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I only got this last night, but wanted to get some thoughts down as I used it. This isn’t to be a full-on review, but more about how it is in real life usage. Its not really easy to photograph the fine features of a tablet, so i have instead included a link to the ASUS product page which has plenty of clear photographs, as well as the full specification. https://www.asus.com/uk/Tablets/ASUS-ZenPad-3S-10-Z500M/ In terms of it being a tablet, it seems very well-made from premium materials. The best picture I can present is that when I put it alongside my wifes Ipad Air2, it is virtually identical in design, style, perceived quality, weight and thickness, which is a good standard for any tablet I would think. Available in either "Dark Grey" or "Silver" , i went for the "Dark Grey". Both devices have a grey back panel, but the "Dark Grey" has an almost Black front bezel and the "Silver" actually has a White front bezel ( unless i am going very colour blind in my old age ...) At first power-up, the Zenpad downloaded several system updates and is now running Android 7.0 with the November 2017 security patch. After some light pruning of removable bloatware, I was left with 24Gb of usable internal storage from the 32Gb total, with 7.94 reserved for system, which isn’t the lightest load, but not too bad and allows for plenty of apps to be installed. There are only a few hard coded un-installable apps which include the usual suspects like FaceBook and Instagram. I put in a pre-used and pre-loaded 128Gb SD card, with music and movies on it and it was accepted straight away as external storage. The ASUS ZenUI launcher / skin isn’t too far removed from stock Android and does have an online library where you can download other peoples theme designs or icon packs, as well as designing your own. ZenUI does allow for a huge amount of customisation of layout in terms of home screen carousel action, icon layout and other functions, similar to an aftermarket launcher. Performance wise, the ZenUI doesn’t seem to hold the Zenpad back at all and everything feels very quick, slick and snappy in use. App launch is very quick. The screen is IPS, not AMOLED, so doesn’t quite have those inky blacks and vibrant colours of an AMOLED, but it is plenty sharp and clear, with strong vibrant colours and only a little reflectivity – I was completely happy with the playback quality of a few different movie rips, using MX Pro player and VLC. Hi-Res audio is built in, along with various Dolby standards. Headphone audio is great and the output from the dual speakers at the base of the tablet is about what you would expect from a pair of tiny speakers – good clarity and expansive sounding, but a bit light on bass. The USB C port allows for fast charging, which is an advertised feature, but naughtily the supplied charger doesn’t provide fast charging and my understanding is that you need to purchase a particular ASUS charger to enable fast charging. These are widely available on the internet for around £15 to £20. That’s about it so far. I will add to this anything I think is useful to note. So far its been an impressive ownership experience – this is clearly a top-end Android tablet in all departments.
In the 'Nougat' thread I mentioned my current fave Android launcher, SquareHome 2, just to give folks an idea of how it looks here is what it looks like in operation (as I've configured it): From left to right: My Home screen. Note custom colour tiles, translucency etc My Expanded navigation tile Swipe right to my apps list. Does not need be a page, it can run from a tile Swipe right again to my contacts list. Again it does not need be a page, it can run from a tile Swipe right again to my widgets page. Swipe right again to return to my home page. Very light in operation, and works wonderfully with inbuilt tiles (folder tile, cube tile, blank tile, spacers, etc) In app widgets such as contacts, apps, photos etc. Of course it can use Android widgets as you can see. It is very impressive!
*** This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive review, but is instead extended thoughts about my first few days with the HTC 10, to be added to as I become more familiar with the device. Please feel free to ask questions of the device and I will endeavour to answer them or test / find the answer.*** I recently took advantage of HTC’s summer promotion and bought the HTC 10 direct from HTC at a price of £475 delivered. It is the model with 32Gb of internal storage and 3Gb RAM. The 10 arrived a few days ago in a contemporary shipping box The HTC 10 has a metal unibody design which follows the design of the HTC One M7, M8 and M9 with a similar curved back, but slightly more pronounced front and back chamfers which serve to make the phone feel smaller in the hand, than it actually is. Pictured here alongside my old HTC One M7, the HTC 10 is a similar depth and width, but noticeably taller. The phone Screen is a Super LCD 5.2 inch, Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) display with a pixel density of 564 ppi, made of Corning Gorilla Glass. I was initially worried that it might be less impressive than the AMOLED display on my outgoing Lumia 950, but in everyday use, the HTC 10 screen is sharp, punchy and clear. Rear face of the phone has a 12mp HTC UltraPixel main camera with Optical Image Stabilisation, the Laser autofocus sensor and a Dual LED flash. The Carbon Grey colour option that I chose gives off a kind of “stealthy” metallic sheen and looks like it will be fairly hard wearing. Looking at the phone from the front, the left hand edge has a microSD card slot and the right hand edge has the power button, volume rocker and a nano SIM card slot. The microSD slot allows for storage expansion up to 2Tb and the Android system now allows for such storage to be configured as external separate storage as usual, or for the SD card to be seamlessly combined with the internal storage. I tried this and found an immediate snag in that, when you connect the phone to a Windows 10 computer, it recognises the total storage available, but will only copy files to the native internal storage, so you soon get error messages that the phone memory is full. So back to having separate internal and external storage and all is well again under Windows Explorer. The front-facing dual speakers seen on previous models have been replaced by one tweeter speaker grille in the top bezel which doubles as the earphone for phone calls, plus a separate woofer port in the base of the phone. These speaker have their own dedicated amplifiers ( apparently !) and in casual tests I came to the conclusion that they probably sounded as good as any speaker system that small has a right to. The bottom bezel features a