HTC never disappoints when it comes to designs, evident in the iconic devices they’ve put together throughout the years. From the HTC HD2 and the Nexus One to the One M7 and One M8, there’s no denying they place a lot of attention on design. As we feast our eyes on its latest flagship, the one-less HTC 10, it’s a phone that not only aims to continue the company’s legacy, but to becomes one of the more notable flagships for the first half of 2016.

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Before all of that, though, we’re quickly pitting it against what are arguably the best-selling smartphone(s) around – the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Apple might’ve announced a new, smaller sized iPhone, but the 4.7 and 5.5-inch devices released back in the fall remain the phones to beat in the Android-alternative mobile landscape.

Design

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Let’s talk first about what’s probably the most pressing about them; their designs. Each phone has its particular quirks and whatnot, but we can agree that metal is the best way to go when you want something to be regarded as “premium.” Some folks will prefer the sleeker, more uniform flatness of the iPhone 6s’ design, as well as its smaller footprint and weight, but the HTC 10’s contour helps it to feel considerably more ergonomic in the hand.

In comparison, though, the HTC 10 is significantly easier to handle over the iPhone 6s Plus. Big phones are undoubtedly big business, but the heaviness and sheer size of the iPhone 6s Plus makes the HTC 10 far more comforting to operate. Rather than rounded corners, the chamfered edges on the back of the HTC 10 make the handset much easier to operate with one hand.

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While the iPhone’s design is unmistakable, the HTC 10 definitely manages to etch out an interesting silhouette when you look at it from the back. That’s partly thanks to how the smooth finish of its gentle sloped beveled edge wraps around the phone, giving the HTC 10 a distinctive touch that’s genuinely unique. Which is the better design? That depends on who you ask but there’s no denying that these are two of the nicest looking smartphones on the market.

Display

Apple might’ve concocted something new in the 4.7 and 5.5-inch Retina Displays in its new iPhones, but it’s still unclear whether or not its new 3D Touch function is something that’s fancied amongst users. Who knows! Still, the Retina Displays are certainly top-notch in the areas of luminance, color temperature, and color accuracy.

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Fortunately for HTC, they’ve taken a substantial approach with the display in the HTC 10 as, not only is it a larger 5.2-incher, but they’ve brought the resolution to a more flagship-worthy 1440 x 2560 Quad-HD resolution. Yes, there are more pixels bunched up into this screen, but it’ll be interesting to see what the actual qualities of the display are. On paper, the 564 pixels per inch density on the HTC 10 is considerably more than the 326ppi and 401ppi displays in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus respectively, but it’ll be interesting to see whether this translates to a much better overall experience.

So far, it looks pretty convincing compared to the iPhone 6s/6s Plus. One thing worth noting, though, is that HTC is emphasizing the touch responsiveness of its new Super LCD 5 display, but it remains unclear if this is something that’ll get people salivating over the phone. Which is the better overall display remains to be seen but we’ll test this further and give you our findings in a full versus.

Hardware

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Apple arguably popularized the idea of having fingerprint sensors in phones again, but this is the first time we’re seeing one on a widely-available HTC flagship. This time, though, the implementation here with the HTC 10 is far better than the one employed by the HTC One Max and on par with the one found in the HTC One A9, since it works in the same premise as other modern phones.

Grazing over the specs sheet, those who aren’t familiar with the iPhone will undoubtedly have their eyes raise higher when looking at the HTC 10, but don’t be fooled because the iPhone 6s’ hardware punch is a deceptively formidable one. Its dual-core Apple A9 chipset combined with 2GB of RAM and the PowerVR GT7600 GPU makes the phone fly with buttery responses in everything it does – including graphics processing, which sometimes proves to be a bit hard for phones with Quad-HD screens.

