HTC 10 Evo review

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PROS

  • Included USB-C headphones are good
  • Water-resistant
  • Android 7.0 Nougat

CONS

  • No headphone jack and no included dongle
  • Uncomfortable design
  • Expensive
  • Unreliable camera
  • Old CPU

KEY FEATURES

  • 5.5-inch, quad-HD display
  • Snapdragon 810 CPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • USB-C, 3,200 mAh battery
  • Quick-Charge 2.0
  • Android 7.0
  • HTC Sense
  • USB-C headphones included
  • Manufacturer: HTC
  • Review Price: £450.00/$675.00

WHAT IS THE HTC 10 EVO?

It’s been a great year for HTC. Its HTC Vive virtual reality headset was a hit – and picked up the prestigious Product of the Year gong at the TrustedReviews awards – and the HTC 10 was a return to smartphone form.

But I am less enthused about the new HTC 10 Evo, which is a phone that doesn’t seem to have a point. I’ve been trying to work out who this phone is for, and I’m still not quite sure. It feels like an amalgamation of spare parts left lying around an HTC factory. It’s not necessarily a bad phone, but probably one that doesn’t need to exist.

The HTC 10 Evo isn’t a budget phone, and I was repeatedly told it’s not a successor to the fantastic HTC 10 (even though the Evo moniker stands for ‘evolution’). It sits in the ‘tricky to categorise £450/$675-£500/$750 mark’, making it only just cheaper than the HTC 10.

HTC 10 EVO – DESIGN

The Evo has that same metal unibody as the HTC 10, but the back is now flat and, thanks to the 5.5-inch screen, it’s much bigger. Getting rid of the subtle curve makes it much harder to hold, and the Evo feels so much tougher to grip than it should. It’s no bigger than a Google Pixel XL, but the sharp chamfers on the sides are so steep that I find it tough to handle and slightly uncomfortable.

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It still looks good, but I don’t understand HTC’s need to recycle the same design over and over again. It takes something away from HTC 10 having this sit beside it. The antenna lines are well hidden, but look much nicer on the black model, and there’s a sleek capacitive home button that has a fingerprint sensor inside. I prefer these ‘buttons-that-aren’t-really-buttons’ like the iPhone 7, as they tend to be easier to press.

A sure to be controversial design point here is the removal of the headphone jack. It’s been done before, and it’ll be done again, but there doesn’t seem to much a reason for it to be done here. It’s not stupidly thin like the Moto Z and while it is IP57 rated for water-resistance, its still not as tough as the iPhone 7 and can only be submerged in 1m of water.

I was told the main reason was to push people towards USB-C headphones, a pair of which come in the box, but it just seems a bit odd. The biggest misstep is not including a 3.5mm headphone jack dongle in the box, so you’ll have to shell out more if you want to use an older pair of headphones.

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To be fair, the included USB-C headphones are good, but they’re the in-ear variety and as such probably won’t be for everyone. They have good bass response, decent volume and plenty of detail but they become uncomfortable after a while.

HTC 10 EVO – DISPLAY

The Evo’s 5.5-inch, quad-HD, LCD screen panel is accurate and detailed but it’s not stunning. LCD panels don’t quite have the same punch as their AMOLED rivals, with reds and oranges especially looking slightly dull. I still prefer LCDs for their accuracy, especially when scrolling through pictures and watching videos though.

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Viewing angles are better than the HTC 10, and the Evo screen doesn’t suffer with strange banding. This is when you tilt the phone to the side and colours visibly shake and appear jilted.

Brightness isn’t quite as strong as flagship phones, and I tend to need to keep it about 80% rather than 50-60%. But that’s far from a deal breaker.

HTC 10 EVO – PERFORMANCE AND AUDIO

HTC has, for some reason, stuck the rightfully maligned Snapdragon 810 CPU inside this phone.

The 810’s the same chipset that basically made the HTC One M9 and so many other phones unusable due to overheating. An HTC rep told me it has worked hard on the thermodynamics here, but it still gets noticeably warm during charging and even more so when playing demanding games. It’s nowhere near as bad as it was in previous phones, but the problem is still there.

Performance is fine, but it’s not quite what I would expect for the price. App crashes are fairly frequent and games like Asphalt 8 and Real Racing take a while to get going, and then suffer from lots of dropped frames.

If you’re not gaming though, you’ll have no issues. There’s plenty of power for emailing, browsing in Chrome and messaging and the like. I would have much preferred HTC use either a Snapdragon 820 (apparently it didn’t do this as it would it too similar to the HTC 10) or the much more efficient and still pretty powerful Snapdragon 625.

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There’s 3GB RAM too – 4GB seems to be the norm now at this price – and 32GB storage. If you need more storage, there’s a microSD slot to bump it up further.

In our usual suite of benchmarking tests, the HTC 10 Evo performed like a phone running a near two year old processor. The score of 3,305 in Geekbench 4’s multi-core test is similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s and the single-core result of 1,072 is only marginally higher than the OnePlus 2’s.