central Home button which is also a fingerprint scanner that can optionally be used for unlocking the phone. The Home button is flanked by illuminated virtual Back and Recent App buttons which illuminate as necessary, but are always active. A long press of the Home button will launch Google Now. The bottom face of the phone has a USB C connector, as well as the HTC Boomsound woofer. Also included in the box is an HTC Rapid Charger which features a retractable sliding earth pin to make it pocket-able and employs Quick Charge 3.0 technology which claims to charge the HTC 10 up to 50% in just 30 minutes. I can’t verify this fully, as the battery has not yet had enough charge / discharge cycles to fully condition it, but thus far charging performance does appear to be in that region. I also purchased a Spigen thin fit case, which is similar to the Case-Mate Barely There cases I used to buy. I particularly like the fact it has cut outs that allow use of the phones own power and volume buttons, instead of using a spongy push-through button as many bumper cases do. The Spigen case is a very thin shell that has very slightly raised edges to protect the screen and camera lens in the event of the device being dropped. http://www.spigen.com/collections/htc-10/products/htc-10-case-thin-fit?variant=17254528129 The HTC One has Hi-Res audio processing, a 24-bit DAC and a high performance headset amplifier. There are a range of options to tailor music playback to your own tastes, including a “Personal Audio Profile” app, which will generate a listening test using your chosen earphones, playing a range of test tones to which you adjust the volume of and it then saves that profile as your own custom equaliser setting for those earphones!! (yes really) I tested this with different models of earphones and music at different bitrates and the bottom line is that music does indeed sound impressively clear and detailed on the HTC 10 and you really can fine tune it to your personal preferences. The bundled earphones that come with the HTC 10 are of impressively high quality too. In use, the HTC 10 is very quick and responsive and has a slimmed down version of HTC Sense, with many native Google apps retained.This means a few of the apps are quite basic, such as photo gallery, calculator etc but it offers a much greater choice of apps from the marketplace and less in the way of permanently installed “bloatware” apps. It’s a little hard to describe the changes to Sense, but in essence it is now a series of HTC apps running on Android. It is more a set of customisable components than a tightly embedded system. So out of the box, I have Google calendar, but HTC Mail client – however, I can download any HTC apps I want from the Google App store, including HTC calendar. You still have the configurable home screens, with Blinkfeed anchored as number 1 screen, with the ability to remove or show that screen. Other screens can be added as required. A long press on the Recent Apps button brings up a quick personalisation menu, with options to change Home screen layout, wallpaper, theme, add apps and widgets and manage home screen pages – this is very useful and convenient. HTC also incorporate customisable Themes, including an online Theme store, where you can download entire themes, wallpapers and even download and change the system-wide font. The themes are great! Once you have downloaded a theme, you can then pick components out of it , such as wallpaper, weather clock and even system font, to use in your own theme. Camera In any evaluation of a smartphone camera, I am always mindful of the fact that ultimately, image quality will only be as good as that tiny bit of glass on the back of the phone – for serious quality images, you will always need several big pieces of glass mounted in a tube ! However, it is remarkable how much progress has been made with camera phones and after the slightly disappointing camera in the HTC One M7, I was intrigued to see how HTC have responded to the wide-spread criticism of cameras in the HTC One M7, M8 and M9 variants A brief play with the HTC 10 camera shows me that image quality appears to be good across the board. All the regular metrics of sharpness ,lighting, colour balance and saturation are well handled and the camera app is quick to start up. The main camera has a maximum resolution of 12mp at 4:3 and 9mp at 16:9. The front camera is a 5mp “HTC UltraSelfie” camera and has various tricks like Auto Selfies mode, but I didn’t test this as Selfies are for children and narcissistic z list celebrities… LOL. Both cameras feature Optical Image Stabalisation and the main camera has laser autofocus and dual LED flash. The camera app is fairly simple looking on first use, but is logically laid out and allows for quick selection of different camera modes. It has all the features you could expect on a modern smartphone camera. I have read inter-web criticism that the camera is slow to start and the laser autofocus is slow too, but these appear to be from early reviews and I understand that a patch was issued fairly early on for these flaws. I can honestly say that I experienced no problems in this respect – the camera app is quick to load and the laser autofocus is quick and accurate. As an enthusiastic photographer, the big plus for me is the ability to quickly toggle the HTC 10’s camera mode into “Pro” mode, which allows you to simultaneously shoot pictures in normal JPEG and also “RAW” format that captures and stores images un-compressed and un-processed straight as they came from the camera sensor. You can later download them into a suitable graphics program like Photoshop, where you have an infinite range of adjustments over tonal range and colour and can then export them as compressed jpegs if you wish. From my own experience of digital photography in the past, RAW involves more post-processing time, effort and steps than JPEG, but you have much more control for editing and adjusting delicate shots such as nightime or landscapes and the end result will be far superior to an auto-mode JPEG. RAW mode is available on my Lumia 950, but it requires a tedious menu drill down to change image quality – the HTC 10 really scores with me for its ability to quickly toggle “PRO” mode on and off as needed, which is great for when you see a shot that is likely to be a treasured keeper. Because they are uncompressed, each RAW image takes up about 25mb of storage. Each of the following images were shot in normal “Auto” mode and have not been post-processed other than resizing down. Overall, I noted that the HTC 10 produces good results across the board, but interestingly, like my HTC 1 M7, seems to handle low light conditions particularly well, a legacy of HTC’s UltraPixel development. Audio tests and obs to follow !