Earlier this week, HTC unveiled their 2016 flagship, the HTC 10. We had seen many leaks of the device, including a promotional video and a detailed list of specifications and as such, most of the device was not a surprise: it is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 System-on-Chip backed up by 4 GB of RAM. There’s a 5.2-inch, SuperLCD 5 panel of 1440p or QHD resolution. Both the front and rear cameras benefit from optical image stabilisation, with the rear camera using a 12 MP sensor wearing the “UltraPixel” badge – the very same sensor found in the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. HTC have included a fast charging 3,000 mAh battery with the promise of up to two days of moderate use. The device will launch running Android 6.0 Marshmallow under a lightened version of HTC Sense and includes a number of software features. One of these was something of a surprise: HTC have licensed Apple’s AirPlay functionality, which allows the device to wirelessly send music to compatible devices. Although there are a number if AirPlay enabling applications in the Google Play Store, that HTC have added it as a native feature to the device is useful.
Perhaps one of the reasons why HTC were willing to include AirPlay support for the device is because of a licensing deal struck up between Apple and HTC a number of years ago. AirPlay on the HTC 10 works using HTC’s three-finger swipe up command to launch HTC Connect, then select a nearby AirPlay device. This is one of the reasons why a number of HTC and Apple smartphones looks similar without either company being sued by the other. However, although the HTC 10 is the first device to support the AirPlay standard out of the box, HTC is also enabling AirPlay support to a number of former One flagship devices via an update to the HTC Connect application available in the Google Play Store. Last year’s HTC One M9 device is receiving the update, which should be no surprise. However, HTC is making the update available for the 2014 flagship device, the One M8, and also the 2013 flagship device, the HTC One M7. Of these devices, HTC stopped supporting the HTC One M7’s software about a year ago and the One M8, currently running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, is not expected to receive the next version of Android whereas the One M9 and HTC 10 should.
It’s encouraging that HTC are bring some new features to old handsets: HTC have worked hard on their device software and whilst last year’s 2015 HTC One M9 was something of a disappointment from the hardware perspective, the company refined and improved the software over the previous generation of device. HTC Sense has been scaled back and pulled closer to Google’s Material Design since this was introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop. In 2016, Sense is about adding features to stock Android rather than changing how it works, although HTC have doggedly stuck with their own launcher, presumably to give the device more of a similar feel between generations. The company is also one of the quicker when it comes to releasing newer versions of Android for existing models although the company does not roll out the monthly security updates as we have seen from BlackBerry. This behaviour is encouraging for existing HTC customers and might be enough to persuade them to go for the new HTC handset.