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HTC doesn’t hold back with its latest prize stallion, since it’s packing the latest and greatest from Qualcomm’s camp – a Snapdragon 820 SoC – coupled with 4GB of RAM and the Adreno 530 GPU. We know that the new Quad-HD screen might pose some challenges when it comes to graphics processing, but we’re confident that the HTC 10 will prove to be more than capable, and the Adreno 530 is likely to be a graphics powerhouse that can match it with the best of them.

In terms of storage options, we know that the iPhone 6s/6s Plus is offered in a slew of storage capacities, but to this day, Apple refuses to offer expandable storage. Well, that’s not a problem for the HTC 10, which is given 32GB of internal storage, but its capacity can be supplemented thanks to the inclusion of a microSD card slot.

Overall, the hardware of both devices is certainly premium, and while the HTC 10 is arguably better on paper, the iPhone’s specs can be misleadingly deceptive. Which offers the better overall experience remains to be seen however, and will also likely depend on your own personal preference.

Camera

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Apple’s iPhones have always been solid snappers with their cameras, and the latest ones are no different with their wholesome performances. When it comes to taking those in-the-moment shots, the iPhone 6s/6s Plus excels for its simplified operation and its ability to just take a good looking photo – no matter the condition.

HTC, on the other hand, has always received flak about its so-called UltraPixel cameras. For the past few flagships, they’ve been the underdog, desperately trying to get some sort of traction with the Ultrapixel camera. With the HTC 10, however, they absolutely have something that’s more ambitious – a 12MP HTC UltraPixel camera.

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This new sensor is combined with an f/1.8 aperture lens, BSI, OIS, laser autofocus, 1.55 µm pixel size, and a dual tone LED flash. Sure, we’re drooling over this new configuration, especially considering that it’s attracted a DxOMark score of 88, but real worlds results will be the ultimate decided factor. We plan to test this further in the coming weeks in a full in-depth camera shootout to see which snapper really is the best of the best.

Software

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Apple’s latest version of iOS continues to pay homage to the platform’s ideas and principles, making it very easy for almost anyone to pick up and use. Indeed, they’ve optimized it a bit over the years to give it some versatility, but for the most part, what it lacks in the customization department, it makes us with its ease-of-use.

Conversely, Android as we know it, goes in the opposite direction by offering users some power features, as well as a diversified ecosystem. For the HTC 10, we’re greeted with the most up-to-date version of the platform, Android 6.0 Marshmallow with a revamped Sense experience on top. At the core of it all, this new Sense goes even farther with the interface’s personalization, as we’re now presented with new sticker options to personalize the homescreen.

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Unlike many of the other custom Android skins we’ve been seeing of late – i.e. those that are going more for that iOS look and feel by eliminating the apps panel entirely – this latest version of Sense still commands the same look and feel that has made Android look like Android. We’re particularly intrigued by HTC’s decision to eliminate clutter by no longer throwing in its own separate apps – such as the gallery, internet browser, and email client. Rather, we’re given the usual stock from Google to use, which is a good thing in making the experience less complicated.

Conclusion so far

HTC clearly has some rebuilding to do, especially after how the M9 last year didn’t strike a chord with consumers. The HTC 10 seems to be a promising Android-powered smartphone that might get the company back into greener pastures, but it remains whether it’ll have enough of what it takes to overpower what’s arguably the titan in the smartphone landscape. As for Apple’s prized darlings, they certainly have the staying power to always be in constant contention in the landscape.

Price-wise, the HTC 10 is coming to us unlocked and outright for $699 through HTC’s own website, so it’ll absolutely have several convincing reasons to pick it up over the iPhone 6s/6s Plus, which start at $650 and $750 respectively. From its updated design, higher resolution display, fingerprint sensor, and new camera gear, the HTC 10 is poised to be a pretty good competitor to the Apple’s finest.

Is the HTC 10 enough to challenge the iPhone or is Apple going to win this race? Only time will tell but we’ll be testing both of these devices further to bring you an in-depth versus. In the meantime, let us know your views in the comments below!