With the HTC U 11 set to be announced in a little over a week, it’s only fitting that we take a look back at its predecessor, the HTC 10, which was easily one of the most underrated flagships of 2016. The device deserved a lot more attention than it received, but now that it’s a year old, let’s see exactly how well it has held up. Here is the HTC 10, revisited.
It really is unfortunate that the HTC 10 failed to garner more attention from consumers, despite being universally praised by reviewers, which is not something that can be said about a couple of its predecessors. However, as good as the HTC 10 was, and remains, people were just not buying it. Apart from tech journalists and reviewers, I’ve rarely spotted this phone in the hands of average consumers.
In fact, I’ve seen the LG G5 out in the wild a whole lot more than the HTC 10, and HTC’s marketing (or lack thereof) is definitely to blame for that. It’s a shame that this phone became one of the best smartphones of 2016 that no one was buying, despite going toe to toe with the other flagships that were available at the time.
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough of a push behind the device for HTC to capitalize on this chance
It’s hard to think back to a time only a few years ago where HTC ruled the roost, with their prospects brightening with the arrival of the HTC One M7. Things have been on a steady decline since then, but with LG’s 2016 flagship being mostly a miss with consumers, HTC had the opportunity to recapture that magic. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough of a push behind the device for HTC to capitalize on this chance.
I still think that the HTC 10 is an attractive-looking phone, and it’s easily one of my favorite designs from 2016. The metal body feels incredible in the hand, and the huge chamfer along the back is a very unique touch that I wish HTC wasn’t so quick to get rid of. The front of the phone is completely clean and free from any logos or branding, which is how it should always be with any smartphone.
Something I truly appreciate about the HTC 10 is how easy it is to use with one hand. It has a very small overall footprint and, despite having a slippery metal body, the flat sides made it easy to grip. In terms of durability, there are some minor nicks and scrapes to be seen, but it’s definitely in great shape when you consider that I didn’t use a case with this phone.
It may be hard to not think this is an AMOLED display because of how bright and colorful it looks
Even though I generally prefer AMOLED displays, I’m a huge fan of the LCD screen of this device that HTC has done an excellent job with. HTC flagships feature some of the best LCD panels in the market, and I love how sharp, vibrant, and full of contrast the HTC 10 display is. If you didn’t know otherwise, it would be easy to think of this display as AMOLED thanks to how bright and colorful it looks.
One thing that did change rather significantly with the HTC 10 when compared to its predecessors was the audio experience. Instead of the dual front-facing speaker setup that the company was known for, the 10 featured a single front-firing speaker and a bottom-mounted woofer instead. It wasn’t a bad change in terms of audio quality, but I do miss dual the front-facing speakers, which have gone by the wayside in the smartphone market. The headphone jack was kept though, and actually provided some very high-quality audio with the built-in DAC and amp.
Even after a year, performance is still solid
Even after a year, the performance is still quite good in my experience. The hardware may not be the latest and greatest anymore, but the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 has held up very well, and everything remains snappy and responsive even after several software updates.
Unfortunately, battery life has not fared as well as the performance. The HTC 10, with its 3,000 mAh battery, didn’t offer impressive battery life to begin with and didn’t last a full day with heavy usage even out of the box. It does recharge very quickly though by taking advantage of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology, so even if you run out of power, you can be up and running with little delay.
HTC historically struggled a lot in the camera department, but that changed pretty drastically with the HTC 10. While I still feel like the camera of the HTC 10 was subpar compared to its 2016 rivals from LG and Samsung, it was leaps and bounds better than what was available with the One M7, M8, and M9. I actually forgot how good this camera was until I started using this phone again, and even when browsing through photos I’d taken when the device was first released, the images are a lot better than what I remembered.
You also get manual controls and the ability to shoot in the RAW format, so you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to shooting photos. The front-facing shooter is also quite good and features OIS, which is great for taking selfies and particularly for vlogging. It’s actually rather surprising that OIS isn’t more common on smartphone front-facing cameras.
On the software side of things, the device has received an official update to Android 7.0 Nougat and is also fairly up to date in regard to monthly security patches. The Nougat update brought Google Assistant to the device, but apart from that and the other Android 7.0 features and enhancements, the software experience is largely the same as what it was when the device was running Marshmallow. HTC Sense hasn’t changed much, and while it certainly is one of the cleanest software experiences around, it does seem due for an update, which will hopefully come with the HTC U 11.
The big question here is whether the HTC 10 is still worth buying in 2017. The price, if you get it directly from HTC, is a steep $599, but it’s possible to get the international version of the device on Amazon for about $150 less.
The HTC 10 is a fantastic phone that has stood the test of time very well and isn’t missing a whole lot even when compared to current generation flagships. It certainly deserves to be in the pockets of more people, especially of those who appreciate the classic HTC metal construction and design. Considering what we’ve seen so far from HTC this year and from rumors surrounding the upcoming flagship, the HTC 10 could be the end of era, so you might want to get your hands on one while you still can.
What are your thoughts on the HTC 10? Do you own one? If so, how has your experience been? Be sure to let us know in the comments!