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Smartphone review: HTC 10.

by Faisal Mohammed Naim faisal@timesofoman.com Great features, outstanding design, cool customised version of Android, and the best camera: HTC 10, simply amazing

Ever since the launch of the One M8, some two years ago, nothing really substantial came out from the HTC stable -- the 2015 One M9 was nothing special, and the A9 was chided for being too identical to the iPhone 6. Once a powerful force in the Smartphone market, HTC lost significant ground over the last two years with a series of uninspiring models.

Come 2016 however, and the brand is back with a bang with its latest top-end Smartphone, capable of unsettling the best in business out there. It carries no remnants of the brand's former series -- no One, no M; it's labelled as just the 10.

Marking the start of a new chapter for HTC, the 10 makes up on any and every shortcoming the brand's handsets have had previously (seems HTC took the user feedbacks seriously this time), pitching itself boldly as an entirely new, high-end device with fresh intriguing set of features.

Inventors of metal body on the Smartphone, HTC has created yet another superb specimen of design and craftsmanship with the 10. The all-metal uni-construct body, encompassing the entire rear panel and the sides looks amazing, with a new laser bevelled shiny rim perfectly complementing the matte back panel.

The new design makes the phone very comfortable to hold with curved back panel that fits well in the palm. The polycarbonate antenna bands have so creatively been incorporated into the design that they equally add to the visual aesthetics as well. The slightly raised camera module looks surprisingly good too.

Solid looks are accompanied by solid new features like fingerprint scanner and USB Type-C. The camera, that had so far been a major put-off on HTC devices, has been totally revamped with a new 12-megapixel sensor, a wide f/1.8 lens, and optical image stabilisation. Other notable upgrades are the new 5.2-inch 1440p LCD and the top-end Snapdragon 820 chipset.

The front-facing BoomSound speakers are gone this time to accommodate the fingerprint sensor, which also doubles as a physical home button.

But worry not, the 10 still delivers superb stereo sound, as the bottom speaker is used in conjunction with the in-call speaker above the display while playing audio.

However the two speakers aren't weighted evenly -- the bottom speaker being more powerful; which makes the audio more pronounced on one side, especially when the handset is placed in a landscape orientation.

The fingerprint sensor is very responsive and more accurate than the one on its Korean rival. Though I personally would have preferred the sensor to be located on the backside, as it is handier to use there.

The power and volume buttons are located comfortably on the right side of the device. The cleverly textured power button is easily distinguishable from the volume adjuster even without looking, which makes it very easy to hit the power button every time you want to.

HTC has also included a USB-C port (USB 3.1 support) on the bottom of the 10, for faster data transfer speeds and improved power-delivery over USB connections. The HTC 10 is also an extremely fast charger thanks to Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. A full charge through the included charger takes a little over an hour and a half. Charging from 20% to 80% takes only 40 minutes.

The 10 is HTC's first flagship Smartphone to feature a 1440p display. The 5.2-inch Super LCD 5 display on the 10 has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, equating to a pixel density of 564 ppi. The biggest improvement however, is the camera.

Finally paying heed to the endless complaints about its Smartphone cameras, HTC has induced a high-end camera system featuring a 12.3-megapixel Sony Exmor IMX377 CMOS sensor on the back of the 10. The 1/2.3" sensor having 1.55 um pixels is paired to a wider f/1.8 lens, along with optical image stabilisation (OIS), laser-assisted autofocus, and dual-LED two-tone flash. The camera is capable of 4K recording.

For selfie buffs, the 10 packs a 5.0-megapixel 1/4" sensor with 1.34 um pixels, paired to an f/1.8 lens with optical image stabilisation -- perhaps a first for selfie cameras. The inclusion of OIS and a wide lens could significantly prevent blurry selfies especially during night.

Various shooting modes give control over white balance, ISO and exposure. The Zoe mode (short video snippets with each image capture) is back on HTC10. Along with RAW image option, there are also the basic panorama, slow motion video, and hyperlapse modes.

No doubt this is the best smartphone camera ever from HTC, but it is still not the best. The images are highly accurate (more than the Samsung Galaxy S7), but the colour vibrancy is still not on par with the best.

On the hardware front, the HTC 10 rubs shoulders with the best, packing the latest Snapdragon 820 quad-core Kryo CPU processor. The processor is split into two clusters: one clocked at 2.15 GHz and the other at 1.59 GHz (3.75 GHz combined). The memory department is also one of the healthiest, with 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM, and 32/64 GB ROM expandable to a whopping 2TB.

HTC is one of the very few Android OEMs to produce an actually decent custom software offering. The skin they've applied to Android 6.0.1 doesn't include some of the frustrations present with the competitors.

What HTC 10 provides on the software front is very refreshing, particularly the lack of bloatware. There's just one browser (Chrome); one gallery app (Google Photos); and just one app store (Play Store).

All that nonsense; the duplicated softwares and apps are absent, presenting the user with a very clean and indulging interface.

Even the home screen news app BlinkFeed can be turned off, to keep matters at simplest best. A special mention must be made of the stock keyboard too. The predictive software HTC uses with their keyboard is excellent, which makes for an amazingly immersive typing experience.

The bevy of compelling features of the HTC 10 make it the Taiwanese giant's best Smartphone till date: a true competitor to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and a great choice for those in the market looking for a high-end device.

Tech Specs

HTC 10

Display: 5.2 inch, Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels), 564ppi Super LCD 5

OS: Android 6, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow), with HTC Sense

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad Core, 64bit, up to 2.2GHz

Memory: RAM: 4GB / ROM: 32GB (extendable up to 2TB)

Camera

Main: 12MP (HTC UltraPixelao 2 with 1.55[eth]-m pixel), laser autofocus, OIS, f/1.8, dual tone LED flash, 4K video

Front: 5MP (1.34[eth]-m pixels), autofocus, OIS, EAE/1.8, Auto-HDR, Full HD 1080p video recording

Sensors: Ambient light, proximity, Motion G, compass, gyro, magnetic, fingerprint, Sensor Hub

Connectivity: NFC, BT 4.2, Wi-Fi, display port, Chromecast, DLNA, AirPlay, Miracast

Battery: Capacity: 3000 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0 with cool charge; up to 50% charge in 30 min

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Jun 12, 2016
Words:1212
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