down the overall impression and take away a lot of the premium feel, but then again the Desire 820 is intended as a mid-ranged device.
Taking a look around the HTC Desire 820 we can't miss its prominent large front-facing speakers. The BoomSound offers superb audio quality, not unlike the One (M8) and are strategically placed as far apart as possible to ensure maximum stereo effect.
The front bears an uncanny resemblance to the HTC Desire 816, which is only natural, given that the display is identical.
The front-facing camera is in the exact same position and you have to really look at it closely to notice the larger lens size. The BSI sensor has been bumped up to 8MP and now offers even better quality shots and 1080p video recording.
Right below the camera is a cleverly concealed status LED that lights up when charging and blinks for notification. You can chose which events trigger the light - missed calls, messages, email, calendar events and alarms.
The bezel is not excessive but does strike as a little too wide at the top and bottom of the screen. It almost feels like HTC intended to fit a larger display on the handset, but decided to go with 5.5-inches at the last minute.
The logo on the bottom black strip does fill up some of the space but we can't help but feel that the whole area would be perfect for two dedicated buttons. Sadly, HTC has decided to go down the simpler road with only software Back and Menu buttons available.
The main 13MP camera is a very prominent design feature on the Desire 820. As already mentioned, it is rather oddly placed at the very edge of the top left corner of the device. The rather physically large lens is framed by a circular plastic rim it and definitely draws the attention to itself.
Holding the device with two hands in portrait mode can consequently be a hustle as one hand needs to be slightly offset for the camera to be exposed. It is simply a little annoying that you have to be constantly aware of where your hands are when shooting. We can't help but feel that this was absolutely avoidable by the design team.
The main shooter also protrudes quite a lot which means that it is inevitably going to get scuffed or scratched. And if the rest of the plastic is any indication for material quality, we can only imagine that it won't be long until photos start to come out blurry and fuzzy.
Speaking of the back panel it is part of the unibody design and is thus non-removable, just like the one on the Desire 816. It houses the 2,600 mAh Li-Po battery, which really seems rather unprepared to handle the power requirements, but more on that later.
SIM and SD slots are positioned on the side of the Desire 820, nicely tugged away behind a plastic flap in their own little compartment. We weren't too eager to play around with it as it seems kind of flimsy and could potentially suffer if caught on a pocket edge or other piece of clothing.
On the other hand, this setup does offer ease of access to the cards and is a welcome sight with all the recent cradle and caddy designs, which are often a struggle.
The top of the phablet features a 3.5mm audio jack and a secondary mic for noise cancellation. The bottom is home to just the microUSB 2.0 port. It supports USB On-The-Go so you can hook up a mouse, -keyboard or external storage.