The Desire Eye’s dual 13-megapixel cameras are its biggest hooks. The selfie cam in particular is probably the reason this phone even exists – there simply isn’t another front-facing camera that’s this beefed up. Both front shooters are equipped with a dual-LED flash and autofocus, but differ in certain optical characteristics, leading them to vary in actual photo quality.
To be specific, the back camera has an f/2.0 aperture and a narrower viewing angle, while the front-facing camera offers a more closed aperture of f/2.2, but a wider viewing angle to fit more people into a selfie shot. HTC’s UI is identical for both cameras – just swipe a finger from left to right to change sides and off you go.
Despite having the same resolution as the front-facing camera, the rear unit takes better photographs on the whole. Its shots are more precisely exposed, include an above average level of detail, and maintain good white balance without oversaturating colors. More attention will go to its front-facing companion, but the main camera here is a wholesale upgrade over the “Ultrapixel” cams of the last two One phones, and that’s significant. It isn’t on the level of an iPhone or Lumia, but it’s a reason to be excited for future HTC devices.
The front-facing camera, meanwhile, is a little more disappointing in practice. Its photos tend to come out too grainy and off-color, with things going especially haywire in low-light settings. Having a dedicated flash helps, but it doesn’t free the cam from all focusing issues. It’d be underwhelming if this unit was on the back on the phone, in other words. Still, the high megapixel count means it can capture plenty of detail, the wide-angle lens does its job well, and the exposure and white balance of its shots are usually pretty precise. Ultimately, this camera is just too strong to be anything less than the best selfie machine on the market — even if it doesn’t blow the usual cameras out of the water the way its specs would suggest. Either way, getting this pair of cameras on a midrange phone like this is great value.
The Desire Eye packs flagship hardware packed into upper midrange body, providing the kind of display, performance, and battery life you’d normally get from a phone $100-200 more expensive. That alone makes this phone a winner (if you can live with a slightly outdated OS), but its dual 13-megapixel cameras are what really make it stand out. If you find yourself craving a better class of selfie, you won’t do much better than the Desire Eye.