HTC 10 review: Greatest hit

Greatest hit

GSMArena team, 02 May, 2016.

Unboxing

While quite simple, the HTC 10's packaging is straight to the point. Removing the lid reveals the HTC 10 straight away, wrapped in a protective layer of plastic. The top layer of packaging comes out to reveal more compartments underneath.

HTC 10 packaging is straightforward and simple, texture on the box was an added plus - HTC 10 Review review HTC 10 packaging is straightforward and simple, texture on the box was an added plus - HTC 10 Review review
HTC 10 packaging is straightforward and simple, texture on the box was an added plus

Last out of the box are the USB Charger and a cable with a USB Type-C end that is reversible and goes into the phone. This USB charger is a special one because it supports Qualcomm's new Quick Charge 3.0, which can charge the HTC 10 up to half capacity in less than half an hour. Which in itself, is quite impressive.

HTC 10's Quick Charge 3.0 wall adapter is included - HTC 10 Review review
HTC 10's Quick Charge 3.0 wall adapter is included

Unfortunately, our review device did not include the Hi-Fi earbuds that come with every retail version of the HTC 10 but we're assured this would only be the case in the US and Canada.

Hardware

The HTC 10 is beautifully designed, there is no doubt about it. Its industrial lines and heavy construction bring us back to the early-Android days with phones like the Nexus One and the EVO 4G.

The chamfered corner that goes all the way around the back give the phone tapered edges which help a lot with ergonomics and handling while also giving the HTC 10 some sharp, industrial looking lines, presenting itself as a sleek and powerful device. Before you write off the HTC 10 because of its seemingly large chamfered edges, make sure you feel it in hand first. The tapered edges on the back in conjunction with the curve toward the back of the phone only gives the illusion of it appearing thicker than it actually is.

HTC 10 in hand - HTC 10 Review review Photos don't give the chamfered edge the justice it deserves - HTC 10 Review review Photos don't give the chamfered edge the justice it deserves - HTC 10 Review review
HTC 10 in hand • Photos don't give the chamfered edge the justice it deserves

As soon as we saw the top of the device, we noticed there is no longer a black glossy insert that indicated an IR-blaster for controlling various home entertainment equipment. Strangely, most major phone brands are ditching the feature after being first to introduces it some years ago. It was a nice option to have, perhaps most customers were not using it because they weren't aware of the feature or simply didn't know how to set it up.

Otherwise, the IR bar we saw on the HTC One M9 has been replaced with a frosty gray plastic insert, which likely houses various connectivity antennas.

Plastic insert on top allows for signals to pass through, headphone jack is also here - HTC 10 Review review
Plastic insert on top allows for signals to pass through, headphone jack is also here

Smack dab in the center of the insert is the 3.5mm headphone jack, which is capable of up-scaling audio from 16-bit to 24-bit for an exceptional listening experience.

All the buttons of the device are on the right side. From top to bottom is the volume rocker and underneath that sits a ruffle-textured power button, which is always a welcome touch.

All physical buttons live on the right side of the device - HTC 10 Review review
All physical buttons live on the right side of the device

The buttons themselves don't disappoint. They are very firm as to prevent accidental pressing in pockets or cases. While they take just a little more effort to push than you'd think, the buttons respond with the satisfying clicky-ness that everyone likes. The button layout might have you accidentally pressing the wrong keys but you get used to it after a day or two.

The left side of the device features no buttons, just a microSD card tray - HTC 10 Review review microSD and nanoSIM trays are opposite each other - HTC 10 Review review
The left side of the device features no buttons, just a microSD card tray • microSD and nanoSIM trays are opposite each other

Turning the device to the bottom we can see the little microphone used for phone calls, a Quick Charge 3.0-ready USB-C charging port, and the bottom firing speaker is also showcased on here on the bottom edge of the device. These speaker grilles are quite large compared to other phones' loudspeaker grilles.

