Interface

We dig the no-nonsense approach of Sense 8!

What we've always loved about HTC is the holistic nature of their devices. So the strapping hardware is complemented by equally no-nonsense software in the Sense 8 interface. Alike to Sony's Xperia theme, Sense 8 on the HTC 10 is more about executing the essentials well, all the while showing apathy for excessive—and largely unimportant—features. Unlike Sony, however, HTC's software design team knows how to create a visually impactful UI.


Based on Android Marshmallow, the HTC 10's software is really the only manufacturer interface where the word 'tolerate' doesn't figure. We kind of like it, actually, and if you're a fan of the Nexus line, this is probably the only custom UI you'll like as well. It's down to the point and beautifully utilitarian, with just essential apps pre-loaded and no duplicates. That said, there are some time-sinks and perks if you're so inclined.


A great example is the Themes app, which allows you to completely redecorate the look and feel of your homescreen. Everything, from app icons through wallpapers, fonts, and color schemes, can be edited to your taste, though we're yet to feel inclined to mess up with the defaults. Another stand-out—but actually useful—feature is the BlinkFeed homescreen, which integrates news, social media feeds, and contextual recommendations (think stuff like where to grab a bite). Best of all, unlike Samsung's very similar 'upday' (previously My Magazine) homescreen, transitioning to BlinkFeed is completely lag-free.


The only other feature worth mentioning is HTC's Boost+ app. As the name suggests, it's supposed to keep the HTC 10 performing fluidly by managing your apps in the background and scheduling regular maintenance to clear out junk files. Boost+ also lets you lock other apps so that they only open through a pattern or fingerprint.


Despite this overly positive experience, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that we're no fans of the TouchPal keyboard that comes by default. It's unnecessarily complex—which runs counter to the rest of Sense 8's UX design—and even improperly localized for western markets in terms of the default layout. Given HTC's commitment to Google apps, we would have liked Google's keyboard app much better.


Fingerprint scanner

Simply exceptional!

The pill-shaped, capacitive Home button on the chin of the HTC 10 doubles up as a fingerprint scanner—a first for the company's flagship line. It's a touch-type sensor and a lot alike to the one Samsung is using with its flagship devices in shape, size, and location.


Granted, HTC could have placed the scanner a little higher on the bottom bezel for easier access, but we can't really complain much—it's easy to reach as is. Better yet, that thing is very fast, and absolutely spot on with accuracy. We haven't staged any intricate tests, but our takeaway is that this is possibly the most reliable scanner we've worked with, right up there with Apple's Touch ID.


Finally, while you can't lock files and photos behind it, the sensor wakes up the screen automatically when you touch it, allowing for very fast access to your phone. If you don't like this, you can turn it off from Settings.


Phone


Paradoxical as it may be, when you buy a new smartphone, the Phone app is probably your last concern. But it matters, and with the HTC 10, it's executed just right.


For starters, the Material Design-eqsue interface can be customized by removing entirely or just re-arranging your tabs—think call history, favorites, and such. The app offers staples such as speed dial and call blocking, but also speech dial, automatic answering when you pick up your phone, prompts to add unknown callers to contacts (actually useful!), and even Home dialing. That last one means the HTC 10 automatically figures out country codes when you're roaming.


Messaging


If you're into messaging the old-school style, you'll find that the native Messages app is as thought-out as the Phone one.


Apart from customization options that let you change the font, background, and chat bubbles' color, there's also support for block lists and even extras such as a personal signature. Incoming texts by default trigger a notification in your status bar, but you can change that so they're of the heads-up style and get layered on top of whatever it is you're doing—alike to Viber.


Organizer


Instead of relying on its own Calendar app of old, HTC has made the switch to Google's Calendar, and that, we've found, is a plus. Not only does Google's solution look great, but it offers perks such as birthday and holiday reminders, but also goodies like integration with Gmail. So things like appointments and flight tickets entering your mailbox will be automatically added to your agenda, and you'll be duly notified as needed.


Calendar is not the only Google app on the HTC 10 you'll be working with, however. Google Keep is also here for all your note-taking needs and to-do lists, and the Google Sheets and Slides apps are also present out of the gate.


System performance

Easily the smoothest-running, non-Nexus Android phone to date.


Despite ranking slightly lower than its peers on synthetic benchmarks, it'd be crazy to even mention sluggishness in the context of the HTC 10. Quite frankly, this is by far the smoothest-running, non-Nexus Android device to grace our offices. Every action is executed promptly, app open times are minimal, and it just feels like HTC has really done its part of the job.


