HTC 10 evo review: The sea dragon

GSMArena team, 21 February 2017.

Unboxing the HTC 10 evo

Our HTC 10 evo came packaged with all the essentials - a QuickCharge 2.0 power adapter (15W, 9V 1.67A or 12V 1.25A), a USB-C cable and a headset.

The headset ends with a USB-C plug and boasts both BoomSound Adaptive Audio and Hi-Res Audio. The first creates a calibrated audio profile and the second delivers the highest quality audio possible. Note that Adaptive Audio is a proprietary HTC technology and other USB-C headphones (what there is of them) will only benefit from the Hi-Res Audio.

HTC didn't skimp on the quick charger, but it omitted the USB-C to headphone adapter - HTC 10 evo review HTC didn't skimp on the quick charger, but it omitted the USB-C to headphone adapter - HTC 10 evo review
HTC didn't skimp on the quick charger, but it omitted the USB-C to headphone adapter

It's not the best-quality headset we've seen, the cables are plain round plastic and the only embellishment is the HTC logo on (an admittedly cool-looking) grooved texture.

Worse - there's no USB-C to 3.5mm adapter included in the box. So if you want to use non-USB headphones, you'll have to buy your own adapter. What HTC taketh away, HTC doesn't giveth back.

Unfortunately, we'll have to skip the audio quality test as we don't have an adapter on hand - we're used to getting such things in the retail package. For what it's worth, HTC sent out free adapters to Bolt buyers, but the process wasn't painless (it required registration). There's no such deal for the 10 evo, anyway.

HTC 10 evo 360° spin

The HTC 10 evo measures 153.6 x 77.3 x 8.1mm and weighs 171g. Surprisingly, that makes this 5.5" phone as heavy as the 5.7" HTC U Ultra. At any rate, it's lighter and more compact than the iPhone 7 Plus.

Hardware

HTC describes the 10 evo as "sculpted by light, illuminated by sound." This speaks to our primary senses - we navigate the world by sight and sound. The 10 evo isn't bad to the touch either, come to think of it.

This isn't just marketing talk, the design features angled surfaces with a different finish, which capture and reflect the light. It is not a fully unique design, but it's different enough to draw the eye. And the matte finish of the metal unibody is quite satisfactory.

The angles are designed to reflect the light in an attractive fashion - HTC 10 evo review The angles are designed to reflect the light in an attractive fashion - HTC 10 evo review The angles are designed to reflect the light in an attractive fashion - HTC 10 evo review
The angles are designed to reflect the light in an attractive fashion

The cool tactile design continues with the textured Power button, but we're not fans of the plastic window on top of the phone. Still, something about this phone reminds us of the HTC Legend and those are some sweet memories, indeed.

Drilling down deeper, HTC 10 evo's metal unibody features IP57-level waterproofing, enough to swim at depths of 1.5m underwater. On dry land, the Gorilla Glass 5 on the front has a solid chance to survive a 1.6m drop (around 5ft). The glass is beveled on the side, making for a smoother transition.

HTC 10 evo has the look and feel of a flagship - HTC 10 evo review HTC 10 evo has the look and feel of a flagship - HTC 10 evo review
HTC 10 evo has the look and feel of a flagship

The entire phone has been subjected to a gauntlet of drop, bend and scratch tests. Then it was pitted against the elements, including submersion, climate and even corrosion tests. Despite the matte metal appearances of a city-slicker, this is a phone that feels at home out in the country.

When it comes to ruggedness, the fewer moving parts, the better. So the capacitive keys below the screen are no surprise. Even the Home button/fingerprint reader is capacitive (rather than a clicky button). The ribbed power button on the side is easy to find and press, even with pruney fingers.

Capacitive keys only - HTC 10 evo review The ribbed power button is easy to find by touch - HTC 10 evo review
Capacitive keys only • The ribbed power button is easy to find by touch

This does raise a question, though. How do you operate the HTC 10 evo when it's wet? There's a gesture to launch the camera from a locked position - a double swipe down on the screen - but that's not going to work. Concerns like this are the reason most rugged phones have an extra "action" button that can be assigned to do things when the capacitive screen can't.

Anyway, the phone features 3 mics with noise cancellation. The third one is on the front, next to the earpiece. The earpiece is deeply recessed into the glass and it will start gathering dust and dirt quickly. A tiny notification LED is on the right of the earpiece and on its other side, the 8MP selfie camera.

No OIS on this selfie camera - HTC 10 evo review
No OIS on this selfie camera

Flipping over to the back, the main 16MP camera protrudes slightly from the back. Above it, near the top edge (too near, if you ask us) is the dual-LED flash. It's called "Vivid Flash" because it allegedly produces a color spectrum similar to daylight, for natural-looking photos even at night.

The camera also boasts OIS and Phase Detection autofocus that finds a lock in 0.3 seconds, two more tools in 10 evo's low-light arsenal.

16MP main camera (with OIS, without Laser AF) - HTC 10 evo review The second mic on the back - HTC 10 evo review The camera protrudes slightly - HTC 10 evo review
16MP main camera (with OIS, without Laser AF) • The second mic on the back • The camera protrudes slightly

On the back you will also find the other two microphones - one near the camera and one near the bottom. All three of them can be used to capture Hi-Res stereo sound with noise reduction.

The HTC 10 evo has two card slots - one for a nanoSIM and one for a microSD slot. HTC has not announced a dual-SIM version of the phone. Also, 32GB internal storage is the only option, sigh!

Two separate card slots: one for the nanoSIM, one for the microSD - HTC 10 evo review Two separate card slots: one for the nanoSIM, one for the microSD - HTC 10 evo review
Two separate card slots: one for the nanoSIM, one for the microSD

There's an extra mic at the bottom - that's the mouthpiece. To its side are the USB-C port and the loudspeaker. That's the only loudspeaker, unlike the HTC 10 the earpiece does not kick in as a tweeter or a second speaker.

USB-C (wired for USB 2.0 speeds) flanked by the single loudspeaker and the mouthpiece - HTC 10 evo review USB-C (wired for USB 2.0 speeds) flanked by the single loudspeaker and the mouthpiece - HTC 10 evo review
USB-C (wired for USB 2.0 speeds) flanked by the single loudspeaker and the mouthpiece