Audio is always key to HTC’s phone and once again it has done a good job. The speakers are no longer front-firing, but they’re bass heavy and very loud and the audio from both wired and wireless headphones is very good. There’s support for High-Res audio – both listening and recording – and the noise-cancelling microphones make for a great experience when you actually call someone.

HTC 10 EVO – SOFTWARE

Software has long been one of HTC’s strengths and it continues with the HTC 10 Evo. The first thing to note is that this is one of the first phones to ship with the latest version of Android 7.0 Nougat. This is a nice update that brings in native split-screen multitasking, improvements to Doze and a re-jigged way of handling notifications.

HTC has added its own Sense UI over the top, but pretty much all of Nougat’s headline features work in the same way they do on a Pixel or Pixel XL and that’s a big plus. Sadly, there won’t be any support for Daydream VR though as it isn’t compatible with the 810 CPU.

HTC has ditched nearly all the useless, duplicate apps that have become so common on Android phones. Take Photos, for example. The Google app is the default gallery on the HTC 10 Evo, but it works with features such as RAW files and Zoe photos, the latter of which are sort of like Apple’s Live Photos.

The Android experience much smoother and more cohesive. Blinkfeed, the fancy little news and social feed aggregator that sits to the left of your home screen, is still here. But it can easily be turned off. There’s also the Boost+ app that I liked on the HTC 10; this lets you lock apps and have them only be opened by your fingerprint.

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HTC 10 EVO – CAMERA

HTC isn’t best known for its cameras, and with good reason. It’s been the weakest point in its last three flagship phones. Yes, there was some improvement with the HTC 10 but is still lags far behind both the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5.

It’s a similar story with the 16-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 lens here too. The camera can be good, but most of time I have found my pictures are either out of focus or lack detail.

There are very few actually really good 16-megapixel cameras out there – the OnePlus 3 is the only impressive one that I can think of – and there’s a reason why most flagship phones have stuck with 12-megapixel versions.

pic

Details are mushy and pictures lack depth

pic3

Colours can look good

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Lower-light shots can look good, but the focus can sometimes be off

Photos with good light look fine, but more comparable with something like the Moto G rather than the LG G5 (which is available at a similar price). There’s a lack of depth when taking landscape shots and as you can see with the shot of the trees, details can often turn mushy.

Even though there’s optical image stabilisation with phase detection autofocus, it seems to struggle picking out the right focus points and when the light dips you have to stand really still or everything just turns to mush.

Low-light photos certainly aren’t as bad as on other phones and you can get some nice shots when the sun is setting, but I never thought ‘wow’. Light sources over expose and facial detail is all but lost.

I do really like HTC’s camera app though, and it continues to one of the most fully-featured but simplistic around. It’s fast to open and focus, while the ‘Pro’ mode is nicely fully featured. The selfie camera – which sits at 8-megapixels – is great, as is quality of video which captures at 4K with High-Res audio.

HTC 10 EVO – BATTERY LIFE

The 3,200 mAh cell inside the HTC 10 Evo is a mixed bag, ranging from quite impressive in some areas to pretty dismal in others.

General battery life is fine: throughout the course of my time with the phone it made it through the day with normal use, but it’s easy to quickly drain the battery.

Streaming an hour of HD content from Netflix ate through 17% the first time – which is about as bad of the iPhone 7 – but fared slightly better when I did the test again. The second time it used 13% and the third 14%. None of those are overly impressive, though.

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It’s a similar story with music streaming; an hour of listening to Spotify over a Bluetooth speaker used 22%, which is again very poor.

It fares better with gaming and there wasn’t any major drops, but it’s odd for a battery of this size to struggle with basic streaming.

Another slight annoyance is that because of the old processor used, it doesn’t support any fast charging standard over Quick Charge 2.0. A full juice-up took about 2 hours, and you can get to 50% in about 40-minutes.

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SHOULD I BUY THE HTC 10 EVO?

It’s a tough one this, because the HTC 10 Evo is a fine enough phone. It looks fine, the camera is fine and the battery life is fine. But there are some bizarre decisions that really drag it down. HTC has taken a design I really like with the 10, and made it bigger and much tougher to hold.

HTC has also ditched the headphone jack, but without having a real reason for doing so. It’s not super-thin and it doesn’t seem to use that extra space for anything worthwhile. There’s also no 3.5mm headphone jack dongle included, something that seems like a given during the transition phase. The only silver lining here is the included pair of USB-C headphones, but not everyone will want to use them.

And then there’s the price. It’s in the same range as an HTC 10 from Amazon (a far superior phone) and an LG G5, plus it’s pricier than the again superior OnePlus 3 and newer (and yet also cheaper) OnePlus 3T. At this price, it’s a tough sell in the face of strong competition.

VERDICT

The Evo is a phone that does most things ok, but fails to excite and makes bizarre choice along the way. There are better options out there’

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/OFL9ym)

 

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