I got up fairly early this morning to watch the “live stream” I thought would bring us news of the HTC 10. After a couple of minutes of confusion when a live stream never appeared at 7:02, I refreshed the page once more to instead find a series of pre-recorded promo videos introducing the device. It certainly wasn’t as flashy as I was expecting, but after watching the videos introducing the new HTC 10, I hardly think that a live event would have helped or hurt it. After all, it’s the phone itself that’s most important here.
Now that I’ve had a little while to soak everything in, I’ve come to the conclusion that the HTC 10 is indeed a big improvement over last year’s HTC One M9.
I’ll be upfront here about this and say that I think I might be a little biased in my opinion. I’ve been an HTC fan for a long time, with some of my favorite phones coming from the Taiwanese company. I loved the HTC myTouch 3G Slide, the original EVO 4G, and the original HTC One M7 is still arguably my favorite smartphone I have ever owned. At the very least, it has been my favorite Android bar none. I’ve had a long history with HTC. At the same time, I feel that my bias is not too strong; I admittedly didn’t like the M8 as much as I liked the M7, and I was quick to dismiss the M9 almost completely.
I have a few years’ worth of phone launches under my belt, and at this point I no longer go into them starry-eyed and full of dreams. I go in with low expectations and cling on to the small hope that everything is going to turn out better than expected, and I feel that HTC was able to grant me the glimmer of hope I was looking for with the HTC 10.
The first thing I made note of was the design. The design is what I would expect out of an HTC One M device, but it’s varied enough to where I don’t think anybody is going to mix it up with the M9 in official advertisements this year. The addition of a physical home button is, at the very least, an improvement over the original HTC One where a good-for-nothing HTC logo once rested. It resembles closely to the HTC One A9 device, but the HTC 10's chamfered edges and the addition of a couple of capacitive buttons visually set the two apart. Overall, I think the HTC 10 looks really nice.
The most important update - which I think is what would make or break the device, as long as nothing else went awry - was to the camera, and this year it would seem that HTC delivers.
I was a fan of the UltraPixel camera until the purple haze set in on my One M7 – at least, until I needed to zoom in or crop the photo, or view it on any screen larger than my phone. Otherwise, the phone took good photos and it worked really well in low-light situations. Alas, 4-megapixels just didn’t cut it for most people in the grand scheme of things. The idea to use the same camera in the M8 didn’t bode well for HTC, and the 20-megapixel camera in the M9 didn’t turn out to be so great, either. This year HTC gives us the best of both worlds with a 12-megapixel UltraPixel camera. Real world testing has yet to prove to us how great this camera really is, but on paper it sounds like it might be a really awesome experience. I am looking forward to the camera comparisons on this one.
Another thing that HTC delivered on (or it’s the hope, at least) is battery life. Claiming to last up to 2 days with “normal” use (whatever that is) seems to be the direction that most flagships are heading in. It seems we are on a solid road to really good battery life over the next couple of years.
And although HTC got rid of their somewhat iconic dual front-facing speakers, there are still two speakers, just in different places. I’m hoping that the change in placement won’t hinder the audio quality, as that was one of my favorite features of both the M7 and the M8.
I think the one thing that will probably hold HTC back is the likelihood that Sprint and Verizon users will need to seek out an unlocked version of the device if they want to own it, since neither carrier look to be "officially" supported when looking to pre-order the device from HTC's website. Owning an unlocked phone has its perks, such as lack of carrier-specific bloatware and the ability to take your phone with you should you choose to change carriers. But by and large most consumers aren’t going to care about that, and are going to go with whatever devices are on display or what’s online from their carrier. If there’s no HTC 10 displayed and nobody is there to talk to them about it, it’s highly unlikely that they’re going to go seek it out. Not sure what’s going on there, and I do wonder how that will factor into HTC 10's sales.
All in all, I’m happy with the HTC 10, and I’m excited to see how the device performs once we have a chance to get our paws on it. I think this device will put HTC back in the good graces of many people.