HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7

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HTC 10 is a worthy challenger for the excellent Galaxy S7

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The two best smartphones of 2016 (so far) are the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 (though we're also lumping the Galaxy S7 edge, not pictured in this comparison, into Samsung's side of that conversation). These phones make for a tough decision, especially when you consider the HTC 10's intangibles that don't necessarily show up in specs sheets or features lists. Nonetheless, let's see how their features and specs line up.

Size

There aren't any big differences in terms of chassis size, despite the HTC 10's bigger screen (more on that in a minute), though the Samsung Galaxy S7 is 13 percent thinner.

Weight

No big differences here either, with the HTC 10 weighing about 6 percent heavier than the Galaxy S7.

Build

The HTC 10, like its predecessors, still has an aluminum unibody build, though it adds that striking chamfered edge this time around. The Galaxy S7, like its 2015 predecessor, has a glass and aluminum construction.

Colors

We're looking at a standard selection of colors to pick from, especially for US buyers, where the asterisked options aren't currently available.

Display size

Screen size is close, but the display on the Samsung phone is 4 percent smaller than the one on its HTC rival.

Display resolution

They both have the same ultra-sharp resolution, though the S7's pixel density is slightly higher, due to that slightly smaller screen.

Display type

Both manufacturers stick with the screen technology they know and trust. If you're wondering which is superior, that's a difficult question to answer.

Processor

The version of the GS7 sold in the US, China and Japan has the same processor as the HTC 10, while the rest of the world gets an octa-core Samsung Exynos 8990 chip.

RAM

Both these handsets come packed with an impressive 4 GB of RAM, substantial upgrades on the 3 GB in both the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6.

Storage

In the US, you can only get these phones with 32 GB of internal storage, but our next section explains why.

In other markets you might find larger options on offer.

MicroSD

You can expand the storage on both these phones with a microSD card up to 2 TB in size, so running out of room shouldn't be a problem.

There is a difference, though, in that the HTC 10 supports Android's Adoptable Storage while the Galaxy S7 doesn't. The feature makes external storage appear as internal storage to the OS.

Camera megapixels

Camera resolutions are identical, though we'll get on to subtler differences in a moment.

HTC has returned to its UltraPixel technology, which reduces the number of pixels compared to last year's HTC flagship, but makes them bigger – to allow in more light (and results in a much better overall camera this year).

Camera aperture (rear)

The Samsung phone has a slightly wider aperture, which helps to explain its excellent low-light performance. The HTC 10 isn't far behind, though, and when we compared their shots side-by-side, the HTC 10's low-lit shots arguably looked better, even though the GS7 lit extremely dark scenes a bit more.

Camera pixel size (rear)

Pixel size is a narrow victory for HTC, with larger pixels (or photo receptors) letting in more light, which also contributed to its strong low-light results.

OIS

Optical Image Stabilization reduces camera shake, and HTC has taken the unusual step of adding the tech to the front camera as well as the rear one – a tip of the hat to selfie-takers all the world over.

Laser focus

HTC says its laser focus system makes for better quality shots at speed. Samsung, meanwhile, says its proprietary tech is so good that laser focus isn't required.

Battery

Both phones have the same battery capacity, so any differences in battery life will come down to internal optimizations, software efficiency and engineering know-how. In our benchmark, the S7 had slightly better battery life.

Fast charging

HTC jumps to Qualcomm's latest Quick Charge technology, but Samsung sticks with last year's tech (possibly because of that Exynos processor).

Quick Charge 3.0's biggest advances come down to efficiency – don't expect much of an advantage in charging speeds over the 2.0 found in the S7.

Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensors are here to stay, especially now that Android offers native support for the biometric ID tech. One notable difference in the two pill-shaped home buttons is that the S7 has a protruding/convex physical home button/sensor, while the HTC 10's sensor in a slightly concave capacitive home button/sensor.

Both phones also have capacitive back/recent apps keys flanking either side of the sensor, which gives them both full use of their screens (HTC's last two flagships used onscreen virtual navigation keys).

Charging/data port

Samsung plays it safe with the tried and trusted microUSB (likely to keep things kosher with the same Gear VR that just launched in late 2015) but HTC jumps into the future by embracing the new reversible USB-C standard.

Water resistance

What these codes mean is that the HTC 10 has a certain amount of dust protection but can't be guaranteed to survive anything above a light, brief spray of water, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 can survive being five feet (1.5 meters) underwater for up to 30 minutes.

Software

It's Android Marshmallow on both handsets, though HTC's Sense has a lighter touch than Samsung's TouchWiz these days – making it handle a bit closer to a Nexus device than the S7.

Release

The HTC 10 is up for pre-order now, with shipments set to start in May. Samsung had a two-month head-start on HTC, but by May both flagships will be going head-to-head for consumers' attention for the rest of the year.

Last year it wasn't much of a contest between Samsung's and HTC's flagships, so it's nice to see HTC back into the fold with a legit Smartphone of the Year candidate.

Starting price (full retail)

The Galaxy S7's full retail price varies a bit from carrier to carrier, but on average it's slightly cheaper than the HTC 10.

For more on each handset, you can check out our full reviews of the HTC 10 and the Galaxy S7.

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