HTC Bolt Review

Introduction


Smartphones come in so many varieties of sizes, designs, and feature sets, that it's enormously helpful to start grouping these handsets into a few categories: we've got our budget-priced phones, our big-screen handsets, models with incredible battery life, and of course those flagship devices that do all they can to push specs and performance to new heights.

A lot of the time, those classifications serve us well, and make it easy to compare models that are similarly equipped, and going after the same market segments. But not every phone fits quite so neatly into one of those groups, and sometimes a smartphone arrives that straddles the line between two or more, or even defies categorization altogether.

HTC Bolt Review
Earlier this month, HTC announced the Bolt, a Sprint-exclusive Android handset with some interesting hardware: a very high-res 5.5-inch screen, some intriguing headphones that claim to adjust their output for your unique ears, and what the carrier highlights as an exceptionally high-speed data modem.

While that's a description that practically screams “flagship,” this isn't a replacement for the HTC 10, and some of HTC's choices with the Bolt's hardware almost feel like dialing back the clock, rather than pushing forward. What exactly can you expect from this model, and is it ultimately an HTC phone worth picking up? Read on to find out.

In the box:

  • HTC Bolt
  • BoomSound Adaptive Audio Hi-Res earphones
  • Quick Charge 2.0 charger
  • USB Type-C cable
  • SIM tool
  • Get Started guide
  • Safety/warranty booklet

Design


HTC Bolt Review

HTC has found a material it loves in the form of aluminum, and for years now we've been watching the company sculpt the metal into the bodies for its most premium handsets. That trend continues with the HTC Bolt, featuring yet another aluminum construction.

Compared to the HTC 10, the Bolt is bigger (thanks to its 5.5-inch screen) and heavier, weighing 6.14 ounces – but it's also slightly thinner, coming in at just over 8.1mm. But maybe the most significant thing about its build is how HTC's learned to add water-resistance to its metal-bodied handsets.

While the HTC 10 only had an IP53 rating, meaning the most severe water exposure it could handle was a gentle mist, the Bolt is an IP57 device, able to survive splashes, water jets, and even brief submersion – though HTC cautions against it. That's all good to hear, even if we wish that rating went a little further still. But the upgrade isn't without compromise, and perhaps as a result of that extra water-resistance, HTC has elected not to give the Bolt an analog headphone jack: like the iPhone 7, or the Moto Z phones, the Bolt's headphone experience is digital-only.

HTC Bolt Review
HTC Bolt Review
So instead of the centered headphone jack up top like on HTC 10, the Bolt has a featureless top edge, populated only by a plastic strip that appears to be part of the hardware's antenna system. On the right edge we find the volume rocker and power button, the latter with the same sort of textured groves we expect from the manufacturer. Down below there's a hole for one of the phone's three microphones, the USB Type-C port, and a single speaker grille. Continuing up the left side, we see HTC go with the interesting choice of separate trays for the Bolt's microSD and SIM cards – on the HTC 10 they were on opposite sides of the handset, but the Bolt stacks them one on top of the other.

Around front we've got the Bolt's big 5.5-inch screen, flanked by some not particularly thin bezels. Above it perches the earpiece and usual array of sensors, along with a very prominent-looking front-facing camera. Beneath the display you'll find the phone's home button, doubling as its fingerprint scanner; to its sides are capacitive Android back and multitask buttons.

The only action on the phone's back panel is its main camera, jutting out with a modest camera bump. HTC continues to play with its flash placement, and for the Bolt, relocates the phone's dual-LED flash to directly above the camera.

Unlike the HTC 10, there's no curve to the Bolt's back – that camera bump notwithstanding, the back's otherwise flat. A pair of beveled edges form the transition between that panel, the phone's edge, and its face, resulting in a handset that's got an exceptionally solid feel to it.


HTC Bolt

HTC Bolt

Dimensions

6.06 x 3.04 x 0.32 inches

153.9 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm

Weight

6.14 oz (174 g)

HTC 10

HTC 10

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches

145.9 x 71.9. x 9 mm

Weight

5.68 oz (161 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

HTC Bolt

HTC Bolt

Dimensions

6.06 x 3.04 x 0.32 inches

153.9 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm

Weight

6.14 oz (174 g)

HTC 10

HTC 10

Dimensions

5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 inches

145.9 x 71.9. x 9 mm

Weight

5.68 oz (161 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

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



Display

A bright, high-res screen is among the Bolt's most attractive features

HTC Bolt Review

With the HTC Bolt, the manufacturer gives the handset a 5.5-inch, 1440 x 2560-resolution screen.

