At an event a couple of months ago, another writer spotted my slightly scarred but still stylish-looking HTC One M8 and commented “you don’t see many tech journalists with HTC phones”. It was a pretty good point, and a somewhat concerning truth for the struggling Taiwanese manufacturer: if even the journalists who are pretty positive about the handsets don’t own them, then how do they convince the public to consider a HTC instead of the latest all-singing, all-dancing Apple or Samsung flagship?
One option would be to undercut their opponents, but that’s not an approach that HTC seems keen on. The “One” and “M” may have been dropped from the title, but the HTC 10’s launch price is staying doggedly up there with the big boys. At £570 SIM-free, it’s the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and £30 more than the entry-level iPhone 6s.
Say what you like about HTC, that’s a bold statement of intent. Does the phone live up to that billing?
HTC 10: Appearance
From the smash-hit One M8 to the somewhat underwhelming One M9, HTC should probably have learned that the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t always pay off in the technology world. Not only did the HTC One M9 offer few obvious advantages over its predecessor, it looked almost identical. This isn’t the case with the HTC 10 – if you’re looking for an elevator pitch description, it’s a bit like the One M8 and One A9 has a baby.
A big baby, of course, at 5.2in, but as both of those handsets are good-looking, that is far from a bad thing. Our review model, which arrived in Carbon Grey, is a rather stylish-looking phone. As HTC has ditched the logo and speaker beneath the screen, it’s found room to swell the screen size a tad, and also add a touch-sensitive home button that doubles up as a pretty reliable fingerprint scanner.
There are other changes too, the most obvious of which is that all of your micro-USB cables are in danger of redundancy: HTC has decided that USB Type-C is the way forward from here on in. The power button has moved from the top of the handset to the side, and now comes with an oddly serrated texture. The headphone jack now sticks out the top, which will prove something of a “Marmite move”, depending on what you’ve grown used to. So far, you might argue, it’s all change from previous HTC flagships.
But turn it over and things feel more familiar. The all-in-one metal design – pioneered by the Taiwanese manufacturer and subsequently “adopted” by pretty much everyone else – is proudly on display again, as are the familiar lines that slice across the curved corners. The round camera housing is as distinctive as ever, but now protrudes by a couple of millimetres. The HTC logo is embossed into the centre as before, but the rounded rear is now framed by sharper, chamfered edges running around its circumference.
It’s not the lightest phone, however. Tipping the scales at 161g, it’s a fair bit heavier than the iPhone 6s (129g) and Samsung Galaxy S7 (152g), albeit nowhere near as weighty as the iPhone 6s Plus (192g). Make no mistake, though: the HTC 10’s build quality makes for a phone that feels wonderfully solid and substantial.
Once again, there’s no removable battery, but you’re free to pop in a microSD card, expanding the existing 32GB of storage to your heart’s content (as long as your heart’s content is capped to 2,032GB).
HTC 10: Screen
For three generations, HTC has clung doggedly to 1080p as its smartphone resolution of choice, but with the larger screen comes a substantial resolution boost, and the new display now stretches up to a Quad HD, 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. The screen is certainly sharp and vivid, although to the naked eye the leap from 441 to 564ppi is a marginal improvement on a smartphone screen – but at least HTC hasn’t gone down the route of chasing 4K magic beans like Sony.
A fine screen it is too. It uses Super LCD 5 panel technology with a protective layer of Gorilla Glass 4, and in our tests it performed very strongly indeed. It reaches a maximum brightness of 449cd/m2, covers 99.8% of the sRGB gamut, and serves up an impressive contrast ratio of 1,793:1.
|HTC 10||Samsung Galaxy S7||Apple iPhone 6s||LG G5||Google Nexus 6P|
|Pixels per inch||564||534||326||554||518|
|sRGB gamut covered||99.8%||100%||93.3%||97.1%||100%|
To be clear, these are all really good scores – as you’d expect from a selection of handsets very close to the top of our best smartphones of 2016 list – but the HTC 10 locks horns with the best of them, performing solidly in every single metric. For me, the S7 just snatches it, despite its seemingly duller screen (that’s actually a quirk of AMOLED technology), but the fact the HTC 10 is in the same ballpark is a very strong start.
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