HTC 10 long-term review: We’ve been using the HTC 10 as our personal mobile phone on and off for the past six months, and we love it more than ever. Here’s our full re-review of the HTC 10, easily HTC’s best smartphone in years.
You might not know it, but HTC is actually responsible for the manufacture of Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL phones. These ‘Made By Google’ mobiles might divide people with their unusual design, but there’s no denying they’re fantastic handsets – although also seriously expensive.
Of course, HTC already impressed us with its own-brand flagship phone, the HTC 10, earlier in 2016. The HTC 10 is an all-round masterpiece, but of course we’ve seen a lot more flagship Androids released in the six proceeding months, including the Sony Xperia XZ, OnePlus 3 and those Pixel mobiles.
Read next: HTC 10 vs Google Pixel phone, which is best?
So is the HTC 10 still an essential smartphone as the year comes to a close? Here’s our long term HTC 10 re-review.
HTC 10 re-review: Design
There’s no denying that the HTC 10 is a chunky, hefty wee beast. Coming back to it from any other phone (most recently the Pixel phone), I immediately notice what a heavy slab of a smartphone it is. You can really feel it in your pocket when it’s sat in there, where other mobiles are much more discrete.
Still, the HTC 10 is reasonably easy to use one-handed despite that chunky frame. At 5.2-inches it’s not an absolute beast like most 5.5-inch phones, and best of all, it’s tough as nails to boot. My review sample has been banged around plenty in the past half a year and there’s only a couple of nicks marring that metallic frame.
Of course, the HTC 10 isn’t water resistant, unlike some rivals such as the S7 and Xperia XZ. It hasn’t been an issue in the past six months; it’s only a pain in very specific circumstances, like if I’m in the bath and want to change the music that’s playing. Pretty much the definition of first world problems.
HTC 10 re-review: Screen and media
That 5.2-inch Super LCD5 screen is still a winner too, even in the wake of big launches from Sony, Google, Huawei and others. That Quad HD resolution keeps images nice and sharp, while visuals are made more attractive by HTC’s Vivid mode, which automatically optimises the colour range.
Some big Androids of 2016 such as the OnePlus 3 and Pixel phones don’t allow you to expand the on-board storage. You’re stuck with whatever comes built in, which is a pain in the arse if you like to carry around a massive media collection or don’t want to rely on cloud storage. Thankfully the HTC 10 isn’t one of those mobiles, offering full microSD support. Phew.
HTC’s stereo BoomSound speakers are among the best around too. Check out our speaker test video below, where you’ll see it put some other big handsets to shame.
HTC 10 re-review: Features and OS
Android Marshmallow is of course yet to be updated to Android Nougat on the HTC 10, but the OS still runs smoothly and isn’t bogged down by excessive, pointless features.
HTC’s Blinkfeed is one of the major additions, courtesy of HTC’s Sense overlay. This is a concentrated stream of your chosen social media and news headlines, although truth be told I usually ignore it. I’m still a big fan of the Freestyle Desktops however, which completely change the look and feel of Android – now with added cartoon cat awesomeness.
That fingerprint sensor still impresses too, as it’s one of the fastest scanners I’ve ever used. Tap your fingertip to the surface and you’ll find yourself in your desktops in around half a second. Only the OnePlus 3 seems to beat the HTC 10 for unlocking speed so far.
I also like the HTC Ice View case, which wraps around the phone to help protect it. I usually slip the Ice View cover on if I’m heading out on some random adventure, and the funky clock design and notifications indicators are definite highlights. You don’t need to open the cover to see if any messages are waiting for you. Just tap the power button and you get a quick glimpse of what’s up.
HTC 10 re-review: Performance and battery life
The HTC 10’s Snapdragon 820 processor, backed by 4GB of RAM, is still a winning combination six months on. I never see a stutter or any kind of performance dip, even when playing the latest games. Likewise, the HTC 10 never seems to heat up, which is reassuring.
Battery life is solid too. You can piddle about on the HTC 10 all day long, including a bit of media streaming, plenty of web browsing, the occasional camera use and so on; yet still have charge left when you clamber into bed at night. I tend to still have enough power to get me into work the next day, and maybe even make it to lunch, before the HTC 10 demands a recharge.
HTC 10 re-review: Cameras
We’ve tested out some seriously strong mobile cameras in 2016, but the HTC 10’s 12-megapixel snapper is still one of the best.
In everyday conditions, the HTC 10’s results hold up well against best-in-class cameras like the Galaxy S7 and Xperia XZ. You get natural-looking photos, comparable to the iPhone 7’s output, where other mobile cameras tend to artificially boost colours. And the HTC 10 rarely oversaturates when you’re shooting against a bright sky or dealing with other tricky lighting conditions.
It’s also very good with moving subjects, keeping your manic kids or pets as sharp as possible.
However, the HTC 10 sadly fails to impress when it comes to low-light shots. The S7, Xperia XZ and iPhone 7 all produce brighter, more attractive photos when the place is dimly lit, although the HTC’s dual-LED flash can be called upon when things get really dark.
Still, video quality is back on track and you can shoot up to 4K resolution footage, making it a great way to capture great-looking home movies.
Check out our full HTC 10 camera review for photo and video samples.
HTC 10 re-review: Verdict
Even after all this time, the HTC 10 remains one of our favourite Android phones of 2016. It’s an all-round slab of excellence, as long as you don’t mind that hefty design, and we can’t see ourselves growing bored any time soon.