Friday , October 20 2017

HTC announces the HTC 10 — an impressive, powerful phone [Australian Hands On]

2489 Studio updated 3_17
It’s time for HTC to take the wraps off their latest smartphone, and they’re doing so in style this evening with their launch of the HTC 10. We attended a briefing in Sydney earlier today and got the lowdown from the Australian HTC team, and it’s evident that there’s been a lot of introspection and customer feedback in equal amounts, which have come together to make a much better phone than we saw last year. HTC have used the word ‘obsession’ a lot when talking about the development process for the HTC 10, and it shows.

HTC has acknowledged that 2015 was a challenging year. Financial results weren’t great, the HTC One M9 wasn’t the phone it could (or should) have been, but there’s a resurgence. HTC have invested a lot of energy in developing super-mid range phones, with extraordinary value for customers, great specifications at a great price. However, they’ve not forgotten the flagship, and that’s where the HTC 10 fits in.

HTC clearly believe the HTC 10 is the best phone they’ve ever made, and they’ve made a number of claims about being the world’s best in a number of key areas. Let’s take a look at what makes the HTC 10 an interesting proposition.

Design and Display

Firstly, when it comes to design, the HTC 10 is said to be sculpted by light. With its full metal body, and refreshed design, chamfered edges and contrast between matte and polished surfaces, the HTC 10 actually looks great — it’s the spiritual successor to the One M7 and One M8 that the One M9 never really was. It’s both comfortable in the hand and grippy too, without looking over-engineered.

The HTC 10 will come in a number of colours, three to be precise: Carbon Gray with black face panels, Glacial Silver with white panels, and a Topaz Gold, which won’t be coming to Australia (at least, not initially).

On the front, the 10 features a 5.2″ Quad HD display, with 2.5D glass and Super LCD 5 technology. This puts out 2K resolution offering 564ppi, and believe me, it looks amazing. HTC have also moved their on-screen buttons to capacitive buttons, but unlike Samsung, I’d say they’ve got them right. HTC’s back button is on the left, a Home / Fingerprint sensor is in the middle, and a multitasking key is on the right. They’re a joy to use.

Software and Performance

There’s no argument that Android can be a bit of a fragmented, disjointed experience, especially between different vendors. HTC used to create Sense with the idea in mind that Android was good, but not great, and HTC had to do a lot of work to make it good enough for the user. With Marshmallow, HTC is of the view that Google has got it mostly right, and so while there is still Sense of a sort on the HTC 10, it’s very, very minimal. In fact, many of HTC’s apps have gone, because Google’s are better. Of course, HTC’s apps are available if you want them, but in many instances, it looks like HTC has got the balance right.

A great example of this is with the photography, which we’ll talk about more in a moment. While HTC believes its camera works better than Google’s default camera (and my impression would be yes, yes it does), its Gallery app isn’t quite so good, and so HTC’s Camera is fully integrated with Google Photos as the on-camera gallery app. The integration is just perfect.

Performance was a key focus area for HTC; they want a phone that lives up to expectations rather than redefining them down. Touch response is lightning fast — just 120ms compared to 160ms and higher on rival devices. Launch / switch speed is improved too, with HTC’s internal testing showing the HTC 10 is 5 to 10% faster than competing devices.

A new feature (known by different names from different OEMs) is HTC Boost+, which monitors the phone in the background intelligently managing apps and shelving those that don’t need to be running. Many OEMs are doing this, and it does make a measurable change to performance and battery life, despite the improvements we’re seeing in Android’s core.

On that topic — battery life — HTC claim to have 2 days of battery life, and unlike some others who’ve made similar claims in recent times, I think HTC might actually be able to deliver it, or get nice and close. With a confirmed 3,000 mAh battery, the HTC 10 is capable of up to 19 days on 3G/4G standby, 27 hours talk time, 13 hours web surfing, or 73 hours of audio playback. Travelling overseas? You can watch 13 hours of video on the 10 before it goes flat.

We’ll be testing those claims, because battery life is often overstated.

Photography

HTC have made a lot of noise about their cameras in the past, and while they’ve been good, they’ve been a bit of hard sell. The HTC One M9 gave us high hopes, but it didn’t quite deliver. HTC have admitted as much, and said that with the HTC 10, it’ll be a different story altogether.

