We review the HTC 10‘s 12-megapixel camera with laser auto-focus and compare with one of the best rival Android cameras of 2016, the Samsung Galaxy S7‘s 12-megapixel shooter. Here’s our HTC 10 camera analysis and comparison supertest.
HTC’s One M9 was a bit of a disappointment when it came to the optics, falling behind the high standard set by rivals such as the Galaxy S6 and Xperia Z3. However, with the HTC 10, amends may well have been made. HTC’s latest flagship boasts dual f/1.8 lenses: a 12-megapixel camera packing a laser auto-focus on the back and a 5-megapixel snapper housed on the front, for those essential selfies.
Question is, how good are the HTC’s cameras and can they stand up to the best Android snappers of 2016, including the mighty Galaxy S7? Here’s our full HTC 10 camera review and supertest.
UPDATE: Since we reviewed the HTC 10 camera, HTC put out an update which it says improves the camera performance. So, we’ve re-reviewed the HTC 10 camera, once again comparing against the Galaxy S7.
HTC 10 camera app
HTC has gone for simplicity with the HTC 10 camera app, offering a streamlined experience that the average user will love. The settings are mostly tucked away out of sight, called up with a tap of the side-bar, while the rest of the interface is dedicated to the shutter button and toggles for video mode and switching between the two cameras.
Drag out the side bar and you can switch between the different modes, including HTC’s Zoe feature (which as always shoots a three-second video with each photo) and a Panorama mode. And in a neat touch, you can see exactly how many shots and minutes of video you can record before your HTC 10’s storage is filled – something we haven’t seen on other phones.
You also have a Pro mode which gives you full control over white balance, ISO levels, focal point and so on. RAW format is supported, so you can capture some highly detailed images which are ripe for editing straight after.
HTC 10 camera performance vs Galaxy S7
Taking the HTC 10 as a stand-alone camera, we were mostly happy with our photos. You get a lot more detail packed into your snaps compared with the One M9, while images boast realistically reproduced colours; no faded hues or exaggerated vibrancy here.
Moving subjects are also handled well, with blur and other ill effects only creeping into photos when the environmental lighting drops to twilight levels. And you can get quite up close to your subject to capture them in crisp detail, with the laser autofocus working well when you snap between close and distant focal points.
However, when we tried out the HTC 10 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 side-by-side, there was a clear winner. And in this case, it was the S7.
Read next: HTC 10 vs Galaxy S7, which is best?
The S7 in full auto mode just seems to capture more attractive photos in most circumstances. Details are that little bit sharper, difficult contrast is usually handled well and shots are brighter and pleasing to the eye. Low light snaps are where the S7 really excels however, with less murky results and grain.
That said, the S7 doesn’t always win out. The HTC 10 handles bright whites better, while the S7 tends to over-saturate. And the S7’s camera tends to boost colour richness, which some might prefer, but we personally enjoy more natural images.
Read next: Galaxy S7 camera review and samples
Here are some side-by-side comparison photos shot on full auto mode with HDR enabled, to show the difference between the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 cameras; in each case, the HTC 10 is on the left and the Galaxy S7 is on the right. Click them to open a bigger image.
HTC 10 video recording
When it comes to video, there are loads of different options available. You can shoot in 4K, Full HD, HD or QVGA resolutions, with or without High-res audio capture. And there’s even a super-pixelly MMS mode which shoots very low-res video, to be sent or shared online without killing your data. The retro feel of that mode is brilliant, taking us right back to the very first cameraphones, although today’s widespread WiFi access pretty much renders this mode moot.
Our video samples came out well, with plenty of detail captured on the Full HD and 4K modes. The HTC 10’s laser autofocus threw a couple of wobblers during our initial tests, but a swift reboot sorted this out. You get decent image stabilisation to cut down on judder and our clips looked solid when viewed back on a widescreen TV.
Here’s some video samples to see what the HTC 10 is capable of.
HTC 10 5-megapixel selfie camera review
The 5-megapixel selfie camera does a solid enough job, beaten only by serious rivals such as the Huawei P9. Our mug shots generally came out sharp and clear, capturing every sag and wrinkle – thank the baby Jesus that there’s a ‘Make-Up Mode’ to smoothen your complexion out when needed. There’s no proper flash for when the lights go down, but like the Galaxy S7 before it, the HTC 10’s screen can light up to illuminate your mug.
There’s a wide enough angle to capture a few faces at full stretch and thankfully the timer appears on-screen next to the camera lens, so everyone knows where to look.
Read next: HTC 10 review