If you gave up on HTC after last year's meh One M9, then it's time to start paying attention again. The new HTC 10 is a stunning, refined and well-balanced phone – like a 2016 equivalent of the One M7, which was probably the best smartphone from three years ago. Though the HTC 10 is much more than the sum of its specs, let's how it compares to last year's One M9.
Size isn't dramatically different, with the HTC 10 coming out a hair taller and just 3 percent wider. Keep this in mind in a moment when we get to screen size.
The HTC 10 is slightly heavier, but that fits its slightly larger size. It isn't the lightest phone around, but it isn't unusually heavy either. Most importantly it feels solidly-built and premium in hand.
Speaking of premium, HTC's flagship is as drop-dead gorgeous as ever this year. Its back isn't a radical departure from the familiar all-metal unibody design from the last three flagships – though it does add that chamfered edge, which looks better in person that it does in pictures.
The biggest change is on the front, where HTC ditched the trademark front-facing speakers for a cleaner look – and a fingerprint sensor.
It looks like a fair bet that, at least at launch, US customers will only be able to buy the HTC 10 in the first two color options. It could be that the gold and red hues will only be sold in Taiwan or other countries.
See? Losing those front speakers helped HTC to get a better screen to phone size ratio – the only slightly bigger HTC 10 has an 8 percent bigger screen. Smaller forehead, smaller chin.
One of the questionable moves in the One M9 was HTC's sticking with a 1080p display just as rival Samsung moved to crisp as crisp can be Quad HD panels. This year that wrong has been righted.
The Snapdragon 820 is, as you'd expect from a generation-newer processor, a big speed update over the 810 in the M9.
The 10 also matches Samsung's latest flagships with 4 GB of RAM.
US customers are likely to only ever see the 32 GB model of the HTC 10 (just like with the M9), but the next category guarantees that won't be a concern.
The microSD slot is back. The HTC 10 also lets you use Android Marshmallow's adoptable storage, so your phone won't differentiate between permanent internal storage and your microSD card. Pop in a 2 TB card (the max supported) and you have a 2.032 TB phone! That would be 127 times the space you get from the entry-level iPhone 6s.
Pay no mind to this – the HTC 10's camera is much better, with plenty high resolution.
Camera aperture (rear)
Part of that is because of its wider aperture, one ingredient in better low-light photography.
Camera pixel size (rear)
Here's another ingredient, as HTC is back to its Ultrapixel camera tech, this time rocking 1.55 μm pixels (that's smaller than the camera pixels in the M7 and M8, but providing a much better balance of resolution and pixel size).
... or, if you prefer, the layman's version: the HTC 10 has excellent low-light photography – much better than last year.
The HTC 10 doesn't just have Optical Image Stabilization on its rear camera – the company also added it to its front camera, a surefire nod to selfie-takers.
Similar to LG's last few flagships, the 10 has laser-based autofocus, which helps you take speedy shots.
The HTC 10 has a slightly larger (higher capacity) battery. Check back soon for battery tests in our full review.
Both phones support Qualcomm's Quick Charge tech, but the HTC 10 moves up to the new 3.0 standard. It won't likely charge too much faster than the 2.0 version, but it is more efficient in its quick-charging.
Following that less than high-end A9 from late 2015, the HTC 10 is the company's first flagship with a fingerprint sensor (unless you count the ginormous One Max from a few years ago).
Unlike the A9, which awkwardly and redundantly put a fingerprint sensor home button below the home/back/recent apps navigation bar on the screen, the 10 goes with a more Samsung-like fingerprint sensor/home button flanked by capacitive (permanent touch) keys for back and recent apps. We love the new setup.
The HTC 10 goes with the reversible (and quite lovely) USB Type C. And the included cable is USB C to A, rather than C to C, so you don't have to worry about replacing your old portable and car chargers.
The old M9s should have already received their Marshmallow update, but the 10 has a subtler version of HTC's custom Sense UI – almost looking like a Nexus device (that's a good thing).
The HTC 10 is up for pre-order now from HTC's online store, with shipments set to start in May.
Starting price (full retail)
This is the current price for last year's M9, not its launch price from a year ago. The HTC 10 is US$50 more expensive than rival flagships from Apple and Samsung, but we think it has a fighting chance to be the best smartphone this year. If you loved HTC phones from a few years ago, but have moved on to other handsets, it's time to consider going back – even for an extra half a Benjamin.