Samsung Galaxy S7 vs HTC 10: Can HTC Take On The Master?

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We’ve long been anticipating what HTC will do inside 2016, it’s an important year for the firm, because as anyone who’s been watching the market over the last few years will tell you, it hasn’t been going too well for the Taiwanese manufacturer for some time now. There’s no two ways about it, the last two HTC One flagships (One M8 and One M9) flopped – they simply didn’t generate enough consumer interest or sales in the face of stiff competition and massive interest in rival devices from Samsung, LG, and Apple.

But perhaps “flop” is the wrong choice of words in light of HTC’s Q1 financials, which were utterly horrible. The company’s revenues dropped 64% — yep, you read that right SIXTY FOUR PERCENT — year-on-year off the back of terrible handset sales for the HTC One M9. It is worth noting that neither the HTC 10 or HTC VIVE are included in these results. But still: losses like this are the type that result in companies going out of business. 

So that’s where the HTC 10 comes in. This is it, this is the firm’s big comeback device designed to cure all the ill-feeling over the HTC One M8 and HTC One M9. The handset was officially announced in April following months of leaked details, so we knew pretty well what to expect; a slightly tweaked exterior design, but one which keeps HTC’s existing aesthetic, and a serious focus on the internal hardware – pretty much everything has changed inside the HTC 10 and the firm has stuffed it full of the latest bells and whistles in order to make it as competetive as possible.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 — as well as the LG G5 — is arguably the HTC 10’s biggest rival. Samsung and HTC have been duking it out in the Android space for many moons now, but the former company has grown at an exponential rate during the past five years, while HTC has consistently struggled with sales and its overall bottomline. Samsung seems to be going through a renaissance right now though, following robust performance in Q1 and positive analysis assessment for Q2 (a predicted $6.8 billion in operating profit), Samsung has now announced its sales figures and profit estimates for the second quarter of 2016, ahead of a full report in the coming weeks. The Korean manufacturer reports 26 million Galaxy S7 handsets sold during the quarter, generating $43.2 billion in sales revenue and contributing to an estimated $7 billion in operating profit, above analyst expectations. It’s believed the Galaxy S7 and smartphone sales account for around 49% of the total profit for the quarter, around $3.5 billion.

Here we’ll be taking a brief look at how the HTC 10 compares to the Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s not a full comparison, though — just gross specs and hardware. Once we’ve had some proper time with the HTC 10 we’ll update this piece accordingly, comparing features, performance, USPs and overall usability.

For now, here’s a break down of the specs, hardware, and feature differences between the HTC 10 and the Galaxy S7

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Design

Samsung left the design of the Galaxy S7 alone for the most part. And this was fine; the Galaxy S6 was a beautifully designed phone. Like Apple before it, Samsung’s re-design process now appears to operate on a two-year cycle. Again, this is fine, and based on the frequency with which most users update their phones (18 months to 2 years) isn’t going to ruffle anyone’s feathers.

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So what you get with the Galaxy S7 is a slightly refined version of the Galaxy S6. Samsung has implemented touches here and there, but for the most part the two handsets are more or less identical. It has a 5.1in QHD display, measures in at 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm, weighs 152g, and is available in four colours: Black, Gold, Silver and White. One key difference, however, is that waterproofing has returned! This is a very welcome addition, and something the HTC 10 lacks. Neither handset allows you access to the battery though.

It’s a similar story with the HTC 10; there are some design tweaks, in particular the chamfered-edge surround which creates a nice smooth transition from the back panel to the edges. The device is certainly very comfortable and lightweight in the hand, and the slightly curved back panel (carried over from the previous gen) helps things even further. In terms of build quality it feels solid enough.

The HTC 10 is, once again, a unibody device honed from premium-feel metals. It features two distinctive antenna bands that divide the top and bottom of the phone. Overall the design is neat, clean and, as is often the case with HTC, very classy. It just isn’t all that new from the previous two generations, although HTC has gone for a slightly more monochrome look this time. 

After spending a prolonged amount of time with the HTC 10, though, I have to say my initial impressions about the handset altered. To me it doesn’t feel as solid in the hand as the Galaxy S7 or LG G5 and although this is rather subject, my girlfriend backed up my claim when I asked her opinion on the three handsets after handling each of them.

