TEHNOLOGY

HTC 10 Review: The smartphone you really SHOULD buy, but not the one you’ll want to

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HTC 10 is a phenomenal smartphone with a feature-set that reads like an Android fan’s wish-list. But has HTC done enough to top LG’s gotta catch ’em all modular compartments, and the Samsung S7 Edge’s jaw-dropping dual curved screen?

By AARON BROWN

The HTC 10 has a feature-list that reads like an Android fan’s wish-list

The HTC 10 has a feature-list that reads like an Android fan’s wish-list

  • Pros – Brilliant Quad HD Display, Fast Performance, Solid Battery Life, Supports Adoptable Storage, Hi-Res Headphones Included, Runs Almost Pure Android Marshmallow
  • Cons – Not Water Resistant, Camera Could Be Better, No Support For Wireless Charging

The HTC 10 is an undeniable return to form for the Taiwanese firm. But is it too little, too late?

HTC 10 is a phenomenal smartphone with a feature-set that reads like an Android fan’s wish-list.

But HTC’s flagship device looks a little bland when placed side-by-side with LG’s gotta catch ’em all modular compartments, Apple’s pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology, and the Samsung S7 Edge’s jaw-dropping dual curved screen.

Express.co.uk has been texting, talking, taking photos and playing games on the HTC 10 during the last month.

So does the HTC 10 best the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – a device we previously heralded as “greatest Android smartphone ever made” – or does it fall short?

Review –

The HTC 10 looks good – if a little bland.

The Taiwanese company’s latest flagship smartphone subtly blends the design of the HTC One A9 with previous flagship devices, including the HTC One M8 and One M9.

On the front, the HTC 10 is dominated by its beautiful 5.2 inch Quad HD display, large five-megapixel selfie camera and fingerprint scanner.

Flip the HTC 10 over and you’ll find the circular camera that the firm used for its HTC One A9, as well as a pair of hairline antenna bands.

The only standout design flair is the thick diamond-cut chamfered edge that curves around the edge of the rear case.

The thick diamond-cut band is the only design flair is this otherwise monotonous deviceEXPRESS NEWSPAPERS

The thick diamond-cut band is the only design flair is this otherwise monotonous device

Aside from breaking up the monotonous aluminium case, this shiny edge makes the phone incredibly comfortable to hold, especially one-handed.It’s a nice touch in an otherwise dull design.

When you hold the HTC 10 in your hand it’s difficult not to feel a slight pang of disappointment

Place the HTC 10 side-by-side with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – and it looks very bland. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but don’t expect the HTC 10 to wow you when you pick it up from your bedside table for work each morning.HTC has fitted its flagship smartphone with a beautiful Quad HD display.

The pixel-packed display boasts an impressive 2560 x 1440 resolution that makes browsing the web, playing video games and editing your photos a joy.

The 564 pixels per inch LCD display is bright and vivid – although it doesn’t burst from the screen with the same intensity as the Super AMOLED displays that ship with Samsung’s flagship rival.

HTC has also worked hard to quash any latency between the moment you touch the display – and the second the Android operating system kicks in and responds.

HTC 10 runs a stripped back, almost-stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow

HTC 10 runs a stripped back, almost-stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow

HTC says its latest flagship has the lowest touch latency of any phone on the market, iPhones included.The low latency is not something you’ll immediately notice when you pick up the HTC 10, but nevertheless Android Marshmallow feels smooth and slick on the flagship device.

And speaking of Android Marshmallow, HTC has taken it upon itself to address one of the biggest challenges facing Google’s open-source – fragmentation.

HTC is aware that the slew of skins released by smartphone manufacturers can leave customers feeling a little confused about how to use each of their different Android devices.

The Taiwanese firm worked very closely with Google in the run up to the release of the HTC 10, stripping back its Sense skin until is was much closer to the stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The latest HTC smartphone offers a great pure-Android alternative to the Nexus 6P and Moto X Style

The latest HTC smartphone offers a great pure-Android alternative to the Nexus 6P and Moto X Style

The rolodex of open apps, notification shade and quick settings menu are all lifted directly from Google’s version of Android.That is a very big deal. Especially when you compare the HTC 10 with the staggeringly-beautiful Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – a smartphone marred by its clunky icons, eye-spanking colours and slew of preinstalled apps.

There are still remnants of HTC’s own skew on Android, including BlinkFeed – a timeline that draws in updates from your favourite news sources and social media feeds – which is accessed by swiping to the left of your Home Screen.

Some fans will surely be glad that BlinkFeed has made the cut, but personally, there are much better aggregators found in the Google Play Store, and a direct swipe into the Google Now timeline would be more useful.

Duplicate apps are another confusing quirk of the Android operating system.

Syncing and charging is handled over the future-proof USB Type-C

Syncing and charging is handled over the future-proof USB Type-C

That’s when a smartphone manufacturer preloads its own version of Google’s default apps, so you end up with a Samsung Contacts app next to Google Marshmallow’s Contacts.With Google’s help, HTC has whittled down these too – and left a pick-and-mix of HTC and Google stock apps.

It’s a smart move and should ensure that Android newcomers are not left feeling intimidated by the HTC 10, especially when compared to the bloatware-filled Galaxy S7 Edge and wince-inducing interface that ships on the LG G5.

And if you’re not keen on the Nexus 6P or Moto X Style but still want a pure Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest from HTC is now a viable choice.

However those who prefer HTC’s in-house Sense apps can find them ready to download in the Play Store.

Powering the HTC 10 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM – both keep everything ticking along smoothly.Even the most intensive smartphone owners will struggle to get the HTC 10 to stutter.

