The two smartphones to beat are the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and the Samsung S7 and S7 Edge.
With LG’s radical new and modular G5 not having officially launched yet in Australia, although launching spectacularly at MWC 2016, the next cab off the rank to be unveiled is HTC’s 10.
Playing with a ‘Power of 10’ tagline, you wouldn’t say that the HTC 10 is 10 times better than the competition.
In some ways, it matches the competition, in other ways it beats it, but this isn’t a review - just an observation, as I haven’t reviewed the HTC 10 yet - I only had a brief play at HTC’s launch in Australia yesterday.
That said, HTC’s Australian executives noted that the HTC 10 would be carried by its usual partners, so wherever you’ve seen HTC in the past is where it should be available to buy in the future - and no doubt there will be more information shared over the next few weeks.
Given the less than stellar reception the HTC One M9 received, with its unusual tagline of ‘let them stare,’ it should come as no surprise to hear HTC state that ‘it has been working on [the HTC 10] behind closed doors for the last 12 months,’ although that’s a statement any company would generally say about flagship products no matter how successful or otherwise that company ends up being.
Even so, the sentiment that HTC wants to impart is that it has made ‘customer feedback an integral part of the development process, combined with an obsessive attention to detail,’ ensuring that ‘the HTC 10 delivers everything that you would want from a flagship device.’
Sadly this does not include waterproofing, something seen on the latest Samsung S7 range, on various Sony smartphones and which is rumoured to arrive on the iPhone 7 series later this year.
That said, HTC has managed to pack just about everything else into its slim smartphone package, from built-in 24-bit audio support, not just for music but when recording videos, from 720p to 1080p to 4K, 24-bit audio compatible headphones in the box, to a 12 megapixel ‘Ultrapbixel’ camera, laser focus, OIS on both the back and front facing cameras, a 5 megapixel ‘larger pixel’ camera on the front, separate SIM and microSD trays, BoomSound audio, 5.2-inch Quad HD display, Quick Charge 3.0 battery and a Quick Charge 3.0 charger in the box and plenty more.
Here’s HTC’s video on the HTC 10:
Plenty of impressions on video from HTC ‘fans’ that received ’10 minutes with the new HTC 10,’ from HTC’s website here.
HTC starts off by noting its design is ‘inspired by light and sculpted to perfection,’ with the HTC 10 body and its bold contours ‘are carved out of solid metal.’
Chamfered edges are there, leading to slimmer edges, with a slightly curved back and 2.5D glass on the front.
The power button is grooved to make it easily and instantly distinguishable from other buttons, and where the lit capacitive buttons are at the bottom of the screen, as separate elements to the display, thus giving you a full 5.2-inch display, along with a new capacitive, fingerprint reading home button.
The button doesn’t actually depress, instead it is a capacitive surface that appears similar to the button on Samsung smartphones, but again, it doesn’t click or depress down.
Pressing it gives you haptic feedback, which you can use to go ‘home’, or you can use to get into Google Now.
With all the hype and hoopla around drop and bend tests, HTC boasts of getting ‘the build absolutely right’ and says the 10 was ‘mercilessly engineered to handle everyday knocks, bumps and scratches,’ and was ‘subjected to over 168 hours of extreme temperature tests, ranging from a freezing -20’C to a scorching 60’C, plus over 10,000 drop, bend, scratch and corrosion tests.’
Then there’s the camera, which DXO Mark has given a score of 88 (claimed to be the highest of any smartphone), which brings back the larger pixels of the ‘Ultrapbixel’ camera at 1.55um per pixel, and has the ‘world’s first optically stabilised, larger aperture f/1.8 lens letting in 136% more light, and a faster laser autofocus that works in 0.6 seconds.
You can also shoot in JPG or RAW, with RAW support something photo pros will appreciate.
This is updated from the previous f/2.0 aperture and the previous pixel size of 1.12um.
And that’s just the camera on the back - the front facing camera also has larger pixels (not as large as Ultrapixel but still large at 1.34um), also equipped with OIS and sporting an 86-degree ultra-wide angle, as well as the same f/1.8 aperture.
