HTC's Best Smartphone in Years

There’s a lot of really compelling aspects to the HTC 10 that make it the Taiwanese company’s best smartphone in years. This is a true competitor to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and a great choice for those in the market for a high-end device.

I really like the HTC 10’s metal unibody design, which the company has been perfecting ever since the original One M7. The matte aluminium with a beveled edge gives this device the premium industrial design it deserves. It’s comfortable, the Gorilla Glass front is smooth, and it’s a lot less slippery than the glass backs of devices like the Galaxy S7 and Sony Xperia Z5. Plus, it still includes great features like USB-C, a microSD card slot, and a fingerprint sensor.

The lack of BoomSound is disappointing, but at least HTC has kept the high-quality audio processing circuitry for headphone users. This is really the only regression to the design, which now packs a fantastic 5.2-inch 1440p LCD. This display isn’t as bright as the similar panel on the LG G5, but it’s just as vibrant and the optional color-accurate sRGB mode gives users the best of both worlds.

Where the HTC One M9 disappointed with a hot and easily bothered Snapdragon 810, the Snapdragon 820 in the HTC 10 delivers all the performance you’d expect from a flagship device. The CPU is powerful, the GPU is the best of any smartphone SoC, storage is fast (particularly for writes), and throttling isn’t a huge concern despite the more powerful components. Features like Cat. 9 LTE and AirPlay support add to the package.

The HTC 10 brings some of the best OEM-customized software I’ve seen. There’s no bloatware, no duplicate apps, and no unnecessary features. It’s a near perfect combination of slight visual tweaks, minor additions, and signature HTC design choices. While the 10 mightn’t pack the best feature set of recent smartphones, this is more than made up for by cohesive and well-built software that left me satisfied rather than frustrated. Other companies take note: this is how you do an Android skin.

The camera included with the HTC 10 is the best HTC has ever produced. The 12.3-megapixel sensor delivers some very decent results, with a strong focus on accuracy and an excellent level of detail. The camera interface is simple and effective, and although the focusing system has lackluster performance, the fast shutter is welcome, as is the full manual mode with RAW photo support.

That’s not to say the HTC 10’s camera is perfect. The Galaxy S7 and LG G5 both produce better images that may not have the same level of accuracy, but simply look more spectacular through increased saturation and better contrast. Some of this is down to better post processing, and some is down to hardware; the HTC 10’s lens in particular seems cheap and suffers from glare issues at times. Low light performance, from both the front and back cameras, is weaker than I expected from a camera loaded with low-light friendly hardware too.

Considering that the HTC 10 still produces pretty good photos, I’d class the smartphone as one of the best options of the year so far. The price might be a bit hard to swallow for those who buy unlocked devices – it’s $50 more expensive than the outstanding Galaxy S7 – but overall I’m impressed with the HTC 10 and the way HTC has rebounded from a tough couple of years.

85
TechSpot
score

Pros: Outstanding metal design. HTC’s customized version of Android is actually fantastic. Excellent performance. Solid feature set, including AirPlay, fingerprint sensor, and USB-C. Best HTC camera yet.

Cons: Camera still falls behind market leaders Samsung and LG. Off-contract price is expensive.