back to article HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

It’s only two years since HTC was the darling of the fanDroids. Distinctive, thoughtfully made and a cut above the rest in style, the HTC One M8 gathered the kind of plaudits an obscure band gets. A few things have changed since then – and I don’t realise how much until I opened the box. Erstwhile market leader Samsung, which …

  1. djstardust

    Meh

    Poor speakers, poor camera, last generation display and too expensive.

    It also looks pretty much exactly like the M7 which is old hat now.

    The only advantage over the S7/edge is the lack of bloatware, but much of the Samsung stuff can be disabled anyway.

    Unless you are an HTC fan there are alternative phones with a similar spec far cheaper or the Galaxy S7 which is far better for the same price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      Um, the speakers aren't poor. They are far better than any speakers on current gen phones. They are also certified Dolby. The camera also ranks near or at the top compared with current gen as well. This is just one review, and not a very good one I might add.

      Your only advantage comment simply shows your ignorance about the product and market.

      You're clearly a fanboy our someone who has already blew his was on another phone. Maybe your related to the reviewer because he seems to be full of negative vibes as well.

      Either way the s7 and edge are overrated and very fragile. I'm glad you can wash your hands while holding one but if you drop it 2 feet expect to drop done case to replace the poor choice in glass they used to cover it!

      1. Brenda McViking
        FAIL

        Re: Meh

        I don't own a HTC, but the one thing I would consider them good at is high quality front facing, stereo speakers. The M8 did extremely well because of them, but they bring out the 10 with a different speakerset which is, judging by reviews, worse than what they previously had. Still might be the best of the bunch of the current crop of smartphone flagships, but phone speakers are generally shite. The only phone speakers that weren't were the M8's well engineered ones. But they've changed them, and as this review states, it's for the worse.

        Whoever made the decision to mess with and deteriorate their one distinctive offering and strong selling point in the smartphone sector - sound - is a complete eejit. I'll bet it was to save costs - and I'll bet that the decision to save pennies ends up costing them the company. After all, the first thing an M8 upgrader (who HTCs largest target market should be) is going to want to see is that the speakers are as good, if not better than what they're supposedly "upgading" from. I'm not convinced they're going to be satisfied. We shall see.

        1. BurnT'offering

          Re: Meh

          Good quality speakers on a phone - great idea. Stereo speakers a few inches apart - a waste of time. Calling a speaker that can fit into a phone a woofer - vacuous marketing spin.

          1. jason 7 Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            Yeah I never get the fuss over smartphone speakers. They are all universally limited. It's like saying "I'll take that one!" if being forced to pick from a selection of steaming turds.

            If it works well enough to give directions while driving and make you go "Awww!" over a baby sloth video that's good enough.

            Some folks give far too much importance to trivial parts. It's like the Mk5 Ford Escort was designed round a sunroof as that was the thing most customers wanted back then. Look how that turned out!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Meh

              If it works well enough to give directions while driving and make you go "Awww!" over a baby sloth video that's good enough.

              Only if you're aiming at the commodity market, where there's little money to be made. HTC are specifically positioning this phone to contend with other high end handsets, and it needs something distinctive. Being nice to hold is now partly commoditised. High res displays and cameras are commoditised. Like them or not, the S7 is distinctive, the G5 is distinctive, and IOS is distinctive. What's on offer here that would persuade you or me to pay the fat end of £600? Possibly nothing because by the sound of it we're both skinflints, but for a price insensitive early adopter, what's here for them? There's no show off factor, and absent that this won't achieve much for HTC because nobody will buy it?

              1. jason 7 Silver badge

                Re: Meh

                Not really. Speakers should be listed about 20th on any smartphone manufacturers list of importance.

                Speakers in phones will be hamstrung whether you invest millions in micro speaker tech or not. You are just hitting a brick wall with acoustics and physics. The difference will just result in either poor or hmm...not bad, not great...but not bad.

                1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                  Re: Meh

                  >Not really. Speakers should be listed about 20th on any smartphone manufacturers list of importance. >Speakers in phones will be hamstrung whether you invest millions in micro speaker tech or not

                  A person who listens to spoken-word podcasts whilst cooking is no weirder than someone who wants to snap pictures of their day. Speakers are used for more than just music.

                  When it comes to music, I agree with you - I'm quite fussy about audio reproduction. I'm not an audiophile nutter, but small tinny speakers do my nut in. I'm perfectly happy with my bookshelf speakers and 30W amp, bought for about £100 many years ago.

