Everything You Need to Know About the HTC 10
If you’ve been looking forward to the wide array of new smartphones expected to arrive in 2016, you might be curious about HTC’s newest flagship: the HTC 10. The much-leaked smartphone is HTC’s attempt to redeem itself in the wake of last year’s much-maligned HTC One M9 (thus the decision to drop the “One” and the “M”). The result is a solid smartphone that focuses on getting the basics right, even at the expense of an exciting or surprising flagship launch.
HTC 10 specifications
Mark Walton reports for Ars Technica that while the HTC 10 isn’t groundbreaking, the phone “might be exactly what the company needs.” There are few surprises among the phone’ specifications. Like just about every other 2016 flagship, the HTC 10 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 chip with 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage. An SD card slot supports Android 6.01’s adoptable storage feature. A Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger can charge the phones 3000mAh battery to 50% in under 30 minutes, and battery life is up to two days thanks to the large battery and a screen that changes its refresh rate based on the kind of app that you’re using.
There are few surprises on the outside of the phone, either. Dan Seifert reports for The Verge that the phone blends the design of the M-series phones with the A9 that arrived last fall, and HTC says it spent 12 months designing the HTC 10. The device features a 5.2-inch 1440p display, which Walton characterizes as “pleasingly bright” and suitably crisp thanks to 564PPI resolution, with glass that curves to meet the chamfered edge of the aluminum body.
A fingerprint sensor doubles as a home button, and the device is equipped with capacitive back and multitasking buttons in a departure from the on-screen buttons that HTC’s recent flagships have used instead. On the back of the phone, a mirrored beveled edge encircles the body, and helps the phone to feel slimmer than it actually is, at 9 millimeters thick. Walton reports that build quality is excellent, and the phone feels as if it “could survive a few hard drops without issue.” There’s a USB Type-C port on the bottom of the phone, volume and power on the right, and a headphone jack on the top.
Camera and audio
HTC’s flagships have had trouble with poor camera performance, but that should change with the HTC 10. The phone’s rear-facing camera is equipped with a 12MP “Ultrapixel” sensor that features large 1.55µm pixels, bigger than those in Huawei’s P9, plus a f/1.8 lens and 26mm equivalent focal length, optical image stabilization, a dual-tone LED flash, a laser autofocus system, 4K video recording, and a promised 0.6-second launch time for the revamped camera app. The front-facing camera features a 5MP “Ultrapixel” sensor with 1.34µm pixels, a f/1.8 23mm lens, and optical image stabilization. Walton reports that the simpler camera UI offers “a marked improvement over HTC’s previously cluttered attempts, while still offering a fully manual mode and the option to shoot in 12-bit RAW.”
A new feature of the HTC 10 is its high-fidelity audio system. The phone features a 1W headphone output, plus a 24-bit DSP and DAC that boast a THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion Plus Noise) of -104dB and noise level of -120 dBV. The phone is also equipped with an optional feature that can customize the sound to your ears and headphones by creating a custom EQ curve. Though the dual front-facing BoomSound speakers have been retired, the phone features a separate tweeter and woofer at the top and bottom of the phone, which Walton notes really helps with audio clarity. Additionally, Stefan Etienne reports for TechCrunch that the device can shoot 4K video with 24-bit 96KHz audio, with 2x frequency range and stereo recording.
The HTC 10 doesn’t offer a stock Android experience, but the company has simplified things by ensuring that there aren’t duplicate apps on the phone. For instance, instead of the old HTC gallery app, Google Photos works with HTC’s camera app. In other cases, HTC uses its own apps instead of Google’s; the HTC 10 uses HTC’s SMS app instead of Google’s default Messages. Contacts, phone, and camera are all HTC apps, and the only exception to the no-duplicate-apps rule is email: the phone comes with both Gmail and HTC’s Mail app installed. The HTC 10 still uses HTC Sense, but Walton reports that the interface has had a Material Design overhaul “to the extent that it’s pretty tough to tell you’re not using a stock Android device.”
Though the HTC 10 isn’t groundbreaking, Walton posits that it has “just the right mix of features, build quality, and lack of Android fluff to make it a compelling smartphone.” Similarly, Seifert notes that the phone doesn’t have “any wild new technologies or represent a rethinking of how a smartphone could be built or function,” but instead, refines the ideas and concepts that HTC has been working on for years. But some have been disappointed by the HTC 10’s lack of unique features, and David Pierce reports for Wired that the phone “doesn’t offer any features, with the possible exception of long battery life, that its competitors can’t match.”
The phone will be released in the U.S. sometime in April, and you can already preorder it, with unlocked prices starting at $699. It will be available in black and silver in the U.S., and will be available from Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint but not AT&T.