HTC 10 Review
What do you know! HTC finally caught a break.
For years now, by far the biggest weakness of HTC devices has been the camera. Refusing to give up its 4MP UltraPixel camera for two generations, the company finally moved to a higher resolution, Toshiba unit with last year's One M9. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough.
With the HTC 10, however, we're finally looking at a very promising setup. Not about to mess this up yet again, HTC is going with a 1/2.3”, 12-megapixel sensor with large, 1.55μm pixels and wide, f/1.8 lens. Combined with optical stabilization, these parameters suggest great light sensitivity for when you're shooting in the dark. Up front, we're looking at an equally compelling, 5-megapixel selfie camera, also with optical stabilization—a first with front-facing snappers, and a boon for club photos.
The software is different. You can launch the camera by simply swiping downwards twice—even when the phone is asleep—or by dragging the camera app icon into the middle of the lockscreen. As for the interface, it's more minimalist than ever before and absolutely down to the point. Save for the dedicated Pro mode, which gives you manual control over variables such as ISO and shutter speed, it's a really clean execution overall.
While the camera app on the HTC 10 is relatively slow to take a snap, once it does, the results are overall great. On the plus side, white balance is almost universally set correctly despite some slips, so you can expect photos that are true to life. Dynamic range, while not best-in-class, is pretty decent overall.
Another problem we noticed is that the snapper sometimes has trouble delivering clarity at the edges of the frame. So while the center is in focus, detail in the corners of the image can be mushy.
In low light, the camera delivers. Even without using the flash, the HTC 10 manages to soak up enough light from the scene to deliver a bright shot, if at the expense of accuracy. That is, the scenes in front of us are actually darker than they appear in the 10's camera reel, which is nevertheless still preferable over the opposite scenario.
In the scheme of things, however, these are simply imperfections. Overall, the camera on the HTC 10 is terrific.
Unsurprisingly, the front-facing camera also does a pretty decent job as far as your selfie needs go. There's an automatic HDR feature, along with auto focus and beauty effects. Selfies come out naturally looking, with plenty detail, and the camera does an awesome job even in complete darkness. In such cases, the screen of the HTC 10 lights up and serves as a front flash, and we've got to say that it does the job pretty well.
Capable of 4K video capture along with slow-motion and even hyperlapse video, the HTC 10 is a competent camcorder. Video quality in 4K is terrific, not to mention smooth and well-stabilized thanks to OIS. Our only beef is with the laser auto-focus mechanism on board, which sometimes struggles when having to transition between subjects without manual help.
At 5.2-inches, the HTC 10 is a great medium for video watching, be it streaming or local playback—which is taken care of by the Google Photos app.
In fact, Google Photos is the only gallery app on the HTC 10, and that's absolutely a great thing given how powerful it has grown. Not only does it automate the process of backing up your photos to Google Drive, but you can also search your library through keywords. Better yet, HTC has actually included the editing tools from its old Gallery app into Google Photo, so you get a pretty powerful photo editor out of the box.
For music, you're again relegated to a Google app: Play Music in this case. We can't say we're big fans of the execution with that one, but it's what you get out of the box. Spotify is still a Play Store trip away.
Speaking of music, and given HTC's BoomSound legacy, we need to have a word. First off, the front-firing, stereo BoomSound speakers of old are obviously gone with the HTC 10. In their stead, HTC has gone for a speaker integrated into the earpiece (a tweeter), along with a secondary speaker on the bottom that takes care of lower frequencies. HTC spent a lot of time talking up this configuration, and while it's not quite up there with the iPhone 6s', it is on par with other flagships.
We were also sent the HTC Hi-Res Audio Earphones, which are not included with the US model, and we were disappointed. In particular, this is a pair that's absolutely monstrous on bass, and while this may appeal to some, it's impossible for us to recommend such imbalanced sound.