HTC has been in the cell business for a long time, and were once considered the top of the food chain. Nowadays, HTC has fallen down the chain a bit with a few years of bad luck with their flagships — starting with the HTC One M7 if I recall correctly. It’s ever-increasing that “this” year will be the last year of HTC, so their latest flagship, the HTC 10, better do some numbers or have what it takes to push them in the right direction.
Let dive into the flagship below to see if it makes HTC, or breaks them.
- 5.2″ Quad HD SuperLCD Display
- Snapdragon 820
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB Storage (microSD Card Slot Available)
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense
- 12MP Rear Camera w/ 1.55μm pixel and f/1.8
- 5MP Front Camera w/ OIS
- 3,000 mAh battery w/ Quick Charge 3.0
- USB C
Build And Design
To start off, we take a look at the design and build of the device, and I must say this phone looks and (more importantly) feels amazing. HTC didn’t stray too far from their recent cues with creating an all-metal phone build. They’ve also surrounded the back with a deep chamfer that adds a unique take on what a lot of phones have begun to adopt today — it somewhat helps with greatest downfall of all metal phone, slickness. Personally, I ended up putting a Dbrand skin on my device to make sure I didn’t drop it, a small case would also suffice, but I really didn’t want to change the feel of this phone that month. Aside from that, the phone is slightly hefty, not a brick, but you’ll definitely feel it in your pocket and you won’t be so prone to dropping it either when using it.
The speaker grill is drilled into the bottom of the phone, that seamlessly goes with the design of the phone, while the headphone jack touches the back chamfer while actually resting on the top border. You also get the IR blaster across the top border of the phone as well. A very subtle design feature that really deserves merit are the ‘power’ and ‘volume’ buttons. They narrowly rest on top of the left side of the phone, and the power button is textured, so that you know what you’re pushing without even looking at the 10 — it’s the little things that really get ‘ya.
HTC opted not to do dual, front-facing speakers with the 10, so now we have a speaker on the bottom of the device and one in the receiver. On the bottom of the display with have capacity buttons encompassing a fingerprint reader/home button-that’s-not-actually-a-button — It’s just a there, you can’t depress it (ie. touchpad). It’s one of the most elegant layouts of home buttons I’ve seen, and easily the fastest (more on that later).
It’s greatly evident that HTC went back to the design board with this phone. They didn’t change completely everything or start using brand new or exotic materials, they simply brought refinements in the best possible package.
The HTC 10 has a 5.2” QUAD-HD Super LCD 5 screen, which adds to the device’s super compact design — it’s smaller than you think. Other than that, the display here is good, but not great, and maybe that’s just comparing it to other phones. The 10’s display is very crisp and accurate, but not very bright and doesn’t have a lot of POP! This can be flipped though by saying the HTC 10 is a great phone to use at night, but not out in the blazing sun –like how the weather is now.
Compared to the Galaxy S7 Edge, the HTC 10 isn’t going to win any favors, but it does beat the G5 ever so slightly. Using the device in any other setting than outside in direct sunlight will produce a good display, while watching movies and looking at pictures will show realistic looking pictures, but it won’t wow you at all. HTC also includes several customization options for the display, including two different modes (Vivid and sRGB) with temperature sliders for both — but it will still be flat…-ish.
Software And Sense
One of the more important choices that HTC did with the 10 and the new version of Sense is TONING IT DOWN. Sense still includes Blinkfeed, a customizable app drawer, and gesture support, that differentiates it from stock, but other than that, Sense is much closer to stock than it’s ever been. It’s like the transformation that Motorola took between the Droid Turbo’s and the Moto X’s, and it’s much appreciated….MUCH appreciated.
One of the bigger things that you’ll find on the HTC 10 that isn’t stock is their theme store. Now it’s true that another big manufacturer ships their phones out with a theme store, but HTC’s is a little more customizable. First off, the 10 allows you to select a theme (or theme elements) based on your wallpaper, instead of making you use whatever wallpaper is included in the theme. Then the themes come with custom icons, UI changes, etc. to personalize your device.
Every other Sense item (Blinkfeed, theme store, customizable app drawer) is done very well and not in your face. This is the HTC we want people, especially with HTC new track record of providing fast updates, it might be worthwhile to consider theme when trying to find a near stock phone to buy.
All of the recent flagship releases to come out this year that include the Snapdragon 820 and either 3 or 4 GB of RAM have screamed in performance, and the HTC 10 is no different. You shouldn’t noticed any lag or just times where nothing is happening, although there has been a couple time I’ve experience a frozen phone, i don’t know the cause though. Other than that expect the HTC 10 to handle any app, process, or game you throw and it with ease.
The specs also back up the performance, but again any 2016 flagship should have similar results regarding performance.
As stated above, the battery in the HTC 10 is a standard 3000mAh battery that feature Quick Charge 3.0 and is charged by USB C. Let me just say that this is the fastest charging phone I’ve ever had, the Quick Charge truly works as promised.
