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article imageHTC 10 unveiled — A flagship phone to save a falling firm

By James Walker     Apr 12, 2016 in Technology
HTC has announced the HTC 10, its flagship Android smartphone for 2016. The company has redesigned the handset and upgraded the screen, camera and battery life in an attempt to attract consumers back to its brand after years of falling sales.
The HTC 10 isn't a complete redesign of HTC's image. The body design is different enough from last year's M9 to be immediately recognizable as a different device without straying too far from HTC's styling of the past few years.
The corners are now curvier, the capacitive back and multitasking buttons have returned and the 5.2-inch 1440p display's glass curves all the way round to the edges of the phone. The screen joins with the metal body via an angled bevel around the side of the chassis.
"Passionate about the small details, it’s not just the materials that come under scrutiny when we create a new handset," said HTC in a press release. "With the HTC 10, our design teams worked tirelessly to build a phone where even the power button has been beautifully crafted, where the speakers deliver a sleeker look and better sound quality and where the fingerprint sensor recognizes your finger from almost any angle."
The processor is Qualcomm's latest and greatest, the quad-core Snapdragon 820. 4GB of RAM should allow for even the most intensive multitasking. Storage options are 32GB or 64GB, both expandable with a micro SD card. There's a USB Type-C port for charging and PC connections and a fingerprint sensor, doubling as the home button, on the front bezel.
The HTC 10
The HTC 10
HTC has re-engineered its camera technology for the HTC 10, creating what it believes to be the best smartphone camera available today. It's an "UltraPixel" 12MP sensor with large aperture f/1.8 lenses on both the front and rear lenses. A laser autofocus system aims to provide almost instant focusing in even low-light conditions.
HTC has refined the camera app so photos can be taken within 0.6 seconds of pushing the button. As always, only time will tell whether the camera lives up to HTC's claims. Last year's M9 proved to be a lacklustre let-down in the camera department, lagging behind rival flagships in photographic performance.
Audio is a key component of the HTC 10. It supports 24-bit high-resolution audio recording for 256 times more detail than typical sound recordings across twice the frequency range. A Personal Audio Profile system creates you a unique listening profile tuned to your hearing, adjusting sound frequencies on-the-fly to suit your ears. The result is sent through a headphone amp with twice the power of those found in other phones.
The HTC 10
The HTC 10
HTC has included a large 3,000mAh battery that it claims can last up to two days on a single charge. It has also introduced a new power-saving feature, PowerBiotics, to automatically shut down apps that are draining the battery. PowerBiotics is able to save up to 30% battery life compared to other phones.
Charging the battery won't take long when the time comes. A current-generation Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0-compatible wall charger is bundled in the box, providing up to 50% charge in just thirty minutes. Wireless charging fans will be disappointed to learn the feature isn't available though, requiring you to reach for a cable when it's time to top up.
The HTC 10 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, skinned with a reworked version of HTC Sense. HTC has moved away from the static grid of homescreen icons and widgets for this generation, replacing it with a "Freestyle Layout" mode that lets you place apps, widgets, shortcuts and links anywhere you want, including on top of other widgets or in groups. The interface can be customised using themes from HTC's store.
The HTC 10
The HTC 10
Despite a healthy feature set, analysts have expressed doubt that the HTC 10 will be enough to turn the company's struggling mobile business around. Last year's flagship, the M9, failed to resurrect sales, continuing a trend begun a couple of years before.
Analyst Ben Wood, of consultancy firm CCS Insight, told the BBC that HTC "has righted the wrongs" with its new handset but "it still has a mountain to climb." "There are many, many other manufacturers out there with stunning products too, and HTC can't afford the marketing firepower to match rivals like Samsung and Huawei," Wood said to the news site.
HTC has slipped away from favour over the past few years, iterating with new flagship smartphones the M8 and M9 but failing to introduce radically new designs or standout features. The company, one of the first brands to enter the smartphone market, looks increasingly at risk of being forced to pull out altogether.
In the U.S., the HTC 10 can be pre-ordered from today for $699. Shipping begins in May. The phone is also available directly from carriers including Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile. Two colours have been announced, Glacier Silver and Carbon Gray.
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