The raw facts are here for all to see. The main camera has been improved with a bigger aperture (f/1.8 from f/2.0), bigger pixels (1.55um from 1.12um) and 12 megapixels instead of a much lower number in years past. This should result in more light, less blur, and better photos, especially with the inclusion of optical image stabilisation (OIS).

Probably the best thing is the quality of the camera, but don’t take it from HTC. DXOMark have taken a look at HTC’s 10 camera, and they’ve given it the highest rating for a smartphone so far; 88 out of 100. This compares quite favourably to the 68 or so that the HTC One M9 got, and puts it on par with Samsung’s Galaxy S7 range (which has a fantastic camera).

With HTC’s Zoe, the features we know and love from modern smartphone cameras are present, including slow-mo videos, hyperlapse, panoramas, special selfie modes and more.

The front camera hasn’t been forgotten. Dubbed the UltraSelfie (shudder), it features OIS as well, with a 5MP 1.34um sensor, 86º wide angle view, and the same f/1.8 aperture as the main camera. This is going to take some great front-facing photos as well.

Sound and More

While the rumours didn’t talk about BoomSound much, and the leaked images definitely didn’t show off the front-facing grills we’ve come to expect, BoomSound is definitely still a thing with the HTC 10. Dubbed BoomSound HiFi Edition this time around, there are indeed two speakers; one near the earpiece and one in the base of the phone, operating as a tweeter and woofer respectively. By separating out the audio components, HTC claims that the 10 will feature the best sound on a smartphone.  Powered by a 24bit DSP and DAC, and a best-in-class headphone amplifier, we have big expectations.

On that note, HTC are including a pair of high-resolution capable headphones in the box, which feature massive drivers (70% larger than competitors), greater sound response and stylish looks. They’re a set of included headphones you might actually like to use.

Other laundry list specifications include MicroSD support (up to a theoretical 2TB limit), 32GB on board storage with adoptable storage from Marshmallow, 4GB of RAM, USB Type C with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU pulling it all together.

Sadly, the HTC 10 won’t be waterproof as such, but it is rated to IP53 so it will resist the water incidents that might occur from use in the rain or splatter from a drink, for example. It won’t be going for a swim, though.

Hands-on Impressions

The HTC 10 feels amazing in the hands. I didn’t like the HTC One M9 very much, but the 10 fixes all of that. The curves are right, the over-the-top jewellery-inspired design is gone, and we’re left with a phone that just looks and feels the part.

The specifications are strong. HTC claim to have coupled Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 with powerful optimisation and efficiency to deliver a phone that won’t run hot, and in quick play with the device, it didn’t warm up appreciably.

The camera (in limited testing) certainly seems pretty capable, but we had limited opportunity to really put it through its paces. The overall experience, noting the limited time we’ve had with the phone, is positive, and the transitions between screens, apps and more feel way faster than current flagships on the market.

HTC have clearly done their homework this time around, and delaying the launch to get it right really seems to have paid off. Of course, we’ll have a full review in time, but for now, the first impressions are very, very good.

Availability

If this has you as interested as I was, this is the part you’ll care about. HTC have confirmed that the HTC 10 will be available from all major carriers soon, including Virgin Mobile, and probably from some major retailers as well. Pricing for Australia has yet to be confirmed, but as soon as we know more, we’ll let you know. Give it a couple of weeks and we’ll have some concrete pricing and launch dates on hand.

In the meantime, you can take a look on HTC’s website for the HTC 10, and whet your appetite.

 

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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24 Comments on "HTC announces the HTC 10 — an impressive, powerful phone [Australian Hands On]"

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Phill Edwards
Valued Guest
Phill Edwards

Love the sound of 2 days battery life. If it’s good in other departments that would swing it for me over the LG G5.

Jet
Valued Guest

Sorry, No Waterproof & No Dust Proof = No Sale for this tradie! 🙁

Dano
Valued Guest
Dano

Chris/Daniel, I notice Telstra have already loaded bloat on this device with that horrible battery killing Telstra app. Was there any other noticeable bloat?

Chris
Valued Guest

Not in the device I saw. Telstra’s app was it, and I’m betting you can uninstall it, or at the very least disable it.

Jamie S
Valued Guest
Jamie S

It looks like HTC finally dropped the FM radio according to gsmarena. Can anyone confirm?