Who else is responsible? Qualcomm, of course, and its flagship, quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor. Paired with it are the Adreno 530 GPU along with 4GB of the fastest RAM available right now. On the downside, when under continued pressure, the HTC 10 does tend to get warm—perhaps dangerously close to uncomfortably warm.


Storage is another matter that caused some arching of brows. In the United States, the HTC 10 is limited to 32GB of internal storage (of which ~23GB user-available), with a 64GB option promised for other, unnamed markets. Don't fret, though, for the 10 comes with a microSD card slot, which is 'adoptable' thanks to Android Marshmallow. In simpler terms, the OS will let you host apps on the card no problem, so that's a relief. And if that's not enough to soften the blow, you're also getting 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years.


AnTuTu Higher is better
HTC 10 131088
Samsung Galaxy S7 136695
LG G5 134074
Apple iPhone 6s 59075
Sony Xperia Z5 51012.33
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
HTC 10 3578
Samsung Galaxy S7 3632
LG G5 3515
Sony Xperia Z5 1667.33
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
HTC 10 4418
Samsung Galaxy S7 5339
LG G5 4498
Sony Xperia Z5 4301.66
JetStream Higher is better
HTC 10 46.453
Samsung Galaxy S7 62.049
LG G5 52.218
Apple iPhone 6s 118.91
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
HTC 10 47
Samsung Galaxy S7 53
LG G5 54.33
Apple iPhone 6s 59.1
Sony Xperia Z5 53
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
HTC 10 13
Samsung Galaxy S7 29
LG G5 17
Apple iPhone 6s 56.1
Sony Xperia Z5 18.3
Basemark OS II Higher is better
HTC 10 1806.33
Samsung Galaxy S7 1943
LG G5 1913
Apple iPhone 6s 2139
Sony Xperia Z5 1575
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
HTC 10 2094.33
Samsung Galaxy S7 2327
LG G5 2344
Apple iPhone 6s 2539
Sony Xperia Z5 1318.6
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
HTC 10 4381.33
Samsung Galaxy S7 5455
LG G5 5442
Apple iPhone 6s 4421
Sony Xperia Z5 4167.3

Internet and connectivity

The whole shebang. No Sprint LTE, however (yet).

HTC ditching its own browsing client is nothing new, so like elsewhere, a Google solution—Chrome—is what's available. We're fond of the app, as it offers native integration with its desktop counterpart, making for a more cohesive experience.



On the connectivity front, the 10 is rock-solid. Staples such as Bluetooth 4.2, 5GHz Wi-Fi, and NFC are, of course, available, but there are some extras that you won't get elsewhere. A good example is the phone's support for AirPlay—an Apple technology—allowing you to hook up to various other devices that support the standard for wireless video/audio playback. Also worth noting is that the reversible USB Type-C port of the 10 is actually USB 3.1 Gen 1, meaning vastly superior transfer speeds than competing devices.


Finally, keep in mind that if you pick up the unlocked HTC 10 model currently available, you won't be able to use it over Sprint's LTE network because of a mismatch between supported and required bands. A special Sprint version is upcoming.

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236 Comments

1. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Looks like I'm goin' HTC this year.

12. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

This is the HTC 10, and therefore, it should have gotten 10/10

61. SonyOwner unregistered

Couldn't agree more.

63. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Well, let's be happy that a device that is not Apple or Samsung got a 9.

76. MSi_Cubi unregistered

9 points? well I don't think it will be better than Huawei p9 plus or max

101. danny_a2005

Posts: 362; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

yeeees finally HTC is back, this phone is so nice, i will buy it asap. the gold version fancies me :)

178. Ashoaib

Posts: 3288; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Me too if HTC will fix the camera glitches and will bring it to the level of Nexus 5x/6p... Chris you have done a very nice review. I didn't feel bored for a single second. You put the words in nice and interesting sentences. Why you were not doing the reviews before?