And if you thought that all that raw power would quickly drain the battery in the HTC 10 you’d be wrong.

HTC has swapped a razor-thin, Apple-esque industrial design in favour of a chunkier build. And a hefty 3000mAh battery.

Thanks to its new Boost+ app – the Taiwanese company claims the HTC 10 gets a reliable 48 hours of battery life.

In the real world, that impressive battery life statistic will vary between HTC 10 owners. Power users who hammer their smartphones with video and photo editing, flashy video games and more will struggle to hit the 48 hour mark.

But those who use their smartphone to snap a couple of quick photos, check social media, and send a few dozen WhatsApp messages will see the benefit of the in-built Boost+ app.

HTC 10 is a great smartphone, if a little uninteresting

HTC 10 is a great smartphone, if a little uninteresting

Like almost every other flagship smartphone on the market, the HTC 10 will get you through the day – and maybe a bit of the next day, too – but I wouldn’t recommend going away for the weekend without a charger in your suitcase.Fortunately, charging the battery in the HTC 10 is not a hardship at all.

With Quick Charge 3.0 compatibility and a speedy charging cable thrown in the box, HTC 10 owners will be able to top-up their flat batteries to 50 per cent in a lightning-fast 30-minute charge.

The hugely-impressive charging is handled over USB Type-C too. With this reversible port fast becoming the new industry standard, it’s great to know you’ll be future-proofed with HTC 10.

HTC 10 ships with either 32GB or 64GB internal storage.

Thankfully, there’s a microSD card slot to expand your in-built storage up to 2TB with Flex Storage.

And yes, unlike LG and Samsung – HTC will support Adoptable Storage, which means you can merge the device’s internal capacity with the microSD so that it appears as one large save location.

The HTC 10 has a good design and a complete lack of manufacturer bloatware

The HTC 10 has a good design and a complete lack of manufacturer bloatware

HTC has addressed a few other known weaknesses with past devices, including the rear camera.The HTC 10 boasts a 12MP HTC UltraPixel 2 shooter with laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation, f/1.8 aperture, 26mm focal length and a dual-tone LED flash.

The rear camera can also record 4K video with Hi-Res audio.

In the past, HTC has struggled with the quality of its flagship cameras, but the HTC 10 is a huge improvement.

Photographs are rich and bright, although snaps can appear a little muted when compared to results from the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

HTC 10 also struggles to pick out the same level of detail as the Apple iPhone 6S, as the below side-by-side shows.

Photographs from the HTC 10 are bright and sharpPhotographs from the HTC 10 are bright and sharp

The five-megapixel front-facing camera is also the first to ship with Optical Image Stabilisation, or OIS.It’s a solid shooter and is more than good enough to make your impromptu group photos or embarrassing selfies are up to scratch for both social media, and the family album.

HTC bundles a pair of redesigned Hi-Res certified earphones in the box with the flagship smartphone. The in-ear buds are incredibly comfortable to wear and sound quality is brilliant.

According to HTC, the 8µm thin aerospace polymer diaphragm and 70 per cent oversized drivers enables the firm to produce richer sound and twice the frequency range from the bundled ‘buds.

If you’re not a dedicated audiophile and are used to simply using the headphones included with your latest smartphone purchase, these Hi-Res certified cans are a huge bonus.

BoomSound has also been re-imagined for the HTC 10.

The Taiwanese firm’s trademark in-built speakers now have a separate tweeter and woofer, modelled on the design of a free-standing speaker.

HTC has built a dedicated amplifier into each speaker at the top and bottom of the device to create a full-bodied sound.

But in our experience the sound quality is nothing to write home about. And if you were expecting the new and improved BoomSound speakers to sound like the quad-speaker design included on the iPad Pro – you will be sorely disappointed.

But with a pair of Hi-Res in-ear buds included in the box, it’s a very minor complaint.

HTC 10 is a great smartphone, but is that enough when faced with a rival like the S7 Edge?

HTC 10 is a great smartphone, but is that enough when faced with a rival like the S7 Edge?

Final Verdict 

HTC is back. The Taiwanese technology firm’s new smartphone has a feature-list that reads like an Android fan’s wish-list.

The HTC 10 has a good design, a complete lack of manufacturer bloatware, a solid 12MP rear camera, expandable and adoptable storage and reliable battery life.

It runs the latest version of the Android operating system, has a stunning Quad HD display, fast charging via USB Type-C and a pair of free Hi-Res certified earphones thrown in the box.

Those who buy the HTC 10 and live with it everyday for the next two-years of their mobile contract will have a brilliant smartphone – and a great experience with the Android operating system.

And yet, when you hold the HTC 10 in your hand it’s difficult not to feel a slight pang of disappointment.

The HTC 10 is not an overtly exciting smartphone. It’s the Android smartphone you should buy, but not the one you’ll want to buy.

Compared with the brazen ambition of LG G5’s interchangeable compartments, dual wide-angle camera lens and swathe of purpose-built accessories – the HTC 10 looks pretty dull.

Weighed up against the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch display included with Apple’s iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus – the lack of headline innovation in the HTC 10 becomes a little annoying.

And when the HTC 10 is placed side-by-side with Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge – the monotonous aluminium design looks frustratingly conservative.

When Apple Vice President Phil Schiller unveiled the company’s razor-thin netbook to rapturous applause last year, he told the whooping crowd that they were experiencing “hashtag MacBook lust.”

In a nutshell, the HTC 10 is missing its own “hashtag HTC 10 lust”.

Thankfully, it’s the only thing that’s missing from this otherwise brilliant smartphone.

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