Member

Thanks for bringing us the news from the launch, Ausdroid. I’m encouraged by your initial impression of the phone and will be considering it alongside the LG G5 (and maybe the Sony phone).

Member

Looks great! This HTC fanboy is happy. The only thing that really worries me is the buttons.

I’m a fan of onscreen buttons, dislike capacitive buttons. You can’t find them in the dark and when you do, they sear your retinas because they don’t have auto-brightness.

They also seem to be placed a bit low for one-handed thumb use.

Also, is the Home button a physical button? And can you wake the phone with it?

Daniel Tyson
Ausdroid Manager

The fingerprint scanner is a home button as well, yes.

Chris
Valued Guest

Not sure if you can wake the phone with it, but if I remember correctly yes. It’s more like the fingerprint scanner on last year’s Nexus phones. There’s no click as such. You just rest your finger on it, and I think that was enough to wake it.

Fred
Valued Guest
Fred

With US prices of $700 (more than the S7 @ $670), even on a one for one exchange rate + GST basis we are looking at AU$1000. That’s just too much for what it is – a ‘me too’ phone. Particularly with the uncertain OS update situation with HTC.

Here’s hoping that the rumoured Nexus phone from HTC, derived from this, is quite a bit better and more keenly priced.

Member

That massive bezel is just awful. Looks very 2008 to me for some reason. Apart from that, and the small screen, it’s a decent specced unit. Glad I went with the S7E though 🙂

Henry Chiang
Valued Guest
Henry Chiang

the screen to bezel ratio is 71.1% compared to s7 72.1%, not to mention all the extras HTC has managed to stuff in like OIS front cam and dual speakers with dual amps etc?

Jamie S
Valued Guest
Jamie S

I’m with you on those bezels top and bottom. I like everything else about it including the speaker set up but maybe they should have moved the fingerprint scanner to the rear to reduce the chin on the bottom. Hope they release a plus version with 5.5 inch screen. Does anyone think it looks a bit like a 6P too?

Member

Well damn HTC. You made a phone that has my attention again. It’s been a long wait. Welcome back!

Andrew
Valued Guest
Andrew
Looks like a great phone – very nice hands on impression. Chris, how does the HTC stack up against the Galaxy S7/S7E and LG G5 in your initial impressions? This seems like a serious contender for best Andriod phone of the year. Great design, great screen, (finally) a great camera, new speakers, stripped back software etc. Speaking of software, you mentioned that it has been stripped back, but how did it perform? I know HTC have made claims about being X% faster as you’ve written, but does that translate to real-world? Does the phone feel faster (or even faster than… Read more »
Chris
Valued Guest
Hey Andrew. Bit hard to really compare just yet, but first impressions are definitely positive. The 10 felt lovely in the hand, and though it didn’t have much installed on it, it certainly felt snappy and fast, and the touch response was every bit as quick as HTC claimed; it is noticeable coming from a Samsung S7 — it is quicker. Hard to know if its subjectively faster across the board, but the early impressions are that it probably could be. Once we have a HTC 10 and LG G5, I think we’ll do a flagship roundup podcast episode, that’s… Read more »
Andrew
Valued Guest
Andrew

Thanks for that. I think I’ll skip the S7 and G5 and may go with the HTC 10. From what I’m reading on initial impressions, seems like all tech sites who’ve had hands on with it have had a positive experience.

And yeah, if you guys could do a podcast discussing the HTC 10 or all the three flagship phones, that’d be great.

Adam George
Valued Guest
Adam George

is the silver version with the black front comming to aus?

Chris
Valued Guest

There’s grey with black front and silver with white. Not aware of a silver with black… Certainly not coming here if there is one.

Caleb
Valued Guest
Caleb

Whoa, what happened to disqus? and the phone is very interesting.

Qball
Valued Guest
Qball

I’m holding out for DxOMark to review the LG G5 camera…

SYD Harry
Valued Guest
SYD Harry

12 million UltraPixels with OIS, can’t wait.

Phone looks great. Love to touch soon.

Chris
Valued Guest

I can’t wait to get my hands on this phone again. For real. It feels great and it’s fast, and that camera though.

Alex Gerontzos
Valued Guest
Alex Gerontzos

I’m sold.. Looks VERY promising!

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