When HTC released its One M7 in 2013, it not only proved that makers of Android smartphones could create phones that were as beautiful as Apple’s, it also pushed competitors like Samsung and LG to finally build cellphone that weren’t made of creaky plastic.
But with the phones it released since then, HTC seemed to stop innovating, and it quickly fell behind the competition.
Now, the HTC 10 is the smartphone that HTC hopes will win you over again and make you forget about Apple’s iPhone 6s and Samsung’s Galaxy S7.
Sporting a sleek new look and packing a vastly improved 12-megapixel camera, the 10 stands a fair chance of doing just that.
Like its predecessors, the HTC 10 is built on an all-aluminum body. But while it pays clear homage to the One M7, the 10 is no clone.
Sporting embellished chamfered edges that beautifully reflect light and a rounded camera lens, the 10′s futuristic exterior easily makes it one of the most attractive phones around.
Up front, HTC got rid of the dual front-mounted Boom Sound speakers found on the M7, M8, and M9 and instead coated the 10’s face with an edge-to-edge glass panel that gives the phone a cleaner look. (It also happens to ape Apple’s iPhone 6s.)
Boom Sound isn’t gone, though: HTC moved the speaker previously located below the phone’s display to its bottom edge. The top speaker, meanwhile, has been redesigned to look like a traditional phone speaker.
Because of its contoured back, the HTC 10 tends to look bulky next to the likes of the Galaxy S7, but it’s really not. Measuring 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.35 inches, the 10 is in fact taller, wider, and thicker than the S7 (5.6 x 2.7 x 0.31 inches), but only by the slimmest of margins.
Nonetheless, the HTC 10 is significantly bigger than the iPhone 6s (4.4 x 2.6 x 0.28 inches), but that’s because the 10 has a 5.2-inch display, compared with the iPhone’s 4.7-inch panel.
HTC’s designers failed to keep up with the competition in one significant way. Samsung introduced waterproofing with its Galaxy S7, promising that the handset can survive in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes. HTC says the 10 can easily shake off getting a glass of water spilled on it, but that’s not quite the same thing. I’d rather know my phone can take a dip and keep on ticking without issue.
The HTC 10’s 5.2-inch display packs a 2560 x 1440 resolution. By comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 rocks a 5.1-inch panel with that same resolution, while Apple’s iPhone 6s has a 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 resolution screen.
As you’d expect from a high-end, flagship phone, images and videos look incredibly sharp on the HTC 10.
That said, the 10 uses Super LCD 5 screen technology, while the Galaxy S7 uses Super AMOLED (active matrix of organic light-emitting diodes). As a result, to my eye the S7 produces deeper, more dynamic hues than the 10. The HTC 10’s panel also looks significantly dimmer than the S7’s and iPhone’s and tends to wash out when viewed at an angle.
Over the past few years, HTC’s smartphones have been saddled with below-average cameras. But this time around, HTC has upped its game with a new 12-megapixel shooter, which the company says can compete with the best of the best smartphone cameras out there.
And you know what? It’s true. Photos I took with the 10 looked absolutely gorgeous. One shot taken on the 10 of a group of flowers covered in water droplets, for example, showed excellent color contrast; the same shot taken with the Galaxy S7 exaggerated those hues. I personally prefer my colors extra-lively, but if you prize accurate representation of your subjects, you’ll like the 10’s camera.
HTC credits that camera’s improvements to its Ultra Pixel 2 sensor. Marketing lingo aside, that means the 10’s pixel sensors are larger than in its previous phones’ cameras. Those sensors, combined with the 10’s 1.8 aperture lens, means the handset’s camera can pull in more light and capture crisper, cleaner images.
The 10 is also able to take exceptional shots in low-light situations, which HTC’s handsets have struggled with. I had a co-worker take a picture of me in a dimly lit room, and the 10’s camera captured relatively clear images.
However, the HTC 10 still can’t beat the Galaxy S7 in such settings. But considering that the S7 is the best low-light smartphone camera you can get, the fact that the 10 is so close is a big improvement for HTC.
In other words, if the camera is a big concern when buying a phone, the HTC 10 won’t disappoint you.