HTC unveils mid-range Desire 816 phablet with on-screen buttons

HTC took to the Mobile World Congress stage this morning to unveil not its latest high-end device, but a so-called “mid-tier flagship” aimed at emerging markets — the Desire 816.

This 5.5-inch 720p phablet sports a quad-core 1.6Ghz Snapdragon 400 processor, on-screen navigation buttons running Sense 5.5 (the Android version is unknown, but we think it’s KitKat), a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera, LTE connectivity and more.

The design hews closely to previous Desire models, but takes inspiration from the HTC One; dual stereo speakers adorn the front, but the various plastic colours will appeal to a younger, image- and money-conscious demographic.

The phablet isn’t likely coming to North America, as it’s debuting in China in March. While this individual model may not have much import to Canadians, it points to a renewed focus on the low- and mid-range market for the Taiwanese company in 2014, as it continues to push towards profitability.

Perhaps more importantly, HTC said it was excited for its March 25th announcement, though it wouldn’t confirm a replacement for the year-old One.