HTC 10 Review – Function over Frills

Positives
  • Durable build
  • Boom Sound & Hi Res Audio
  • No-nonsense software
  • Smooth Performance
Negatives
  • Display viewing angles & Red Hue
  • Doesn't have the best camera on the market (but it's very competitive)

Design

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The HTC 10 follows the One family design, a clear evolution from the M7 and M8 devices, but shifting to the new front designed introduced on the One A9 in late-2015.

When I first saw the silver HTC 10 with this massive chamfered edge on the back of the phone, I thought to myself “Did the guy shaving off the metal forget to finish smoothing it out”. This deep chamfer on the rear is meant to add differentiation, the smaller chamfer to the front provides a slick transition from the 2.5D display edges into the sides of the device.

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When you hold it in your hand for the first time it also doesn’t feels a little unfinished, especially if you’ve just been holding the One A9. Speaking of the One A9 that’s exactly what the front of the handset looks like since we’ve lost the dual front facing speakers. We’ve also lost the HTC logo on the bottom which was adding unnecessary height and the extra large bezel. This loss is a huge gain for the flagship line which has been plagued with this dead space for far too long.

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HTC 10 FACTORY Unlocked 32GB GSM Carbon Gray – US Warranty

Having said all of that the unit that I have for review is black and this inelegant looking edge actually pulls it off in black, it looks good. As for the in hand feel 10 minutes passed and as I readjusted the phone in my hand it started to feel good. Like the past few HTC flagship the heft of the handset adds to the durable high end feeling. At 161 grams it is heavier than it’s competition (even those also boasting all metal design) but it feels like a tank and with how hard I am on my devices it’s something that I value.

The HTC 10 comes in several different colors, the Glacier Sliver would not be my go to color, though it does come in two options, silver back and black front which will be available in North America or wit a white front, which is what will be available in the rest of the world. The Carbon Grey which is our review unit comes with a black front only. Topaz Gold has a white front while Camellia Red has a black front but will only initially be available on KDDI in Japan, with more markets to be announced later.

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The HTC 10 has a 5.2 inch Quad Super LCD 5 display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 which is made of Gorilla glass that curves on the edges. Under the hood with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Quad-core 64-bit processor that clocks up to 2.2Ghz and comes with 4GB of RAM. Storage wise we have options for 32 or 64GB with a MicroSD card support that can handle up to a 2TB card if you can afford it. Powering the entire unit is a 3000mAh battery which is USB Type C which is Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 with cool charge that can get a 50% charge 30 minutes.

BoomSound takes a bump up to BoomSound Hi-Fi, however, using the ear speaker and a base speaker to deliver clear and powerful audio. The handset is also Hi-Res certified, with Hi-Res headphones included in the box.

HTC 10 is IP53, which is water resistant to rain, mist, and spraying water — in other words, the day-to-day conditions of life. It is not waterproof, but it is water resistant.

Display

5.2-inch Super LCD 5 display with curved-edge Gorilla Glass
2560 x 1440 resolution
564ppi

Processor

2.2GHz quad-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor

RAM

4GB

Storage

32/64GB of on-board storage

MicroSD

Yes, up to 2TB

Fingerprint sensor

Yes

SIM type

Nano SIM

Connectivity

USB Type-C
3.5mm stereo audio jack
Bluetooth 4.2
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5GHz)
NFC
DisplayPort
DNLA
Miracast
Google Cast
AirPlay
HTC Connect

Software

Android 6.0 Marshmallow
HTC Sense

Cameras

Rear: 12MP HTC UltraPixel 2 (1.55µm pixel size) with laser autofocus, OIS and f/1.8 aperture
Front: 5MP (1.34µm pixel size) with OIS and f/1.8 aperture

Sound

HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition
Dolby Audio 4

Battery

Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
Quick Charge 3.0 compatible with cool charge

Dimensions and weight

145.9 x 71.9 x 3.0 – 9.0mm
161 grams

Colors

Carbon Grey, Glacier Silver, Camellia Red and Topaz Gold

Display

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HTC 10 FACTORY Unlocked 32GB GSM Carbon Gray – US Warranty

The HTC 10 features a 5.2-inch Super LCD 5 display. This display has a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, 564ppi. This represents a step-up for HTC as the previous flagship featured a 5-inch Full HD display and now we’re in the realms of Quad HD to compete with the likes of Samsung and LG. The display it self is made of Gorilla Glass and has a 2.5D curve at the edges.
When it comes to brightness outdoor visibility is good and the 10 is completely useful in full sunlight.
Although the auto brightness could use some work installing a 3rd party app will actually work a little better than what HTC has currently installed, and it will noticeably affect your battery life.

