Review: HTC 10

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Many weeks after its release, the HTC 10 has somewhat faded from the public eye. While the same story rings true for most things in the tech world after awhile — That’s just how tech is! — it seems like the HTC 10 faded faster than others. Is it a bad phone, poor marketing, average specs, or something else? Is the HTC 10 even a good phone?

In terms of hardware, the HTC 10 is a more than capable phone. A Snapdragon 820 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, 32/64 GB of builtin storage, and 5.2″ 1440 x 2560 display make it just as powerful as most other flagship Android phones in 2016. And similar to LG, HTC went with a metal-clad design, unibody for the most part broken up only by antenna lines. To be clear: it feels great in the hand and is a solid, weighty phone. Something else small but worth appreciation are the buttons. Like the body, they’re solid and let out a subtle but hearty “clunk” when pressing them in. They are hardly cheap feeling.

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The USB C port on the bottom may elicit moans from people not yet ready to replace their 5 dozen micro USB cables but let’s be honest… the time has come to start the migration. Type C is the future for most devices going forward. There’s always some pain transitioning to a new spec, hardware or otherwise. Now, the argument about quality control on Type C cables is a separate and important thing to mention though, that’s better left for another day and another article.

One polarizing change with the HTC 10 is the removal of the true “Boom Sound” speakers. Now, we’ve long decried all the space they took up. External speakers on a phone for movie/music listening is such a niche thing it seemed crazy to devout such a large portion of the phone to speakers, thereby making it larger and more unwieldy compared to most other phones with similarly sized screens. With the HTC 10 the company finally listened and moved the speakers to the top/back as most other phones are. While the speaker switcheroo did indeed result in a noticeably lower quality sound overall, it did make the phone smaller in footprint for its given size. At the end, yeah, they took away one of their talking points. But it is for the better in the long run.

htc10-s7comparoAnother odd though understandable omission is the lack of any real water/dust resistance rating. Samsung makes a big point to market the IP rating of the Galaxy S7/Edge which is one of the more durable device on the market. But with such ratings comes the hugely increased headache of warranty repairs and what to do when water/dust are the cause of the problem. Where do you draw the line? HTC has taken the stance of standing in the shadows with such ratings. Most of your flagships these days do have a coating applied at the manufacturer that safeguards the electronics to a certain degree for brief, light encounters with water. There have been numerous videos showing the HTC 10 is somewhat resilient to water. That said, it doesn’t stand up to the constant, repeated resilience of the S7. In short: If you’re prone to clumsy streaks, especially around liquid, the HTC 10 may not be for you.

htc-angleAs a phone and mobile computer it’s fast and fluid thanks to pretty much “stock” Android devoid of the old HTC Sense of years past, replaced with a more light-handed approach that favors unique features or apps instead of re-skinning something Google already spent a lot of time designing. As a camera, the HTC 10 is adequate to good depending on your situations. We had both good and bad experiences depending on certain lighting conditions and our position in respect to the light source and subject. At this point, most flagship phones’ cameras perform amicably and within a few percentage points of one another. Only but a few scenarios are still worth chasing, including image quality while taking a photo of a moving subject, overall sharpness/clarity/color accuracy, and of course, low light performance. As an overall comparison we’d still say the S7/Edge still takes the crown followed by the G5, HTC 10, and current iPhone S models as trading blows depending on the category being judged. HTC hasn’t really been known for their cameras in the past, and the HTC 10 isn’t going to make them a household name either, simply put; it’s acceptable.

The last aspect we’ll talk about regarding the HTC 10 is the battery life. Don’t worry – it’s fine. We would stop short of “fantastic” or “great” and merely say it’s on par to slightly above average of other devices. Nothing more, nothing less. And that’s perfectly acceptable to the majority of the market today. That said, it’s another area HTC merely met everyone else at instead of doing something to lead the pack.

In the end, while we really like some aspects of the HTC 10 such as the (still) stellar build quality, pretty much stock Android, and stable, reliable performance, we’re not so certain it’s the first phone we’d pick when lined up alongside the Galaxy S7 or LG G5 (much less several of the Chinese based “flagships” such as those made by Huawei). Again, it’s a good phone. But it’s not a “wow” phone that’s overly flashy. In the end we can ask if it really needs to be. (The answer is generally no.) Stability and reliability are somewhat underrated these days.

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As always, the final choice is up to the individual’s specific needs. We’re not going to tell you “buy this phone”. That’s not our job. You need to figure out what you want, what you can sacrifice, and what you can life with. We’re merely telling you our thoughts, what’s good, what’s bad, and what to keep in mind. With the HTC 10, we’d say you won’t be disappointed should you take the plunge. It’s a good phone — a sleeper hit, even.

 

**Thank you to Kyle Communications and Verizon for the loaner HTC 10 device.

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About Author

Gadget lover, smartphone collector, and beer connoisseur. I've been writing about gadgets and mobile technology since 2008 and loving every minute of it. Outside of the digital landscape, I enjoy being active outdoors and playing guitar and drums. I'm always up for a good conversation so feel free to drop me a line on any of my social accounts or via email.

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