HTC 10: Specs sublime, powered amp, BoomSound speakers better than ever

HTC triumphs with aluminum unibody design, revolutionary speakers, ear-blowing headset audio, dual OIS-enabled cameras, long battery life, and more.

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(Image: HTC)

Three years ago I purchased the HTC One and awarded it the title of the best smartphone I have ever used. I haven't felt as passionately about an HTC device since the One M7... until now.

I've been using the new HTC 10 daily for the last couple of weeks (full review coming very soon), and it's clear that HTC has returned to its roots with a fantastic aluminum unibody design, revolutionary BoomSound stereo speakers, ear-blowing headset audio quality that brought out my emotions when listening to music, decent rear and front cameras with OIS, long battery life, and more.

CNET: HTC 10 hands-on: Can this all-new, all-metal phone take down the Galaxy S7?

HTC needed a hit device and after stumbling last year with the One M9 I am pleased to see a device as worthy of HTC design as the HTC 10.

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Specifications

As you can see below in the specifications list, HTC has a couple of standout features from the rest of the pack. These include front and rear cameras both with optical image stabilization (OIS), UltraPixel 2 rear camera with 1.55 µm pixel size, a 5.2 inch Super LCD 5 display with 564 ppi, and the return of HTC's iconic BoomSound stereo speakers.

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2.2 GHz quad-core
  • Display: 5.2 inch 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution Super LCD 5 curved-edge Gorilla Glass
  • Operating system: Android 6 Marshmallow with HTC Sense
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB/64GB internal with microSD card slot
  • Cameras: 12 megapixel rear UltraPixel 2 with f/1.8 and front 5 megapixel with f/1.8 and both with OIS
  • Other: BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition stereo speakers and Dolby Audio 4, USB Type-C, Bluetooth 4.2 with AptX, 802.11 a/b//g/n/ac WiFi, front fingerprint scanner, NFC, GPS + GLONASS
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh with Quick Charge 3.0 through USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 145.9 x 71.9 x 9 mm and 161 grams

The only specification that someone might have an issue with is the use of a non-removable battery, but HTC gave that up years ago as it went with a focus on refined design rather than having a removable battery. Given my experiences of using it as a daily driver over the past couple of weeks, users will be satisfied with the integrated 3,000 mAh battery.

It's also difficult to integrate water resistance with a metal design so you won't find that here on the HTC 10. HTC stated that the HTC 10 has an IP53 rating, which means it is resistant to spray, rain, mist, and other typical daily usage. Don't dunk it, swim with it, or take a shower with it though.

The rear camera uses UltraPixel 2 technology, which means a pixel size of 1.55µm. The UltraSelfie 5 megapixel front-facing camera has a pixel size of 1.34µm and also has OIS.

Design

HTC continues its tradition of aluminum unibody design with the HTC 10. It chamfered the front and back edges in order to make it appear thinner when held in your hand or placed down on a table. The HTC 10 incorporates 2.5D curved glass so that the entire front is one piece of glass that melds into the metal body. It's quite a departure from what we have seen in the past from HTC, but it looks, feels, and functions well.

The power button has defined ridges and is easy to find and activate. The BoomSound speakers are radically different with the top one integrated into the handset speaker and the bottom one positioned on the bottom. They are tuned together with one as a tweeter and one as a woofer to offer a fabulous stereo BoomSound experience.

The headphone jack has an amp that provides two times the power of a conventional headphone amp, along with the ability to upscale from 16-bit to 24-bit audio, and sounds stunning. I started out using the low-priced HTC Active earphones and honestly couldn't believe what I was hearing from the HTC 10.

The HTC 10 also ships with Hi-Res audio certified earphones. The earphones feature an 8µm thin aerospace polymer diaphragm and 70% oversized drivers, treating the listener to richer sound and twice the frequency range. JBL and HTC will also be bringing you the world's first USB-C sport earphones with noise cancellation and adaptive noise control. As stated by HTC, "JBL Reflect Aware C earphones combine sweat-proof design with digital audio and battery-free active noise cancellation, so you can shut the outside world out and enjoy better-than-CD level music."

The fingerprint sensor is modeled after the one we saw on the HTC One A9. It's extremely fast and has performed nearly perfectly for me over the past two weeks. I prefer front-facing fingerprint scanners where I can unlock a device resting on my desk so it's great to see it used again here on the HTC 10.

The HTC 10 will be offered in Carbon Grey, Glacier Silver, Topaz Gold and Camellia Red. I'm testing out a Glacier Silver model.

HTC will also offer a new Ice View case with a semi-transparent front cover that shows you notifications while allowing you to capture images or control your music.

Pricing and availability

In the U.S., the HTC 10 will be available across multiple wireless providers including Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile. Carriers will soon make announcements regarding availability, pricing, and color options.

The better option for AT&T, T-Mobile, and GSM customers will be to purchase the HTC 10 directly from HTC as an Unlocked edition. This Unlocked edition will be available for preorder beginning today, 12 April, with shipping scheduled for early May. The Unlocked edition from HTC.com comes in Glacier Silver and Carbon Gray with a price of $699. The major benefit of purchasing the Unlocked edition from HTC is that it comes with UH OH Protection, which includes one replacement at no charge within the first 12 months of ownership for a cracked screen or water damage.

Brief initial impressions

My full review will be posted here on ZDNet soon, but in the meantime I can share a few brief initial impressions.

  • The HTC 10 runs Android Marshmallow with HTC Sense and it flies around with no lag. HTC incorporates its new Boost+ app, also available now for non-HTC devices, to help optimize your phone's software performance.
  • The Super LCD 5 is excellent and shows true colors.
  • The camera performs the best of any HTC device to date, earning a DxOMark score of 88. This matches what DxOMark awarded the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I'm not convinced it deserves such a high mark though.
  • No other device beats the HTC 10 in terms of audio, not a single one. Audio through the headphone jack will blow you away. There's even a customized Personal Audio Profile system to tune the audio experience to your hearing.
  • To date, nothing has matched my iPhone 6s Plus in terms of battery performance, largely because Apple gets standby right with very little consumption. I've been able to go a full long day and well into the next with the HTC 10 and it may be the longest lasting Android flagship available today.
  • The metal body makes the HTC 10 a bit slippery, but it's very easy and comfortable to hold. I personally like the beveled back edges, it gives it a unique masculine techie look while making the view from the side appear thinner than the device actually is.
  • The Freestyle Layout themes are fun and offer an interesting way to fully customize the look and feel of your application launcher experience.

There's a lot more to discuss and all will be revealed soon. If there is anything in particular you want me to comment on in my review, please leave a comment on this post.