The HTC 10 was a great smartphone – the best to come from the Taiwanese manufacturer in some time. So it’s understandable that the company has chosen to extend the branding to the cheaper HTC 10 Evo. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this is a much less desirable phone.
The problems begin as soon as you pick it up. Where the original HTC 10 came with a 5.2in screen, the 10 Evo grows it to 5.5in. That might sound like a minor change, and even an improvement, but for me it’s enough to transform the phone from something I could just about comfortably hold, to something I can’t. It’s simply too wide to sit conveniently in your hand, and things aren’t helped by the flatter back, which causes the angular sides to dig into your palms.
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HTC 10 Evo review: No headphone jack
Bafflingly, the HTC 10 Evo also jettisons the 3.5mm headphone jack, leaving a USB Type-C socket as its only connector. It’s not at all clear why HTC deemed this necessary: Apple and Lenovo can at least claim that removing this port from their smartphones made the handsets thinner,, or created space for more components. The HTC 10 Evo has no such excuse.
To be fair, you do get a pair of USB Type-C earbuds in the box, and these are quite an interesting accessory. They claim to use reflected sound waves to sense the shape of your ear canal and adapt the sound accordingly. Believe it or not, this does seem to work, producing excellent sound with plenty of detail. But if you already have a favourite pair of headphones, you’ll look in vain for somewhere to connect them. There’s no 3.5mm adapter in the box, nor a micro-USB adapter to let you use older charging cables and accessories: switching to the HTC 10 Evo is a sharp transition.
As with the HTC 10, the bottom edge of the handset is equipped with a fingerprint scanner, and here the Evo does improve on its forebear, adding dust, water and splash resistance to the IP57 standard. That makes the Evo competitive, in this regard, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7, among others.
HTC 10 Evo review: Display
Unfortunately, in most other areas it’s a letdown, too. Let’s start with the screen. To be fair, the huge 2,560 x 1,440 resolution looks pin-sharp at 5.5in and our model proved very slightly brighter than its predecessor, reaching 521cd/m² compared with the HTC 10’s 449cd/m².
But put the two side by side and it’s clear this is an inferior panel. While the HTC 10 delivered an impressive 1,793:1 contrast ratio, the HTC 10 Evo gives a drabber 1,040:1. And colour reproduction is much worse, covering just 78.4% of the sRGB gamut, versus the HTC 10’s excellent 99.8%. It’s one of this year’s least vibrant smartphone screens.
HTC 10 Evo review: Performance
It’s a similar story with the internals. While the HTC 10 is powered by a beefy Snapdragon 820 CPU, the HTC 10 Evo uses the older Snapdragon 810. Admittedly, this was once considered a high-end chip back when it powered the HTC One M9 back in early 2015. Today, it’s a step backwards, and it doesn’t help that onboard RAM has been cut too, from 4GB to 3GB.
The effect of all this can be felt in things like laggy animations and momentary stutters while typing and it’s clearly visible in benchmark tests. Here’s how the HTC 10 Evo performed in the Geekbench and GFXBench tests, versus a selection of its rivals:
As you can see, the HTC 10 Evo is actually slower overall than the HTC One M9, especially in terms of graphical performance – not a great advertisement for a brand new handset. And it’s handily beaten by our two more recent comparators. The first, the OnePlus 3T, needs no introduction: it’s one of our favourite handsets, offering great performance for £399. The Lenovo Moto Z Play is a little slower overall, but then it’s also a good deal cheaper than the HTC 10 Evo – and it has the best battery life we’ve ever seen, achieving nearly 24 hours of video playback.
HTC 10 Evo review: Battery life and camera
That brings me to another disappointment: the HTC 10 Evo’s battery performance. In our tests it lasted just over 11 hours while looping a 720p video (in flight mode, with the screen set to 170cd/m²). That’s below this year’s average, and an hour weaker than the original HTC 10.
On paper, the camera on the HTC Evo 10’s camera looks like an upgrade to the original HTC 10 as well. Optical image stabilisation remains, and while the maximum aperture has narrowed very slightly from f/1.8 to f/2.0, resolution has been ramped up from 12 megapixels to 16. I found, however, that my photos seemed lacking in detail and, while colours were bright and well-balanced, the focus seemed to struggle to stay locked on. As a result shots often seemed a touch on the murky side.
The front-facing “selfie” camera meanwhile produces 8-megapixel images, with a maximum aperture of f/2.4; for its purpose it’s absolutely fine, capturing decent selfies and video calls.
HTC 10 Evo review: Verdict
“Evo” is supposed to stand for “evolution”, and there’s no denying that this handset brings together a lot of little changes to the HTC 10 formula. Unfortunately, nearly all of them are for the worse: it’s less comfortable to hold, with a weaker screen, processor and battery. It also does away with the headphone jack, while offering no improvement in either form or function to justify the loss.
That’s not to say that what you’re left with is a terrible phone. It’s just not worth £500 – not when you can get the superior OnePlus 3T for £399, or the original HTC 10 for just £10 more.
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