All-metal body, a 4K capable 12-megapixel camera and the latest hardware and software on the market; you could be talking about Apple’s iPhone 6S or the new HTC 10, so we thought we’d see how else they match up.
At a glance
|Apple iPhone 6S||HTC 10|
|Weight||143 grams||161 grams|
|OS||iOS 9||Android 6.0 w/ Sense (2016)|
|Rear camera||12-megapixels||12-megapixels w/ OIS|
|Front camera||5-megapixels||5-megapixels w/ OIS|
|Processor||1.8GHz dual-core Apple A9||2.5GHz/1.6GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820|
|Memory||2GB RAM||4GB RAM|
|Storage||16GB/64GB/128GB (non-expandable)||32GB/64GB/ Expandable up to 2TB|
|Price||£539 (16GB model)||£569.99 (32GB model)|
We’ve had two years to familiarise ourselves with the design of the iPhone 6S. As with the 6 before it, it’s an impressively thin slab of metal and glass with rounded edges and corners, paired to a 4.7-inch display, making it pretty comfortable to wield one-handed and thin enough to slot into your pocket without being too noticeable.
The form of the new HTC is also unquestionably comfortable to hold too; with a hard chamfer line skirting the back of its all-metal body that adds a little extra grip to the phone’s otherwise smooth curved finish. It’s bigger and bulkier than the iPhone in all directions, primarily down to its larger 5.2-inch screen, but it too packs tidy hardware controls, a fingerprint sensor-laden home button (capacitive, rather than the iPhone’s physical one) and additional backlit keys either side to go back or bring up the task switcher.
When it comes to aesthetics both phones are an exercise in minimalism. The HTC 10 takes a few more liberties with that notion than Apple’s handset, but both phones pack a clean, understated style, hewn from premium materials that look and feel great.
Screen and multimedia
HTC’s managed to increase the screen size from the 10’s predecessor by 0.2-inches whilst giving this new phone an almost identical footprint. It’s still a big device (especially sat alongside the iPhone), but HTC’s used the extra space above and beneath the display to integrate new BoomSound Hi-Fi speakers which push out some serious sound for a smartphone. In this regard Apple has never really pushed the envelop (at least on a smartphone) and whilst the piddly little down-facing speaker on the bottom right of the 6S is clear and loud (enough), it pales in comparison to the audio setup of the HTC.
Despite the technical gap, in real-world use the displays are closer in quality than you might expect. Both companies are known for putting great screens on their smartphones, with the 6S’s Retina HD resolution panel proving clear and bright with great viewing angles and accurate colours. The HTC 10’s screen packs all of these attributes, but to a higher standard. It’s Quad HD Super LCD 5 panel is both brighter and more vibrant, with enough pixels to render seamless imagery, iconography and text.
With the exception of Jony Ive’s notable visual redesign for iOS 7, the user experience found on the 6S is as familiar as ever. The latest update (at time of writing), iOS 9.3.1 adds a few new tricks to the iOS experience, most notably with Night Shift, which alters the UI’s colour temperature by reducing blue light as sun sets, lowering the chance of eye-strain in the process. The fundamentals are all still true however; it’s an incredibly ease to use interface, with only a few minor customisation options and a well laid out design.
In a way HTC has taken a leaf out of Apple’s book with the user experience on the 10. The company worked directly with Google to slim down its own Sense interface (running atop Android 6.0) and ensured that it was devoid of any duplicate apps and bloatware. It’s a strong effort and a great decision for those after a slick, responsive Android-based user experience. Whilst staples like the BlinkFeed news stream remain in this slimmed-down version of Sense, the most prominent new feature is the addition of Freestyle themes.
Unlike the conventional grid layout of standard home screens, a Freestyle theme lets you place apps, widgets and ‘stickers’ (essentially custom iconography, tailored to match each theme) anywhere on-screen. You can even hide labels on apps and folders to make a truly personal interface design. It’s a lot of fun and it’s arguably the most standout feature of the 10’s user experience.
HTC’s new flagship is one of only a handful of devices to sport Qualcomm’s latest and greatest processor – the Snapdragon 820; not to mention the fact it’s supported by 4GB of RAM, offering as fast performance as you could hope for from a top-tier Android handset. Apple’s A9 chip is technically a little longer in the tooth, having launched with the 6S late last year, but depending on what you’re testing for it does beat out the newer 820 in some areas.
Unless you’re all about the numbers, the real-world performance differences are much of a muchness at this level. The iPhone 6S is unsurprisingly rapid in most tasks, whilst HTC’s 10 is as equally competent a performer.
If it’s battery life you’re interested in, a sizeable 3000mAh battery is like the biggest contributor to the HTC 10’s physical bulk. It outlasts the iPhone’s 1715mAh battery with ease, offering up a day of heavy use (the 6S can struggle to make it to the end of a work day if not handled carefully) and some. HTC says it’ll make to two days of heavy use, which we’re not really sure off, but nonetheless it offers plenty of power for most users and QuickCharge 3.0 so you can replenish it faster – the iPhone lacks this handy feature outright (unless you MacGyver an iPad charger in there).
It’s fair to say that the iPhone’s camera is the camera that all other smartphones are compared against for the 12 months that follow until its successor comes along. In the case of the 6S it boasts Apple’s finest snapper yet, taking great shots in a myriad of conditions, supporting 4K video recording and slow motion capture at up to 240 frames-per-second whilst also being insanely fast (to capture) and incredibly easy to use.
Hardware-wise the HTC 10 can actually match Apple like for like in most areas of camera performance and you could argue that the front-facing 5-megapixel UltraSelfie camera is actually better than the 5-meg unit on the iPhone. Its software meanwhile is a little less elegant than Apple’s offerings; with more modes adding greater functionality, but also greater complexity as a result.
The HTC 10’s camera can do more, but it needs a more hands-on approach in order to offer the best results, the iPhone meanwhile, like many of its predecessors, offers a fire-and-forget experiences that’s tricky to match.
The HTC 10 is a great smartphone, easily the best the company’s ever produced and it shows in the main facets of the device: a premium metal design, killer camera quality and a refined user experience. It’s taken the company a long time to come close to Apple in this regard, but the 10 packs real weight, making it a competent, desirable smartphone.
The iPhone meanwhile wins out for simplicity’s sake, but loses out on the price/performance balance available with the HTC 10, which is expandable and more affordable than the 6S.