Conclusion

 The Good The Bad
  • Very good image detail across the ISO range
  • Well-balanced noise reduction
  • Good color and exposure in most situations
  • Good flash performance
  • Well-structured camera app with comprehensive manual mode
  • 12-bit Raw allows for image improvements in post production
  • Good detail and stable AF in video
  • Good front camera with OIS and flash function
  • Responsive overall performance
  • Solid build quality
  • Decent sound quality
  • Noticeable corner softness of the lens
  • Fairly strong tendency to clip highlights in bright scenes
  • Smallish panorama output with stitching errors and ghosting
  • HDR mode inefficient at improving highlight detail
  • Slight jittering artifacts in video
  • Noticeable luminance noise in 4K video
  • No environmental protection

Overall Conclusion

The 10 is HTC's current flagship smartphone and comes with a solidly built and elegant looking aluminum body. It lacks the water and dust resistance of some of its competitors, such as the Sony Xperia Z5, Motorola Moto X Force or Samsung Galaxy S7, but handles nicely.

The 10 offers a decent set of imaging features but we found that panorama and HDR modes don't quite perform on the same level as the best in class. On the other hand, the device comes with full manual control and the ability to capture 12-bit DNG Raw files, making it an ideal choice for those who want maximum control when shooting and editing.

That said, most users will be content with the out-of-camera JPEGs, as image quality is very good across the ISO range. Thanks to a very well-balanced approach to noise reduction, detail is excellent, with finely grained noise at all light levels. Apart from a noticeable jitter artifact in some clips the quality of the video output is very good as well, making the HTC 10 a great option for mobile photography and video capture alike. That said, the overall very positive impression in terms of image quality is slightly tainted by a noticeable fall-off in lens sharpness towards the edges of the frame.

Features & Operation

With its aluminum construction the HTC 10 feels very solid and weighty in the hand but unfortunately, unlike some of its competitors, does not offer any environmental protection. The fairly thin metal edges look the part but can be a little slippery when holding the phone while taking pictures, some users might prefer using a rubber case. 

The camera app might at first look a little unusual if you are used to other makes but is well structured and manages to provide access to a good set of imaging features in a concise way. For those who want maximum control over the picture taking process Pro mode offers Raw capture and all the usual settings. That said, we didn't find the HTC's parameter sliders as convenient as the virtual dial solutions we have seen on some other devices. 

Image Quality

The HTC 10 images show good color and exposure in almost all situations and across all light levels. The camera output shows very good fine detail, thanks to a well-balanced approach to noise reduction. Some luminance noise is visible in blue skies but it is very finely grained, making it less intrusive than the blurred noise blotches we have seen on many competing devices. A point of criticism is a fairly pronounced tendency to clip highlights in bright high-contrast scenes. You can take countermeasures by applying some negative exposure compensation. Hard edges also on occasion show some sharpening artifacts but you'll have to look closely to notice. The 10's major downpoint in terms of image quality is a very noticeable corner softness of the lens, the degree of which appears to be varying between units. It was more pronounced on one of our two units but noticeable in both. 

The well-balanced image processing is maintained throughout the ISO range and while luminance noise increases and detail suffers as the camera goes up the sensitivity range, detail remains good and noise fairly well under control, even in very dim shooting conditions. Thanks to the efficient image stabilization camera shake is not much of an issue in low light either and overall, in terms of pure image quality, the HTC 10 offers some of the very best results we have seen in the current crop of high-end smartphones.

The Final Word

In terms of some of its imaging features the HTC 10 is not quite on the same level as its strongest competitors, for example the iPhone 6s Plus or the Samsung Galaxy S7. In terms of pure image quality at the center of the frame it easily competes with the very best of the current crop of high-end smartphones but the lenses of both our test units showed varying degrees of softness in the corners. If you can live with this limitation, the HTC 10 is an easy recommendation.

DXOMark Mobile Score
88

DXOMark Image Quality Assessment

With a DxOMark Mobile score of 88 the HTC 10 edge takes the joint number one spot in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, next to the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. The testers liked the good levels of detail captured by the device, the fast and accurate AF and the well-balanced noise reduction. Main points of criticism were corner softness of the lens, luminance noise in areas of plain color and corner shading in flash use.

In video mode the HTC 10 produces good exposure, white balance and color. The AF works reliably and quickly but again some noise is visible. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.

Photo Mobile Score 88   Video Mobile Score 86
Exposure and Contrast 89   Exposure and Contrast 88
Color 84   Color 86
Autofocus 93   Autofocus 82
Texture 93   Texture 85
Noise 87   Noise 87
Photo Artifacts 89   Video Artifacts 90
Flash 83   Stabilization 83
HTC 10
Category: Mobile Phone
Camera and Photo Features
Screen Quality
Ergonomics and Handling
Video Quality
Still Image Quality
Speed and Responsiveness
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
Thanks to very well-balanced noise reduction across the ISO range the HTC 10 produces very good image detail, falling just shy of the very best current smartphones. Panorama and HDR modes lack behind the best but on the upside the HTC offers full manual control and DNG Raw capture for those who want maximum control over capture and editing. If image quality is a key priority and you can live with the HTC 10's rather minor shortcomings the device is an easy recommendation for any mobile photographer.
Good for
Capturing excellent image detail across all light levels and full manual control
Not so good for
Panoramas and shooting in adverse weather conditions
85%
Overall score

Sample Gallery

There are 48 images in our HTC 10 gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.