“The latest flagship from HTC looks gorgeous, is packed with loaded hardware, and promises great pics”
The original HTC One (circa 2013) brought a refreshing, premium, all-metal design language to the table, and the Taiwanese brand continues to use the same ethos even today. However, the brand seems to have had a tumultuous journey over the years, and we can’t say it blew our socks with all of its flagships. Some, like the original One and its sequel, the One M8 (review) were quite compelling, but the One M9+ (review) that came last year was a bit of a disaster. If you remember, HTC’s last flagship, the One M9 (first impressions) never actually made it to India… but it’s time for a new torch bearer now. The new device was widely expected to be called the One M10, but for some reason, HTC has decided to drop the ‘One’ from the moniker – resulting in a rather simple, yet baffling name: HTC 10. So do excuse us if you find numerous instances where we refer to it as just “the 10”. (Come to think of it, we had similar problems when we reviewed the OnePlus One and its sequel).
As the saying goes however… what’s in a name? The in-depth evaluation will come later, but for now, let’s find out if it manages to impress us with its design and feature set. Join us as we go hands on…
With the original One, HTC set things in motion for others to follow as far as benchmarks for smartphone design go. Encased in a full metal body, that phone was one of the loveliest phones of its time.
The brand followed that up with the gorgeous M8, bringing brushed metal into the mix. The classy, luxury watch-inspired facade continues, and has been inherited by the HTC 10. There are a few differences, but overall, the design language is the same.
The fascia is dominated by the display (a super-sharp 5.2-inch screen toting 2K resolution) of course, and sports the usual elements – the earpiece, sensors and front camera (with a large and noticeable lens in this case), placed on top. The area below the screen is quite different from the earlier models, mainly because the brand has moved back to using capacitive navigation keys instead of utilising software-based navigation as in the predecessors. The navigation keys on the 10 are placed on either side of the oval home key… which isn’t actually a physical button but responds to capacitive touch. And as expected, it integrates a fingerprint scanner as well.
The rear is metal, with the expanse broken up by a pair of antenna lines. The back curves towards the sides, making the phone thicker in the middle. That does make it nestle quite well in the hand though, and the phone feels ergonomic to hold. The chamfered edges are quite wide, and add to the classy feel. The rear is where you’ll see the primary camera of course, and adjoining that is a small module that houses the true-tone flash and the laser sensor that aids in focussing. The camera juts out slightly. HTC branding can be seen in the middle, with the usual regulatory info printed closer to the bottom.
The bottom edge of the phone is where you’ll find a USB Type-C port, the speaker and the primary microphone, while the top is home to the 3.5mm audio socket.
On the left spine, you’ll find an ejectable tray that gobbles up a microSD card, while the tray for the single nano-SIM is placed on the right. The right is also where the volume rocker and the ridged power key are located.
The software platform utilised by the HTC 10 is Android Marshmallow, and as usual, you’ll find the brand’s Sense UI running on top. HTC says it has been working closely to ‘reboot’ the Android experience, and therefore, there’s a conscious effort to reduce app duplication and eliminate bloatware. Consequently, the preloaded apps have been kept to a minimum. From what we could make out from our demo unit, these include TouchPal keyboard, News Republic, a few social apps like Facebook and Instagram, and the usual suite of Google apps.
A Themes app allows you to customise the look-and-feel of the UI. The personalisation options also include a simplified launcher. HTC has even thrown in something called Boost+, which is a phone manager of sorts. It includes a Smart boost that actively clears background apps to improve performance, a Game battery boost that switches display resolution to full HD while playing games, an app manager, a junk cleaner and an app locker. The Blinkfeed news aggregator gets its own dedicated space on the side of the home screens as usual.
The HTC 10 supports Motion Launch gestures as well, and these include double tap to wake and sleep, along with offering a few other functions that can be accomplished after picking up the phone in portrait mode – swipe up to unlock, swipe left to jump to home, swipe right to access Blinkfeed, and swipe down twice to launch the camera.
With a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 ticking under the hood, along with 4 gigs of RAM… buttery-smooth performance wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect. And sure enough, the HTC 10 didn’t display any signs of lag in our brief usage. Out of 32GB, about 23GB was available to use in our demo unit. The connectivity options are loaded too, with NFC and DLNA thrown into the mix. HTC says the 3,000mAh battery should be good for about two days of usage, and you can be sure we’ll be putting these claims to the test.
The shooting prowess is a big part of the story of course, and for that, you get a 12MP sensor at the rear, and a 5-meg snapper at front. The rear camera is aided by laser autofocus to ensure speedy focussing, but the amazing thing is that HTC has added optical image stabilisation to both the cameras. This makes the HTC 10 the very first to boast OIS in the front camera, and hopefully, selfies getting blurred due to shaky hands should be a thing of the past.
The camera app is quite simple, and offers modes like Zoe, HDR Auto, panorama etc. The video shooting capabilities include 4K, hyperlapse and slow-mo. Shooting options include touch to capture, smile shutter, and voice capture as well. A Pro mode is available as well, and apart from letting you shoot in RAW, also offers various options to tweak various parameters like ISO, white balance and focus. A few test shots we took indicated superfast focussing speeds, and the images looked pretty good.
The HTC 10 doesn’t seem atrociously priced with its sticker reading Rs 52,990. Half a lakh rupees is the usual pricing for most flagship smartphones anyway. That said, the Samsung Galaxy S7 (review) is priced about Rs 4,000 lower in comparison, and that phone is pretty hard to beat when it comes to everything from performance to shooting capabilities. The LG G5 (first impressions), with its much-hyped semi-modular design, is also set to land in India the same time as the HTC 10 starts shipping. This means that HTC’s flagship has its task cut out, and the going won’t be easy. Our in-depth review, already in the pipeline as you read this, should separate the wheat from the chaff… and this one will be worth waiting for, we assure you.