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Can HTC save itself with the HTC 10?

Can HTC save itself with the HTC 10?

HTC has finally unveiled its new flagship phone, the HTC 10. During our first tests, the HTC 10 made a good impression, but is this the smartphone that will make HTC successful again?

The phrase "self-knowledge is the first road to recovery" aptly illustrates how the Taiwanese company has development itself during hard times. HTC’s new flagship smartphone, announced on April 12, 2016 with its "magic" number 10, brings together premium hardware, stripped-back software, top-notch audio and an improved camera. It seems that, finally, this is the HTC device that could finally compete with Samsung, LG, Sony and Apple. But is that enough to attract former HTC customers, and even new ones?

Challenge No. 1: The design is boring

The biggest criticism from many HTC fans is that HTC is not brave enough with product design. South Korean manufacturers Samsung and LG, it seems, have more courage to make design changes in their top smartphones. Samsung has demonstrated in the past year with the Galaxy S6 and especially with the S6 Edge that one is able to produce attractive smartphones with high quality materials.

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Is the HTC 10 design boring? / © ANDROIDPIT

With the G5, LG has gone a step further to not only create a design that feel good, thanks to its painted metal housing, but provide owners with hardware extendability via so-called "friends" modules.

So what has HTC done? The HTC 10’s completely new design shows HTC fans a visual indication that this is a new beginning, that the Taiwanese company has stuck to its roots with the HTC One M7, while also expanding into new territory.

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The design is unmistakably HTC. The HTC One M7 is still visible in the latest HTC smartphone. / © ANDROIDPIT

Personally, I find the design of HTC 10 to be a success. I don’t mind that HTC has not made any radical design changes here - it looks new, but you can still recognize that this is a phone from HTC.

Is the HTC 10's design a selling point for you?
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Challenge No. 2: No innovation for HTC 10

In 2013 the HTC One M7 introduced an innovative aluminum unibody housing. The directional stereo speakers were a novelty, but ones which neither Samsung nor LG offered in their smartphones. In 2016, a higher standard of aluminum and glass is the order of the day for high-end smartphones priced over $600.

The use of stereo speakers above and below the display is no longer unique. Google's latest Nexus series also has stereo speakers and these provide good sound for games, videos or music. And again, the competition from Samsung, LG and Sony is fierce.

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HTC has upgraded its camera with OIS and a larger aperture. / © ANDROIDPIT

Looking at the HTC 10 in an impartial, sober way, we can see specs for a solid smartphone but without real wow factor. It has almost the identical hardware (processor, RAM and storage) to that of LG G5 or Xiaomi Mi 5. The camera is also an upgraded Nexus 6P module with OIS and larger aperture. The battery is also nothing greater in capacity than the Galaxy S7.

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Samsung has innovated with the Galaxy S7 Edge and its curved display. / © ANDROIDPIT

For technical innovations, HTC lacks the financial means to compete with Samsung and LG. These two companies make their money from not only smartphones, but a wider range of products to pile up their financial reserves. Both manufacturers sell household appliances, televisions and other products. Samsung even sells smartphone components like processors, displays and memory chips, which it sells en masse to its competitors. All this cross-financing has given LG and Samsung the possibility to innovate more with their smartphones, leading to the dual-edge display with the Galaxy S7 Edge or the modular construction of the LG G5.

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Even LG has surpassed HTC in terms of innovation. The modular system of the G5 is unique. / © ANDROIDPIT

But tech-savvy smartphone users would see in the specs sheet of the HTC 10 many little details that other manufacturers do not offer. So has the selfie camera has an optical image stabilizer. The two speakers in the HTC 10 each have their own amplifiers. The smartphone is also one of the few available on the market with certified hi-res audio. But the average smartphone buyer mightn’t be interested in these details - are you?

Poll: Is the HTC 10 a technical achievement?
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Challenge No. 3: That software

Design and hardware are one thing, but software is one smartphone component that can turn a curious browser into a customer. HTC’s Sense skin, which sits on top of Android, made a lot of friends but also enemies. Those who were attached to the brand liked it, but Sense irriated many of the rest of us because it stalled major Android updates.

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HTC relies on Google Apps now. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC recognized this problem and has already started, with the One A9, to drop unnecessary software from its firmware. Many of HTC's own apps have been pushed into the Google Play Store so that HTC fans can install them voluntarily. So the number of apps coming from the factory has been dramatically reduced to only the essentials. To view photos, send emails or surf the Internet, only Google Apps are used in HTC 10.

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Samsung has indeed purified itself with the latest TouchWiz interface. / © ANDROIDPIT

If you look at Huawei, LG and Samsung, it’s striking how these manufacturers serve their own apps alongside Google’s. Why does anyone need two different email clients? Or two gallery apps? Or two different browsers? It’s certainly not good when two app stores are available on one smartphone, such as Samsung’s Galaxy App Store or LG’s Smart World. This duplication is somewhat pointless and confusing.

