Once the king of the Android phone market, HTC has seen its lands gobbled up by hungry competitors like Samsung over the past few years. With each new generation of phones, HTC’s offerings have seemed to lag a little further behind. The company hopes to correct its course with its new flagship phone, the HTC 10, and is pushing this phone as an avatar of perfection, but how does it compare to the crown prince of Android phones, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge? Let’s take a closer look at how the two compete when it comes to both hardware and software.
Android phones are more powerful than ever, and if HTC’s new device is going to stand a chance, it will need a lot of muscle. HTC armed the 10 with premier hardware, including Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor — the same chip inside the U.S. Galaxy S7 Edge. The 10’s processor will apparently clock in at 2.2GHz, up from the S7 Edge’s 2.15GHz, meaning it could run a bit faster, though the difference will likely be negligible. Both devices also have 4GB of RAM, so both should be equally quick at multitasking and handling intense apps. In our experience, the two phones are on an equal playing field in terms of power. Even their benchmark results were nearly identical.
Samsung phones do seem to slow down over time, mainly because of the heavy weight of its TouchWiz interface. HTC’s software experience is lighter, so it should stay speedy longer, though this is merely an educated guess. It’s nearly impossible to say which phone is better, since they boast nearly identical spec sheets.
Both phones have comparable batteries, but the S7 Edge has 3,600mAh battery compared to the HTC 10’s 3,000mAh battery. The HTC 10 also offers Quick Charge 3.0, which is faster than Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge with Quick Charge 2.0. The difference in charging speed is pretty minimal, and you’d really need to sit down with a stopwatch to tell the difference. Even so, it seems like a strange choice on Samsung’s part to go with the older standard.
However, the S7 Edge supports wireless charging, and the HTC 10 doesn’t, so it’s a toss up as to what’s more important to you. Wireless charging is mighty convenient, assuming you have a wireless charging dock, and it’s a forward thinking addition. If you’ve always dreamed about leaving wires behind, you’ll love the S7 Edge.
To make up for its lack of wireless charging, the HTC 10 uses a USC Type-C port, which is easier to plug in and more modern than the Micro USB port on the S7 Edge. You can plug your cable in either direction — it doesn’t matter, because there’s no wrong way to do it. Anyone who’s fumbled around with a Micro USB at night knows the struggle and will appreciate the reversible USB C. however, you will have to change your cords and replace any accessories that depend on Micro USB ports.
Samsung opted out of the growing trend toward USB Type-C, because its Gear VR headset uses the Micro USB port to connect. As fans of the Gear VR, that’s a sufficiently satisfying explanation for us!
User interface and Android
Both phones run Android 6.0, although the HTC 10 incorporates the Sense user interface and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge has TouchWiz on top. Overall, HTC has decided to move closer to standard Android, dropping many of its own apps in favor of Google’s. HTC scaled Sense UI back dramatically, so you can barely tell it’s there.
The Galaxy S7 Edge comes encumbered with plenty of carrier bloatware, Samsung apps, and a noticeable UI. Verizon, for example, installs a number of unremovable games and apps on the S7 Edge, which can be an annoyance. Those looking for a “pure” Android experience may find neither phone to their liking, but the HTC 10 is undoubtedly closer to Google’s designed look and feel for Android.
With Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge, you’re stuck with TouchWiz unless you want to download a launcher. HTC offers much more customization options, including an entire theme store where you can choose from a variety of different icon packs, wallpapers, and color schemes. HTC also introduced fun stickers for those who want to try their hand at designing fun interfaces for the 10.
The Edge does offer some fun, helpful functionality like app shortcuts, quick actions, news, and more. It’s a versatile feature that’s sure to grow as more developers make edge panels, which is truly exciting. Right now, it’s still not quite as useful as we’d like, though.
When it comes to Android phones, the other big factor you need to consider is security. The security of a device is directly related to how frequently and quickly software is updated. In recent years, Android has been hit by several huge hacks, including Heartbleed and Stagefright, both of which made millions of devices vulnerable to hackers. If your phone doesn’t get the necessary security patches in the form of software updates, your device remains vulnerable.
Android manufacturers and carriers are notoriously bad at delivering timely updates to software. However, HTC claims that it ranks second, only behind Google, for releasing timely updates to its devices. In other words, the 10 should get the latest version of Android long before the Galaxy S7 Edge does. Samsung’s commitment to quick updates is less solid, so in that regard, the HTC 10 is the safer bet.
Winner: HTC 10
With its glass screen and gently curved body, the Galaxy S7 Edge is a work of beauty. It’s arguably the most beautiful Android phone in existence — unless you hate fingerprints and glass backs. Its sleek, curvy glass front and back is encased in sturdy aluminum, and the Galaxy S7 Edge is truly a sight to behold.
However, HTC is not content to lose any beauty contests, and really emphasizes the aesthetics of the HTC 10, comparing it to the “poetry of light.” It’s a romantic view to take of a smartphone, but the HTC 10 certainly lives up to it, with a seamless aluminum body and glass screen.
The HTC 10 has a gentle curve to its back, and the edges are chamfered to make the phone easier to grip. The 10 recalls the glory days of HTC design, when the company was the only Android phone maker that cared about how its phones looked. The edges catch the light in a beautiful way, and the sleek, all glass front looks gorgeous.
