This year has been quite interesting for HTC. The Taiwanese smartphone maker was praised for its flagship, the HTC 10, for its fine design. It is still one of my favourite looking smartphones for 2016. Recently Google launched the new Pixel smartphones, made by HTC. Although there is no branding, it is quite obvious who made it judging by its design and finish. The company also announced a bunch of of mid-range smartphones in the Desire range earlier in the year. Unlike the high-end devices, they didn’t catch much attention and honestly didn’t offer a good value for money.
Now the company has introduced a new Desire smartphone which according to HTC, is the best Desire they have ever made. The new Desire 10 Pro is here and I had a chance to check out the smartphone at the launch. Here is what I think about the smartphone.
Build and Design
I have never had complaints with HTC when it comes to design. The Desire 10 Pro looks similar to the Desire 10 Lifestyle which was launched back in September. Of course there are a few fine changes here and there. It comes with a plastic build with a matte finish at the back that almost feels rubbery. I got to check out the ‘Stone Black’ colour variant which is black on the front and back with gold accents around the edges, antenna bands and the camera lens.
Going in-depth, the volume keys sit on the right edge along with the power button. Fine details matter and HTC knows that. There is a nice differentiation between the power button which is textured and the volume buttons which are flat.
The left side houses the dual SIM card tray, the top has the 3.5mm audio jack and at the bottom is the microUSB for charging and one half of the dual speakers. Moving to the back, the camera sits on the top left corner offering a slight bump, while the LED flash and laser auto-focus system sit below it. The back also houses the barely visible fingerprint sensor. Notably this is the first smartphone from HTC that has the sensor at the back.
The display sits nicely having a dimension of 5.5-inches with plenty of space above and bottom. I wish HTC had trimmed some inches. Oh and the handset comes with capacitive keys that light up when pressed. Sweet. Right above the display is the earpiece which also houses the second half of the stereo speakers and the 13MP front camera on its left.
The Desire 10 Pro will be arriving in four colour including of Stone Black, Polar White, Royal Blue and Valentine Lux.
I was quite happy with the design, although for a 5.5-incher it seemed larger than some recent phones that I’ve tested sporting a similar sized display. Having said that, it didn’t feel all that heavy thanks to the plastic build.
While the dimensions of the display are same as the Desire 10 Lifestyle, the resolution has been bumped up to 1080p which means a pixel density of 401ppi. It is an IPS LCD panel with Gorilla Glass for protection, but we don’t know exactly which version HTC has used. Colours look good on the display and brightness seems sufficient, although I faced a lot of glare and reflections when using the handset under bright indoor lighting.
Hardware and features
At the price of HTC Desire 10 Pro, I expected some quality features since Chinese vendors like OnePlus, Xiaomi and Lenovo offer some promising devices. You get a MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core processor paired with 4GB of RAM. The storage is 64GB which sounds sufficient and one can further expand it using a microSD card of up to 256GB.
In the connectivity department, the smartphone offers dual-SIM card slots, Wi-Fi, GPS/A-GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, and 4G LTE. There is also a fingerprint scanner at the back. The battery is rated at 3,000mAh along with fast charge support.
OS and Software
The Desire 10 Pro runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with HTC Sense UI on top. It is similar to the what we saw on the HTC 10. Its a clean and close to stock experience with light skinning and a few apps. In the few minutes of usage, the UI felt smooth and stable. I didn’t notice any hiccups but of course such issues arrive only when one uses a smartphone for a longer period.
Now I expected the new Android 7.0 Nougat update out of the box, but HTC has said it should arrive in the coming months.
In the photography department, you get a 20MP camera at the back with an f/2.2 aperture lens, laser guided autofocus, auto-HDR and a dual-tone dual-LED flash unit. On the front there is a 13MP camera with a similar f/2.2 aperture. Both the front and back cameras utilise a BSI Sensor which is said to help in low light photography.
The camera is same as the HTC 10 offering a clean and simple interface. As for the image quality, the rear camera capture decently lit photos, although colours seemed a little off balance. Probably it was due to the high contrast lighting I was shooting it. I wasn’t fully impressed with the camera, which is apparently one of the USPs of the device, but a thorough test is required before I can make a judgement. The front camera is touted as the world’s first front facing camera with a 150-degree field of view wide selfies.
I’ll be honest. HTC has made a variety of sub-Rs 30,000 Desire smartphones in the past and somehow they all have been toppled by something that offers a better feature package. Even today there are better devices in the market, no doubt. But this doesn’t seem like a shoddy attempt from the company. The build quality is solid and it feels quite premium. But since most of us today jump to specifications, it might take a beating against smartphones like the Lenovo Z2 Plus or the OnePlus 3.
At Rs 26,490 HTC is again playing a risky bet. I cannot comment about the performance or the day to day experience of the device just yet, but if I only talk about the features that it offers, one will have an option to buy something similar at about Rs 12,000.