Is this the comeback we have been waiting for?

Pros

Signature HTC design, with refinements
Chamfers help with handling
– Super LCD 5 display looks great
– Performance is smooth and snappy
– Expandable storage
– Incredible sound experience especially with headphones
– Quick Charge 3.0 with solid battery life
– HTC’s best ever smartphone camera
– OIS in front facing camera
– HTC Sense is simple, functional

Cons

– Metal construction still plenty slippery
– Fingerprint reader disjoints motion gestures
– Boomsound speakers not as loud as before. This sounds strange but it’s true.
– Camera doesn’t quite match up to other flagships

Hardware

Moving on to hardware, HTC has made a few key additions in this area that further enhance the experience, starting with the fingerprint reader found in the capacitive home button up front.lidow_2016416121739971.jpg

Motion Gestures is still available with the HTC 10, where the phone knows when it has been picked up by the hand, and will then react to a number of different commands. Swiping in different directions directly opens different apps like Blinkfeed, and a new addition is the gesture of swiping down twice to launch the camera app.However, having the fingerprint reader somewhat eliminates the usefulness of the Motion Gestures, since it doesn’t make sense that you perform a swipe action, and then have your fingerprint scanned anyway.

The device comes with a standard package of connectivity options, including NFC. The only thing that is really missing compared to previous generations is an IR Blaster, and while some users have appreciated its availability before, HTC did mention that it isn’t a widely-used feature anymore.

The audio experience that is possible with the HTC 10 is one of the marquee features of this device. BoomSound is still available, but in a different implementation this time around, with a single front-facing speaker up top, that is paired with a bottom-mounted subwoofer unit that helps provide richer lower tones. This speaker setup doesn’t get as loud as the front-facing stereo speakers from previous generations, but the sound stage has been improved due to the better lower end.

The headphone jack, centered at the top. Plug in a good pair of headphones, or the high-res earphones that are included in the box, and you will hear the difference that the HTC 10 really makes. HTC put a 24-bit DAC and a headphone AMP here to really make BoomSound earn its name.

This also due in part to the available Dolby enhancements, which come in the form of user-definable audio profiles that adhere the sound to your listening habits. These settings are found in the BoomSound section of the Settings menu where, either a few simple questions, or full control over the equalizer, help create these profiles for better listening.. Overall, listening with headphones results in some of the loudest, and best quality audio that we’ve ever gotten from a smartphone.

Display

The HTC 10 comes with a 5.2-inch Super LCD5 display with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 565 ppi, and making this the first smartphone from the company to feature this resolution. The Super LCD5 display performs well, with high     brightness, that allows for easy visibility even in direct sunlight, as well as good amounts of saturation. Obviously, it doesn’t stand in a competiton against AMOLED displays

As expected, given the higher resolution, text is very sharp, and gaming is also a joy  on this display. Now since the topic of gaming has come, a nice feature of the Boost+ application is the ability to lower the resolution of certain high-performing games to save on battery life, and when using this, you will still have a lovely time playing games on this device. However, slight issues can be seen on different angles however, that should bother the users much.

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Performance

HTC 10 comes with the latest and greatest processing package currently available. The device is powered by the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, clocked at 2.15 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 530 GPU and 4 GB of RAM. This is very much like the other smartphones that have been launched and why not? After all this is the only way to survive in this fast growing market.

The device floats through the various elements of the user interface, without there being any slowdown when loading applications, or switching between them via the Recent Apps screen. Device does not face any kind of hiccups on even extreme multitasking. Certianly, the device Ui has been made lighten than before. More about it in the UI section below.

Camera

The return of Ultra Pixels!

Much like a couple of other smartphone cameras we’ve seen this year, HTC is prioritizing pixel size over megapixel count, and as a result, 12 Ultrapixels is what we get, with a 1.55 micron pixel size. An f/1.8 aperture further boosts low-light performance, and the camera also comes with optical image stabilization (OIS)

The camera application has been streamlined somewhat in its latest version, with all of the different modes found in a single main menu area. Auto-HDR helps get a good shot in almost any situation, and does a pretty good job of knowing when to activate as well. Various modes available include panorama, hyper lapse, slow motion, and more, and work as well as expected. The only drawback is when we use the manual mode. The amount of options available covers all the caemra screen making it look a lot clumsy.

Perhaps the best addition to the camera experience has been the 5 MP front-facing shooter, which also comes with OIS, a first for a front-facing camera, and allows for high-res audio recording when shooting video. While OIS might help with taking selfies in low light conditions, I found its main usefulness when it came to recording videos, such as vlogs.

The stabilization is a great idea for anyone who wants to make selfie videos for social media, or even use the Full HD footage for longer form content. The inclusion of OIS with the front-facing camera is a good move on the part of HTC, and is the HTC 10’s distinguishing feature, compared to the 2K video capture possible with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the wide reaching wide-angle lens of the LG G5.

Software

On the software side of things, we have Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the latest version of the HTC Sense UI on top. HTC Sense is about the same as it has always been, and given some of the major changes Android has been going through recently, this can be taken as a very good thing.

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For starters, an app drawer is available, for anyone fretting about its omission, and is a vertical scroll that is simplistic, but functional. The home screens may have a little too much gap between apps and widgets, but Blinkfeed is still around, something we at Techflue love a lot.

Where HTC tried to streamline things is in the app spread. No longer are there duplicate apps for the same functions, with users getting either HTC’s or Google’s version. For example, HTC’s internet browser is no longer available, replaced by Google  Chrome. The idea behind this is to lighten the load on the phone, but a few questionable choices have been made, such as, the inclusion of HTCs own messaging app, when Hangouts is available, or having a Zoe Video Editor, when Google Photos already creates “highlights” from all of the captures.

Additions to the software suite include Boost+, an app that can, among other functions, find and clean out junk on the phone, and help with RAM management. A favorite function of ours is a toggle to make certain high-performing games play at the Full HD resolution rather than Quad HD, which seems to help with battery consumption.

The other addition is in Themes, which is as robust as ever, but now includes a Freestyle layout that doesn’t adhere to grids the way typical Android home screens do. It is an interesting concept that requires special icon or image packs, and with only one of these Freestyle themes currently available, it is still a young feature that needs to be hashed out further.

Aesthetics is always a matter of personal preference, but for most Android enthusiasts, functionality is king, and HTC Sense provides a lot of it. The app drawer is a fan favorite that already elevates this version of Android, and without any overly cartoonish elements or flourishes, HTC Sense is a user interface that simply works.

 

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