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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.

At Mobile World Congress a couple of months ago, Samsung and LG dominated the talk about smartphones with product launches that probably rivaled the GDP of some small countries. There were whispers from HTC about something new coming, but the people who were talking didn't know anything and the people who knew anything weren't talking.

What HTC had brewing was the HTC 10, a simply named flagship phone that is unfussy in design and UI while taking a deserved place next to flashier rivals.

About a decade ago, HTC phones had a pretty good place in the market -- they were beefy multimedia marvels with great screens and sound (but with batteries that would barely get you down the block). More recently, and less successfully, the company adopted a confusing naming convention and produced phones (such as the HTC One A9) that aimed squarely at iPhone fans. Whatever HTC thought it was as a brand, it was not building phones that reflected it.

The HTC 10 tries to reclaim the company's standing, and it does a pretty fair job of it.

A nicely built phone

The typical high-end smartphone these days is a candy bar-shaped device, rounded at the edges to one degree or another. The HTC One's shape is a bit more dramatic: As deep as most others at its thickest but narrower at the edges, it falls more naturally into your hand. It's milled out of aluminum, doesn't pick up fingerprint smudges and has a solid, luxurious heft.

At 5.75 x 2.8 in., it's about a tenth of an inch bigger in width and height than the Samsung Galaxy 7, and a quarter-inch bigger in both directions than an iPhone 6S. At 5.7 oz., it's heavier than the iPhone's 5 oz. and the S7's 5.4 oz. The screen is 5.2 in. diagonally (the S7's is 5.1 in. while the iPhone 6S is 4.7 in.).

Volume and power controls are along the right edge; the power switch is textured to help distinguish it. Going contrary to competitors' practice, the HTC 10 uses separate drawers for the SIM and microSD cards, the former on the left edge, the latter on the right. The headphone jack is on the top of the phone and the USB-C power connection is on the bottom.

There are two speakers: High frequencies play out of the top phone speaker and lower frequencies emanate from a grill on the bottom.

The aluminum case has two horizontal plastic bands across the back and a plastic inset around the headphone jack. On a black phone, they're hardly noticeable (and the radio antennas have got to go someplace).

 

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