The HTC One M9 was a great phone, but it had its issues and put an end to HTC’s five-star review streak. So it was clear that HTC needed to go back to the drawing board with the HTC 10.
That’s exactly what the company’s done, dropping the ‘One’ from the name and adding a whole bunch of new and improved features. A lot’s been changed, from the design, to the specs and interface.
The good news is that most of it seems to be for the better, but is it enough of an improvement? Check out our full comparison and judge for yourself.
- Read our hands on: HTC 10 review
HTC has always impressed from a design perspective and neither of these phones are any exception. The HTC One M9 perfects what the company started with the HTC One (M7).
It has a premium metal unibody, with a comfortably curved back and, in some colours, a two-tone scheme, where the edges are in a different shade to the rest of the phone.
The HTC 10 is broadly similar, with a metal unibody of its own, but it’s slimmer, slightly less rounded and gets rid of the ugly black bar below the screen that’s long plagued HTC’s handsets.
It can be seen as a blend of the HTC One M9 and the HTC One A9. Is it better? That’s subjective, but it’s just as high-end.
It’s all change on the screen. Where the HTC One M9 has a 5-inch 1080 x 1920 display with a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, the HTC 10 has a 5.2-inch 1440 x 2560 screen with a pixel density of 564 pixels per inch.
So the screen on the HTC 10 is an upgrade in both size and resolution, which it kind of needed to be, since most rivals are now packing comparable screens.
Not only is it sharper, but HTC promises that it’s both 30% more colourful and 50% more responsive than the M9’s display, so it should be a substantial improvement.
OS and interface
The HTC 10 is launching with Android Marshmallow on board. That gives it a short-term advantage over the HTC One M9, which is currently rocking Android Lollipop, but with a Marshmallow update in the works.
However, HTC’s also improved its Sense overlay for the 10, minimising the number of pre-installed apps and bloat as well as allowing you to place widgets and stickers anywhere you want, rather than forcing them into a grid shape. You can even layer them, giving you more control over your home screen than the HTC One M9 offers.
The HTC 10 also adds a fingerprint scanner into the mix, which can be used both to secure the phone and lock apps.
Other than that the core experience is a lot like what you’ll find on the HTC One M9, complete with HTC Themes, which lets you change the sound effects, icons and colour scheme of the interface on both phones.
Power and storage
HTC has packed a quad-core Snapdragon 820 chip and 4GB of RAM into the HTC 10. That’s the same as you’ll find in the LG G5 and some versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7, so it’s a competitive amount of power.
It’s also a substantial upgrade on the HTC One M9, which has an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB of RAM. That still leaves the M9 with a lot of power and in general use you probably won’t notice much difference right now, but the M10 should have the power to still be speedy a year from now.
Storage comes in at 32GB or 64GB on the HTC 10, while the HTC One M9 comes in just one size – 32GB. But both phones also have a microSD card slot.
HTC ditched the Ultrapixels for the One M9’s rear camera and gave it a more conventional 20MP snapper. The results were strong, but not a match for rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4, though sticking a 4 Ultrapixel sensor on the front was a smart move.
The HTC 10 should be a significant improvement, thanks to a 12MP camera on the back, which uses Ultrapixels to let more light in, and optical image stabilisation to keep shots focused.
The 5MP front-facing camera sounds promising as well, as it too has optical image stabilisation, which is a first for a front-facing smartphone snapper. Not only should shots be good, but the camera on the HTC 10 is designed to focus and shoot fast and even launching it apparently takes just 0.6 seconds.
The HTC 10 has a 3000mAh battery, which makes for a small boost on the 2840mAh juice pack in the HTC One M9. It’s not as big of an upgrade as we’d hoped, as the HTC One M9 could struggle to last a day if you used it heavily and the HTC 10 has a larger, higher resolution screen to light up.
But despite that HTC claims it can keep going for up to two days, thanks to a ‘Boost+’ feature which can automatically optimise your memory, ensure less battery is used during gameplay, and auto detect and shut down apps that use excessive power, improving life by up to 30% in the process.
The HTC 10 also supports QuickCharge 3.0, allowing you to charge the battery up to 50% in just 30 minutes. The HTC One M9 also supports fast charging, though it uses the older QuickCharge 2.0. Yet despite that it can actually reach 60% life in the same amount of time.
As well as aesthetics HTC tends to put a big focus on audio. You can see that in the HTC One M9, with its dual front-facing BoomSound speakers pumping out crisp sound.
But it’s better still on the HTC 10. The BoomSound speakers are back, but this year HTC’s flagship also supports 24-bit Hi-Res audio and has a Personal Audio Profile system, which adjusts the sound frequencies based on your hearing, so music always sounds as it should.
There’s just one front facing speaker here, with the second bass speaker moving to the base of the HTC 10. BoomSound is now BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition too, with dedicated amps for each speaker and the headphone jack.
Release date and price
The HTC One M9 is available now and will set you back roughly £370 (US$400, AU$600) SIM free. The HTC 10 will be available from May, while It’s not yet been confirmed what it will cost.
As a brand new flagship though it’s sure to be significantly more expensive. We’d guess around £570/$750/AU$1,150.
On paper the HTC 10 is exactly the phone HTC needed and a huge upgrade on the HTC One M9. It’s not just more powerful, but also has a refreshed design, a far better screen, an impressive camera, better audio, a bigger battery and new features like a fingerprint scanner.
If you’re buying a phone now and have the money to spare it’s the clear choice over the HTC One M9. If you already have an M9 the HTC 10 is probably not worth upgrading to, as that phone is still beautiful and powerful, but if you just can’t resist you probably won’t regret it.
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