A brilliant star in difficult times. Taiwanese manufacturer HTC goes through tricky moments after linking several months in red numbers, hence all eyes have been directed over the past few months to the launch of its new flagship that aims to fight the rest of high-end mobiles of 2016, including of course the iPhone 6S, the Samsung Galaxy S7 family or the sorpendent LG G5 or Huawei P9.
The time is therefore the analysis of the HTC 10, a terminal that on paper seduces anyone by its infinite list of specifications and that along the next lines we will see how it is defended in different aspects: both at the level of design and in the quality of its screen, the efficiency of its battery or the behavior of its camera.
Is there the perfect mobile? The experience makes it clear that the squareness of the circle is impossible because we will always have a smartphone equipped with a more powerful camera, a brighter screen or that offers a higher performance.
To aspire to the top of the throne it is essential to highlight in all the sections, a balance that did not achieve last year’s reference terminal and that now aspires to achieve this HTC 10, pointed out by many as the true successor of the HTC One M8 that surprised so many two years ago.
A different design
The HTC 10’s design is as amazing as it is logical. The Taiwanese firm has mixed its two previous flagships to give light to this model that grows to 5.2 inches without losing its characteristic style, despite incorporating some modifications.
Of course we are talking about a unibody mobile in which it sends aluminum, a sign that it is a high-end terminal. The curved lines of past versions have been blurred to make way for beveled edges that are slightly reminiscent of the Huawei Mate S and that have fueled the controversy because they don’t seem to leave anyone indifferent. It’s a matter of taste.
In any case it is a very comfortable mobile that is handled perfectly with one hand thanks to its very light curved rear and weight, which stops the scale in a prudent 161 grams. At first glance it may seem slippery but it is not much more so than other high-end smartphones; it’s quite compact and looks very tough.
In fact, HTC claims that it has put the mobile to the test in extreme conditions ranging from freezing temperatures of -20 oC to a 60oC scorching in addition to having subjected it to all kinds of tests of falls, shocks and corrosion.
At the design level several things surprise in this gleaming HTC 10. To begin with the second speaker definitely loses its space on the front to make room for the fingerprint reader – which also plays the start button – and moves to the bottom edge, next to the main microphone and the USB Type-C connector that has already become the standard for high-end mobiles.
The power button has been moved from top to side and – good news – has a characteristic texture that makes it easy to find. In this way on the top edge we only find the headphone jack, which comes to be located in the center.
Being a unibody mobile we can not remove any back casing, so we have two removable trays – one on each side – to insert a nano-SIM card and a microSD, although for this we will need the mini tool that is included in the sales box.
The design on the back is much more familiar, with the HTC logo located in the middle, a few centimeters below the front camera protruding slightly from the device.
In short, it is a different mobile to the rest at the design level and, without a doubt, one of the references for those looking for a high-end Android mobile with physical buttons, an essential element for many that guarantees the enjoyment to the maximum of the screen.
Excellent quality display
This 2016 has served for most manufacturers to give the ultimate folder to the FHD resolution on their flagships. So has HTC on this 5.2-inch smartphone that mounts a Super LCD5 panel with QHD resolution (2560x1440p) offering a density of around 565 dots per inch.
Differences are increasingly difficult to discern at first glance, but the leap in quality from the screens of the previous generation of high-end mobiles is evident, especially when it comes to playing multimedia content such as series or movies.
The HTC 10’s display, protected by the way with Corning Gorlla Glass 4, is outstanding thanks to its excellent accuracy in representing the full range of colors with spectacular contrast that, without reaching the levels of the Super Amoled panel of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, is surprising. Just like their complete viewing angles.
The main drawback has to do with its brightness level. According to the tests carried out in the laboratory by our colleagues in Germany the level of nits is quite far away (437 vs 700) from what the Samsung terminal offers, the industry reference in this section.
What does all this mean? The HTC is a great smartphone for viewing images and playing videos in all kinds of situations, with a very significant difference from previous models of the Taiwanese firm and also to flagships from previous years.
However, its low maximum brightness level can cause you some headache when using your phone outdoors.
Plenty of performance to brag
Without a doubt, one of the strengths of the HTC 10 is its performance. The terminal comes from the hand of the SoC which has become synonymous with high-end for Android mobiles in this 2016, a qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core that works wonders and seems to have made it clear that power is not a matter of number of cores but of quality.
The processor is of course accompanied by the equally powerful Adreno 530 GPU and no less than 4 GB of RAM – both in the 32 GB version of internal memory and the 64 GB version – that allow to perform all kinds of operations with spectacular fluidity, without unexpected crashes or slowdowns.
To write the review of the HTC 10 we have subjected the device to all kinds of performance tests and benchmarks. In all it has shone spectacularly, with numbers in AnTuTu that are the envy of almost all the competition.
In practice it is a highly recommended mobile to play as it is able to move all the latest generation titles in a totally fluid way and, as an extra, has an outstanding sound that we will talk about later. This time HTC’s flagship does make the size at the performance level relative to the competition.
Another good news is that the mobile does not suffer from exaggerated overheating problems as we saw in previous generations during daily use. We will notice how the temperature rises quite significantly when plugged into the fast-charging charger – even above what we expect in the test unit we have received – but once disconnected it does not take long to return to normal values.
In the same way the fingerprint reader located on the front of the phone works outstandingly, being especially fast when unlocking the mobile in 0.2 seconds and quite accurate. It also allows you to add up to 5 different footprints, so you don’t even have to think about which finger you should use the fingerprint sensor, which you don’t even need to press to unlock the terminal.
Software with more lights than shadows
The customization layer that manufacturers incorporate into the Android operating system often become a headache for the most demanding users, who are precisely the ones who look at the differences to the millimeter within the terminals of the high end. In this HTC 10 we have good and bad news as far as the software section is concerned.
The Taiwanese manufacturer has managed to keep its HTC Sense UI customization layer from boosting the performance of the device, which is not a bulletproof issue in light of what is happening in the competition or what we have seen in previous generations of this same family.
That has been possible with a fairly severe diet with which everything that was not necessary has been eliminated. In fact, since HTC claims to have worked closely with Google to avoid the duplication of apps that we saw in previous generations, in which we had for example two browsers or two apps to play music.
For better and worse now the basis of the operating system is made up of Google apps along with others developed by HTC that, unfortunately, cannot be removed from the system. The most interesting is definitely Boost+, an application similar to others that we have seen on LG, Samsung or Huawei terminals that allows you to clean unused RAM or delete little-used apps in order to always offer the best possible performance of the phone.