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First look: The HTC 10 could be a strong smartphone contender

The wraps finally came off the long-rumored new flagship phone from HTC this morning. The HTC 10 looks to be a strong contender in a competitive market, emphasizing build quality and the multimedia functions that have always been HTC's signature.

The HTC 10 loses its predecessors' confusing naming conventions -- no more "One A9" -- and its aping of iPhone design. This new phone is sculpted out of milled aluminum, with a solid and pleasing heft and a curved back with a chamfered angle that makes it easy to hold.

Screen size is 5.2 in. diagonal; the phone is roughly a tenth of an inch longer and wider than a Samsung Galaxy S7 and a quarter inch longer and wider than an iPhone 6S. It's heavier than other flagships: 5.7 oz. to the iPhone's 5.04 oz. and the S7's 5.4 oz.

Other than physical design, HTC makes its stand with image-stabilized cameras front and back -- an industry first -- and software that lets you adjust for the frequency response curve of your headphones and your hearing.

My first impressions of the HTC 10 are good ones. The curved back goes counter to the current fashion of flat candy-bar design (including previous phones from HTC), and it's the right call. Build quality is superb; the thing feels luxurious. Audio profiles, which let you create different response curves for different headphones, may sound at first like a gimmick -- however, it's anything but. Separate speakers for higher and lower frequencies put out a surprising amount of sound.

In the "little things mean a lot" department, the power switch on the HTC 10 is textured so you can feel more easily which is the volume switch and which is power. Why don't more manufacturers do that?

The unlocked version of the HTC 10 will be shipping directly from HTC in early May; the $700 phone is now available for pre-order. The phone will also be available from the major wireless providers.

There looks to be a lot to like about the HTC 10. We'll have a full review in a few days, after we get a chance to put it through its paces.

IDG Insider

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