Dubbed an ‘Ultraselfie’ camera, it also has a feature we’ve seen on the iPhone 6s and 6s Pro - a ‘screen flash’ that turns the entire front of the screen into a flash to better illuminate your selfies.
More below, please read on!
Next up is the aforementioned 4K video recording with ’world’s-first stereo 24-bit Hi-Res audio recording,’ which is claimed to ‘capture 256 times more detail than standard recordings, across twice the frequency range and enabling you to bring to life your recorded content as if you were actually there in person.’
The HTC 10 is ‘certified for Hi-Res Audio’ that has been ‘built for audiophiles’ and ‘designed to make music sound the way that the artist intended.’
The headphone amp ‘delivers two times the power of a conventional headphone amp,’ and the HTC 10 has ‘the ability to upscale from 16-bit to 24-bit audio and high performance digital to analogue conversion combine beautifully to produce ten times lower distortion than other devices on the market, delivering an all round audio performance’ that HTC says ‘cannot be beaten.’
A ‘Personal Audio Profile’ system also deals with the issue of everyone hearing things differently, as it creates ‘a unique profile that is tuned to your individual hearing, it dynamically adjusts specific sound frequencies to each ear, allowing you to hear music the way that the artist intended.’
You can also tune this to the different headphones you might use, whether this is the Hi-Res audio certified headphones that come in the box, through to the noise-cancelling headphones you use when on a plane.
In any case, it’s not just the headphone amp or Personal Audio Profile that has been improved, but newly ‘re-engineered HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi edition speakers [that] feature the same separated tweeter and woofer design as leading acoustic systems and combine with a dedicated amplifier on each speaker, adding to the experience and delivering sound clarity unprecedented on a smartphone.’
The Hi-Res audio certified earphones in the box feature ‘an 8μm thin aerospace polymer diaphragm and 70% oversized drivers,’ with the promise that ‘the listener is treated to richer sound and twice the frequency range, enabling you to enjoy the best audio experience right from the get go.’
On top of all that, the HTC 10 can send audio to AirPlay speakers, something no other Android phone offers natively.
Then we get to more of the detail that HTC says it has really looked at in the quest to make what it considers the best smartphone out there.
HTC boasts the 10 ensures ‘apps load twice as fast and perform to the highest standard,’ a next-gen quad HD display that is ’30% more colourful, creating a true cinematic feel,’ with a screen touch performance ‘that is 50% more responsive to touch than its predecessor, even the smallest and fastest of finger movements track perfectly.’
The fingerprint scanner under the aforementioned capacitive button unlocks in a ‘lightning fast 0.2 seconds’ and has been ‘algorithmically designed to recognise you faster and more accurately over time.’
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor is within, as is ‘enhanced 4G LTE’, while Boost+ is an app designed ‘to make your phone faster, to consume less power and to provide effective security and application management features.’
‘This includes smart boost, which automatically optimises your memory, a game battery booster, which uses less battery during gameplay, and a new PowerBotics system, which auto detects and shuts down apps that use excessive power, improving battery life by 30% and delivering up to two days charge.’
‘Not only does Boost+ optimise performance,’ says HTC, it also features an ‘App Lock function [that] adds a new layer of security by enabling you to lock any app you choose, whilst App Manager provides an instant fix for when an app isn’t behaving.’
Meanwhile, the aforementioned in-box quick charge 3.0 Rapid Charger is included boasting of ‘improved thermal management, so the battery can be charged by up to 50% in just 30 minutes – ideal for people who find their phone running low on juice before the end of the working day.’
HTC has also revolutionised its Sense UI skin. Now featuring a dramatic reduction in duplicated apps or bloatware (not seen on non-stock Android handsets), HTC includes a new ‘Freestyle layout’ that can, if you wish, eliminate the grid that icons are placed on.
While there are home launchers on Android that can do the same, this is part of HTC’s standard UI and UX, with icons even able to be replaced by ‘stickers’ that you can place anywhere on the screen you like.
