Sony Xperia XZ vs HTC 10: first look and impressions


In case you missed the big news, Sony announced its second flagship device for 2016 yesterday - the Xperia XZ arrived with some important hardware updates in tow and a signature design language that just screams "Sony!". We are really hopeful that Sony has addressed the few issues that marred its last top-tier devices.

We had to chance to play with the Xperia XZ at IFA 2016, and it just so happened that we also had an HTC 10 on us. One thing led to another and we compiled a quick hands-on comparison between the two devices.


HTC was one of the first Android manufacturers that bet on metal and ditched plastic for its flagship phones, while Sony only recently did so with the Xperia X. The Xperia XZ is continuing this trend by employing what Sony calls Alkaleido, a custom aluminum alloy that exudes better shine and depth properties. We are no experts on alloys and metals, but we have to say – this Alkaleido thing is a joy to touch and look at, as it feels smooth and well-engineered. Moreover, it does not feel cold and rough as the metal on most phones out there... Like the HTC 10, for example. Don't get us wrong—we are more than content with the phone's exterior—but it definitely feels cruder than Sony's take on metal. Granted, the HTC 10 looks a bit more... masculine.

As far as how the two stack up size-wise, we are looking at mostly similar-sized 5.2-inch devices. At 5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches (145.9 x 71.9. x 9 mm) the HTC 10 is smaller yet thicker than the Xperia XZ, which stands at 5.75 x 2.83 x 0.32 inches (146 x 72 x 8.1 mm). Yes, there is a noticeable difference, but it's not that glaring. Also, at 161gr, both phones weigh the same.

It's important to say that the HTC 10 features a fingerprint scanner embedded in its home button, whereas the US version of the Xperia XZ will most likely no feature one. The international flavor of the new Sony flagship will sport the security functionality though. Oh, and it's important to note that the Xperia XZ is IP68-certified, whereas the HTC 10 is not - it's merely IP53-compliant, meaning it's only resistant to water sprays.


No quad HD display on the Xperia XZ - it puts is faith in a 5.2-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels. This works out a rather crisp and detailed density of 424 pixels per inch for the phone, which is not a bad result per say.

While it's not as crisp and detailed as the HTC 10's 5.2-inch quad HD display, we generally had no qualms with it at all. 

However, this is only one of the sides of the coin - either of these is calibrated differently. While Sony generally failed to impress us with the display calibration of its several former flagships, we are rather hopeful that the XZ will break this uninspiring trend.

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As we already pointed out in our hands-on of the device, its display looks quite pleasant in person, seemingly nailing a very good color temperature out of the box. 

In the meantime, the HTC 10 exhibits a slight lean towards the colder side, which is a usual trait of most smartphones anyway. So far, it seems that the HTC 10 could be in the lead when it comes to overall display "performance", though the Xperia XZ is definitely breathing down its neck.

Interface and functionality

It won't be too far-fetched to say that when it comes to interface and functionality, the Xperia XZ and the HTC 10 are pretty similar in terms of what they offer. Both devices feature mostly clean and ever-so-slightly altered variations of Android Marshmallow, with no heavy interface skins or total revamps of the OS in sight. We generally love this, not only because it warrants a more user-friendly user experience, but also because it's beneficial to the overall snappiness of the interface. 

As usual, Sony has thrown in a nice mix of its own stock Android and PlayStation apps on board (we only hope there's a stock Notes app this time around, though). There's also going to be a new Smart Cleaner feature which is going to try and keep your Android phone running nice and smooth by automatically cleaning the cache of unused applications. 


As far as performance is concerned, the Xperia XZ and the HTC 10 employ similar setups - a Snapdragon 820 chipset is in the heart of things, although it's important to note that the HTC 10 has 1GB of RAM more than the Xperia XZ, which boasts 3 gigs. Although this might seem quite lowly as per late 2016 standards, Sony's latest felt quite snappy and well-performing, though we have to admit we haven't stresstested its RAM management. We suppose this could be an area where the HTC 10 would likely have the upper hand.

You get 32GB of storage in the base Xperia XZ variation, though you can expand your storage with the aid of a microSD card slot. You can do the same on the HTC 10, but you get 64 gigs of base storage with that one.


Sony has put a lot of emphasis on the camera this time around - the main shooter on the Xperia XZ is a 23MP one, with the in-house produced IMX 300 sensor of 1/2.3" size and aperture of f/2.0. There's some improved 5-axis software image stabilization thrown in the mix, which seems to be doing its job just fine this time. Additionally, there's a hybrid laser-assisted autofocus on board as well. All in all, an appealing package that definitely keeps us hopeful.

On the other side, we've got the HTC 10 with its excellent 12MP, F1.8 camera and large 1.55 μm pixels. It's undoudbtedly one of the better performers of H1 2016, and we can't wait to compare it with the Xperia XZ as soon as possible.


So far, it seems that if one is to choose between the Xperia XZ and the HTC 10, they will be having a rather hard time. It's too early to come up with a final verdict, but it's true that both devices are pretty much in the same ballpark when it comes to numerous aspects. True, on paper the HTC 10 might look like the clear winner, but don't be so quick to dismiss the Xperia XZ - Sony is one of the manufacturers that can always surprise us, mostly because we are not expecting anything groundbreaking per say. 

Then comes the pricing - nothing's written in stone yet, but the flagship Xperia XZ will most certainly retail for north of 600 bucks upon launch. Currenly, you can get the HTC for $599, meaning that both devices will compete in the same price bracket. Sounds like a heated rivalry to us!

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