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Deep-dive review: The HTC 10 -- not flashy, just really good

Dan Rosenbaum | April 18, 2016
The HTC 10 is the nicest phone that HTC has made: solid, fast, great sound, good camera and a non-obtrusive UI.

There's a fingerprint sensor on the front below the display that doubles as a Home button. The back and menu buttons are capacitive and flank the sensor. Their positions can't be changed in software.

U.S. models of the HTC 10 (like the one I reviewed) are powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. Performance testing using the AnTuTu Benchmark resulted in a rating of 131030, showing that its processing power is on a par with other top-of-the-line phones.

The screen is a quad-HD LCD, 2560 x 1440 pixels at a 564ppi resolution, covered with Corning's Gorilla Glass.

The HTC 10 packs a 3,000mAh non-replaceable battery, larger than the 2,800mAh battery typical of its class. The phone uses a USB-C port to charge, and company officials pointed out that because USB-C (unlike any other interface) can move power in either direction, the HTC could be used to drive the electrical needs of other devices. Given the demands on smartphones, I'm skeptical: Perhaps the least-used sentence in the English language, after "That's the banjo player's Porsche," is "My phone has plenty of power; I think I'll use it to recharge my computer."

Whatever extracurricular use you put the battery to, my stress test (using AnTuTu Tester and GSam Battery Monitor) pulled a little more than four hours out of it -- again, comparable to the current crop of premium smartphones. Standby time is greater than two days. The phone supports Quick Charge 3.0 and can pick up a 50% charge in 30 minutes.

The phone has the usual array of wireless connections -- Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi up to 802.11ac, GPS and NFC -- and motion sensors (although no heart-rate sensor). But get this: Not only does it include the expected support of Google Cast (formerly known a Chromecast), but the HTC 10 also quietly supports Apple's AirPlay -- the first Android phone to do so.

Keeping down the bloatware

The HTC 10 runs Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow), of course, but there are some interesting wrinkles you'll want to know about.

Duplicative apps have long been a problem in the smartphone world. Carriers and manufacturers far too often lard phones with apps that are already available as part of Android in an attempt to capture eyeballs or mindshare. I reviewed an unlocked phone so I can't speak for carriers' software stack, but HTC is doing its part to pare down software by picking between Google's apps and its own.

So there's just one dialer and launcher -- HTC's -- and Google's browser, fitness app and notepad. (If you really love the Google Now launcher, it's easily obtainable.)

Otherwise, HTC continues its practice of de-emphasizing what had been its distinctive HTC Sense UI. The place you might particularly notice the Sense legacy is in the App drawer, which scrolls vertically instead of horizontally.


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