You can call HTC’s latest flagship phone the HTC 10, because they’ve officially dropped the “One” and “M” monikers. But, besides the name change, their latest phone is not a drastic change in form from its predecessors, but one that offers plenty of refinements. The same unibody metal design that HTC was first out of the door with (yes, HTC was creating unibody aluminum phones before Apple and everyone else) is back, but it has been refined with a 45-degree chamfered edge that carries around to the back. HTC says this allows the phone to be more ergonomic and more secure to hold in your hand.
The phone is indeed pretty comfortable to hold and hits the sweet spot in terms of size, but we still find that the aluminum bodies in general can be easy to drop. The phone measures .35 inches (9 mm) at its thinnest point (thicker around the back) and weighs 161 grams. Gone is the front-facing speaker grill of its predecessors, with the entire front of the phone now covered by curved Gorilla Glass.
Speaking of drops, the phone is designed to be tough and withstand knocks, bumps, and scratches. We (accidentally) dropped it three feet onto a hard tile floor. The phone came back ticking with a very minor scuff mark left on one of its edges. But, don’t drop it in the sink, because there’s no mention of it being waterproof (or do — you get one free replacement in the first year for water damage or a cracked screen through the HTC UH OH protection program). We like that they have packed a 5.2″ display into what’s usually the size of a 5″ phone, giving us more screen real estate while keeping the phone comfortable to hold for most hands. As a matter of fact, if you compare it to the HTC One A9, it’s nearly identical in size.
The HTC 10 also packs in a new Quad HD (2560 x 1440 resolution, 565 ppi) display with 30% more colors. Overall the display is very good, with accurate colors. We do wish it were able to get a bit brighter, though. Also new for HTC is the inclusion a USB Type-C port at the bottom of the HTC 10. USB Type-C is undoubtedly the future, and more and more phones are slowly starting to replace Micro USB with it. Still, we can’t help but prefer a Micro USB port in 2016.
The weakest aspect of the HTC One M9 and M8 were their cameras, which is something that HTC has struggled with in recent years. Fortunately, HTC has finally improved significantly in this respect — and they aren’t just saying so on paper. The HTC 10 brings back HTC’s UltraPixel technology in a new 12 MP sensor, along with dual-tone LED flash, laser autofocus, and OIS (optical image stabilization). In practice, the camera is crazy fast to focus and snap shots. It also preforms really well in low light thanks to a wider-aperture f/1.8 lens, and is overall a solid performer and a vast improvement over previous HTC phones. A pro mode allows more advanced users to tweak settings and shoot in RAW. The camera can also record 4K video along with stereo 24-bit Hi-Res audio, which is a world’s first on a smartphone. The 5 MP front-facing camera also packs in OIS and performs well when taking selfies. That said, to our eyes, the HTC 10’s camera is similar to the iPhone’s. But, how does it compare to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge? The S7 Edge still edges the HTC 10 out in terms of performance, producing sharper photos with more vivid colors.
Battery life on the HTC 10 is top notch thanks to its 3,000 mAh battery. We got over 24 hours out of it with moderate use. In addition, the phone comes with Quick Charge 3.0 support and a charging adaptor in the box. With Quick Charge 3.0, the phone can charge to 50% in just 30 minutes.
HTC has also put a big emphasis on audio in the HTC 10. The device has dual stereo speakers with HTC BoomSound, along with 24-bit Hi-Res audio support and a built-in DAC. It also has a special feature called Personal Audio, allowing users to create a personal audio profile. In addition to the emphasis on sound quality, we’re especially impressed with how loud and clear callers sounded while testing on the T-Mobile network. Using it as a speakerphone, those dual stereo speakers were loud and powerful.
When it comes to software, personally, we’ve always appreciated the refinements that HTC has made to Android. That said, this time around HTC is offering tighter integration with Google and Google apps, along with reduced duplicate apps and bloatware. The result is a cleaner and better performing Android experience. But, some of HTC’s core apps and functions are still there, like their Dialer, Messages, Clock/Weather, Sense Home, Blink Feed, and HTC Themes. In addition to HTC Themes, newcomer HTC Freestyle gives you more customization control by “freeing” you from the traditional on-screen grids of icons, so that you can put stickers, widgets, and shortcuts anywhere on your screen. You can even choose to use stickers as shortcuts to launch apps.
Performance on the HTC 10 is excellent thanks to the Snapdragon 820 SoC. This fast performance is noticeable in day-to-day tasks, like how the camera is crazy fast to load and focus. HTC’s refinements to its software have also made the device run faster and lighter, so that it now now uses less memory, and again, it’s noticeable when you’re using the device. The HTC 10 scored 127374 in AnTuTu and 45102 in Quadrant benchmarking tests.
It’s difficult to write this review without comparing the HTC 10 to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, so we’ll briefly talk about how the two compare. The HTC 10 is built tougher then the S7 Edge, and it’s also the faster performer. On the other hand, the S7 Edge has a bigger and brighter display, it’s thinner, and its camera is the stronger performer.