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HTC 10 First Impressions

Now that the LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, and Huawei P9 have all been unveiled, there was just one more flagship Android smartphone that needed to make its 2016 debut. Today’s the day for the HTC 10, introducing a simplified naming system along with a very competent smartphone. Of course, everyone’s competent in 2016, and when you’re the last to the party, you have to make a grand entrance. Does the HTC 10 manage to pull it off?

Note: This post just covers the basics of the HTC 10 and a few quick first impressions. Look for a full review of the HTC 10 in the near future!

DSC00658It’s hit or miss in the looks department. It sometimes feels a bit silly to wring hands over the way a smartphone looks, but a smartphone is a very visible device, and it matters. That, and flagship smartphones are now so similar (practically the same) internally that every bit of differentiation matters. The HTC 10 has a very classic look — a molded aluminum back with chamfered edges along with an all-glass front. The front looks similar to the Galaxy S7, which isn’t a bad thing, but we did like how LG G5 does things a little differently by putting the power button and fingerprint scanner on the back (a more intuitive choice, once you get used to it). Plus, the S7 has a glass back that, while more impractical, gives it more of a premium look.

But, here’s where the HTC 10 makes some gains — it is much more practical, especially if you drop your phone a lot. According to HTC, “the HTC 10 was subjected to over 168 hours of extreme temperature tests, ranging from a freezing -20’C to a scorching 60’C; and over 10,000 drop, bend, scratch and corrosion tests.” Those are claims we haven’t gotten to test yet, but it sounds like the HTC 10 has been designed to take some knocks without needing a case, and I’m not so sure we could say that about the LG G5 or the Samsung Galaxy S7/Edge. With phones continuously getting thinner and more vulnerable, it’s nice to see something a little sturdier.

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The spec sheet is pretty much the same as those of the LG G5 and the Galaxy S7 Edge, save where the cameras are concerned. Inside, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4 GB of RAM, either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage, a Micro SD card slot compatible with up to 2 TB cards, and a 5.2″ 2560 x 1440 resolution Super LCD 5 display protected by curved Corning Gorilla Glass. The HTC 10 also has a fingerprint scanner (one hopes they’ve improved in this respect), which is on the home button. With that spec sheet, we expect the HTC 10 will perform every bit as well as the other flagship phones on the market this year. So far, so good in the short time we’ve gotten to play with the HTC 10.

The HTC 10 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the HTC Sense overlay — that’s one of the heavier overlays, but there’s good news here. HTC has removed redundant pre-installed apps — they use their own dialer, text messaging app, launcher, and clock/weather widget, but otherwise defer to Google’s apps. There’s one more minor but pretty cool new change — with the Freestyle Layout, you don’t have to line up apps and widgets on a set grid. Any app or widget can be dragged anywhere on the screen and stay there. If you want to build a smiley face out of app icons, you can now absolutely do that.

Next page: Cameras, audio, battery, and preorders!

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