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HTC 10 Review: The Best No Gimmick Phone You Wanted

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THe HTC 10 is the No Gimmick phone and that's the way you want it. The No gimmick approach by HTC has brought them back in the fight.

The HTC 10 Is The No Gimmick Phone

The HTC 10 is honestly a breath of fresh air for HTC. The last two years have not been kind to them in the smartphone world. The HTC One M9 and even the more recent HTC One A9 were met with lukewarm receptions from consumers and reviewers. HTC had to make a change and the HTC 10 is the culmination of that change with keeping what’s great, adding what’s needed and having no gimmicks.

The HTC 10 Design Simple, Plain But Effective

The HTC 10 didn’t go with a crazy design this year. The went for what’s simple and works. It’s a candy bar style phone with a mostly metal design besides the rubber on the top and sides for the antenna bands.. What makes the phone stand out is the sand blasted chamfer edging on the sides of the phone. When you look at it in different lighting it reflects. I like this and it gives the phone a unique look that stands out from the pack. I would like to see them add a touch of color to those for a cool color effect. The phone is a lot less slippery than prior phones so you won’t have the phone accidentally fly out of your hand.  Solid build quality all around with the HTC 10 I have no complains and I don’t think many will.

 

Key Upgrades Bring The HTC 10 To Flagship status

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The past few flagship phones HTC has been lacking in the features department behind it’s competitors, but this year they are standing tall right next to them. The 5.2 inch display is now Quad HD which I’m very happy. It’s Super LCD 3 so you don’t get the deep blacks or saturated colors, but the quality of video and pictures and navigating the software in general looks great and I’m glad to see the bump up here.

Below the display is a fingerprint sensor that is fast and accurate. It’s not on the same speed as the Huawei, Samsung or iPhone in terms of speed, but it doesn’t get the job done. It also acts as a home button. I do wish it was a physical button as I think it would feel better to click a button to go to the home screen or turn on the phone when it’s in front although these day I do think a rear fingerprint sensor is the best way to go.

Internally there is Snapdragon 820 Processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage which are the standard specs for 2016 flagship smartphones. I’ve yet to feel phones with these types of specs feel slow or have issue and the same is here for the HTC 10. Over a longer period of time that may change but for now it’s blazing fast.  While we get 32GB of storage HTC did include a microSD card slot to add up to 2 TB of storage (They included a 200 GB card for testing for us.) I’m very happy to see SD cards making a return, it’s really needed with how much data we use on these devices, on board storage just isn’t enough to cut it.

HTC Finally has a winning camera but still behind the rest

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HTC historically has never been very good with cameras on smartphones. This year with the HTC 10 they have proved that they can make a good camera in a smartphone.  The rear facing camera is a 12 Megapixel sensor with large pixels (1.55µm), a bright f/1.8 aperture, OIS and Laser AutoFocus. The photos produced in day time shots mostly have a cool effect with more natural colors although they come a bit flat. Details are lacking in most shots and indoor and night shots while good could use some improvement in clarity.

The front facing camera is a 5 Megapixel shooter that also has 1.34µm pixels and f/1.8 aperture and OIS, a first in a smartphone according to HTC.  I’m not a big selfie person but I find the front facing camera to be more than adequate for most use cases. While I don’t think it’s the quality of the HTC Desire Eye which I believe had one of the best front facing cameras since it was basically a rear facing camera on the front.

The camera app is also greatly improved which a much more streamlined layout and easier navigation. You can get to several different modes in just a couple of touches and they have also included a Pro Mode that lets you do adjustments on the fly and shoot in Raw format. The camera app change is one of my favorite updates for the HTC 10.

For video the HTC 10’s camera can shoot 4K video which you can check out some samples in our video. Good quality but what’s disappointing is the lack of apps that support editing the 4K file if you choose to shoot in it.  The camera saves 4K video in .mkv format for which there isn’t many smartphones apps that support it. Even HTC Zoe doesn’t support the file. Most manufacturers usually include some editing software in their software to accommodate this like Samsung does but HTC has seemed to have left this out. Would like to see them send out an update to add a 4K editor built in.

 

 

No Sense Makes Sense For HTC

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HTC’s software approach for the HTC 10 is much different then from the past. They are no longer referring to it as Sense UI which I said about two years ago a name they should dump and have gone more towards a stock android experience with HTC making customizations where needed. The software is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and they have worked with Google to make sure there are not duplicate apps so for apps like the photo gallery, music  and calendar, the default choice are the Google Photos, Google Calendar and Google Play Music. I feel this cleans up the OS great and causes much less confusion. The App Drawer is customized to HTC but the notification tray is stock Android.

HTC has also included a number of themes and also what they call “HTC Freestyle” which changes the home screen to sticker style widgets for common applications. There are some interesting ones here but for the most part I stuck with the standard look and feel with the user interface. I feel that HTC Freestyle is more of a fancier easy mode that many phones have for novice smartphone users to make it easier to use. I do like how they have done this and will help the novice user with some added style but veteran and power users will stay clear of it.

HTC 10 Video Review

BoomSound has Evolved

HTC 10 Boomsound Evoulved

We know HTC is know for putting the best speakers on a smartphone and they have done it again here with the HTC but in a much different way. There is a top speaker next to the front facing camera and a bottom speaker next to the USB Type-C port that act as a tweeter and subwoofer combo to produce some quality audio. It isn’t on the level of past BoomSound I would say, but this keeps them in 1st place when it comes to smartphone speakers.

But where you really see the improvements in BoomSound is when you plug in some high quality headphones. The HTC 10 comes equipped with a 24-bit audio DAC and if you pair it with some high quality headphones you’re going to get some kick ass sound. I used the Blue Lola over-the-ear headphones in my testing and man it was joy to listen to.

HTC 10 Is A Battery Champion

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The HTC 10 comes with a 3000 mAH battery along with USB Type C and Quick Charge 3.0. The battery life has been outstanding for me. I’ve been able to get through a normal workday with normal usage just fine. I have about 3 email account and 3 social networks along with photo uploads, hangout chats and a few phone calls and text and I was able to get on average 12-14 hours on a single charge. If I went heavier on some days my average would go around the 10-12 hour mark. I’m not a heavy mobile gamer so I’m sure the numbers will drop by an hour or two with very intense gaming. But always remember battery life is subjective and depends on the user, location and lifestyle but I do believe my battery average should fit most that use phone similar to the way I use them which is more power user.

Quick Charging is also super fast on here. In my test I was able to go from 10% to  57% battery life in about 30 minutes of charging. It takes about 70-80 minutes for the phone to full charge.

The No Gimmick Phone Brings HTC Back

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The HTC 10 is overall a quality smartphone and the best the company has put out in the last couple of years. I don’t have any major complaints or drawbacks to mention. I can only nitpick on a few things such as while camera quality is good it it still lags behind the competition but not a far back as before. There isn’t a IR blaster anymore, it’s a niche option for many and I never used it in past  but that is something that will bother some folks out there. I’d also like to see them add a 4K video editor for the 4K video the phone takes but much of this is like I said before more nitpicking details that will matter to some, a deal breaker? To a few maybe but overall if you are in the market for a new smartphone and you want something that things phone first and little to no gimmicks then the HTC 10 is the the phone for you.

About the author

Warren Bowman

I have a deep passion for everything tech. From gadgets to gaming I get it all and love giving my opinions, reviews and analysis on all things tech. Live Your Tech World In High Definition!

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