This is what she said after picking up the HTC 10: “I don’t like that one; it feels cheap and flimsy.” Also, you will 100% NEED to get a case for the HTC 10; it scuffs and scratches up almost as soon as you take it out the box. Personally, I don’t like cases. Like, at all. So this could be why I prefer the more matte styling of the G5, which is aluminium treated with some fancy stuff that ensures the outer shell is robust, tough and not always getting scuffed and scratched.

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Historically, HTC has favoured capacitive keys on its phones, and although it has swtiched to Android’s on-screen keys for recent models we are back to the capacitive keys with the HTC 10. Here you have two keys: back and multitasking. Like the Galaxy S7, the HTC 10 has a physical Home button which doubles, very nicely, I might add, as a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the handset and payments via Android Pay.

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Display

  • Galaxy S7: 5.1in AMOLED QHD (ppi 577)
  • HTC 10: 5.2in LCD 5 QHD (ppi 564)

As you can see, both displays are pretty similar in size and overall resolution. However, there are A LOT of differences between AMOLED and LCD panels. More and more firms are using AMOLED panels these days, and the reasons for this are myriad.

The Galaxy S7 has one of the best displays ever. Period. You can read our detailed look at why that is the case here — A Closer Look At The Galaxy S7’s Amazing Display. At this juncture in time, it is too early to say which is best — we’ll only know once we’ve tested the HTC 10 properly.

However, it is worth noting that AMOLED panels have generally outperformed LCD ones across the board for the last couple of years, so I cannot see Samsung losing this one in the long run.

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Performance 

As is always the case, we’ve put both the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 through a raft of benchmarking suites in order to extrapolate some data about how the two handset compare in an empirical, scientific manner.

Benchmarks are a great test for overall performance, but aren’t the final word in real-world experience; they’re just an interesting tool to show, on paper, how two very similar phones compare. In real-world settings, the difference will likely be negligible. Android phones in 2016 are immensely powerful when you consider what most people use them for.

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As you can see in the diagram above, the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 are very equally matched. The HTC 10 does do slightly better in the GFX Bench Manhattan Offscreen Test, which puts the handsets’ through intensive graphics performance analysis with game-like content, low-level tests measure specific graphics performance aspects (Driver Overhead 2, ALU 2, Tessellation, Texturing).

The HTC 10 is a solid performer across the board, like the Galaxy S7. I also prefer HTC’s Sense UX to Samsung’s proprietary Android overlay, which, for me, is still a bit to, err, TouchWiz-y (I know that’s not a word). HTC worked closely with Google on Sense for the HTC 10 and it really does show; Sense looks and feels a lot like Material Design just with a slight peppering of HTC’s style. It works.

There are some niggles with the HTC 10’s performance, though — specifically Wi-Fi. Our review unit simply would not maintain a consistent Wi-Fi connection and this made using the handset around the home for all the usual things — casting, Sonos, etc, — pretty much impossible.

It’s perfect possible this could be an isolated incident. I’ve asked HTC to clarity the case and then if things improve I will of course amend my HTC 10 review.

In GeekBench 3 Multi-Core, which features new tests designed to simulate real-world scenarios, shows the Samsung Galaxy S7 out in front by quite a margin. This could be down to Samsung having a slightly better handle on software integration or simply how the SoC perform in conjunction with allocated hardware used by both.

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What’s interesting is that both the G5 and the Galaxy S7 are in front of the HTC 10. Overall, you’re not likely to notice this shortfall when using the handset in an everyday setting, but it is an interesting experiment all the same as it shows there are nuances present between how certain OEMs build their hardware.

Meanwhile Peacekeeper, which is a browser test, shows Apple’s iPhone 6s WAY out in front.

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Again, the shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone — Google’s Chrome browser is a notoriously inefficient, power-hogging beast. Plus, OEMs like Samsung and HTC put very little effort into their bespoke web browsers because, put simply, everybody using an Android phone uses Chrome.

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Camera

The HTC 10 sees the return of HTC’s controversial UltraPixel technology, which the company first debuted aboard the HTC One way back when, although here the HTC 10 hits the sweet-spot with a 12MP camera with a 1.55um pixel size, a very wide f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation, and “2x wider range and ultra fast” laser autofocus.

