HTC 10 review: Cameras

Cameras are increasingly important on a smartphone and HTC is making bold claims about the HTC 10 in this area calling it "the best smartphone camera available on the market today."

There's a drop in resolution from the 20Mp sensor in the M9 to a 12Mp UltraPixel sensor in the new phone. But this is far from a bad thing. And while it has the UltraPixel branding, there's no weird stuff going on here: it's a regular 12Mp sensor. It has large 1.55um pixels (not quite the 2um found on the M8, but larger than the 1.22um in the iPhone 6S). There's also a larger f/1.8 aperture, second-generation laser auto focus, optical image stabilisation (on both the back and front cameras) and a dual-tone flash.

HTC 10 camera app

In auto mode, the HTC 10 is capable of some excellent photos and our portrait shot is a good example of a well-exposed scene with realistic skin tones.

HTC 10 review - camera samples

Video quality is pretty good, too. In 4K you get plenty of detail and the optical stabilisation really helps to smooth things out if you have shaky hands, or you’re walking along. It does struggle with dynamic range in video, though, and you can't record at 60fps. Here's a 4K clip (make sure you watch at 2160p and - ideally on a 4K monitor. Otherwise you won't see the full detail on offer.)

HTC understands the importance of the front camera so the HTC 10 has a 5Mp UltraSelfie camera which features a wide-angle 86 degree lens, a screen flash and 1.34um pixels. More importantly, it's the first front facing camera to come with OIS. Sadly, the results are a little disappointing with washed out colours and you can forget about the beauty mode unless you want to look like you're made of plastic.

HTC 10 review - camera samples

A new camera app in on board with a simplified interface and like rivals, there's both a pro mode and the ability to shoot in RAW. What we'd like, since the camera is such a headline feature, is a dedicated launch/shutter button or at least a way of quickly launching the camera when the phone is asleep.

Ultimately, the cameras don't live up to the claims: they're not the best available on a smartphone today. That honor goes to the Smasung Galaxy S7 which is the best all-rounder and also has one of the best "camera experiences". See our best phone camera 2016 for a more in-depth review of the HTC 10 camera and to see how it compares to rivals across a number of different tests.

TC 10 review: Software and apps

After the HTC One A9 was the first non-Nexus phone to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it's no surprise that the HTC 10 does too.

HTC 10 BlinkFeed

As you would expect, the HTC Sense user interface is pre-installed but it's closer to stock Android than ever. The layout and style are mostly stock Android elements (notification bar, recent apps etc) with the main addition being BlinkFeed which you can switch off anyway.

This is the closest interface we've seen to stock Android without buying a Nexus phone and HTC has tweaked many of its apps to fit with the Material Design. It's also aimed to cut down on bloatware by not offering duplicates of apps. While this has been achieved to an extent (there's no Gallery app for example leaving just Photos), there are still some such as Mail and Gmail, though.

Features from previous versions of HTC Sense such a motion launch gestures and Zoe are still present. We're a little annoyed to find various pre-loaded apps such as Asphalt 8, Candy Crush Saga and Instagram. That doesn't help when you're going for a 'pure' experience.

A new app called Boost+ is designed to make your phone faster and more efficient - it's also available on the Google Play app store for anyone to download. It includes a game battery booster which uses less battery while you play and a new PowerBotics system, which auto detects and shuts down apps that use excessive power.

It's a handy way to check things in one place - your storage and memory usage - but you don't always want to clear your cache or kill running processes so feel free to ignore this app or switch off the automatic features if they're actually hindering instead of helping.

HTC 10 software

You can change the look and feel of the interface with Themes but an interesting addition is the new Freestyle layout for the homescreen which sets you free of the confines of the traditional grid system. This lets you place apps and widgets wherever you want and you can also use stickers as shortcuts. If you choose not to label them you can effectively hide things throughout the homescreen. There aren't many to choose from at the moment but worth a try, just in case you think it's the best thing ever.


HTC 10: Specs

  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense
  • 5.2in Quad HD screen (1440x2160)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 64-bit, quad-core
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot (up to 2TB)
  • 12Mp UltraPixel rear camera with laser auto focus, OIS and dual-tone flash
  • 5Mp UltraSelfie front camera with OIS
  • dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • GPS
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • USB Type-C
  • BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition
  • Hi-Res certified
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • 72x146x9mm
  • 161g