The HTC 10 product launch in April was met with much anticipation from consumers, due to the 10 being widely regarded as the smartphone that would “decide the fate” of the company. With the generally weak consumer reception to the 10’s predecessor, the HTC One M9, many hoped that this would be the defining flagship that would bring back the glory days of the excellent One M8.
The HTC 10 generally sticks to the HTC One design language, with an all-aluminium metal body design and a polished, textured finish that inspires confidence in the user’s hand. While some may bemoan the lack of substantial design changes from the previous M9, the combination of an aluminium body and chamfered metal edges does look good, even when compared with rival flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or Moto Z. The HTC 10 comes in three colours, Carbon Grey, Topaz Gold and Glacier Silver. My personal favourite is Carbon Grey, which gives it a understated but professional look.
Display and Performance
The HTC 10 is no slouch when it comes to the performance department, especially due to the combination of a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM. While newer smartphones such as the Google Pixel come with the improved Snapdragon 821, performance on current flagship phones are generally more than sufficient for handling even the most demanding games and tasks. The display is a QHD 5.2 inch Super LCD5 capacitive touchscreen. With a pixel density of a whopping 565 ppi that makes current-gen iPhones pale in comparison, sharpness definitely isn’t an issue with the HTC 10. While Super AMOLED panels in the Galaxy S7 generally provide vibrancy and deep blacks that the LCD5 display cannot provide, the 10’s display is definitely still a performer.
Connectivity options and Battery Life
Battery life on the HTC 10 is generally a mixed bag, as use case scenarios vary greatly. Despite the large 3000 mAh battery in the HTC 10, under heavy use the battery still drains pretty quickly. Light tasks such as Internet browsing should generally still do fine, but users do need to be a little careful with their usage, as with many smartphones these days. However, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology does help, with the dedicated charger providing sufficient juice for hours of usage in less than 30 minutes of charging.
In terms of storage expansion options, the HTC 10 does have a micro SD expansion slot that allows for more memory on top of the 32GB of internal storage provided. A Type-C connector is also present, as expected of a 2016 smartphone, and my beloved 3.5mm headphone jack also remains.
Audio Quality and Camera Performance
When it comes to audio quality, HTC’s One family of smartphones has always been known as great performers, and the 10 is no exception. The dual amplifier setup and dedicated DAC on the 10 allows for excellent audio output, even when compared to smartphones such as the LG V20 and ZTE Axon 7. The HTC 10 can easily drive full-sized headphones, with enough power to push volume levels to unhealthy levels. For many audio enthusiasts, myself included, the audio output on the HTC 10 is one of its biggest selling points.
Compared to its predecessor, the One M9, the camera on the HTC 10 is also greatly improved, with good colours and sharpness in good light, thanks to its UltraPixel 2 image sensor. HTC’s update to the camera software on the 10 has also improved it significantly. However, the 10’s camera still does not match up with the S7’s, with issues in exposure and light detection occurring in auto mode. The presence of a manual mode with shutter speed, ISO and aperture control does help produce better quality images when the auto mode doesn’t quite cut it.
Like many other smartphones, the camera does not fare well in low light, and moving objects can cause a significant amount of blurring. The best part about the HTC 10’s camera is the RAW functionality that is provided, as it allows for a much better image output at the expense of RAW processing time, but for those who appreciate and need better quality images from their camera, it is still an immensely useful function.
The HTC 10 is an excellent performer overall, and despite a few flaws in some aspects, these can be overlooked in light of the HTC 10’s excellent audio quality, design and cleaner Sense UI interface. However, if you are looking for a smartphone with the strongest processing power and camera, the Samsung Galaxy S7 would still remain the top pick. The only caveat that severely bogged down the HTC 10 at launch was one thing – its price. With competitors such as OnePlus providing smartphones that cost much less, but had the performance of flagship smartphones, the HTC 10’s pricing made little sense to many. That has changed, however, in recent months, as the low demand for the HTC 10 has also resulted in price drops, and if the 10 can be obtained for less money, the fit and finish of the HTC 10 is hard to match.
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