As it was in 2013, when the company introduced the original HTC One, which set a new standard for Android smartphone design, HTC comes into 2016 at a crossroads. The company is limping more heavily than ever, unquestionably in more dire circumstances than when it rolled the beautiful M7 off the line, but the atmosphere is similar. The company needs its newest flagship, as it did three years ago, to be a stunner.
Beyond beauty, the latest HTC smartphone must combine elegant looks with internal power and effective software. The Taiwanese company has put its eggs in the basket of the HTC 10 which, like the original One, has dropped superfluous attributions to send a clear and direct message. It’s no secret why HTC has been touting the “power of 10” in the months leading up to the phone’s unveiling. It needs this device to be perfect.
We’ve spent just a few hours with the HTC 10, but the early returns are promising. It is unquestionably an HTC device, and one of the best the company has released in years. The design is HTC through and through, living up to its premium flagship standing. The Sense software is still one of the best skins of Android on the market, having been refined over years into a fluid experience that does not detract from the best features of the operating system. The one question that remains, as it always has for HTC, is the camera. We have not spent nearly enough time to make any definitive call on the latest effort, so that will have to wait for our full review.
Until then, here is our hands-on and first impressions.
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As with any high-end smartphone, the experience begins with the box. Presentation here is often overlooked, it's what's on the inside that counts after all, but when manufacturers take pride in the packaging, it's always a nice touch. HTC chose to go with a simple and clean aesthetic for the HTC 10 box, and while it is not the most exciting white square ever, it does befit the $699 phone it conceals. The stippling pattern in particular is an inspired choice, adding a bit of flair.
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Anyone familiar with HTC's flagship smartphone design will recognize years of design language in the HTC 10. It looks like a direct predecessor to the original HTC One, combined with the refinement the company hammered into the M8 and M9.
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Like previous flagships from HTC, the HTC 10 is made entirely of aluminum. It feels fantastic in the hand, as one would expect from a phone of this caliber.
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Always a sticking point for HTC, the company vows that the HTC 10 comes with the best camera it has ever put in a smartphone. The rear camera is a 12MP UltraPixel shooter with laser autofocus, Optical Image Stabilization, dual tone LED flash and an f/1.8 aperture.
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The biggest new design element are the pronounced chamfered edges. They give the phone better grip and catch the light in sparkling ways.
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The camera does protrude slightly from the aluminum back case, but it doesn't inhibit the phone's ability to sit flat on the desk and is overall not an issue.
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The headphone jack is located on the top of the device, smack dab in the middle.