214. kriistofor

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 14, 2015

He really did, didn't he? I was bitching earlier this week about a review from Dan from the Verge (about m10) which was such a bias that I was shocked to see it as a legit review posted on a site. My comments were met with people saying "yea, this is a subjective review, better than the spec-sheet s**t on Phonearena and Gsmarena...i want to read what it is to use the phone" etc. Well, here is a review that clearly shows that phone was used, reviewed properly and written eloquently. While I agree that you guys are a bit too harsh (bias, maybe?) to Chinese competitors coming here with lower prices and similar specs, you are still giving great insights and observations in your reviews. This is a well written review that is rounded from the beginning to the end, highlights all the features that deserve to be highlighted, but also very elegantly points out the cons of the device (and i'm not talking 'bout keyboard, but rather screen, camera, call quality - you say it's better than most - still not great enough to be called perfect. And I need that when considering a phone - pros and cons in the same paragraph -so well put sir.) Much better than Dan's opinions that this boring device just isn't gimmicky enough to even deserve a proper review.

162. plck74

Posts: 65; Member since: Dec 12, 2013

do not forget that samsung put heat conductor.....

198. danny_a2005

Posts: 362; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

so? lol

20. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

me too! that carbon grey HTC 10 is really a good looking phone! this is the real successor of the M7. HTC really nailed it this time. a 9 score is too low for this phone.well this is phonearena and i expected it.

34. newbey123

Posts: 701; Member since: Mar 19, 2012

I know they made a black one but it doesn't seem to be available! The carbon grey looks awesome, but really wanted the black one.

85. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

9.2 or 9.3 would been more appropriate. Still i am impressed with battery life its like mid ground between S7 and S7 edge.

142. Hydrocaliz

Posts: 39; Member since: Apr 20, 2016

Really? This phone looks quite ugly. Put it beside S7 or P9, it will look like a sumo wrestler standing next to slim guys with tuxedo (It's not like I don't like sumo, though. I watch it frequently on TV and I like it). Anyway, what's so special about this phone? Display, which is not comparable to AMOLED, mediocre battery life, below average performance, no-S7-(or G5)grade camera with horrible exposure problem, an iPhone like front panel with Galaxy's home button, etc... I'm pretty sure that people are saying this looks nice because it is made out of metal. If it was not, it would have not be the same for sure.

148. ..Z..

Posts: 85; Member since: Apr 16, 2016

It surely is ugly. Samsung front and ugly chamfered back, which everyone agrees to. Similar like the fugly G5.

165. amats69

Posts: 1527; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

go to sleep boy.

212. TMach unregistered

Think you mean put beside the S7 or P9, it will look like an adrenaline fuelled Rambo next to a slim lady in a dress........I have the S7 Edge but I have pre-ordered this direct from HTC (UK) as loving the macho feel to this phone! Also took advantage of the promo discount which is HTC10 to net a reasonable discount n the RRP. Christmas present is likely to be the Xperia X Premium which sounds like an insane phone!

171. KONICHIWA-ANNYONG unregistered

It's definitely can't be called elegant. More macho than 'premium' looking.

84. MSi_Cubi unregistered

why? just bcos u seen this? come oon.. get P9 plus much better Everybody pleasing on HTC but nobody will be buying..or just HTC fans that's it..

179. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

"Better" is subjective, also it doesn't take an HTC fan to like this phone.

102. johanbiff

Posts: 415; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

good for HTC! they deserv it. the benchmark scors are a bit low though, underclocked soc to get better battery maybe? SD820 is not known for good batterylife.

128. vincelongman

Posts: 5695; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Patiently waiting for the HTC Nexus Hopefully with the fingerprint reader on the back

134. JoshN

Posts: 202; Member since: Apr 01, 2015

Max brightness SUCKS but apart from that it's a beast ☺i

180. Ashoaib

Posts: 3288; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

Camera also. There are some serious glitches in camera which need to be fixed.

192. demi9od

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 26, 2015

Could be a deal breaker if it makes it unusable for navigation and HTC has been getting worse here every year. M8: 490 nits M9: 430 nits M10: 370 nits To be fair, the G5 is 378 nits on max auto and the S7 is 391.

221. w1000i

Posts: 249; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

phonearena test is not right, other reviews said it has higher nits than LG g5

223. ZetZet

Posts: 22; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

S7 is 539 on max auto. ~395 on manual.

161. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 652; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

It seems HTC should probably win phone of the year, with exception to the display brightness.

181. Ashoaib

Posts: 3288; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

And with the exception of camera

206. DomSanity

Posts: 28; Member since: Dec 13, 2012

I just noticed the HTC 10's shot in the comparisons are a bit yellowish.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

10
  • Display 5.2" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(27h 3G talk time)

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