    2. Adam 1

      Re: Meh

      > This is just one review, and not a very good one I might add.

      Rubbish. Unlike many mobile phone reviews, this one actually bothered to:

      * test signal strength (even if only anecdotally)

      * confirm call quality was acceptable both on handset and speaker phone.

      Kudos

  2. tony72

    UI design

    "Google has imposed its toylike Montessori-inspired Material Design language on the market, bring uniformity to the anarchy of Android user interfaces.

    It has been a success, but it has obliterated diversity; you now look odd if you don’t follow the design language."

    I don't get why you harp on about this as if it's a bad thing. You don't get diversity with iOS; why should you get it with Android? Personally, I want to pick up any Android handset from any manufacturer and get the same UI and default set of apps. I'm not interested in being hooked into any particular manufacturer's "ecosystem", and I have zero brand loyalty. Android should look like Android, same as iOS looks like iOS, and IMO manufacturer overlays and so on are tantamount to bloat and crapware, and should at least be an optional add-on, if they must exist at all.

    1. alban1964

      Re: UI design

      Agreed. Also generic might improve the chance of the OS being updated with bug fixes automatically - although that doesn't seem to have helped my Moto G much.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UI design

      Having every OEM sell phones with the same generic Android might be what you want as a consumer as it lets you switch brands easily, but it is definitely not good for OEMs. The more Google tightens the screws on the differentiation they are allowed to have, the more likely they are to look for alternatives like forking Android or some sort of non-Android Linux. So long as the masses can run Facebook and Snapchat on it, they aren't going to care what OS it is running.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: UI design

        The more Google tightens the screws on the differentiation they are allowed to have, the more likely they are to look for alternatives like forking Android or some sort of non-Android Linux.

        Please let this happen. Preferably the non-Android part.

        1. 27escape

          Re: UI design

          There are many andoid forks, some are supported by manufacturers, who generally will not do it themselves due to the cost.

          Cyanogenmod, Oxygen (from oneplus), AOSP etc are ones that can be easily found

          1. joeldillon

            Re: UI design

            Um, calling AOSP - the Android source literally as it is released by Google - a 'fork' is a really weird move...

    3. Chz

      Re: UI design

      In the general case, I certainly agree. In an HTC review, it's a bit touchier since they had the only custom UI that wasn't a complete abortion. Going all the way back to the Nexus One, the Desire was actually a much better phone for running Sense. Admittedly stock Android has now improved to the point where these customizations aren't helpful any more, but I do like to give HTC their due for at least *trying* in the past. I know when I started to run Cyanogen on the Desire it very much felt like a downgrade in terms of usability.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: UI design

      Have another upvote.

      Also, I'd like to add that of the current three UI sets for mobile: Google's Material, Apple's Flat and Windows Metro, Material is by far the most completely thought through. It was itself obviously inspired by the things in Metro that Microsoft got right (it really isn't bad on small devices), and itself inspired the volte-face that Apple did from skeuomorphic to flat, which looks like what it is: a copy of Material Design.

      It is an excellent pragmatic and utilitarian UI framework and the developer guidelines are excellent, too.

    5. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: UI design

      Material makes a lot of sense for regimenting design, but it is very crude and toylike for power users (no long press/right click menus). Some readers like a bit of thought and innovation on their device UX. When no one can innovate except Google, you'll get innovation at Google's pace. Like the PC world where Microsoft got stuck on IE6 for years.

      What you're asking for is phones differentiated only by price. But I suppose that's where it's heading anyway.

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    HiRes

    It's HiRes certified?

    Really - who cares, 16 bit 44k is all anyone needs at point of playback (there are cases for deeper bit depth and, at least temporarily, higher sampling rate during production).

    My TV supports colours way past mere blue, both ultra violet and x rays are faithfully reproduced...

    1. Devy

      Re: HiRes

      This too shows ignorance of your knowledge of audio. The DAC built into this phone does make a huge difference especially using hi res ear buds.

      It's your ears, but you're missing out.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: HiRes

        No sir you have been drinking the audiophile koolaid again. pssttt I have some oxygen free directional speaker wire for sale - great deal just for you.

        1. cd

          Re: HiRes

          Why not, you already have a conflator. Gear for idiots and genuine sound differences are not that same.

      2. Lusty

        Re: HiRes

        "hi res ear buds"

        Given that CD audio, played from a CD sounds much, much worse through these than through my low end 1980's hifi, I strongly doubt that higher sampling rate will improve things. The original sampling rate was effectively arbitrary anyway, being based on already available hardware capabilities rather than any reasoning.