HTC says ‘you can get creative by dragging icons, stickers and widgets anywhere you like. Layer them, group them, link stickers to apps or get rid of screen icons altogether, the choice is yours.’
As with the previous HTC flagship, you also get access to HTC Themes which ‘provides you with access to thousands of professional looking themes that each come with their own icons, backgrounds and sounds so you can customise your phone based on your own personal style.’
The HTC Dot Case has also been upgraded by an ‘all-new Ice View case with a semi-transparent and highly versatile single front-cover case.’
This means that ‘when that next call or message comes in, or when you need to skip a track, or snap that perfect shot, you can do it without even opening your smartphone’s case.’
Globally, HTC says its flagship ‘will come in two variants with different Qualcomm Snapdragon processors to cater for different market needs. They will both offer the same design, audio, camera and display, with a similar software experience and battery life.’
In Australia, the HTC 10 will have the Snapdragon 820, and while there four colours globally (Carbon Grey, Glacier Silver, Topaz Gold and Camellia Red), only the grey an silver colours will be initially available.
The HTC 10 will have 4GB RAM and will only come in a 32GB capacity, but the microSD slot can be configured to allow the HTC 10 to either work with two separate lots of memory - the 32GB and the memory on the card - or you can join the two sets of memory together and use them as one giant pool of memory.
The USB port is USB-C, and the battery is 3000 mAh.
Here are the official specs:
HTC 10 Specifications
- 145.9 x 71.9 x 3.0 - 9.0mm
- 5.2 inch
- Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels, 564 pixels per inch)
- Super LCD 5 with curved- edge Gorilla Glass
- Android 6 with HTC Sense
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Quad-core, 64-bit, up to 2.2Ghz
- Total storage: 32GB
- RAM: 4GB
- Expandable: microSD expansion supports additional memory cards up to 2TB with Flex Storage (optional cards not included)
- 12MP HTC UltraPixel 2 (1.55μm pixel size)
- Laser autofocus
- BSI sensor
- Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)
- f/1.8 aperture, 26mm focal length
- Dualtone LED flash
- 4K video recording with Hi-Res Audio Slow motion video recording at 720p, 120fps
- Modes include Auto-HDR, Panorama, Pro mode with manual control and 12-bit RAW format support, Hyperlapse, Zoe capture, Video Pic, and continuous shooting up to 8fps
- 5MP (1.34μm pixel size)
- BSI sensor
- Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)
- f/1.8 aperture, 23mm focal length
- Full HD 1080p video recording
- Modes include Auto-HDR, Auto Selfie, Voice Selfie, and Live Make-Up
- HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition
- Personal Audio Profile
- Hi-Res Audio certified
- Hi-Res Audio earphones
- Hi-Res Audio stereo recording
- Three microphones with noise cancelation
- GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
- 3G UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
- 4G LTE: (up to 450Mbps) Asia/Europe: FDD B1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12, 20, 28, 32; TDD B38, 40, 41 Support Cat 9
- LTE: downloads up to 450Mbps, uploads up to 50Mbps
- SIM Supports VoLTE
- Nano SIM
- Ambient light sensor
- Proximity sensor
- Motion G-sensor
- Compass sensor
- Gyro sensor
- Magnetic sensor
- Fingerprint sensor
- Sensor Hub for activity tracking
- GPS + GLONASS + Beidou
- USB 3.1 Gen1, Type-C
- 3.5mm stereo audio jack
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5GHz)
- Google Cast
- HTC Connect for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to compatible multi-room audio systems, TVs, portable speakers and home entertainment systems
- Capacity: 3000mAh
- Talk time on 3G/4G: up to 27 hours
- Standby time on 3G/4G: up to 19 days
- Power saving mode
- Extreme power saving mode
- Quick Charge 3.0 with cool charge: up to 50% charge in 30 minutes
- Display colour personalisation
- Ice View case
- Motion Launch
- Quiet ring on pick-up
- Pocket mode