It's not the brightest display we've ever tested, but its 500-nit output is far from bad, and should treat you well during a lot of outdoor usage. Color accuracy isn't quite spot on, but it's close enough not to be distracting, and software controls for white-balance adjustment let you tweak the output further.

HTC protects the Bolt's screen with Gorilla Glass 5, which is always nice to see, especially with so many other recent phones (like the Google Pixel models) going with the older Gorilla Glass 4.

In a nutshell, it's big, pretty bright, and nice and crisp – really, not a lot to dislike here.



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18 Comments

1. Heisen8erg

Posts: 28; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

7 is too much for this joke! U kidding me htc?! at lesat 650 or even 625 is better. sd 810?!! again?!! seriously?! you deserve what you get! i don't mind anymore if they broke! i don't get it why anyone should pay this ridicules amount of money on this phone. htc 10 was a great phone with a high price. but this is an insult for about the same price! last year m9 and a9 this year bolt! htc absolutely lost it! they should just sold out the company to G (google)

2. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You're exaggerating a bit, the 650 still can't match a throttled 810 specially in the GPU department

3. Heisen8erg

Posts: 28; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

yes but 810 was terrible! every time qualcomm says this one is a new version but nothing is changing! im literally hate even the "810" number! this cpu ruined the 2015 mobile industry for any company except apple and samsung. you can see the result of the battery life. i know phonearena battery benchmarks are bs but since the announcement i knew its terrible! i had a few 650/652 phones and they were surprisingly good in any way. personally prefer these 2 over 808 and 810 any time! im very angry about this phone and htc! i was a big fan of m8 but in this 2 year htc disappointed everybody with their choices. maybe the 10 was a exception in this middle and we should forget about this so-called htc and move on.

5. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

You are so funny. I had the HTC M9 and its had an okay battery life ( i had only 45 min to 1 hours of screen time less than a S6 ) its was faster all around and did not throttle as much as media tried to make it appear. Drink more media propaganda coolaide.

11. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Come back when you actually have owned a SD810 device.

7. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

An 810 will use more power and create more heat than a 650 - throttled or unthrottled. That SoC was wack, seriously...

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3091; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

HTC is having a hard time perfecting mid-range phones. What a shame.

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

dat score still better than redmi 3s (6,5), Mi Max (6.5), RN3 (6.8), Mi4c (6.6), or other chinese phone and just as good as Mi5(7)... heck.. this phone didn't deserve any score higher than 0.6/10

8. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

Xperia XZ has Sd820, waterproof, better design but still rated 7 PA always s**ks when it comes to review rating

9. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Right! The Xperia XZ is in just about every way better than this HTC Bolt, yet the bolt gets the same score as the XZ! PA's review rating baffles me.

10. Carl3000

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 11, 2014

The Nexus 6P is a great example of how good the SD810 can be. I wouldn't put all the blame on the SOC because the 6P with 810 was a straight up beast and was still semi comparable with flagships released this year in performance.

12. Dude2014

Posts: 448; Member since: Feb 12, 2014

Don't say SD810 is a joke. Adreno 430 is still very good for any modern games. CPU performance is only slightly behind SD820 if you look at the score of latest Geekbench 4. There's many good phones that's running SD810 without any issues. Xperia Z5 and Nexus 6P are a good example. The only problem of this phone is the price which I think it's a bit overpriced.

13. gsg97115991

Posts: 15; Member since: Aug 26, 2015

Yes,they should just sold out the company to G :)

14. atd1999

Posts: 14; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

When I looked into this phone it was available for $199 with a 2 year contract. Since it is Sprint locked, wouldn't it make sense to do the contract and get the lower price?

15. may_czos

Posts: 955; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

In short - just get HTC 10.

16. baldilocks

Posts: 1449; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

The 810 is fine in the Nexus 6P. :)

33. jburkes01

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 01, 2016

correct me if I'm wrong but the specs I see on this BOLT are SD 810 yes, but OCTA core instead of QUAD core, that's 8 cores vs 4 cores. So while still and 810 cpu shouldn't it out perform the 810 quad?

34. tsecreto1

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 30, 2015

Try the BOLT now and do not transfer all old apps from previous phone since it made a night and day difference for me. And how come The M8 HK runs really fast right now using an 801.
Bolt
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Octa-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3200 mAh(23h talk time)

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