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HTC 10 Review

HTC 10

Posted: , posted by Chris P.



We all love us an underdog. But the story of HTC doesn't quite qualify it for the role. At the height of its power, the Android pioneer was responsible for one out of four smartphones sold in the United States, and not by accident. But like so many other of the giants of old—think Nokia, BlackBerry—the company's fortunes took a turn for the worse. Rock bottom was last year in August, when the once high-flying brand's stock was trading below cash reserves, meaning it was essentially worthless in the eyes of investors.

Things have gotten better since. But HTC is still an unwilling prisoner of the spiral of death, with every successive failed, or even indecisive, quarter making a resurfacing next time around even less likely. And despite the initial success of its new Vive virtual reality arm, one has to wonder just how much sweat and worry—but also passion—went into the planning of its latest flagship phone, the HTC 10, to ensure a success.

With the 10, HTC must prove to the world that its wares are worth the dough. And theirs have been a tough sale lately, largely because of objective shortcomings that the HTC 'style' of doing things—a style we've always been attracted to—wasn't enough to cover for. So the 10 needs to be rock-solid both on the inside and outside, while also doing a splendid job getting us through a busy day of life acrobatics.

Let's see how it does.


Design isn't just about looks. The HTC 10 proves it.

Ask a person what they think of the design of anything and they're likely to start yapping about looks. And sure, looks are important and very much a part of design. But they're far from the be-all and end-all. And sometimes, we need devices like the HTC 10 to be reminded of that.

The HTC 10 not only looks great—it also feels great. In the hand, it's substantial and pleasantly heavy in a way that few phones are. From the chamfered edges on the back, through the solid aluminum body, the 10 is a smartphone with style. And it's also cleverly engineered.

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.

For example, those aforementioned chamfers aid handling ergonomics and help you forget the specs—the specs that list the HTC 10 as 0.35 inches-thick (9mm), or more than any competing flagship. And while the phone is rather chunky, it feels like its thickness is a statement just as much as an engineering necessity. Also helpful is the ridged power button, which is centered on the right side, with the volume rocker a bit higher for a perfect, secure grip.

Turning our attention to the front, it's where HTC's design team lets us down the most. Adopting many of the characteristics of the HTC One A9, the 10 isn't exactly striking when looked head-on. Probably the biggest offender here are the weird proportions of the top and bottom bezels, along with the home button which sits strangely off-center.

Available in silver and dark-gray mattes, the HTC 10 strikes us as a rather masculine device. And while in terms of looks it's not the prettiest phone out there, it's a glaring example of macho design—and that, to be fair, is not a bad thing at all.


Better than most.

One thing we used to appreciate HTC devices for were the display panels the company used. They were bright, mostly color correct and without the gaudy colors typical of AMOLEDs, and never went for stupid-high resolutions, trading efficiency for just a tiny bit more clarity. Up to a point, this remains the case with the HTC 10.

Things have changed, though. Perhaps most importantly, after sticking to 5-inch displays for three consecutive generations, HTC has now moved up to a 5.2-inch Super LCD 5 screen that packs 1440 x 2560 pixels. That's a density of 565 ppi, or more than sufficient to ensure everything you—or even a fighter jet pilot—end up looking at will be extremely sharp. As for the 'Super' part, it simply denotes that there's no air gap between the front glass and the display itself, helping prop the image closer to your finger.

Speaking of the image, it's a good one overall, but not perfect. Due to a disbalance between the primary Red, Green, and Blue (or RGB) colors, with the latter two towering above the former, there's a leaning towards a colder color temperature. In layman's terms, this means that the screen is bluer than it should be. As for overall color fidelity and gamma response, we're mostly pleased, even in the context of comparing the phone with other flagships.

A little bit of a disappointment after this showing was the brightness of the phone, as it peaks at a little over 370 nits, which is definitely on the lower end of the high-end spectrum. Still, the screen is legible under sunlight, if less so than competing solutions. Luckily, at 7 nits, minimum brightness is sufficiently low for nighttime usage.

UPDATE: HTC has sent us a new 10 unit, whose maximum brightness we measured at 430 nits. According to the manufacturer, this is the true luminance the panel is capable of, and there's been something wrong with our initial unit. We're willing to believe this is in fact the HTC 10's true max brightness level.

Finally, it should be noted that the HTC 10's software allows you to tweak display metrics through two distinct screen modes: Vivid and sRGB (on which we've based our analysis above). The former is your typical, overly saturated, AMOLED-like mode, though both modes offer the option to manually adjust color balance—which we did in order to compensate for the bluishness.


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PhoneArena rating:
Display5.2 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels (565 ppi) S-LCD 5
Camera12 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz, Kryo processor
Size5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches
(145.9 x 71.9. x 9 mm)
5.68 oz  (161 g)

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