HTC has had a rough few years. In 2012 they released the first phone in their “HTC One” series. Although a nice device, this first iteration of the HTC One sold poorly compared to both Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy SIII. In 2013 HTC improved their sales performance with the well constructed and great looking HTC One (M7). The HTC One (M8), released in 2014, improved on the fit and finish of the device, but the camera (which was a weak point in the M7, and relatively strong on the many competitor’s phones) received lackluster reviews, and overall reviews saw the M8 as more of a side-step than a direct upgrade. Unfortunately, the HTC One (M9), released in 2015, continued this sideways trend, and thanks to its much-maligned Snapdragon 810 SoC, was – in some respects – actually worse in performance and battery life than the M8.
This little bit of history brings us to the simply named HTC 10. A phone which, in some respects, really is a do-or-die device for HTC – who have been both out-advertised and out-upgraded by the two big boys on the smartphone block, Samsung and Apple.
The HTC 10 – Sometimes Less is More
So far, however, the new HTC 10 looks quite promising. Several early reviews have commented on its slimmed-down design by removing the characteristic lower speaker grill on the front of the phone and moving it to the bottom. This retains the dual-speaker functionality but shrinks the overall vertical size – smart and effective! It also features an all-aluminum uni-body construction and some nice details along the back and sides that really make it an attractive device.
The front of the phone also features a large 5MP front-facing camera (with optical image stabilization – a first!), a fingerprint sensor on the physical home button (a-la Samsung and the iPhone), and the HTC 10 continues the expansion of USB Type-C connectors.
The back camera – a 12MP affair that includes a dual LED flash – appears to finally give HTC a much-needed positive mark in the camera column, with low-light pictures that actually appear either as good as or sometimes better than the Samsung S7 (the reigning camera champion).
Internally, the phone features the same Snapdragon 820 that both the LG G5 and the Samsung S7 use. This system-on-a-chip (SoC) features much better battery life, performance, and much less heat.
If you’re a fan of having lots of media on your device, the HTC 10 should pique your interest, since it’s the first among the three major Android flagship manufacturers (Samsung, LG, and HTC) to not only include a Micro-SD card slot, but to incorporate Android’s “Adoptable Storage”. Adoptable Storage is just a fancy way of saying that the OS will treat the Micro-SD card and the on-board storage as one big chunk – there is no separation between the two. This means that the SD card is able to store all sorts of apps, data, and media (even stuff that’s not normally allowed to be on the SD card), but if you remove the SD card from the phone, neither the card nor the phone will really handle that well. Both LG and Samsung disable this feature of Android.
For me, the only thing that is not to like about this phone is the same problem that plagues all Samsung and LG phones (and, truthfully, the majority of Android OEM phones) – slow updates. It seems that companies are all getting better about providing prompt updates to flagship-level phones, but you’ll still be waiting 2-4 months (or even longer, depending on your cell provider) after Android N comes out this summer for the update. That being said, HTC has (much like Samsung) pared down their own additions (bloat) to Android M, and has also put many of their replacement apps in the Google Play Store, meaning that they can be updated much more quickly and easily than the core parts of the OS.