HTC 10 vs LG G5
HTC 10 vs Galaxy S7

There is a pretty big issue with the display, after using it for a few days I started thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me that there was a slight red hue. Talking to Basil from BTEKT mentioned it to me and then I couldn’t un-see it. When looking at the phone dead on, there is no issue, but when you look at it on angle there is a red hue and it’s less clear than other handsets. Here are some angle shots side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5. On it’s own I don’t think it would ever have been a significant issue since you’re often no comparing the same while background on 2 different handsets, however it is definitely an issue to not be color accurate when you think about sharing content. The person to your right or left won’t have the same experience as you do.

Camera

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The camera looks good, HTC did not disappoint with their 12MP HTC UltraPixel shooter. We’ve got a laser auto focus, dual LED flash, optical image stabilization (OIS) and f1.8 aperture and a 26mm focal length. Video wise we’ve got several options, 4K, slow motion at 720p which can handle 120fps and Hyper lapse. The camera UI is actually a little different than previous generations, it’s grouped into 3 categories, photos, video and selfie. It also defaults to 4:3 which means there are black bars around the edges and Auto HDR is enabled by default but you don’t notice since there is no lag in taking a snap. Pro mode is also a little different, you’re able to shoot RAW which means big files but it also means an ISO of 100 and shutter speeds of 2 seconds. Though to be honest we wish we had and ISO of 50 and a shutter speed of 30 seconds, if you’re going to have a Pro mode, you should go all in.

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The front facing camera is 5MP and comes with a 1.34 um pixel sensor, laser Autofocus, BSI sensor, OIS and a f1.8 aperture and 23mm focal length. You’re also able to take 1080p video and a live make up mode which isn’t live makeup at all, it’s a beauty mode which softens the skin. If your finger (or any object, such as the table or Ice View case) is blocking the sensor when the camera app is launched, a message that you’re blocking the laser pops up. Even if you’ve already moved your finger away the message stays up for a few moments (if it didn’t stay you then the message would flicker and this could be pretty annoying). Right now when your using the camera it often feels like I’m king of blocking the laser. HTC is aware of this and is going to be launching a camera update through the Google Play store, which should fix the issue with the laser auto focus.
The new UI is pretty easy to use, the slider hold the secondary menu and it’s not hard to interact with using your thumb. Tapping to focus reveals exposure control which you can interact with by swiping up and down close to it, you don’t need to be right on top of it. I have noticed that I am often pulling down the brightness in order to deal with back light. The HTC 10 isn’t as strong as I would like it to be when it comes to either lights of a hazy white sky which often appears a little blown out.

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The biggest problem that the camera on the HTC has is that it has trouble focusing on top of that it’s not the quickest at this activity. When you tap to focus on something close it often can’t and you have to either pull back or tap 3 or 4 times. By contrast the Galaxy S7 has focus pixel technology which uses every pixel to focus which results in a very fast focus. The G5 also quick to focus and better at macro shots as you can see below the details on the ring are crisper.

The camera is good, but it isn’t quite as good as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the LG G5, when looking at these low light photos, the HTC 10 is more grainy and it doesn’t handle the backlight as well. The G5 is overall a little more crisp and bright in low light conditions. In good lighting both cameras no problem taking a good picture.

HTC 10

HTC 10

LG G5 (1)

LG G5

HTC 10

HTC 10

LG G5

LG G5

HTC 10

HTC 10

LG G5

LG G5

HTC 10

HTC 10

LG G5

LG G5

lg-g5-vs-htc-10

HTC 10 left, G5 right

Software


HTC Sense on the 10 is clean and light, the overall design hasn’t changed much, you still head into apps and scroll vertically and swiping left means blinkfeed and right are your customizable panels.

Hold down on any blank space to add widgets or change themes. A part from being fast and smooth we have some nice software editions.

HTC Boost+ and promises to “optimize, declutter and fortify” your smartphone with minimal fuss. First of all, that means clearing out unnecessary data such as cache files, app installers and general “advertising clutter.” It also boasts a “smart boost” tool that supposedly frees up memory to improve performance. Iit’s the privacy and app management features that should pique your curiosity. Boost+ can be set up to notify you when an app hasn’t been used for a certain period of time. If you’re someone that’s constantly downloading and trying new apps, this could be a subtle reminder to delete the ones you rarely use. There’s also the option to lock specific apps with a passcode or fingerprint ,useful if you’re working on a sensitive company project, or just want to keep your Tinder profile from prying eyes.

