The HTC 10 Evo is nothing short of a repackaged HTC 10. On the inside and out it’s more or less identical. It has the same basic design; it’s powered by the same Snapdragon 810 processor; and its 5.5in QHD screen is exactly the same size and resolution. So why should you give it the time of day?
Think of the Evo as a version 2 of sorts, sticking with the familiar all-metal premium build of the 10, with its bold chamfered edges and slick lines, but ditching the curved back of its predecessor. In my view, this is a good thing. A convex back may be a little easier on the hands, but I much prefer a smartphone to sit flush against a desk. It makes it much easier to tap out a quick message without having to pick up the phone and hold it in your hands.
As with the HTC 10, there’s a fingerprint scanner on the front that does double duties as a touch-sensitive button, perfect for both Google Now and Android Pay. And, with an IP57 dust- and water-resistance rating, the HTC 10 Evo should fare better against the elements than its IP53-rated elder.
The big news, however, is that HTC has done an Apple and ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of a singular USB Type-C connection. While this may well have its advantages in terms of space saved internally, you’ll no longer be able to listen to music through headphones and charge at the same time. Plus, given the general dearth of USB Type-C headphones, you’ll probably have to resort to going wireless with this phone.
To help ease the blow of losing the headphone jack, though, HTC is including a pair of adaptive in-ear headphones in the box. These USB Type-C-powered Hi-Res headphones have a fancy sonar sensor that assesses how good your hearing is on the fly and adjusts the equalizer to suit. Apparently, my left ear isn’t quite as good as my right, something I should probably get checked out.
Inside the HTC 10 Evo is a familiar – and slightly less sexy – roster of components. There’s an octa-core Snapdragon 810 chip and 3GB of RAM, the same used in its flagship brother. The year-old 2GHz processor is still snappy, and HTC says it’s tweaked it to improve thermal efficiency, but there’s no hiding the fact that it’s a generation behind its rivals.
LG, Samsung and Google all employ the Snapdragon 820 or 821 in their flagship handsets, and with the Snapdragon 835 coming to flagship phones in 2017, the 810 in use in the HTC 10 Evo will soon look even older. It’s just as well there’s some future-proofing in the form of expandable storage. The Evo comes with 32GB onboard with the option to add an extra 128GB via microSD, which is nice.
Elsewhere, the 12-megapixel rear camera of the original HTC 10 has been abandoned in favour of a 16-megapixel f/2.0 module equipped with a wide-angle lens. It still has 4K video recording, phase-detect autofocus, RAW output support and optical image stabilisation, though. Meanwhile, the 8-megapixel front-facing snapper has a new panoramic selfie mode, and can now record video in Full HD.
There’s a 3,200mAh battery inside – an upgrade on the HTC 10’s 3,000mAh capacity, possibly due to the small amount of space saved by removing the headphone jack. Considering the HTC 10 lasted just over 12 hours in our battery tests, I’d expect the Evo to last a little longer, especially in view of its more power-efficient processor upgrade. There’s also fast-charging support, thanks to the USB Type-C port at the bottom, as with the regular HTC 10.
HTC says it doesn’t want its latest smartphone to directly compete with its older flagship, but considering the HTC 10 Evo is set to cost about the same as the HTC 10, with an ever-so-slightly improved list of specifications, it’s all but assured that it will.
The key question is whether anyone will buy one? Even if you assume both battery life and camera quality are better, the price puts it in an awkward place. With OnePlus still ruling the roost in the £300 to £400 bracket, the HTC 10 Evo’s higher price tag looks like pricing it out of contention. I’ll be interested to see how good those headphones sound, though.
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