HTC all about the selfie with the Eye, gets into action with the “Re”

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Self-portrait photos are all the rage, but are two megapixels really enough? That’s the question HTC is trying to find an answer to with the Desire Eye, a smartphone packing dual 13 megapixel cameras, announced this week alongside an interesting little camera.

While we’re yet to see HTC’s One M8 hit the “max” size with a phablet edition, it’s probably clear that most of HTC’s 2014 range is out, with the One M8, the One Mini 2, and a bunch of less-than-flagship smartphones also appearing alongside, many of which we’ve reviewed.

That’s probably a sign that HTC could be more or less done with new phones for the year, especially with only a couple of months left in 2014.

But before the year wraps up, the creator of the One and Desire series of handsets has something new to show. In fact, it’s not just one thing, but two.

First there’s the Eye, or rather, the HTC Desire Eye, a smartphone that sits in the mid-range product name but will likely be at the upper end of that category, thanks to its reliance on some decent processing components and a relatively generous camera set.

For this phone, you’ll find a 5.2 inch Full HD screen, sitting atop a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor paired with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, with a microSD card slot to let you expand that considerably. Connectivity caters to Category 4 4G LTE, with WiFi working along 802.11/a/b/g/n, as well as Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS, and Google’s Android 4.4 also exists here.

A first for HTC, the Desire Eye will be rated for water and dust resistance, in line with what competitors from Samsung and Sony are now doing, but the cameras are particularly interesting as well.

It’s here that HTC is offering two 13 megapixel cameras: one on the front, and one on the back, with a flash for each. The camera on the front sits dead centre for your selfie needs, while the one on the back sits near the edge in places you’re probably used to. Three microphones are also included, as well as HTC’s BoomSound speakers, both of which should help audio, though in different ways.

Pricing and availability in Australia is not yet known on this one, but we suspect it will be coming to our shores some time this year, and with only a little of that left, it can’t be far off.

Also announced alongside the Desire Eye was another focus on cameras, with HTC’s Re, a small camera meant for action that you can take swimming with you, or anywhere for that matter.

The gadget here looks a little like an asthma inhaler or a small water pipe, but will include a wide-angle lens, a 16 megapixel sensor, a microSD slot, and a simple “press this button” system to record Full HD video or take 16 megapixel photos.

We’re told that the images will be recorded to either a Bluetooth connected phone or a microSD in the camera, and that the HTC Re camera itself is water resistant out of the box, designed for use either as a personal camera or an action camera for sports.

“Back in 1997, we allowed people to leave their laptops at home in favour of powerful, pocket-sized smartphone computing,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. “Today we are taking a similar leap forward. Combining incredible hardware with unrivalled software, HTC is reinventing the way we think about imaging.”

As gadget people, we’re curious about the Re, but more interested in the Desire Eye, since we can imagine people taking out a water-resistant phone to shoot video and capture images than carry around a dedicated camera like the Re, especially when smaller action cameras like the GoPro appear to be smaller and better suited for action and movement.

That said, we’ll be curious to see if HTC can make a name for itself in the camera category because if Toshiba can enter action cameras, then why not HTC.

Availability and pricing on both the HTC Re and HTC Desire Eye for Australia should be announced later on. As always, we’ll let you know when we do.