As mentioned above, the Desire Eye is equipped with Qualcomm’s frequently used Snapdragon 801 SoC, which comes with four Krait 400 cores running at 2.3 GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU. It also carries the standard 2 GB of RAM. In practice, such internals — combined with a 1080p display, Android 4.4.4 (KitKat), and HTC’s Sense UI 6.0 skin — help the phone run fast in just about any everyday situation. Scrolling through Sense yields very few moments of stuttering or glitching, apps consistently load fast, and graphically demanding games run without a hitch the vast majority of the time.
The Snapdragon 801 is technically a last-generation chipset at this point, so it’s a bit slower than newer phones in benchmark testing, but the differences between it and its successors on a phone like this are barely noticeable in day-to-day use unless you set out to find them. One of the feasible benefits of performance increases becoming so marginal over the years is that you can get close to high-end speed at a less-than-high-end price, so it’s nice to see that HTC hasn’t been stingy with its midrange model here.
On the storage front, the Desire Eye comes with a meager 16 GB by default — but thankfully that can be expanded with microSD cards up to 128 GB, which is plenty of room for holding all your self-portraits.
The Desire Eye comes with a non-removable 2400 mAh battery that’s usually good for around a day and a half of life with normal use. This is one area where the Desire Eye is inferior to the One (M8) on the spec sheet, as that flagship had a slightly larger 2600 mAh pack. Nevertheless, the battery here is slightly above-average for a smartphone in this price range, and should get you through your average workday with few complaints. If you do find yourself running out of juice, however, HTC’s Sense software has a nifty extreme power saver mode that limits the phone to its most essential functions but squeezes a few more hours out of its dying breaths.
HTC’s Sense UI 6.0 is back running the show here, and it’s pretty much identical to the skin we reviewed with the One (M8). It still alters the look of Android fairly significantly, but does a good job of not totally changing the feel of it. It can’t hold a candle to the smoothness of stock Android, but it’s competent enough, comes with a few useful features (like the BlinkFeed news reader), and never feels too much in the way. It is due for an update, however.
More annoying is what’s running underneath Sense. The Desire Eye comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, which is stable enough, but now feels dated after the launch of Android 5.0 “Lollipop.” Lollipop is a major step forward for Google’s mobile OS in both looks and functionality, and while Sense may cover most of its visual changes up, it still feels wrong to have a new phone running old software. HTC hasn’t given any hints as to when the Desire Eye will get the upgrade either – though it has for the One (M8) and One (M7) — so it may be some time before Desire owners get up to speed.