        If you're using ear buds of any kind (even digital ones with gold connectors and fairy dust), you're not getting good quality audio. The idea that analogue devices can be hi res does make me smile though...

        1. BurnT'offering

          Re: HiRes

          "The original sampling rate was effectively arbitrary anyway, being based on already available hardware capabilities rather than any reasoning." Or on the limits of human hearing, and information theory

          1. Lusty

            Re: HiRes

            "Or on the limits of human hearing, and information theory"

            Nope, it was entirely based on the hardware used which at the time was Sony video recorders. The fact that it also fell over the limit of detectable hearing was just happy coincidence. Nobody chose 44100Hz unless you count the people who designed the video recorder they were using to record the digital audio.

          2. Chris Fox

            Don't believe the (CD) hype (Re: HiRes)

            "'The original sampling rate was effectively arbitrary anyway, being based on already available hardware capabilities rather than any reasoning.' Or on the limits of human hearing, and information theory"

            The sample rate and method for CDs was chosen based on a number of factors, including availability and price of the technology, the recording density, the width of a standard car radio slot, and the desire to be able to have a squeeze recording of a particular piece of Beethoven on a single disc. Audio quality was a factor, but one that was subject to compromise. If they really had been interested in releasing recordings that equalled the known ability of human hearing, Philips should have followed the advice of its own experts on human hearing and recording technology, and gone with 24-bit linear encoding, or a logarithmic, rather than linear, 16-bit encoding to achieve the best perceived quality, exceeding high-quality vinyl playback. But the marketing people were in control, and decided that 24-bit encoding would have been expensive, and was at odds with their duration and size constraints, and logarithmic encoding would have taken more time to implement properly. Philips made many compromises in the CD format, and ultimate sound quality was one of them, despite the marketing hype from the very people that forced the compromise. Remember the first consumer CD players from Philips only had 14 bit linear DACs, and threw way the least significant bits, and yet were still marketed as having perfect sound quality.

            1. Kristian Walsh

              Re: Don't believe the (CD) hype (HiRes)

              I'd be fairly confident that the decision to not use 24-bit coding in Red Book was not a marketing one. I could imagine Philips's engineering teams would have mutinied if asked to implement such a high data rate into a product at the price-point of the original CD players (not cheap, but still, barely, a consumer product)

              We tend to forget that this development work was done in the late 1970s. Moving to 24-bit sampling, while holding the sample rate constant would have reduced the capacity by a third down from 74 minutes to a 50 minute disc. 50 minutes doesn't sound too bad (still longer than a vinyl LP), but remember that the quoted 74 minute runtime of a Red Book CD was a maximum based on the track pitch - in reality, the very early playback equipment had difficulty tracking at the very edge of the very early discs, so early releases were kept to about 50-60 minutes to be safe.

              Of course, 24 bits per channel instead of 16 means forcing every component in the transport mechanism to operate at a 50% faster symbol-rate than Red Book. As the 44,100 x 16 x 2 + error-correction was the cutting edge of what was possible in a consumer digital-optical device in the late 1970s, asking for 50% above that would have made the players prohibitively expensive, and the discs even more error-prone than they already were.

              In fact, the original Philips proposal was to use 14-bit sampling in order to keep the overall system data rate, and thus component cost, down. Sony pushed for, and got, 16-bit, but consumer DAC linearity and noise levels at the time meant that you really only had 13 bits of faithful reproduction anyway. It was only a decade later, when properly linear 16-bit DACs became available, that Sony's foresight paid off.

              Logarithmic DACs are harder to make than linear ones (it's easier to get linearity than "the right amount of" non-linearity), and while I think a 14-bit log would have done away with the need for 24-bit linear, we're really complaining that 1970s engineers didn't solve their problem with the technologies that arrived twenty years later....

              Many of the problems of 16-bit are in mastering. Red Book audio is played on everything from the very cheapest of cheap cd-players to audiophile equipment costing close to six figures. The thing is, discs are mastered with the cheap players in mind, so you get everything compressed into the upper half (sometimes upper third) of the available dynamic range. This seems to happen at the final "mastering" stage, rather than final mixing - there are famous cases of unlistenably compressed CDs being available in a much more ear-friendly version as MP3 purchases (or, in the case of Megadeth's famously bad "Death Magnetic" album, as rips from the Guitar Hero videogame that featured some of its tracks)

              24-bit material tends to be less aggressively mastered, and I think it's because it will never be stamped on a metal disc.

