Hands-On: HTC Caters To Vanity, Desire EYE Selfie Phone Brings Dual 13PM Cameras, RE Lifestyle Camera

HTC scrapped plans to debut a smartwatch during its press event on Wednesday evening -- the company just isn't feeling the wearable category at the moment -- but don't worry, it didn't show up empty handed. On the contrary, HTC unveiled the RE (short for "remarkable"), a handheld camera it hopes will prove a GoPro killer, and the Desire Eye handset, a selfie focused smartphone that makes it incredibly easy to tap into your inner narcissist.

Let's start with the RE. At first glance, you might think HTC released a fancy high-tech breath inhaler or a miniature periscope for the vertically challenged. Both are incorrect -- it's actually a cross between a GoPro and a Flip camera, or as HTC's CEO put it, a GoPro "for the rest us."


The RE features a 1/2.3-inch Sony CMOS sensor and is capable of snapping 16-megapixel photos. To start and stop shooting video, you give the large-size button on the back a long press rather than a quick tap. As to the overall design, HTC says it's been built to fit "seamlessly" in your hand.


Alternately, you can press the button on the front to record slow motion video clips, a feature that's fast becoming vogue among amateur video buffs -- Apple also implemented the ability to record slow motion video in its iPhone 6 Plus (though not the regular iPhone 6).

HTC RE Side HTC RE Side 2

The HTC RE features a 146-degree wide angle lens. You'll notice there's no viewfinder, an intentional omission to make recording video less distracting and perhaps more spur of the moment. It also would have been difficult to add a viewfinder and maintain the RE's waterproof design -- you can take the RE underwater to a depth of 1 meter, a handy feature for pool parties, snorkeling, and the like.

There are both Android and iOS apps available to control and access the RE, as it's intended to work with smartphones without being physically tethered to them. HTC is also providing an SDK for app developers, and will introduce a live streaming function down the line.

Look for the RE to ship in time for the holidays for around $199. If you're antsy, you can place your pre-order today, though only in orange or white (navy blue is a color option that will only be available at Best Buy).

HTC Desire Eye Front

Moving on, the HTC Desire Eye was the other big reveal. This is a handset that capitalizes on the sudden infatuation with selfies (thanks, Snapchat!), and what's different about the way the Desire Eye handles them is that you simply raise the phone, smile (or make a goofy face), and use your voice to snap a photo or start recording. It's also unique in that it sports a 13-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash on the front of the device.

HTC Desire Back

Same goes for the back -- there's that 13-megapixel camera again, along with dual-LED flash. Both are capable of recording 1080p video at 30 frames per second. However, the one on the back has an f/2.0 aperture and a 28mm lens and the one on the front features a wider 20mm lens and smaller f/2.2 aperture.

Having two high-quality cameras allows the Desire Eye to pull off some neat tricks. For example, there's a Split Capture mode that divides the screen in half using both cameras for photos and videos, and a Crop Me In mode that allows you to shoot a single photo using both cameras.

HTC Desire Eye

There will be different color options for the Desire Eye, with the red model shown above. As to the hardware and feature-set, the phone sports a 5.2-inch display powered by a Snapdragon 801 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC support, a micro USB port, front-facing stereo speakers, 2400mAh battery, and Android 4.4 KitKat.

Watch for the HTC Desire Eye to launch exclusively at AT&T soon, followed by a wider roll out to more carriers.