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LG is still a long way from Stock Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

Software on the HTC 10 has been slimmed down. We’re hoping that this translates into faster operating system updates as well. The proof has been supplied with the HTC One A9, which was among one of the first smartphones that received the Marshmallow update. If Google will release Android N in autumn, HTC smartphones should be among the first devices that will receive it. But HTC also has the problem that rapid updates are only interesting for technology geeks. The masses don’t care so much - if their phones work, they work well enough.

Are quick software updates and less bloatware selling points for you?
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The HTC 10 is certainly a good, if not a very good, smartphone. HTC only has the problem that the HTC 10, when placed next to a Galaxy S7, S7 Edge or LG G5, can appear stiff and boring. You’ll need to look in more detail to recognize that the HTC 10 is a genuine alternative to these devices. This could be the greatest and final challenge for HTC.

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  • Daniel Blackwhitee May 12, 2016 Link to comment

    Who cares about design?
    We want something, which we can make USE OF.

    If I want a phone with good design, let's buy a dummy for €10!

  • CJ Brown Apr 25, 2016 Link to comment

    I truly want HTC to succeed with its new flagship, the 10! Losing any CO. that manufactures and Android smartphone is not good for business or consumers ....

    In order to do that? Not only does the price need to drop (I'm not interested in any deals through a contract carrier), but the marketing of this device needs to be relevant without the use of a celebrity endorsement (cough cough do not waste money on hiring Robert Downey jr. to schill your Android smartphone!) .....

    For example -Jason Stratham's commercial for the LG G5 irritates me (gawd that music is awful!) to the point that I have zero interest in purchasing the device! So, while clever commercials online / on TV are important? So our advertisements in magazines and billboards!

    I don't have a problem with the design, the specs, the OS, close to stock Google Android, cameras, size - it's just stupid of HTC to think anyone's going to spend $700 when they can get something just as good with a ZTE Axon for $300+ !

    For those who think the HTC 10 is fugly? Go buy something else (shrugs)

  • Fred Robinson Apr 18, 2016 Link to comment

    The Edge on the S6/S7 is a gimmick. Yeah, it looks cool. But looking AT it, you know, when actually USING the phone is a pain. Unwanted reflections and colour/brightness drop-off at those edges makes it sorta silly. If they'd made a edge-sized S7 non-edge, then I might've considered it. Touchwiz is horrible and toy-like compared to HTC's Sense skin. HTC use much better hardware for GPS. This is really noticeable - especially with the google maps walk navigation, where you can totally rely on the blue-dot direction pointer. With Samsungs and LGs, these are dodgy at best. HTC phones since the M7 have been the best by far at that. I will miss the front facing stereo speakers, but I have to admit - it isn't something I used a lot. I'm really happy for the hi-res audio. Really happy they've finally put a decent camera in a flagship. The design is still the same on the back with the corners scraped off, sure, but that's a lovely design. Why change it? The front has become very samsung-like. I prefered to see aluminium on the front (that's the speakers again I guess!), but I'm pleased at the return of capacititive buttons and the introduction of a fingerprint reader. It's all good as far as I can tell. Also, the fast charge is v3, whereas the S7 has stayed with v2. I wonder why? Then there's selfie camera OIS. Not something I care about at all, but it's another innovation from HTC, and a differentiator for the kids!! The camera samples are more colour-realistic that the over-saturated (again, toy-like) images you get from Galaxys. All in all, this is a pretty solid device, almost perfect in every way. I'll need to hold one in my hand first, but this looks like my next phone.

    Will it save HTC? Doubtful. HTC don't get friendly press. I mean - look at the photo in this piece for example.

  • Parvind Chahal Apr 16, 2016 Link to comment

    to be honest htc m 10 wont help htc....their price is something need to look after......n they think buyer are fool so they r still selling desire 626 with kitkat n outdated processor n just 2100 mah battery for almost 225 doller in 10 dont gonna big hit

  • LatinoMicz Apr 16, 2016 Link to comment

    I'll be honest. I fell in love with HTC with the M7. It was a super fun phone the moment I bought it, however the camera definitely was lacking when I would transfer my photos to my PC and see all the pixels when they were enlarged. As the camera quality never improved throughout the revisions, I lost interest in HTC and moved over to Samsung as being king in the photo quality department.

    Upon picking up an S6 Edge, I was blown away by the camera quality and the slickness of the edge screen. Never would I imagine a little curve to the screen would provide such a better overall experience, especially when scrolling up and down articles or on facebook. It just looks awesome. So awesome to the point that I question if I can live without it on my next phone.

    Hearing about all the improvements the HTC 10 has done with the camera and just about every other aspect, it makes me want to switch back to my first true love, however I'm wondering if the lack of curve screen will actually be a major disappoint for me at this point. Damnit Samsung, why have you spoiled me into such a ridiculous feature, lol.

  • steve Apr 16, 2016 Link to comment

    not better looking than the s7 edge thats for sure

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