The HTC 10 may look like a small upgrade from the M9 and One (M8) which went before it, but dig beneath the skin of the latest flagship Android smartphone, and there is more than meets the eye. IBTimes UK has been hands-on with the 10 to find out more.
The big selling point of the new HTC 10 is its audio capabilities. The phone produces sound which is 'Hi-Res Audio Certified' which means it is - or at least, should be - of higher quality than other smartphones on sale today.
HTC improves the sound in two instances; first, when listening to music out loud the phone has a tweeter in the earpiece to deal with high notes and a regular speaker on the bottom edge to deliver the rest. Each speaker is driven by its own amplifier and when you turn the 10 sideways to watch a video its sound output switches to deliver equal left and right channels through the two speakers, creating stereo. The system is called BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition.
Then, when headphones are used the phone sends an equally impressive hi-res certified sound directly to your ears. We will report back on how good the HTC 10 sounds in a full review soon.
Moving onto the phone itself, the HTC 10 is a solid slab of metal carved into a one-piece unibody chassis. There is a glass panel covering the entire front of the handset which isn't broken or interrupted by anything - even the home button is capacitive and has no physical click. Instead, there is a small nudge of haptic feedback (vibration) when you press on it, or when the fingerprint reader recognises you (which takes a claimed 0.2 seconds).
To my eyes - and fingertips - the HTC 10 looks and feels much better in silver or gold than it does in black. The black option feels less metallic and looks at first glance as if it's already wearing a protective case. The silver and gold feel far more premium without being as brashly in-yer-face as the gold Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
As with the S7 and iPhone 6S, the HTC 10's rear camera protrudes from the back slightly. This caused a stir when it was first spotted on the iPhone 6 in 2014, but now I'd bet most of the industry is past caring if the lens sticks out a bit. Underneath sits a 12-megapixel sensor with extra large pixels and optical image stabilisation (OIS) which will hopefully team up to reverse HTC's photography fortunes. The M8 - and especially the M9 - had distinctly average cameras, but from an hour or so with the 10 we can say HTC has finally started to rectify this.
With the rear camera hopefully - finally - sorted, HTC has turned its attention to the front camera, which has a 5-megapixel sensor and also benefits from OIS, a first for any smartphone. HTC has so much confidence in the front camera that it has coined (and trademarked) a new term - UltraSelfie.
Moving onto the HTC 10's software and it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the company's own Sense user interface over the top. So far, so familiar, but HTC has made two important changes. One is how it has teamed up with Google and removed all duplicate apps. Too often, smartphone makers produce their own photo app - or calendar app, or messaging app - then install them alongside Android's own, thus giving the user a complicated choice to make.
HTC has still included some of its own apps, but only when it believes its offering is better than Google's. When it thinks the Android version is better, it has stuck with that. Further help comes from HTC's apps being designed to look like the stock Android offerings, making the whole operating system a cleaner, less cluttered and more intuitive and consistent experience.
The rest of the HTC 10 is par for the premium smartphone course. The 5.2in screen has a Quad HD resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a pixel density of 564 per inch; power comes from a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM - same as the Galaxy S7 - and there is a 3,000mAh battery with quick charging and a claimed two-day life.
During my limited hands-on time with the HTC 10, I found the screen to be very good indeed. I have some reservations about the lack of a physical home button, but am willing to try it out for a few days before casting a firm judgement; perhaps the 10's capacitive approach will win me over.
My first impressions of the HTC 10 are good - apart from my dislike of the black version - but the cameras, software and music quality will have to seriously impress for me to rank it as highly as the current champion, the Galaxy S7 Edge.
The HTC 10 goes on sale in the UK and Europe soon and is priced at £569 unlocked from HTC.