If you haven’t realized it yet, HTC has dropped the “One” moniker off its latest flagship, choosing instead to shorten and simplify its name to the HTC 10. That’s a radical move on their part, but a necessary one because this new smartphone is differentiating itself immensely from its previous efforts. When the HTC One M9 was introduced last year, it was quickly overshadowed by the competition because it just didn’t have the kind of firepower to keep up with the gang. You can say it was forgettable, a mistake that HTC doesn’t intend on doing again.
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Enter the HTC 10, a smartphone that not only looks dramatically different from its predecessor, but also features specs to ensure that it’s justified to be superior in every facet to its underperforming kin. By looking at the two, it’s almost tough to discern any similarities that would indicate that they’re made by the same company. When you’ve been thought of as an underdog for so long, it’s no surprise that HTC is coming out swinging with something unbelievably more ambitious, but is the HTC 10 that much better than its predecessor? Let’s find out below.
Metal has always been the core material that HTC has established with its flagship devices, so it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of metal with these two phones – and we mean a lot! They naturally embody the qualities that make them “premium,” but we certainly find the HTC 10’s design more riveting than the One M9. Sure, it’s a smidgen taller, wider, and heavier than the One M9, but the HTC 10’s total redesign and attention to detail makes the One M9’s design appear elementary.
Some of the stark changes to the HTC 10’s design include its thicker beveled edge around the back, capacitive Android buttons, reverting to a traditional earpiece grill, and a single button that makes up its volume control. As for the HTC One M9, we’re still not a fan of how the phone feels a bit sharp around the corners, especially more so when it resembles its predecessor very closely. In fact, the HTC 10’s revamped looks is one we have to applaud because it proves that they’re still experts when it comes to designing phones out of metal.
Just by looking at the snapshots we’ve taken of the two phones side-by-side to one another, we can’t help but fall in love with how the HTC 10 has an unmistakable silhouette.
With the apparent size increase, the HTC 10 also packs along a slightly larger 5.2-inch 1440 x 2560 Super LCD 5 Display – whereas it’s a 5-inch 1080 x 1920 Super LCD 3 screen with the One M9 last year. There’s just no comparison here folks, mainly because the HTC 10’s panel is more detailed with its pixel density count of 564 ppi. Don’t get us wrong, the 1080p resolution of the One M9’s display is plenty detailed on its own, but the HTC 10’s jump to Quad-HD resolution definitely ups its game to match its foes in the mobile space.
Well, as much as we’d love to proclaim the HTC 10’s display as the superior one, it’s really tough to gauge the other qualities of the panel until we put it through some serious testing. Indoors, it seems as though the two panels emit the same level of luminance, but we do notice that there’s just a smidgen more saturation with the HTC 10’s display – albeit, it’s not by much.
Whatever the case, HTC has finally submitted to upgrading the resolution, which was something we were actually expecting last year with the One M9. Oh well! Either way, it’s nice that things are looking mighty sweet for its latest flagship.
Arguably one of the biggest introductions we’re getting with the HTC 10 that was missing with the One M9, is the addition of a fingerprint sensor. Slapped right below the display, it gives the HTC 10 that extra sense of security, not only for unlocking, but also for mobile payments – making it modernized for the times.
One interesting change, however, relates to the company’s decision to go away from the usual dual front-firing speaker configuration we’ve been accustomed to seeing with the series. Instead, there’s now just a BoomSound Hi-Fi speaker above the display, and a bass one positioned at the bottom of the phone. Most folks might be sad to see this deployment, but HTC insists that the quality with the HTC 10 is going to be superior.
And why’s that? Well, they’re achieving a higher level with its audio experience, one that intends to be immersive thanks to the addition of Hi-Res audio. Not only do they state that the headphone jack will achieve a peak output of 1V, but it also has the ability to upscale from 16-bit to 24-bit. All of this audio stuff is complemented by the new Personal Audio Profile system that they’re putting in place.
Being the newer phone and all, the HTC 10 benefits from being outfitted with the newer hardware – a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC coupled with 4GB of RAM and the Adreno 530 GPU. In contrast, the One M9 features hardware that was regarded as top-of-the-line last year. It’s not to say that the One M9’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip is underpowered, but considering that the HTC 10 now has to contend with Quad-HD resolution amongst other things, you have to believe that there’s going to be a better performance with the Snapdragon 820.
Storage-wise, the two handsets offer the same base 32GB of internal capacity, but can be supplemented by adding in a microSD card of some size into the available slot. Strangely enough, HTC, much like its rivals, has pulled the plug on the IR blaster – a decision that some will find as unfortunate, but a logical one at the same time. Since it seems as though few users actually end up using the IR blaster on the One M9 a whole lot, it’s a good reason to axe it off with the HTC 10.
Sadly for the HTC One M9 last year, its upgraded camera didn’t live up to the expectations that critics believed would’ve helped to shed the series’ lackluster reputation. Whereas previous efforts tried desperately to showboat the usefulness of the UltraPixel camera, last year’s One M9 was a departure due to its upgraded 20-megapixel snapper. That, of course, was a shocking revelation, as the increase in pixel count was something we haven’t seen before.
Despite its improvement in the details front, the One M9 still couldn’t take photos under low light if its life depended on it. Well people, the HTC 10 brings back the “UltraPixel” name back to the rear camera, as it’s slapped with a 12MP sensor, 1.55 µm pixels, f/1.8 aperture lens, laser autofocus, BSI, and a dual tone LED flash. All of this new hardware certainly sounds delicious, but it’s really emphasizing the camera’s performance – including low light, which has been HTC’s Achilles Heel.
Already boasting a DxOMark score of 88, the HTC 10 seems very promising from the onset, but considering we also felt the same optimistic sentiments with last year’s effort, we’re going to be a little bit more pragmatic and cautious here until we can actually see real-world results.
HTC’s Sense UI has always been a favorable custom experience in the Android community, as it does its best to deliver a good balance to meet the needs of users. This year’s Sense UI is an evolutionary one that’s running on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Even though the general layouts and visuals of Sense past are still evident here, HTC has somewhat streamlined the experience here with the HTC 10.
That’s a really good thing, mainly because many if HTC’s own apps conflicted with those from Google’s staple. Therefore, users are given just the relevant apps right from the start – as opposed to being confused with duplicates (think HTC’s Gallery, Music, and Internet apps). Of course, being the new phone has its benefits, which is quite apparent here in this quick comparison. On top of the usual array of personalization options we’ve been given with Sense, like its vast collection of widgets and downloadable themes, the HTC 10 gives users the option of also placing stickers throughout the homescreen.
So far, it’s tough to say if this new version of Sense has anything substantial that the One M9 won’t receive through future updates, but we will say that the simplification and elimination of duplicate apps is a good direction for them.
Conclusion so far
History has shown us that HTC is still in that stage of rebuilding. After last year’s underwhelming One M9, it seemed as though that a rebound was impossible. Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be the case because the HTC 10 seems like a polished product that’s worthy of the flagship status. This year’s effort already appears to be far more ambitious than the One M9, which unsurprisingly did very little to give consumers reasons to go with it over the competition.
Things are a bit more optimistic though with the HTC 10, a phone that doesn’t only look vastly better, but it’s been combed over from head-to-toe to ensure that it’s something that’ll attract consumers who were sorely disappointed last year. Will HTC’s hard work pay off? Only time will tell but let us know your views in the comments below!