              1. jason 7 Silver badge

                Re: Don't believe the (CD) hype (HiRes)

                @Kristian

                Spot on. That's how I read it all years ago too. Back when hi-fi magazines were worth a read.

        2. jeffdyer

          Re: HiRes

          "The original sampling rate was effectively arbitrary anyway, being based on already available hardware capabilities rather than any reasoning."

          No, it was carefully calculated from widely known sampling theory. Nyquist's theorem IIRC.

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: HiRes

        "This too shows ignorance of your knowledge of audio. The DAC built into this phone does make a huge difference especially using hi res ear buds.

        It's your ears, but you're missing out."

        I agree - the quality of the DAC is very important. And Ultimate Ears Reference earbuds would probably be considered high fidelity.

        But there is no benefit in reproducing sounds that are at more than twice the frequency I can hear - and the act of trying to reproduce them means that the hardware is less well tuned in the audible frequencies, AND that you end up with unwanted audible harmonics.

        As for 24bit depth - the human ear can theoretically get better than 16 bits, but 16 bits, with dither, can easily represent over 100dB of dynamic range. What are you trying to listen to that you need to go to the threshold of hearing (which is significantly less than an incandescent light bulb at 1m) and the threshold of pain?

    2. BurnT'offering

      Re: HiRes

      Having sampling frequency or bit rate higher than Red Book CD is completely pointless if the sound has been compressed to buggery at the mastering stage. If you are unfortunate enough to listen to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for example, you're basically hearing to a square wave

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Meh

    Hmm

    Not sure I will upgrade my M8 just yet. I rather like its 2 day battery life (even after 2 years) under my usage conditions, and more importantly, using it in the kitchen to blare out Rammstein, Blue Oyster Cult, System of a Down, Rory Gallagher, or Rush. Clears the kitchen in no time, so I can cook in peace. Very soothing ....

    Should it give up the ghost any time soon, I will turn elsewhere, it would seem. Pity, I always liked my HTCs (starting from the old Desire)

  5. Tommy Pock

    It's a disaster. It looks like a Galaxy S7 ripoff but isn't as good as a Huawei P9.

    I'll pass.

    1. Devy

      It's probably good that you're passing, based on your comment I doubt you would be able to take advantage of a premium phone anyway

      1. Tommy Pock

        That downvote wasn't mine, I'm better than that. And you.

        And an HTC M10.

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    Personally

    I prefer phones that track vanilla Android and if they customize at all then they do so with a light touch. There might have been reason to customize back in the 2.x age, but Android has a perfectly usable vanilla experience these days. Aside from bringing consistency to the platform it also increases the likelihood of firmware updates because there is less stuff in the custom firmware to maintain and test each time.

    Probably the best near-vanilla experience would be something like Cyanogenmod. Lots of minor changes here and there but close enough to track and merge AOSP. Even CM have dumped some of their apps and tweaks, presumably because the core functionality has improved sufficiently to render them unnecessary.

    1. Adam Inistrator

      Re: Personally

      "Probably the best near-vanilla experience would be something like Cyanogenmod. "

      wileyfox 5" comes with lollipop CYANOGENOS the oem version for 130GBP. the CYANOGENMOD official nightly builds of marshmallow are available too if you want to root or enhance privacy even more.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Personally

        I use CM13 on my OnePlus One and the milestones have been pretty good. Flashing a phone is certainly not for the fainthearted. Upgrading from 12.1 to 13 totally broke it (despite the phone seeing the update and notifying me of it) and I spent a good 3 or 4 hours wiping various system / cache partitions and restoring gapps to get it back and running. Another milestone appeared the other day and that applied fine.

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    Getting hard to tell them all apart

    While the tech specs are still better than the bargain phones I usually buy, they still all look like the same phablet to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting hard to tell them all apart

      "While the tech specs are still better than the bargain phones I usually buy, they still all look like the same phablet to me."

      My test used to be "can I dangle it by the lanyard in a tank of water." Phablets are getting to be so much the same that most of them fail this basic test of outdoor functionality. Water resistance is getting more common, but whatever happened to the lanyard hole? Perhaos Apple will discover it and then everyone will start providing them again.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Getting hard to tell them all apart

        Can it survive a splash

        Can it survive a drop on concrete from head height

        Can I read the display in sunlight

        Will the battery last more than a day

        Will it get and hold a signal in a fringe reception area

        All of the above before screen dpi that I can't see, too many megapixels that cause noise, silly case styling details and all the other rubbish that phone makers push.

