Dec 15th, 2016

Android phones are released so often that sometimes we review a device and then completely forget about it. That’s not how it works outside of the tech bubble. Average consumers buy a phone and continue to use it for months and sometimes years. Let’s take a second look at a flagship from earlier this year.

A lot has changed since the HTC 10 was released. The iPhone still had a headphone jack and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 hadn’t exploded in anyone’s hands. It was a simpler time. The  Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge was our #1 phone at the time, but I liked the HTC 10 so much that we put it in the top spot. Here’s the summary from my original review:

htc-10-summary

I loved the classic HTC all-metal design and construction, but the main thing I praised the HTC 10 for was excellent software. HTC did a great job at sticking with near-stock Android. The things I didn’t like so much included the camera and price tag. Compared to the other flagship phones at the time, the HTC 10 camera was a step or two behind the Galaxy S7 and LG G5. Have any of these things changed over time? Let’s find out.

The Bad

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Camera

My biggest gripe with the HTC 10 in the original review was the camera. Before the HTC 10 came around I was using the Galaxy S7 Edge and LG G5, which both have excellent cameras. The HTC 10 was a clear downgrade. Obviously, this isn’t something HTC can improve with a software update. The camera is still the weakest point of this device, and phones like the Pixel drive that point home even more.

That being said, I wouldn’t say the HTC 10 has a “bad” camera. It’s just not an elite camera. I’m perfectly happy with the photos I get. They can be a little overexposed and not as sharp as I’d like, but if you fiddle with the Pro settings you can get some great shots. For snapping pics for Twitter and Instagram (which is 90% of what I use the camera for), this is a fine camera.

Water is the Enemy

Until about 4 months ago, I didn’t care that the HTC 10 wasn’t waterproof. That changed when I accidentally left it in my pocket and went swimming. It died a watery death that day, never to be powered on again. I think that’s the way most people think about waterproofing. It’s not that important until you need it. This experience has made me really take notice when a new phone isn’t waterproof.

Thankfully, HTC Uh Oh protection sent me a new HTC 10 after I sent them my waterlogged device. If you have a phone that isn’t waterproof, be sure you are prepared for something like this happening. It can happen to anyone.

The Good

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Stellar Software

Besides the up and down nature of the battery life, everything I liked in my original review still holds true. The build quality and design are top-notch. The fingerprint sensor is still the best I’ve used. Most importantly, the software that I raved about is still great. HTC updated the phone to Nougat a few weeks ago and now it’s even better. The software is every bit as smooth as it was on day one. Other than the Pixel phones, there’s no better user experience than HTC’s “skin.”

The biggest compliment I can give is the fact that I’ve used the HTC 10 as my daily driver for the majority of the last six months. A variety of devices have come across my desk in that time, but I always go back to the HTC 10. I wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of using Uh Oh if I didn’t like this phone so much. I even bought a case and skin, which is something I don’t normally do since I change phones so often. I guess you could say it’s pretty serious.

Perfect Size

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Another thing that this phone has going for it is the size. While giant phablets have become the norm (and some have become my daily driver), there’s still something to be said for phones in the 5-inch range. The HTC 10 fits perfectly in my hand and doesn’t feel like a brick in my pocket. When you use a lot of different sized phones like I do, you really appreciate the ones that feel great in your hand.

Battery

Battery life has been a roller coaster. It was a positive thing in my original review. During my first month with the phone, I could easily make it from 8 AM to 11 PM without plugging in. However, as time went on battery life got worse and worse. I started plugging in at around 9 PM to get through the night.

Thankfully, the Android 7.0 Nougat update brought battery life back to where it was in my original review. I can now go from 8 AM to 11 PM (sometimes later) without plugging in. I rarely ever see Battery Saver mode kick in at 15%. It has only been 3 weeks since the Nougat update, so hopefully battery life doesn’t drop off again.

If there was one thing I could change about this phone it would be the display. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great. The LCD panel is bright and has great true-to-life colors. However, I do a lot of reading at night in dark rooms. For that reason, I prefer the deep blacks and saturated colors of AMOLED displays. LCD isn’t a deal breaker, just not my preference.

Conclusion

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Long story short, I still love this phone. I haven’t loved a phone this much in a while. It may seem like I talked more about the negative aspects, but that’s only because they’re harder to find. The truth is there is almost nothing to hate about this phone. It’s everything great about HTC and Android all rolled into one device. In a lot of ways, the HTC 10 was the Pixel before the Pixel was a real thing. A phone built by HTC with near stock Android. What’s not to love?

Sadly, that’s the reason why I can’t recommend buying it today. All the reasons I gave for loving the HTC 10 also apply to the Pixel and Pixel XL. The Pixel is basically an updated version of the HTC 10. You get a drastically better camera, updates directly from Google, and Google Assistant. Plus, it’s still made by HTC. Unless you can find a really great deal on the HTC 10, there’s no reason to buy it over a Pixel.

What do you think of the HTC 10 after all this time? Have you been using a HTC 10? Share your experience below!

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