Mobile Technology

Don't sleep on the HTC 10 – this phone looks phenomenal (hands-on)

Don't sleep on the HTC 10 – th...
The HTC 10 has an all-metal back, 5.2-inch Quad HD screen and built-in HiFi audio
The HTC 10 has an all-metal back, 5.2-inch Quad HD screen and built-in HiFi audio
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HTC 10
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HTC 10
USB Type C connector (and subtler edge-facing speakers) on the 10
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USB Type C connector (and subtler edge-facing speakers) on the 10
The HTC 10 has an all-metal back, 5.2-inch Quad HD screen and built-in HiFi audio
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The HTC 10 has an all-metal back, 5.2-inch Quad HD screen and built-in HiFi audio
Display quality looks terrific
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Display quality looks terrific
It isn't the lightest or thinnest phone around, but isn't remotely a concern in those categories either
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It isn't the lightest or thinnest phone around, but isn't remotely a concern in those categories either
The HTC 10 starts at $700 full retail, about $50 more than most similarly-sized flagships
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The HTC 10 starts at $700 full retail, about $50 more than most similarly-sized flagships
Razor-sharp 564 ppi display
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Razor-sharp 564 ppi display
The HTC 10 is absolutely worth keeping an eye (or seven) on
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The HTC 10 is absolutely worth keeping an eye (or seven) on
Chamfered edges of the HTC 10's metal back
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Chamfered edges of the HTC 10's metal back
Black version of the HTC 10
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Black version of the HTC 10
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Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the whole Samsung vs. Apple thing and forget about HTC. But this year you'll do so at your own peril, because the company's 2016 flagship looks like an absolute beast. Based on our first impressions, the HTC 10 has a chance to join with the firm's Vive VR headset as one of the best one-two punches in recent consumer tech history. This is a serious contender for best smartphone of the year.

Late last year HTC's mid-ranged One A9 showed the first sign that the Taiwanese company was ready to let go of the three-generation basic design of the HTC One lineup (ye of front-facing speaker grilles). But the A9 also looked a little too much like an iPhone, making us wonder, a little worriedly, just what design path HTC would be taking after that.

After seeing the HTC 10, those concerns are no more relevant than Donald Trump at a climate change summit. The phone perfectly marries the iconic look of the classic One line with the best, least iPhone-like, features of the A9 (like fingerprint sensor and cleaner front face). The 10 is a simply stunning smartphone – simultaneously familiar and new.

The HTC 10 is absolutely worth keeping an eye (or seven) on
The HTC 10 is absolutely worth keeping an eye (or seven) on

It still has that beautiful all-metal design: from the back, it looks like the next logical successor to the One M7, M8 and M9. The big difference is its chamfered edge that wraps around the edges, angled so light dances off of it playfully, as you admire this chiseled beauty resting in your palm.

HTC has been designing some of the best-looking mobile devices since 2013, but in the last two years it was guilty of being too iterative of its past successes. The 10 finally breaks that mold, while maintaining consistency with the established brand – a difficult balancing act that HTC is now toeing brilliantly.

Black version of the HTC 10
Black version of the HTC 10

It's too early to go into much depth on the phone's camera and other features, but let us give you a quick impressions run-down of what's shaping up to be quite possibly our favorite phone of 2016:

  • The HTC 10's HiFi audio sounded incredible on a pair of active noise-cancelling earbuds we listened to in the hands-on area; noticeably fuller and more nuanced and powerful than the sound from the Galaxy S7 edge I've been using lately.
  • The 10 uses Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, and should juice up a bit quicker than the S7, which Samsung (oddly) left on the older QC 2.0.
  • It has a microSD card slot and, unlike the S7, supports Marshmallow's Adoptable Storage feature, which lets you format external storage for the OS to use as extra internal storage (i.e. pop in a 200 GB microSD and you effectively have a 232 GB smartphone – take that, Apple, with the cruel 16 GB drivel you're asking your entry-level customers to work with).
  • With the same chip (Snapdragon 820) and RAM (4 GB) as the S7, the HTC 10 looked like an incredibly fast phone in our demo.
  • It's hard to get a clear impression of the quality of its camera quality in a demo area, but we can say we're liking what we see so far there (stay tuned).
  • HTC's custom UI is less obvious than ever – and that's a good thing. At one point I had to remind myself this wasn't a Nexus device. And the custom tweaks that are there look genuinely cool.
Display quality looks terrific
Display quality looks terrific

We'll have a full review before long, so be sure to check back. From where we stand now, though, it's clear that ignoring this phone will be your loss. HTC just started shipping the best VR headset money can buy; next month it may very well start shipping the best smartphone.

The HTC 10 is available to pre-order now, starting at US$700 for 32 GB (expandable) storage. Its starts shipping in May.

Product page: HTC

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4 comments
raterry@fedex.com
OK Fine .. get the nations second largest carrier to offer it.. AT&T has no plans to offer the HTC 10.. gettin paid .. I expect .. VR and other advances the competition doesn't want. As of now all you have of you are AT&T is to purchase the unlocked phone at retail. Presently $699.00 on the HTC site. T-mobile and Verizon will offer.. Sprint requires a hardware add to use it. very irritating .. You guys should pressure them .. Of course not having AT&T bloatware has it's advantages.. and all you need is a SIM to use it on other networks .. yup..
christopher
My second HTC (first went dead for no reason) has developed another hardware fault, and I've noticed out of the last 5 or 6 phone shops I've visited, every HTC on display, BAR NONE, was dead too.
These guys seem to have some serious hardware/manufacturing problems to overcome
jbentz
It may be great in all other aspects, but it's too small.
I'm looking for a GREAT 6.5-7.0 inch phone. There are none that have all the nice specs AND 4GLTE on United States spectrum.
Wally3178
I've had a look and I'm seriously underwhelmed, it's not a patch on the Galaxy or the iPhone (as a standalone unit) and the operating system is still android (deliberate small 'a'), a definite handicap as far as I'm concerned. I also think that Will should calm his effervescence until the iPhone 7 appears, it will, I believe, drive these poor imitations to the wall ;)