HTC plonks a ridiculously specced camera on the front of its Desire Eye smartphone and changes the way we take photos of ourselves forever
TAKE ONE LOOK AT FACEBOOK, Twitter or Instagram and one thing becomes clear: we love taking photos of ourselves. It’s not hard to see why selfies have become the most common way to take snaps these days: they show that we’ve physically been somewhere, and frontfacing cameras mean that we can line up shots to perfectly capture our noggins in any exotic locale we choose.
HTC’s new phone, the Desire Eye, is a smartphone explicitly targeted at the vainest generation of all time. At first glance it may look like any run-of-the-mill handset, but your eye is immediately drawn to the freakishly large front-facing camera above the centre of the screen. Within it lurks a 13-megapixel sensor complete with a dual-LED flash and 1080p video recording, which is pretty much the same as the smartphone’s more conventional rear-facing snapper.
As well as the super-specced shooter, the Desire Eye includes specialist selfie software. A Split Capture mode snaps forward and backward-facing pics at the same time so you can record your position in time and space. Face tracking will zoom in on the faces of up to four people, which is handy for conference calls, and voice selfie triggers the camera with phrases such as “cheese”, “smile” or “please acknowledge me because I’ve just spent a fortune on make-up”.
It would be easy to dismiss the Desire Eye as a novelty smartphone for the narcissistic, but it’s actually pretty good in its own right. It packs a 5.2-inch 1080p display, a 2400mAh battery and an IPX7 rating, which makes it kind of waterproof. The processor, memory and wireless connectivity are identical to HTC’s topof-the-line One (M8), which we regard as 2014’s Phone of the Year.
In fact, the only thing that lets it down slightly is its plastic build, but its soft-touch finish does mean it feels a decent notch above your average polycarbonate smartphone. It’s not quite in the same pricing league as Apple and Samsung’s premium iPhone and Alpha handsets, but it’s likely HTC is prepping its One (M8) follow-up for release in autumn of next year.
The Desire Eye could become the musthave phone for the self-obsessed, or it could simply flop into the same realm of forgotten novelty products as HTC’s Facebook-specific First phone. Either way, there’s no denying that the ante for selfies has been upped, and we’re expecting future frontfacing cameras from other manufacturers to follow suit. $799, HTC.COM/AU, OUT NOW
1 REAR VIEW
The Desire Eye’s rear camera eschews the Ultrapixel technology found on the One (M8) in favour of a more conventional sensor. It boasts an f/2 28mm lens, which makes it easier to
achieve pro effects.
2 THE FRONT LINE
Round the front you’ll find a
f/2.2 22mm lens, which gives a wider angle of view so you can show a little more background and squeeze in more of your
3 SLIMMED DOWN
At 8.5mm, the Desire Eye is almost a full millimetre slimmer than the One (M8), but still not quite as slim as the iPhone 6 (6.9mm) or Samsung Galaxy Alpha
(6.7mm) – see p30. It weighs in at 154g, more than both Apple and Samsung’s handsets.
4 SIXTH SENSE
Like the majority of HTC phones, the Desire Eye runs Android 4.4 with the Sense
6 UI over the top. Its specialist selfie camera features will be rolled out to other HTC phones in the
near future, too.
With front and back cameras that shoot simultaneously, you can capture both yourself and your surroundings