A head turner

HTC's 2017 flagship phone wins for its looks but not performance

In a highly competitive smartphone market, companies have to keep coming up with unique selling points to stand out from the crowded scene of "good-enough" phones. So here comes HTC's 2017 flagship phone that has been packed with something like no other (at the moment): squeezability and crystal-like coating.

Let's start with squeezability. Squeezing this phone's right and left sides will let you activate a selection of apps or functions that you can set. The default function is to launch the camera. This can enable you to take sneak shots without being detected by squeezing twice (once to open the camera and another to take photos). Moreover, squeezing to launch the voice assistant, take screen shots, turn on the flashlight (perfect way to tease your friend), voice record, turn WiFi on or off, or launch an app -- you can choose to do what you can do with your squeeze. Essentially, it's like a dedicated button, kind of like Samsung's Bixby button but much more programmable.

Now on to crystal-like coating. The phone is covered by Corning Gorilla 5 glass on the front and back, but unlike the usual glass, it looks like it's layered, has a bit of depth and reflects lights differently in different areas just like crystals, which look gorgeous and radiate the "expensive" vibe. This is the kind of phone that turns heads and will ensure that you will be stared at quite a lot. But be aware that this gorgeousness attracts fingerprints and smudges like crazy. So to keep it top notch, a cleaning cloth is needed at all times.

However, the phone is very slippery, almost like a bar of soap. It slipped out of my pocket many times (luckily, I managed to grab it mid-air every time).

The phone is water resistant, but HTC doesn't encourage that and even discourages pressing any buttons while under water. This is not the case with the latest Apple, Samsung or LG phones, which puts the HTC at a slight disadvantage.

No headphone jack, what? So, forget about using your expensive wired headphones. I really hope they still include a jack on a phone at this price point. But the USB C headphone adaptor that's included in the box also doubles as an AMP (amplifier) & DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and will boost sound quality dramatically. Also, the included U sonic earbuds are much better than typical free earbuds and has noise cancelling capability, moreover, the phone has a function to adjust the sound to your ear.

I love HTC Sense's UI because it's really clean, smooth and consistent design wise and gives you a feel of maturity. But, if you prefer cartoony or crazy looks, you can change the UI's look with the phone's built-in theme settings.

Its 12 mega pixel lens camera has won a few awards and has beaten all the others in many aspects. It comes with optical stabilisation and dual LED flash. The phone's pro mode is very advanced and can be tweaked to your liking. On the other hand, its auto mode is a little finicky and may or may not take the best photo in most scenarios. Too bad there is no optical stabilisation on the front camera though, which means selfie or self-live videos may look a bit shaky. Worst, this phone doesn't have dual camera for proper focusing effects like most newer phones at the minute.

Large bezels may disappoint people who are expecting something that has virtually no rims like the Galaxy S8 or upcoming iPhone.

This phone can use the top ear speaker to emulate a stereo speaker. Yes, it does give out noise but the volume is a lot quieter than the bottom main speaker and can make the sound pretty off-balanced to one side. But you can turn this off "stereo" sound mode and go back the typical mono mode.

Memory management on this phone is quite aggressive and, if you open several intensive apps (like games), the phone will kill previous launched apps and keep the latest ones only. This seem to be a bit more aggressive than other brands and may lead to the need to relaunch apps more often.

The LCD screen is not overly saturated and produces very natural colours. I personally prefer the extreme vivid colours that the Samsung screen provides but this one is still very good and can still be tweaked as well if you wished to do so in its settings.

The battery gives six hours of screen time, which is pretty average. Luckily, it has a superb ultra-battery saving mode that extends the battery life more than two folds with some sacrifices of selected connectivity and eye-popping effects.

Even though, the phone may not beat big brands in performance aspects, it is a very good buy with an eye-catching colour, shine, glossiness, interesting squeeze gimmick and superb camera.


SPECS

Screen: 5.5-inch Super LCD 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 (2560 x 1440 resolution)
CPU: Snapdragon 835 (2.45Ghz)
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB (extendable further via microSD)
OS: Android 7.1 with HTC Sense UI
Camera: 12MP with OIS & dual LED flash 4K ready (rear), 16MP (front)
Water resistance: IP67
Battery: 3000mAh
Connectivity: 4G, NFC, USB C
Price: 25,990 baht

Back to top