HTC 10 camera review: right up there with the very best, almost

“The HTC 10 shouldn’t leave you asking for more in terms of shooting prowess”

As we sit down to write an analysis of the new HTC 10’s shooting capabilities, we can’t help but go back into memory lane to ponder over the Taiwanese brand’s innovations in the smartphone camera arena. HTC chose to take the path less trodden when it came up with its UltraPixel tech, with the HTC One being the vehicle to bring it to the masses. Its successor, the One M8 (review) went a step ahead, and added a depth sensor to the mix, enabling some very cool post-shooting effects. Notably, the One M8 dropped the OIS boasted by its predecessor. With its newest flagship, the HTC 10, the company is aiming to raise its flag high among camera phones, and to that end, it has added optical image stabilisation to both the primary as well as the front camera. This makes the HTC 10 the very first to boast OIS in its front shooter.


The UltraPixel tech is still around, and the HTC 10 (first impressions) rocks a 12-meg primary sensor with 1.55um pixels and an f/1.8 lens. The 2nd-gen laser autofocus promises zippy focussing speeds. The 5MP autofocus front shooter also boasts f/1.8 optics, integrates OIS and boasts a 1.34um pixel size. The main camera is capable of shooting RAW stills, 4K video and does hyperlapse and slow motion vids too.

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HTC has done a solid job with the 10’s camera app too – it’s really simple to understand, and once you’ve had a look at the layout and know where the different modes are, you can access them quickly and get shooting without having to dive deep into menus. Holding the phone in landscape, you’ll just see a few basic options listed on both sides – the shutter, video, toggle for the front shooter, and access to gallery on the right, and flash options, shooting mode button and HDR on the left. Since the phone has an HDR Auto feature, the key cycles between on, off and auto with each tap.

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A tap on the shooting modes key, indicated by a pair of vertical lines, makes a panel slide out where all the options are listed. Apart from the usual stuff like panorama, you also get Zoe camera (which shoots a still and a 3-second video) and a pro mode that lets you shoot in RAW and tweak various shooting parameters. Some of these modes have more options presented next to them – tapping the Photo mode in the slide-out panel for example, gives you an option to change the image resolution and aspect ratio. These are usually hidden deep under menus, so it’s nice to get them up front where they’re easily accessible.

As we found out, the HTC 10 can focus and shoot really fast… the app even warns you in case your finger or something else is blocking the laser autofocus. In our case though, that warning popped up randomly a few times, even when there was nothing blocking the laser sensor at the rear.  Time to check out how well the latest HTC flagship can shoot – so here goes…

Long shot


The HTC 10’s primary snapper can take some lovely pics and the image above is a great example. It’s gorgeous in almost all respects – the sharpness and level of detail visible are quite commendable. The only gripe we have is that that colours look slightly muted and we’d have preferred a little more vibrancy, despite the slightly overcast skies in the scene above.

Close up


The colours are much better on this close-up, and we have to say that the HTC 10 does a super job with background defocus. We like what we see here – the colours, sharpness and detail are all top notch.

Close up (zoomed)


After magnifying the same shot, we can see more details on the subject in the middle, i.e., the white flower. Notice the sharpness on the petals and how clearly the speckles of dust on it are visible.

HDR off


The HDR Auto mode is enabled by default, but we sure to turn if off for this shot. With HDR switched off, you can notice the slight dullness in the colours… but otherwise this is a pretty good image. Next up, let’s see what happens when HDR swings into action.

HDR on


With the HDR kicking into action, the scene takes a sudden turn for the better. The colours look livelier now, and the image looks much more pleasing to the eyes in general. Everything from the water and the cloud formations appear better in terms of detail, and the darker areas have been highlighted well.

Front shot


This one-eyed minion was more than happy to pose for a selfie from the HTC 10’s OIS-laden, 5 MP front camera… and the results were pretty good. With a larger pixel size and optical image stabilisation, the front camera promises lovely selfies and the results we got corroborate that. There’s a screen flash feature to illuminate low-light self-portraits too.

Night shot


Night shots aren’t easy to master, and getting this one right was particularly tricky. However, the HTC 10 seems to have done a good job, and despite the noise visible, we think the image has turned out quite share-worthy. 

Low light


The minion gets back into the frame again, this time for a low-light shot captured in very dim lighting indoors. There’s lots more noise this time, but the colours can be discerned easily and the image isn’t as soft as we’ve seen with a few other smartphone cameras.

Low light (with flash)


With the true-tone flash showing its magic, our subject gets bathed in light and shows all its colours and attributes in full glory. The noise is gone, the focus is sharp, and the image doesn’t look unnaturally bright.

We’d have to say that the HTC 10’s camera capabilities look very strong, and more often than not, you’ll walk away with a lovely shot stored somewhere within the confines of its internal storage, all set to wow others when shared. While the HTC 10’s front camera may very well be one of the very best we’ve encountered yet (making it a great choice for selfie lovers), its rear shooter can be a tad inconsistent sometimes, showing issues with contrast and colour. Unfortunately for it, it can’t match up to the Samsung Galaxy S7 (review) and S7 edge (review) in terms of quality and the sheer ability to produce a great shot each and every time. That said, the HTC 10 is still a very powerful shooter and should please most casual users. Next up is an in-depth look at this smartphone’s overall capabilities and how it fares as a daily driver. Our full review will up very soon on 91mobiles.

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