HTC-Freestyle

The themes this year have gotten even more creative with a freeform theme called Journey, it changes the Chrome icon to a ballon, the camera to a martini glass and on and on. It allows you to place them anywhere and select different stickers to represent different apps. It’s unique, though it’s busy and I like the idea of departing from a grid system is great, but I’d like a simple clean theme with the same concept.

An add on that isn’t working yet but promises to be soon is support for Apple’s AirPlay, meaning you’ll be able to send music to compatible speakers.

Sound – Boomsound Hi-Fi Edition

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BoomSound has been HTC’s defining moment for a few generations now, but the iconic BoomSound speakers are gone. BoomSound however is not gone it’s evolved into BoomSound Hi-Fi edition which is clear since handset’s face now looks more like the HTC One A9 than the M series which the 10 has evolved from. The way audio is handled in the external speakers has changed. The speakers are now found on the bottom and where the ear piece is found. The bottom speaker, appropriately handles bass and the ear speaker is set-up as a tweeter. The idea here is to retain that fidelity that BoomSound offered before. Each speaker has its own amplifier, aiming to give clarity to each channel, that’s often lost in smartphones with a single external speaker. It’s loud, it’s clear, and it still has that BoomSound thrill from what we’ve heard so far listening to music and some video content.

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Hi-Res is now the name of the game with the HTC 10, it’s got Hi-Res audio everything certification, headphones as well as stereo recording capabilities. There are even 3 microphones for noise cancellation.

If you’re a gamer you might actually notice a difference during audio game play. The previously set up was really good for stereo separation in video and games. However, you’ve still got distortion free sound at high volume which is better than many of its rivals.

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There is so much more to the audio than just the external speaker set up, BoomSound Hi-Fi edition has great sound quality through your headphones. The HTC 10 is Hi-Res certified, which supports higher-definition audio which traditionally Sony has been known for. This certification comes from more than just adding in a dedicated audio chip, the HTC 10 has re engineered as an end-to-end solution, with professionally tuned audio circuitry. It will capture 24-bit audio, and will upscale low rez audio to 24-bit, with a high-quality DAC, as well as featuring a more powerful headphone amp, that will drive higher-quality, more demanding headphones.

What is great about the HTC 10 is that if you don’t have a set of high quality headphones the BoomSound Hi-Fi edition comes with a pair in the box. This is good because it saves you having to buy a pair and the ones you’re getting are Hi-Res certified.

Battery

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The HTC 10 has a 3000mAh battery and HTC is claiming that you’ll get 2 days of life from it. That’s down to deep optimization across the device, to make the HTC 10 as efficient as it can be. I think this claim is a bit of a stretch, though it could be true with someone who is a very light user. On a day that I used the phone lightly (2 hours 45 min of screen on time, I did have 49% battery left, so theoretically with the excellent stand by time the HTC 10 provides if I used it a little less the following day I might get 2 days. This is unrealistic, a real working day full of emails, messaging, instragram, twitter, listening to Soundcloud and lots of photos the phone was able to be on for 24 hours. Leaving it off charger overnight it was on in the morning though it desperately needed a charge.

Which it’s a good thing that we’ve got Quick Charge 3.0 on board and I was able to get from 1% to 25% in 15 minutes which is on schedule to their claim of 50% in 30 minutes. You’ll also find that charging doesn’t heat the handset up as much as it might in other devices, as the charging controller has been moved the charger itself. Of course, you’ll have to use HTC’s charger to get the best results.

HTC 10 FACTORY Unlocked 32GB GSM Carbon Gray – US Warranty

battery

During my testing my WiFi was on for half of the time and when it was on I was running a VPN since I am currently in Shenzhen for IDF. VPN’s eat battery roughly 15% faster. So that I made it though conference days using the 10 is impressive. I saw 4:36min screen on time. When using the HTC 10 on data alone and WiFi on for roughly an hour I saw 4:55 of screen on time.

Although the auto brightness could use some work installing a 3rd party app like LUX will actually work a little better than what HTC has currently installed, and seemed to noticeably affect my battery life. This however, is something that will likely be addressed in the first update, so it’s a minor passing concern.

Rating
Design / 8
Camera / 8
Sound / 9
Performance / 9
Battery Life / 8
Software / 8
Price / 8
Editor's Choice / 8
Hardware / 8
Display / 6.5
HTC 10

The HTC 10 is a breath of fresh air, the design and build quality are what you expect premium and durable. The camera is competitive though not the best on the market but combined with great audio, decent battery life and smooth performance there is a lot to love about the 10. It's no frills, more of a tool than a toy and there is nothing wrong with being function first.

8.1
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