(Pocket-lint) - We might not have even got the HTC Desire 820 in the UK, but that hasn't stopped HTC announcing the Desire 826 at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, as it makes a quick-step change through one of its most popular devices in Asia.
The previous model was launched in September 2014, so HTC is moving fast on this level of device. HTC has previously told Pocket-lint that it's been really popular in Asia, where the combination of large display and affordability is a real winner.
The Desire 826 will be initially launched in Asia, with HTC hinting that it might eventually release elsewhere in the world, although we suspect that the forthcoming HTC M9 Hima will be the hero device we're all waiting for.
In the flesh the glossy looking phone is very much part of the company's Desire range rather than the metal-clad One series.
There's a distinction drawn through materials in HTC's devices and the playful use of colour brings a freshness into the plastic design, mixing the smooth gloss finish with the soft touch wrap-around side framing.
The Desire 826 measures 158 x 77.5 x 7.99mm and weighs 183g, close in dimensions to the existing Desire 820.
There's been a reconfiguration on the front, however, with the front camera now sitting in the centre, rather like the HTC Desire Eye. Also like the Eye, the 826 pushes the BoomSound speakers into slits, rather than them having drilled grilles in the front.
It might be plastic, but the Desire 826 feels solid in the hand. It's a nice device to hold and, although large given its 5.5-inch screen, reflecting HTC's great sense of design.
Hardware and display
The Desire 826 has a 1920 x 1080 resolution display, a step-up over the 720p of the Desire 820. At this 5.5-inch size that makes a difference and that should add appeal to this mid-range handset. We didn't have the time to fully evaluate the 401ppi display, but first impressions are good.
Like the previous model there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 64-bit octo-core chipset at the heart, with a slightly higher clock speed, along with 2GB RAM.
On the storage front you get 16GB, presumably to keep costs down, however there is a microSD card slot that can take storage capacity up to 128GB for further expansion.
We weren't able to delve deep into the phone's performance on the showfloor at CES 2015 but an initial play proved that the interface was slick and responsive with apps loading as fast as we would like. With the phone launching on Android 5.0 Lollipop with Sense 6, it can take advantage of that 64-bit hardware.
There's a 2,600mAh battery, and HTC is claiming 18.6 hours of talk time for 3G, although it is a 4G capable device which would mean less if running at full capacity. There's 687.2 hours of standby juice if you don't touch it too. There will be a dual SIM version available in some regions, with NFC also available in some regions too - exact details to be determined.
Dolby meets BoomSound
The signature BoomSound live inside plastic slits on the front of the handset, and just like the HTC Desire Eye the performance is much the same. We liked the Desire Eye and although the speakers aren't quite the best iteration of BoomSound, they're above average in terms of performance.
Following the separation from Beats, HTC has turned to Dolby Audio for sound enhancements and improvements. The Desire 826 has been tweaked to make the most of the new partnership either through the BoomSound speakers or the accompanying headphones which HTC say are "audiophile grade".
The aim is to give you end-to-end multichannel audio and we can't help feeling that this Dolby partnership is going to be a key part of the HTC M9 when it launches too.
UltraPixel lives on
HTC is known for its interest in the cameras on its devices. UltraPixel had drawn some criticism as a rear-facing camera due to the lower resolution than most rivals. Now UltraPixel moves to the front and we think this makes perfect sense - in fact we suggested it would have been a good move to put it on the front of the Desire Eye.
That's because UltraPixel is designed to give you better low-light photos. The pixels making up the sensor are larger than average so they're better at capturing light. That's the theory anyway. We didn't have the chance to put it through its paces fully, but it seems like a sensible move: hopefully it will lead to better quality selfies.
We note from HTC's spec sheet that in some regions the Desire 826 will have a 13MP camera on the front. We can't imagine why, except in terms of cost, but it seems the Desire Eye has had quite the impact on what HTC is doing with its cameras.
On the rear you have a 13-megapixel camera, as we've seen on previous Desire devices.
The HTC Desire 826 looks to be a good mid-range device that sits above the recently launched Desire 820, but below the HTC One range and the Desire Eye. Out-speccing the Desire 820, this is the model to go for if you have the choice.
Although our time was brief we liked what we saw, and look forward to having a longer play with the new phone if it makes its way outside of Asia, which we suspect it will.
We also have a suspicion that with this handset carrying a front-facing UltraPixel camera and Dolby Audio, that HTC's next flagship will offer the same. Exciting times.