Wednesday, 13 April 2016 17:24

HTC 10 – will it sell? Featured

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HTC is one of the few independent, smaller smartphone makers that dares dabble in the flagship market dominated by immeasurably larger companies with deeper pockets.

Please don’t get me wrong – I like HTC and have proudly owned their products at times over the past decade. But I, and some analysts are asking the question why would you buy it over an Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S7, Sony X, or LG G5.

Please understand that I have not seen this handset in the flesh – but as I do many of iTWire’s smartphone reviews, I know what to expect of a flagship.

Let’s look at a few features.

Design

Gone is the unique ‘One’ design that set HTC apart. Instead, it is very Samsung ‘esque’ although I don’t want to insult Samsung as it does it better. There is a home key fingerprint sensor. Built quality is said to be very good.

Display

It has a 5.2”, 2560 x 1440, 565ppi, LCD screen with a lowish 71.1% screen to body ratio – meaning bigger bezels. Other Flagships use a very superior 576ppi AMOLED screen.

Camera

The 12MP, f/1.8, OIS camera sensor has big pixels - 1.55µm, slightly bigger than the Galaxy S7. Both score 88 on the DxOMark which describes HTC 10 as a ‘great all-rounder’ and the S7 as ‘A new Champion ranking 1st place’. The older S6 scored 87 points and the iPhone 6s Plus 84.

USB-C/Battery/Processor/Sensors

It uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor that supports fast charge 3.0 (50% in 30 minutes). The 3000mAh battery is non-removable and there is no Qi wireless charge. There is 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, and microSD for up to 200GB. Wi-Fi AC dual band, Bluetooth 4.2/NFC is standard.

Audio

A nice 24-bit DAC (HTC BoomSound) and a premium set of buds but the two rear speakers are not stereo – rather one for low (woofer) and one for mid and high range (tweeter).

Phone

LTE Cat9 (450/50Mbps) FDD: Bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 28, 32 TDD: Bands 38, 40, 41. It’s a world phone but behind some other flagships.

Weight/Size

At 145.9 x 71.9 x 9mm and 161g its larger, thicker, and heavier than the Samsung S7 and iPhone 6s.

So how does it compare?

This is not a groundbreaking, innovative phone that will knock your socks off and persuade you to part with the money. Instead, it’s a nice, fully featured, average, flagship class phone. If that is the best I can say, then it will have trouble.

It is missing water/dust IP68 rating, Qi charging, and the je ne sais quoi of the Samsung S7 Edge. Its big pixel camera scores the same as the S7.

Where HTC has had some pull is its long-term relationship with Telcos. But in Australia, only Telstra and Virgin Mobile have announced they will carry it.

Its price is US$699 – that around A$1100 and there are better phones for that price. Even loyal HTC fans will look twice at other phones including lower cost, fully featured ones from Huawei, OPPO and more – there is no compelling reason to buy it.

And finally, I wonder if it can even begin to match the marketing might of Apple, Samsung and LG.

"Even with a device like the HTC 10, which has a clean design and improved internals, HTC simply lacks the scale to compete effectively with Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, LG and Lenovo," said Jack Narcotta, an analyst at TBR.

"On paper, HTC has the right strategy and the right products. The problem is that the premium Android space is toxic to nearly all Android manufacturers. Only the largest can endure there, and HTC is simply outgunned,” he added.

iTWire looks forward to completing a full review.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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