But the Eye was built for taking selfies, so it doesn't have the M8's Duo Camera features or Ultrapixel camera sensor on its back. Its 13-megapixel camera is fairly run of the mill — it's the same camera used on HTC's E8 and very similar to the cameras on many other Android smartphones you can get today. In our brief time with the phone, we noted that it took acceptable images in daylight and outdoor conditions, but couldn't hold a candle to the market leaders in low-light environments. We'll reserve final judgement on its performance until we have time to perform proper review.
Of course, no other smartphone has the same spec camera on its front as it does on the rear, and the Desire Eye makes its stated purpose very obvious when you first see it. The large camera is mounted dead center at the top of the phone, like an Eye of Sauron staring at you as you hold the phone. HTC has added a number of new features to its camera app to take advantage of the Eye's front camera. There's a mode to take a picture with both the front and rear cameras at the same time, a la FrontBack, and an ultra-gimmicky mode that lets you insert yourself into a scene using both cameras. You can also merge your face with another person's face to create a mutant selfie. There is a new face-tracking feature for video calls that zooms in and crop the image to a caller's visage and can support up to four different people in the same room. You can also take selfies or record video with your voice, and a new automatic mode will snap a selfie once the phone is held still and your face is in the right place. (HTC says all of these camera features, called the "Eye Experience", will come to the HTC One (M7), HTC One (M8), HTC One E8, HTC One mini, HTC One mini 2, HTC One max, HTC Desire 816, HTC Desire 820, and HTC Butterfly 2 in the coming months, as well.)
For the rest of the Eye's software, it's pretty much the same experience as the M8: it runs Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC's Sense 6.0 interface. The Eye's fast processor and lots of RAM ensures that it performs just as quickly as the M8, as well.
I tested taking selfies with the Desire Eye in a number of environments, ranging from bright outdoor conditions to dimly lit indoor environments. Despite all of the high-end specs packed into the Eye's front camera, it unfortunately didn't do remarkably better than the iPhone 6 when it came to taking selfies. Outdoor images looked good, with plenty of detail and great colors, but as soon as the light levels dropped, images became dark, soft, noisy, and just plain terrible. Contrasted with the images from the iPhone 6's front camera, which were grainy and noisy, but much brighter and sharper, the Eye just wasn't that impressive. We'll be putting the Eye through a proper review process once it's available for purchase, and HTC tells me that it's still adjusting and fine-tuning the software processing ahead of the phone's launch.