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Michael_Mcr

HTC 10: First Impressions and discussions.

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Michael_Mcr

*** 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

HTC 10 pic 1.jpg

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.

HTC 10 pic 2.jpg

 

 

HTC 10 pic 5.jpg

 

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.

 

HTC 10 pic 3.jpg

 

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.

 

HTC 10 pic 11.jpg

HTC 10 pic 8.jpg

 

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.

 

HTC 10 pic 10.jpg

 

HTC 10 pic 9.jpg
 

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.

 

HTC 10 pic 4.jpg 

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.

HTC 10 pic 7.jpg

 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.

HTC 10 pic 6.jpg   

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.

Blinkfeed 1.jpg

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.

Sense menu 1.jpg

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.

Theme editor 1.jpg

 

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.

HTC 10 Camera App.jpg

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.

 

 

HTC 10 Camera 1.jpg

 

 

HTC 10 Camera 2.jpg

 

HTC 10 Camera 3.jpg

 

HTC 10 Camera 4.jpg

 

HTC 10 Camera 5.jpg

 

HTC 10 Camera 7.jpg

 

HTC 10 Camera 6.jpg

 

Audio tests and obs to follow !

 

 

 

 

 

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The Guru

Looks good Mike, it'll be interesting to see how you find the camera in operation. I'd be interested to see what the new Sense looks like as I'm playing with my M7 at the moment.

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The Guru

Hmm, sense 8 does look a lot lighter and better in implementation. Interesting to note that both HTC and Samsung seem to have gone down that route as I believe TouchWiz has been lightened as well.

Camera shots look good and from what you've taken seem  to be pretty on par with other current phones.

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Michael_Mcr

Yes it's going to take some more configuration but I like the flexibility of it. Its like a really professional modular launcher system now, rather than an embedded all-in as it used to be.

Sent from my HTC 10 using Tapatalk

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The Guru

I'm hoping for similar from the Note 7. I downloaded the manual yesterday and was totally taken aback as to what the phone can do and how well it can be customised.

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Michael_Mcr

I think that a lot of this will be lead by the frantic pace of model development nowadays - there just wont be the time to release complex single images that require carrier testing and approval, so the device manufacturers release a pretty stock Android ROM with just a few careful enhancements that wont unduly impact on basic operation.

They can they add a selected apps on top of the base build, that can easily be removed or replaced as desired by the customer.

I am loving the HTC themes btw, especially the ability to change the system font to a different one from the theme store. I am almost tempted to root the HTC 10, so i can drag my own choice of TT font into the system. !!

Also greatly loving the fingerprint scanner, it is super convenient and, from my own tests, not easily fooled.

 

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The Guru

LOL yeah Samsung have the theme option / system too and looking forward to playing myself.

Rooting is a path I'll not take again, as I believe options such as Android Pay can't be used on a rooted device.

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Michael_Mcr

Yes, I have been looking at the rooting process since my last post and it appears to still be a long and tricky path. I had read somewhere that the 10 was quick and easy to root, but in fact it is only easy to unlock the bootloader - rooting still requires lots of software and effort.

So I'm out too.

Sent from my HTC 10 using Tapatalk

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The Guru

Yeah to me the risks of incipient malware as well as user damage out weigh the few benefits of rooting.

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Michael_Mcr

I rooted my HD2 (?) with Cyanomod Android and it did work, but it was such a complete faff to do.

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