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HTC dubs the front-facing sensor an “UltraSelfie” camera. This unit consists of a 5MP sensor with an 86-degree wide-angle lens, 1.34um pixel size and the same f/1.8 aperture size as the primary, which, again, is a very nice touch. Particularly for those that love taking pictures of themselves.

How does this stack up against the Galaxy S7 though? Well the two are quite closely comparable; Samsung has been playing this particular game with its camera hardware for a couple generations now though, and it seems HTC is basically following suit. The Galaxy S7 does have a  slightly wider aperture and larger pixel size though, and some pretty quick autofocus of its own. Probably the main thing the HTC 10 has over the Galaxy S7 is the more finely tuned front-facing camera with OIS – the first front-facing OIS camera on a phone, in fact – but whether that’s enough to really steal the crown is open to debate. Either way, we can’t see too many consumers being disappointed with either camera here.

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Key Specs & Hardware

Samsung Galaxy S7

  • Display: 5.1in Super AMOLED 2560×1440 pixels (QHD), 577ppi (Galaxy S7 edge: 5.5in, 534ppi)
  • Storage: 32GB onboard (larger capacity models MAY be available), microSD slot
  • CPU and RAM: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/Samsung Exynos 8890 processor (region dependent), 4GB RAM
  • Front Camera: 5MP
  • Rear Camera: 12.2MP, f/1.7 aperture, 1.4um pixels, dual-pixel 100% phase detection sensor
  • IP68 water and dust proofing (1.5m submersion up to 30 minutes)
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (Galaxy S7 edge: 3,600mAh) NON-removable

HTC 10

  • Display: 5.1in AMOLED QHD (ppi 577)
  • Storage: 32G or 64GB + microSD (up to 2TB)
  • CPU and RAM: Snapdragon 820 + 4GB of RAM
  • Front Camera: 5MP 
  • Rear Camera: 12MP, 1.55um pixel size, a very wide f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation, and “2x wider range and ultra fast” laser autofocus. 
  • Battery: 3000mAh

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: Battery Performance

HTC and Samsung both made some pretty bold promises regarding battery life at launch. All day performance is still a rare thing in 2016’s marketplace, while a full two day’s worth of use is still off in the land of make-believe. The Huawei Mate 8 and iPhone 6s Plus are two of the best we’ve ever tested. But the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 certainly keep these guarders of excellent battery honest.

A lot of this added battery performance comes through a combination of improved software (Android’s Doze mode), bigger batteries and improvements to power efficiency at the SoC level. The HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 both use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 and run Android Marshmallow, so both in this respect are well matched.

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However, in our battery test — a continuous video playback test — the Samsung Galaxy S7 absolutely dominated the HTC 10. Now, I know what you’re going to say: this isn’t a great test for real-world battery performance. And you’d be right — it isn’t. But what it does show is the endurance of the batteries inside these phones, as it is next to impossible to take into account ALL the different types of ways people use their phones.

In real-world tests both handsets did well; we did a full day with both with heavy usage. However, the Galaxy S7 did last the longest managing a few more hours before dying. Add in the bigger Galaxy S7 EDGE and you’re looking at even longer. Still, the take away here is that both handsets posted dramatic improvements over their predecessors. And that’s something we can all get behind.

HTC 10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S7: USPs

Aside from the camera, which is a massive update. HTC has done a lot of work to its BoomSound suite inside the HTC 10. More on that in a bit, though.

Not only does the HTC 10 ship with a very decent pair of headphones, HTC has kind-of-one-upped the LG G5 by including built-in Hi-Res audio, which means standard 16-bit audio is automatically upscaled to 24-bit for drastically improved sound and ten times lower distortion than other devices on the market.

And if that wasn’t enough to get your musical juices flowing, the re-engineered BoomSound speakers in side the HTC 10 feature the same separated tweeter and woofer design as leading acoustic systems, which, when combined with a dedicated amplifier on each speaker, creates a very impress sound.

The Samsung Galaxy S7, meanwhile, has full IP68 water and dustproofing certification, meaning it’ll survive a drop in a pool or sink with no worries whatsoever. This is something lacking on the HTC 10, and as they’re both metal phones clearly the excuse that “it would compromise the exterior” isn’t valid any more!

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