HTC 10 Evo review: hands-on with HTC's new phone

Following on from the HTC 10, the firm has now unveiled a successor of sorts: the HTC 10 Evo. But it's not a flagship and it doesn't actually replace the HTC 10. It's an evolution, adding a few new features, such as water resistance and clever USB-C headphones. Plus, it has a bigger screen at 5.5in.

We spent some time with the new phone, so here are our initial impressions: it's our hands-on HTC 10 Evo review. See also: 10 best new phones coming in 2017

HTC 10 Evo review: Price and release date

Unfortunately, HTC hasn't confirmed a UK price or release date for the 10 Evo. However, we were told the price would be between £450 and £500.

This is roughly the price you'll pay today for a SIM-free HTC 10, so the phones will compete with each other, despite HTC's assertion that they won't.

What HTC has said is that the phone will be available in the UK exclusively from htc.com in Gunmetal and Glacier Silver. There's also an optional Attach case which has a grid of holes for attaching things like a kick stand and a front cover.

HTC 10 Evo review: What's new?

The '10 remains HTC's flagship phone, but the 10 Evo has a few features that might tempt those looking to upgrade from an older handset.

First, it has a larger screen - 5.5in against 5.2in - with the same quad-HD resolution. It drops the headphone jack in favour of using the USB-C port, and comes bundled with some clever adaptive headphones (more on those later).

HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal 

It's also water-resistant, rated to IP57, and has a 'life-proof' Gorilla Glass 5 screen that's said to withstand most drops from 1.6m. But although it can withstand being immersed in water, HTC says you can't dunk it intentionally and that the water resistance will decrease with wear and tear.

HTC says the 3200mAh battery will give up to two days' battery life.

Here are the key specifications:

  • Android 7 with HTC Sense
  • 5.5in screen, 2560x1440, Super LCD, 534ppi
  • Snapdragon 810 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage, expandable to 2TB via microSD
  • 16Mp main camera with 4K and Hi-Res Audio recording
  • 8Mp front camera
  • HTC BoomSound Adaptive Audio
  • 3200mAh battery, Quick Charge 2.0
  • Single nano-SIM (up to 300Mb/s)
  • 154 x 77 x 3.7-8.1mm
  • 174g

What sticks out here is the 810 processor. For what is an expensive phone launching at the tail-end of 2016, it's an expected sight. Performance - in our short time with the phone - was great but plenty of people will expect the latest processor. OnePlus has just announced the 3T which costs £399 and packs an 821, 6GB or RAM and 64GB of storage. The OnePlus 3 also has 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage with a Snapdragon 820 for £309.

HTC has also confirmed that the new phone is not compatible with Google Daydream headsets.

HTC 10 Evo review: Design

There are obviously many similarities to the HTC 10, but here there's even bigger chamfers and a flat - not curved - back. Despite the overall thickness of just over 8mm, it feels thin because of those chamfers, and it's comfortable to hold.

 HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal

Due to the larger screen, it's a few millimetres taller and wider, and a few grams heavier. The home button is solid-state just like on the HTC 10. It doesn't click, and it doubles as a fingerprint scanner.

The rear is pleasingly symmetrical, with the dual-LED flash sitting centred above the antenna line. All that mars the look are the two tiny holes in the antenna lines, which are for mics.

HTC 10 Evo review: Audio

You won't find a 3.5mm minijack on the top edge. Instead, the bundled earphones connect via USB-C. Apple has already demonstrated that you can have extra features if you move away from an analogue port to a powered digital one, and so it is with the HTC 10 Evo.

 HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal

Both buds have ultrasonic sensors which scan your ears and adjust the equaliser automatically - and independently for each ear to 'tune' it to your hearing. You do this when you first connect the headphones out of the box and create a profile. But it's quick and easy to re-scan whenever you like.

You might do this if you're on a flight and the air pressure changes, or if you move from listening in a quiet place to loud one. The scan and adjustment takes around a second. Trying the headphones out in a relatively quiet room, the difference between a flat and custom EQ was really noticeable. Being able to flip between stock and tuned profiles meant we could easily hear how the latter brought out much more treble and clarity to instruments and vocals.

 HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal

The headphones also have plenty of bass and, although we had only a short time with them and were unable to listen to any Hi-Res Audio tracks, we were impressed. You don't get a USB-C to minijack adaptor in the box, but most people will be perfectly happy to use the bundled ones.

And in case you're wondering, the Evo uses the same BoomSound speakers as the HTC 10, so one speaker is in the bottom edge, the other in the earpiece on the front.

HTC 10 Evo review: Cameras

The One M9 had a 20Mp sensor, the 10 a 12Mp sensor and now in the 10 Evo, we're back up to 16Mp. It's a 4:3 sensor and uses this aspect ratio for 16Mp images and doesn't default to a lower resolution at 16:9 like many phones. The lens has an f/2.0 aperture and there's OIS which works for video as well.

Video tops out at 4K / 30fps, but it's a bit disappointing there's no option for 60fps at 1080p. Slo-mo is 720p at 120fps.

 HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal

Like the HTC 10 there's a Pro mode that lets you take RAW photos as well as play around with settings including taking long exposures. Instead of using laser AF like the 10, this camera opts for phase detection.

It wasn't possible to tell in the short time we had with the Evo whether it was an improvement on the HTC 10 or not. It's as responsive as you'd expect from a top-end phone though, with very fast focusing and no shutter lag even in relatively low light.

At the front is an 8Mp selfie camera with a 'selfie panorama' mode.

 HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal

HTC 10 Evo review:Software

Running Android 7.0, you get all the latest features including split-screen view and the new security settings. With the fingerprint scanner you can unlock the phone and - with the Boost+ app - also use your finger to unlock apps.

We're fans of HTC's Sense overlay, and the Freestyle Layout lets you put icons and widgets wherever you like without being bound by a grid.

HTC 10 Evo review - Gunmetal

We'll update this hands-on review when we've had time to benchmark the phone and properly test out the cameras.

HTC 10 Evo: Specs

  • Android 7.0 with HTC Sense
  • 5.5in Quad HD screen (2560x1440)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, octa-core
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot (up to 2TB)
  • 16Mp rear camera with phase-detection auto focus, OIS and dual-tone flash
  • 8Mp front camera with selfie panorama
  • dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • USB Type-C
  • BoomSound Adaptive Audio
  • Hi-Res certified
  • Non-removable 3200mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0
  • 154x77x8.1mm
  • 174g
  • Android 7.0 with HTC Sense
  • 5.5in Quad HD screen (2560x1440)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, octa-core
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Micro-SD card slot (up to 2TB)
  • 16Mp rear camera with phase-detection auto focus, OIS and dual-tone flash
  • 8Mp front camera with selfie panorama
  • dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • USB Type-C
  • BoomSound Adaptive Audio
  • Hi-Res certified
  • Non-removable 3200mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0
  • 154x77x8.1mm
  • 174g

OUR VERDICT

Although HTC hasn't confirmed the price yet, it says the 10 Evo will be the best in its class - of £450 to £500 phones. However, that conveniently ignores cheaper phones such as the OnePlus 3 which has a faster processor, more RAM and more storage, and it certainly makes the newcomer appear overpriced even considering its IP57 rating and its clever headphones. However, we'll update this with a definitive conclusion once we've spent more time with the phone.

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