Both devices have fingerprint sensors on the front, which is unusual for Android smartphones these days. However, the HTC 10’s sensor is faster, because it’s not a button. With the Galaxy S7 Edge, you have to press the button to unlock your phone, which seems like an unnecessary step.
The HTC 10 is slightly larger than the S7 Edge, though most users probably will not notice the difference. Like a gem, the HTC 10 is not only pretty but sturdy, designed to survive even the worst falls without shattering. The metal 10 is tougher than the fragile glass Galaxy S7 Edge, but both the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 Edge are slender, shimmering beauties. The main downside to the Galaxy S7 Edge’s design is that glass is not only fragile, but also picks up fingerprints like crazy. However, if you lead a more aquatic life, the S7 may be the more reliable phone given it’s waterproof, whereas the HTC 10 is not.
In the end, it comes down to style preference, because both are beautiful phones. The HTC 10 is more subtle, but the Galaxy S7 Edge is sexier and flashier. For our tastes, the Galaxy S7 Edge is nicer, though you need a case with either phone.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Speakers and audio
Perhaps the biggest point of emphasis in the design of the HTC 10 is the speaker system. It may not have front-facing speakers, but the 10 still has HTC’s BoomSound. This time, the Hi-fi speakers are on the bottom edge and top of the device. Even so, the HTC 10 promises 24-bit audio and stellar sound from its speakers. In our experience, the 10’s sound isn’t as good as it was on the One M8, but it’s still much better than most, including the Galaxy S7 Edge. Although the Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t sound too shabby, it’s not as strong a performer in the audio space.
HTC also takes its obsession with sound further on the 10. You can set up your own sound profile for when you listen to all your high-res tracks. To really sell audiophiles on the phone, HTC even partnered up with JBL to make the Reflect Aware C earbuds, which you can buy separately. For those who like to listen to music or watch movies on their phone, the HTC 10’s sound quality move the needle.
Winner: HTC 10
Outside of browsing the internet, taking photos almost seems like the most important feature of smartphones these days. Both the S7 Edge and HTC 10 offer 5-megapixel front-facing cameras and 12-megapixel cameras in the rear. This means that both phones can take pictures of excellent quality, even in low-light environments.
However, there are some differences. HTC is using its Ultra Pixel 2 technology, which increases the pixel size to 1.55μm. The camera also boasts laser autofocus, an f/1.8 aperture, dual LED flash, and RAW format support. Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge uses dual pixel technology to focus quickly, sports an f/1.7 aperture, and boasts a 1.4 µm pixel size.
HTC is touting the fact that both cameras in the new phone have optical image stabilization (OIS), which should allow users to take great shots even with unsteady hands. The Galaxy S7 Edge only has OIS on the back.
Camera review site DxOMark praised the HTC 10 for its good exposure and balance of white and colors, although the review notes that low-light conditions resulted in luminance noise.
In our testing of both phones, we found the two cameras to be pretty evenly matched. The HTC 10 wins on color accuracy, but the Galaxy S7 Edge bests it in low-light conditions. The HTC 10 occasionally has trouble focusing, though, and the S7 Edge proved more reliable and easy to use. Both phones offer a simple camera app and a very high-end photography experience. The two phones arguably offer the best camera performance of any smartphone, though the S7 Edge has the edge here.
On the video front, both phones can record in 4K (2160p) and allow for slow-motion footage. The 10’s speakers factor in here, as HTC claims the phone will able to record 24-bit audio when filming, theoretically offering better audio fidelity in videos.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Price and availability
At the moment, HTC is taking pre-orders for unlocked versions of the HTC 10 for $700, with the first shipments slated for May. The Galaxy S7 Edge, meanwhile, retails for $700, but can often be found for a little less depending on the carrier. Currently, the HTC 10 can only be purchased unlocked, though the model is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile networks. HTC also says that Verizon and Sprint will soon be carrying it. The S7 Edge, meanwhile, is available through AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. It’s impossible to buy the S7 Edge unlocked, which is really its only disadvantage. No unlocked phones means lots of carrier bloatware and a lot of difficulty if you decide to switch.
Accessories are not always the driving force when choosing a phone, but in the case of the S7 Edge, Samsung’s Gear VR bears mentioning. While the portable headset is nowhere near as stunning as devices like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, it is the most cost-effective headset on the market, offering a shockingly decent experience for only $100. Some carriers even bundle a Gear VR in with the purchase of a Galaxy S7 Edge. The Gear VR does give the S7 Edge the advantage in this battle.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Winner: It’s a tossup
HTC is hoping that the 10 will help it reclaim the Android throne from the Galaxy S7, but is it good enough? The answer seems to be frustratingly unclear. For the most part, the phones seem to offer similar experiences: both are sleek, attractive devices with some of the most powerful hardware ever installed in a smartphone. They’re on par in nearly every way, but there are a few minor differences.
These are HTC’s three main selling points: high-res audio, design, and user interface. The HTC 10’s hi-res audio offers an intriguing advantage, but how much that matters depends on a user’s preferences. Those who like pure Android and some choice in how their phone’s interface looks will prefer the 10. The other main appeal of the 10 is its all metal design. It looks sleek, but not too flashy, and it’s more durable that the Galaxy S7 Edge’s curved glass body.
However, all three of these selling points are subjective. In the end, it comes down to personal taste. You really can’t go wrong with either of these phones.