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HTC 10 Evo Review: In Depth

3.5
New on the outside, older on the inside

The Good

  • Great screen
  • Premium build
  • Solid cameras

The Bad

  • Chunky design
  • Dated processor
  • Expensive

HTC 10 Evo review: The HTC 10 Evo may look like a top-tier premium smartphone on the outside, but does its unorthodox internal makeup mesh with its sleek exterior, or is this HTC’s most dissonant phone this year?

HTC 10 Evo review: Design

The bods at HTC are the self-proclaimed ‘masters of metal’ when it comes to smartphone hardware design, most prominently realised in the company’s 2016 flagship handset, the HTC 10. But the trickle-down hasn’t been that widespread, with the One A9S being one of the only other notable metal-bodied handsets in the company’s current lineup. That is, of course, unless you take into account the new HTC 10 Evo.

HTC 10 Evo review: Front HTC 10 Evo review: Back

As the name suggests this phone borrows more than a handful of its design cues from HTC’s flagship, most obviously in its all-metal unibody, front-facing fingerprint sensor, backlit capacitive keys and the adoption of a USB-C connection. Beyond that is where the Evo starts to play with the formula a little.

It’s a larger overall phone and so to ensure that it’s still manageable to wield in one hand HTC has flattened out the curved back of the standard 10 but left that deep chamfering along its edges. In the hand this gives it a distinct feel, more reminiscent of the similarly sized Google Pixel XL (another phone that HTC had a hand in creating).

HTC 10 Evo review: USB-C headphones

The hardware controls feature nice texturing, so they’re easy to find blindly, that fingerprint sensor is as fast as the brand’s flagship phone and IP57 certification means the 10 Evo can withstand dust and moisture too. The biggest issue, which won’t affect everyone, is that this is an undeniably big, somewhat bulky phone at the other end of the spectrum to the svelte metal forms found on likes of Apple’s Plus handsets.

HTC 10 Evo review: Screen and media

Ahead of the impending arrival of the HTC U Ultra, the 10 Evo has become the largest handset in HTC’s current crop, with a 5.5-inch Quad HD Super LCD3 panel protected by Corning’s recent Gorilla Glass 5. It’s an undeniable looker that’s crisp and clear, although perhaps not as bright as phones that employ the company’s newer screen tech, even if the gap is negligible.

HTC 10 Evo review: Screen

Reachability is as ever an issue on a phone of this size, particularly as HTC continues to resist the need to add a native one-handed mode to its own software, but it’s unquestionably well-suited to enjoying media.

Audio-wise the HTC 10 Evo can tango with the best of the bunch, packing the company’s established BoomSound technology, but this time it isn’t found in the (admittedly still competent) single downward-facing loudspeaker. Instead, it’s tied to the phone’s BoomSound Adaptive Audio system, which tailors the phone’s EQ through the included Hi-Res Audio-certified USB-C headphones, Also making this the first of HTC’s handsets to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack altogether.

HTC 10 Evo review: OS

Another first that the 10 Evo brings to the table is that it's the first of the company's phones to run on Android 7.0 Nougat out the box, bringing with it a handful of useful new features including native split-screen multitasking.

Beyond that HTC's Sense UI is a smart reworking of the stock Android experience. To the left of the main home screen is BlinkFeed which brings you news stories along with posts from any social media services you choose to plug in, as well as listings from the likes of YouTube. The pull-down notifications pane features customisable quick settings and the cherry on top is the highly customisable themes, split into both Classic and Freestyle layouts, the latter of which lets you place icons anywhere on your home screens with the ability route any icon to open any app. It's a distinctive part of the 10 Evo’s user experience and a feature that other manufacturers have failed to replicate.

HTC 10 Evo review: Performance

Whilst for all intents and purposes the HTC 10 Evo has been designed to serve as part of the 2016/2017 smartphone contingent, one key aspect of the phone's hardware feels decidedly dated, at least on paper.

At the heart of the 10 Evo lies Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor, the chipset found in practically every flagship Android smartphone from 2015, including HTC’s own One M9. So, what's it doing here?

Whilst there are potentially technical reasons governing HTC’s decision to opt for older top-tier silicon over newer upper mid-range offerings like the Snapdragon 625 or 653, the company was quick to assure the press that having spent more time with this chipset allowed for better fine-tuning of its capabilities. Whilst for the most part that sounds like marketing fluff, the 810 inside this phone does apparently boast better thermals than older 810s.

HTC 10 Evo review: Buttons

It’s backed up by 3GB of RAM meaning that in day-to-day use you wouldn’t know it’s technically running on older hardware, at least not yet. Stutters are slight and unobtrusive as you swipe around, but they may hint at noticeable performance degradation over the average two-year lifespan of the phone.

Beyond that you’ll find NFC, 4G, dual-SIM functionality (market dependant) and a sizeable 3200mAh battery that lasts over a day and a half on a charge and powers back up in just over an hour and a half by way of Qualcomm’s older Quick Charge 2.0 technology, another symptom of the phone’s processor.

HTC 10 Evo review: Cameras

Looking at raw resolution, the 10 Evo actually outclasses the company’s current flagship with a 16-megapixel primary snapper and an 8-megapixel front-facer with a wide-angle lens, narrower apertures mean neither camera can quite match the 10’s low light performance, but for the most part they’re great all-round cameras, wrapped up in a clean UI that keeps powerful features like manual control, just a couple of taps away.

You can see full resolution photo samples from this article here.

Like Google’s Pixel phones the 10 Evo captures in HDR by default, whilst RAW (when shooting in manual) and 4K video capture are on offer too. Check out our full HTC 10 Evo camera review for a more in-depth look at this phone’s snappers.

HTC 10 Evo review: Verdict

The HTC 10 Evo is a great phone, but it's also a strange phone. On the surface it looks and feels like a tight flagship-class device reaching towards a full five stars, packing a killer screen, solid cameras, water resistance, USB-C and even shedding a headphone jack (which seems to be an increasingly common trait of high-end smartphones irrespective of whether it’s actually a smart move).

HTC 10 Evo review: Handheld

But at around £500, it’s pricier than the more powerful HTC 10. Not only that it’s hard to get ahold of, with no carrier availability and that dated processor will only serve to age this otherwise competent smartphone faster than the competition. At least those after a big-screened HTC, won’t have to wait long for the U Ultra.

Key Specs

  • 5.5-inches
  • WQHD (2560x1440)
  • 175 grams
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 16-megapixels
  • 8-megapixels
  • 1.5GHz/2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB. Expandable via microSD up to 256GB
  • Yes
  • Fingerprint sensor, Hi-Res Audio support, BoomSound Adaptive Audio, IP57 certification, Gorilla Glass 5

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