Gadget review: HTC 10 smartphone a welcome return to form

With its beautiful display, superb audio and design overhaul, the HTC 10 is a serious competitor for Samsung's Galaxy S7 range and the LG G5.

The HTC 10 has the design a flagship device needs. Courtesy HTC
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The HTC 10 is a welcome return to form for the beleaguered Taiwanese smartphone pioneer after the relative disappointment of last year's M9.

It sports a beautiful display, a long overdue design overhaul and superb audio. And while it’s up against some stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and LG, it does enough to appeal to those of us with fond memories of HTC classics like the M8.

With the 10, HTC has finally ditched the stylish but dated design of the One series, swapping the machined metal trim for an all-glass front with chamfered edges, with a single bezel that doubles as a speedy fingerprint reader.

It’s not up there with the Galaxy S7 Edge in terms of design (at the moment, nothing is) but at long last HTC has produced a handset with the sort of design a flagship device needs and deserves.

Also upgraded is the 5.2-inch Super LCD5 display, which eschews the retina-searing Amoled colour palette of its Samsung rivals in favour of a more naturalistic palette akin to the LG G5. Regardless of what you prefer, the trailer for Batman v Superman looks great, with warm colours and sharp contrasts.

Camera-wise, the HTC 10 sports a 12-UltraPixel rear- facing camera and f/1.8 lens. Translated into English, that means it takes pictures that have fine colour saturation and an impressive level of detail, even in lowlight conditions. For selfie lovers, there’s a pretty standard 5MP front-facing camera.

Also of note is the HTC’s much trumpeted BoomSound audio system. While the 10’s external speakers are nothing to write home about, listening to music via headphones was noticeably better than on my iPhone, with a brighter, more rounded audio experience that has to be heard to be believed.

Retailing for Dh2,399 the HTC 10 faces tough competition from the Samsung's Galaxy S7 range and the LG G5, which still have the edge in terms of design and camera. That being said, HTC's latest is a serious contender once again – its design, screen and audio in particular making it worthy of serious consideration.

q&a handset can save the day

John Everington expands on what the HTC 10 smartphone has to offer:

So is this the handset to reverse HTC’s fortunes?

That’s what HTC must be praying for. Earlier this month, the company announced a US$148 million loss for the first quarter and a really quite worrying 64 per cent drop in revenues. So there’s a lot riding on the 10 and the HTC Vive, the company’s virtual reality headset.

So what else is noteworthy about the HTC 10?

HTC describe it as being “mercilessly engineered”, which either signifies questionable labour practices or, more likely, an overenthusiastic marketing division. Aside from the lovely chamfered edges there are some nice touches, such as the ridged power button on the right-hand side and the fingerprint-reader bezel with no moving parts. The headphone socket is on the top edge, which takes a little getting used to.

That’s all very nice. How “merciless” is the battery?

The HTC 10 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery (chargeable via USB-C), the same size as the Galaxy S7, while a little bigger than the LG G5 but smaller than the S7 Edge. Battery life is solid if not spectacular. Put through its paces with a healthy dollop of video and audio streaming and 20 minutes of gaming, it just about lasts to the end of the day.

And the colours … ?

It comes in “Carbon” Gray, “Topaz” Gold and “Glacier” Silver. It is not available in Rose Gold, Pink Gold, or any other imaginative way of describing the colour pink.

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