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HTC 10 vs. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus : Is great audio more important than exceptional cameras?

iphone  vs htc apple
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

One of the most anticipated smartphone launches of the year has come and gone. Apple’s iPhone 7 is officially available for purchase online, in retail, and from carriers around the country — and it doesn’t disappoint. The Cupertino company’s newest flagship sports a stellar screen, a versatile A10 Fusion processor, a touch-sensitive home button, upgraded Force Touch capabilities, and an impressive pair of cameras that focus more quickly and take sharper, more colorful images than any iPhone before it. It’s water- and dust-resistant, too, and it ships in configurations with high-gloss finishes and storage capacities up to 256GB.

That’s not to say the iPhone 7 is infallible, of course. It omits the 3.5-millimeter audio jack and lacks the pricier, larger iPhone 7 Plus’ dual-sensor camera module. But at $650, it’s a heck of a package.

Related: See how the iPhone 7 Plus’ Portrait mode elevates mobile photography

The real question, though, is whether or not the iPhone 7 measures up to the high-end competition. HTC’s eponymous HTC 10, the successor to last year’s HTC 9, sports an all-aluminum design and a quality pair of cameras, and there’s much more to it than meets the eye. It’s got a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, a high-resolution display, Hi-Fi speakers, and a fingerprint sensor, to name a few highlights.

That makes the buying decision all the tougher. Do the iPhone 7’s hardware upgrades outweigh the lack of headphone jack? Is the HTC 10’s middling battery life justified by its ultra-fast fingerprint sensor? We pit the two handsets head to head in order to find out.

Specs

iPhone 7

iphone-7-6-220x220

iPhone 7 Plus

iphone-6s-plus-photo-2-293x588-220x220

HTC 10

htc-final-comparison

Size  138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 in) 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in) 145.9 x 71.9 x 9 mm (5.74 x 2.83 x 0.35 in)
Weight 4.87 ounces (138 grams) 6.63 ounces (188 grams) 5.68 ounces (161 grams)
Screen 4.7-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen 5.5-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen 5.2-inch LCD Quad HD
Resolution 1,334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi) 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) 1140 x 2560 pixels (565 ppi)
OS iOS 10 iOS 10 Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Storage 32, 128, 256GB 32, 128, 256GB 32GB/64GB
MicroSD card slot No No Yes
NFC support Yes Yes Yes
Processor A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
RAM 2GB 3GB 4GB
Connectivity 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Camera 12MP rear, 7MP front Dual 12MP rear, 7MP front 12MP rear, 5MP front
Video 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 or 60fps 4K at 30fps, 720p at 120fps
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Touch ID Touch ID Yes
Other sensors Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
Water resistant Yes, IP67 rated Yes, IP67 rated Yes, IP53
Battery Up to 12 hours of internet use on LTE Up to 13 hours of internet use on LTE Up to 19 days of of stand-by time (4G), up to 27 hours of talk time (4G)
Charger Lightning Lightning USB Type-C
Marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Gold, rose gold, silver, black, jet black Gold, rose gold, silver, black, jet black Carbon gray, topaz gold, glacier silver, camellia red
Availability AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
Price $649 $729 $699
DT review 3.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Processing Power

The iPhone 7 is a powerhouse under the hood. Its processor, Apple’s 64-bit A10 Fusion chip, is a 64-bit quad-core model that’s supposedly 40 percent faster than the A9 in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and a whopping 120 times faster than the processor in the original iPhone. Graphics are significantly improved, too. Apple said the A10’s image chip is 50 percent faster than that in the A9.

Preliminary benchmarks seem to bear out those numbers. In the Geekbench 4 suite, the iPhone 7 crushes competition like the OnePlus 3, Samsung’s Galaxy S7, and LG’s G5 — all of which share the same processor as the HTC 10. In a widely publicized test result, the iPhone 7 scored 5,507 compared to the Galaxy S7’s 3,918 — a full 33 percent better. And in terms of graphics, it did just as well: 37,810 compared to the Galaxy S7 Edge’s score of 27,851.

But the A10 Fusion chip isn’t just more powerful than its predecessor. Apple said it’s dramatically more efficient, too, thanks to two dedicated co-processors designed for low-intensity tasks such as scrolling through social media feeds and refreshing email inboxes. A custom-designed performance controller determines when the faster cores kick in.

iPhone 7 A10 chip

Driving the HTC 10, meanwhile, is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820, a quad-core processor that’s zippy but lacks the power-saving cores present in the A10. That architectural quirk may work to its advantage in day-to-day usage, however, as our intrepid reviewer Malarie Gokey found it “lightning fast” in the course of testing.

The iPhone 7 has slightly less RAM than the HTC 10’s 4GB. Unofficial teardowns have revealed a 2GB module under the iPhone 7’s unibody hood, and a 3GB variant in the iPhone 7 Plus. The jury’s still out on how big of a difference that’ll make in day-to-day use, but the HTC 10, generally speaking, should be capable of juggling more tabs in Chrome, processing larger office documents, and handling larger open-world games.

Be that as it may, the iPhone’s processor appears to best the HTC 10’s silicon in synthetic tests. Its power-saving companion cores should also, in theory, help deliver superior battery life. For those reasons, we’re handing the iPhone 7 the win in the processing category.

Winner: iPhone 7 

Related: Apple’s waterproof Watch Series 2 also gets faster, brighter, and has GPS

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