Bottom view of the HTC 10 - HTC 10 Review review Top view of the HTC 10 - HTC 10 Review review
Bottom view of the HTC 10 • Top view

When you hold the device in your hand and look at the front of the device, the first thing you notice is the big front facing camera, even with a black bezel, the camera takes your attention away from the mostly blank slate. Next to the camera is the earpiece which also acts as a co-operative loudspeaker. Just above the speaker are the LED notification, and light and proximity sensors, pretty standard stuff.

New capacitive-button-setup makes it easier to orient with screen off - HTC 10 Review review Earpiece, among various sensors - HTC 10 Review review
New capacitive-button-setup makes it easier to orient with screen off • Earpiece, among various sensors

Press the power button and you are greeted with the colorful 5.2-inch Super LCD 5 1440p display, the first time HTC bumped its screen up to a QHD resolution and the size up from the 5-inch HTC One M9. HTC's navigation buttons on the HTC One A9 make an appearance on HTC's main flagship model. The home button also doubles as a fingerprint scanner, which can be used to wake the phone from sleep. Just like on the HTC One A9, this sensor doubles as a home button, but it is not a mechanical button, rather just a capacitive key. We are glad there is no branding on the front of the HTC 10.

No logos on the front, home button offers nice balance to the earpiece for symmetry - HTC 10 Review review
No logos on the front, home button offers nice balance to the earpiece for symmetry

Turn the phone over to the back and here we are greeted with HTC's logo with black letters on a dark gray background. Very subtle branding, but a nice touch nonetheless. We are also glad HTC did not put any model numbers on the back either. A simple 10 could have done, but we support HTC's decision to only use the "HTC" logo exclusively.

Curves and sharp lines reflect light, very pleasing to look at - HTC 10 Review review
Curves and sharp lines reflect light, very pleasing to look at

Above the HTC logo is the Ultra Pixel 2 camera setup, we have the rear-facing 12MP camera which has been making headlines. To the right of the camera sensor is a dual-tone flash, and the autofocus laser.

If you look closely, you can also see a noise-cancelling microphone which also doubles as an audio recording mic during video recording.

Close-up of the rear camera setup - HTC 10 Review review
Close-up of the rear camera setup

When using the camera we found our fingers to cover the laser sensor on occasion. It's not annoying, but it can be if you're covering it often. Otherwise, the warning will quickly train you to keep your fingers as far away from the camera sensor as possible.

Ice View case accessory

HTC offers the Ice View case as an official accessory and in its essence, it's not too different compared to the Dot View case that was offered alongside the M9.

The Ice View case is simple to put on and is made of matte plastic at the back and a transparent cover at the front. The case does add a bith of thickness to the phone, but the protection it offers balances things out.

On the functionality side, double tapping on the front of the Ice View case wakes the phone up and shows you the time and date, and unseen notifications. You can access the camera, music player and call log.

HTC Ice View case in action - HTC 10 Review review HTC Ice View case in action - HTC 10 Review review HTC Ice View case in action - HTC 10 Review review
HTC Ice View case in action

As with the Dot View case, the Ice View one equally convenient. Without waking the phone up, you can control your music, take a photo and make a call.

If we have one gripe with the Ice View case, it's that the front cover blurs the screen a bit and a result fine-tuning the camera settings while the case is closed isn't quite an option.

With that said, the HTC Ice View case is a must-have accessory for the HTC 10 as it offers equal parts protection and convenience.

Reader comments

  • saul

Same, even with the battery fast drain problem

  • Noa

I wanted so desperately this mobile phone, even though I have my personal HTC u11 which is undoutubly better than HTC 10, bat i can't resist to small phones because there is no small phones anymore. So, I've just decided to buy the used one. Wish ...

I really miss small phones, like 5-5.3 inches. These htc 10's used are now 100-150 euros that's dirt cheap for what this has to offer, but the sunlight legibility in the review is just so bad that's maybe the major thing that keeps me from getting t...