  8. paulf Silver badge
    Trollface

    Apple Airplay

    "...the biggie here is Apple’s AirPlay. This will be backported to older HTC devices."

    Excellent! I'll look out for that OTA update on my HTC Hero in that case!

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Apple Airplay

      I'll wait for the Cyanogen/XDA boys to scoop it out and add it to CM13 :D

  9. Ian 7

    Almost all phones are "good enough" these days

    Hardware has moved on since Landfill Android days, and a £200 Elephone P9000 from China (say) will perform almost as well on any given metric as a £500+ HTC, Samsung etc. That particular model comes with NFC, 4G, fingerprint sensor, 8-core processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage and can take an SD card or second SIM, lovely big screen, fast charging AND Qi wireless charging... etc. etc. etc. It matches the big boys feature for feature, for much less money. As do many other relatively unknown brands.

    With the £300 difference, get yourself a good Bluetooth speaker for your kitchen and a decent compact camera for the rare occasions you need anything better than the perfectly adequate if not quite high-end implementations the phone provides, and blow the remaining £200 on drugs and hookers (or centre forwards, if you prefer football to rugby).

    Granted, they're a bit of a bugger to get a wide range of cases for, mind!

    1. fattybacon

      Re: Almost all phones are "good enough" these days

      Why suffer the trials and tribulations of varying Bluetooth versions and protocol extensions that your devices might or might not support? Get a Chromecast Audio, switch HD on, and hook up to some nice amp/speakers or 'active' speakers, with lovely optical cable. (Remember that you can upload 40,000 of your own tracks to GMusic.)

  10. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    So how does the sound stack...

    Up against say the Sony Xperia range which have been touting HiRes audio for ages (flac works just fine on my 3 year old xperia z), plus you get Sony's rather good earphones to boot.

    1. IsJustabloke
      Thumb Up

      Re: So how does the sound stack...

      who'd have thought the company that invented personal audio players might know a thing or two about squeezing top sound out of their (rather good) mobey's?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    App Switcher

    Just wanted to point out regarding "WTF HTC" the Google search bar in the app switcher it in stock android not a HTC addition.

    1. e^iπ+1=0

      Re: App Switcher

      "Google search bar in the app switcher it in stock android not a HTC addition."

      If that's the case, I'm really glad that they managed to exclude it from CM13.

    2. IsJustabloke

      Re: App Switcher

      Are you sure? It doesn't appear in the app switcher on my xperia

  12. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    No real detail about longevity, then

    Does it have a removable battery? (Presumably not)

    What is the manufacturer's patching policy?

    How many releases of Android do the phones usually get?

    What is the state of their year old phone? Have they dropped it now New Shiny is out?

    Are their phones unlockable, rootable, and is enough information supplied to use a third party ROM?

    Without that, potential landfill in two years, judging from the article about four hundred million unpatched Android phones, live on thereg at the same time as this article.

    If you don't make changes, nothing will change, and 'hey, new shiny' does not match with yet another obvious article about how Android phones aren't being patched.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. That_Guy

    @op

    Would you be so kind as to give the phone to someone else at elReg for a review with a little more unbiased passion? Then you can go back to the safe zone of your mainstream Samsung.

    Your review was littered with errors and omissions. None of which were excepted.

    In business when I feel out of my professional depth, I hold my hand up and offer the best advice I can give on where to go for appropriate service. in the instances where I have done this. I have not lost a single client. If writing reviews isn't where your heart is, please leave it to someone for whom it is. At the very least: Accuracy counts.

    I'm not an HTC fanboi, I use and enjoy a range of devices over a range of manufacturers.

  15. Martin Pittaway

    Erstwhile market leader Samsung

    Hmmm.Samsung's Galaxy brand has sold more units, but it's not as simple as it may otherwise appear. Taken form this link

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/10/16/samsung-galaxy-vs-iphone-which-product-line-has-so.aspx

    I agree with a lot of the other comments. You should re-do your homework before writing.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Camera has improved on the HTC 10, but still loses to Samsung S7

    I base my judgement on the various photo sample leaks.

    Granted, the camera performance may further improve with software revisions.

    There are also other new phones e.g. Xiaomi Mi5, LG G5, Huawei P9, Sony Xperia X, and other major phones to be released later this year.

    We will only know once a comprehensive comparison review is done.

  17. RavingDaveD

    Nice but....

    Can you make a phone call on it?

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