Battery life on the other hand, is a hit or miss. Most days, my battery life was great easily lasting me the full day and some, but on some random days I’d get subpar life for no apparent reason. The days where I would have spotty service absolutely destroyed the battery life, worse than other phones I believe.
If you’re not planning on being out of decent service, then expect to consistently get a little over a day of battery life from the 10, even when playing games, watching videos, and listening to music throughout the day.
One of HTC’s claims to fame have always been their BoomSound front-facing speakers, which was easily a favorite part of the HTC M-line. With the 10, HTC decided to switch it up for a new weird combination of speakers, which involve having a separate tweeter in the receiver and the woofer down at the bottom of the phone. HTC has also included different modes (music and theatre) with effect the equalization between the two speakers.
Now while these speakers sound nice and let you enjoy different phone orientation when listening to sound, they simply aren’t as immersive as two front facing speakers — no matter what HTC says. It’s just different. I believe that the speaker combination wasn’t broke yet HTC tried to fix them anyways.
The headset audio is a completely different story, that is simply amazing and the best I’ve hear on any phone to date. The HTC 10 includes a 24-bit DAC along with a Hi-Fi headphone amplifier, pair that with any decent set of headphones (especially over the ear) and you’ll never want to put this phone down. If I want to listen to music through my phone, I always choose the HT 10 (even over the G5) due to it’s headphone audio arrangement, just wish I could say the same for it’s speakers.
The camera for the HTC is not a disappointment, but it’s not the best camera I’ve used on a (recent) smartphone. It’s the best that HTC has ever present but that’s also not saying much. The camera used in the HTC 10, that has 12MP (HTC UltraPixel 2, 1.55μm pixels), is the same that’s used in the Nexus 6P (which is good), but HTC has added OIS support as well — which does nothing but help the quality of the camera
Unfortunately the camera seems to shoot more realistic colors, which tend to be on the bland side. I like camera content to be on the a little saturated side just for the pop in image. The picture detail is high but the look is bland.
Along with the colors of images and videos, the speed of the camera is simply lacking as well — yes, even with the laser auto focus. Tap to focus take a few seconds, while pressing the capture button also takes a few seconds, which sucks for any type of action shot.
Even with the slow bland camera, you’ll still get decent shots, it just isn’t up to par with the G5 and the S7 Edge, or even the Nexus 6P at times, but it’s not a “break-it” feature when looking at the device.
Also HTC adding OIS to the front-facing camera….yea.
Update: (Build 1.19.605.22) As I was writing this review, an update came out that included camera improvements. The camera, IMO, may have gotten slighty better with color quality (key words: may have), but nothing to write home about.
Now while the Fingerprint sensor isn’t a huge feature on any phone, we are seeing its popularity rise and of course I wanted to extend my opinions on it as well. The home button/fingerprint sensor, doesn’t actually depress and it won’t take you that long to keep that in your memory when you pick up the phone — think of it as a textured capacitive button. It’s also not mind-blowingly fast either, but still a bit fast than the G5, more on par with the Nexus 6P. You also don’t have to turn the screen on first in order to utilize the sensor.
One thing I noted immediately was that you’ll be constantly putting your finger over the sensor, at least I did. I actualy started using Google’s Now on Tap more and more, simply because i would unknowingly rest my finger on the sensor. Other than that, I feel that this physical home button organization is the best possible way shown on a device nowadays, just remember that it is sensitive.
The Little Things
Other extra features that the HTC 10 includes are: SD Card slot, Uh Oh Protection, and IP53 protection. The 10 can read up to a 2TB (read: non-existent) micro sd card, that is located on the opposite side of the SIM Card slot.
The HTC 10 is also IP53 proof….which is basically nothing. Seriously. IP53 means that the phone isn’t fully dust-proof (first number) nor can it take that much water contact (second number). So no shower selfies. If you were to get your phone wet, or crack your screen, AND you bought the phone from HTC.com, then you get 12 months of HTC’s Uh Oh protection. This protection gets you a one time replacement for your device (free of cost) but unfortunately only applies to unlocked devices bought through the website — still a benefit though.
The release of this device was a bit weird, with Verizon having a bit of exclusivity for a month in the states. Also AT&T will not be receiving this device at all, which will definitely be a blow for the HTC 10 sales, as not everyone will one to buy the device unlocked just to get it working with AT&T. As of now though you can go to either HTC.com or one of the 3 carriers offering the phone. Pricing follows below.
- Verizon: $648 full / $23 monthly
- Sprint: $624 full / $21 monthly
- T-Mobile: $680 full / $28 monthly
- Unlocked: $699
All in all, this phone is seriously one of the better phones I’ve held for a variety of reason and hopefully this will get HTC back on track to becoming a manufacturer to look forward to. It’s a well built and designed phone, with a closer to stock experience, great audio, and more than decent battery life. Although the camera isn’t the best, it’ll still be a decent shot for most occassions.
If you are looking at the 2016 flagships that we have available now and end up going with the HTC 10, I can assure you that you didn’t make the wrong decision — especially with HTC already promising N support. Glad to see you back HTC.