Video Performance

Now that we've discussed how the HTC 10 does on still images we can go over how well it does for video recording. There have been a lot of cases where a smartphone can take great images but the video quality is often appalling and pretty much an afterthrought. In order to try and see how the HTC 10 does we can start by looking at the kind of encode settings that the HTC 10 uses.

HTC 10 Video Encode Settings
  Video Audio
1080p30 20 Mbps H.264 Baseline 192 Kbps, 48 KHz AAC
24 bit, 96 KHz FLAC
4K30 56 Mbps H.264 High Profile 192 Kbps, 48 KHz AAC
24 bit, 96 KHz FLAC
720p120 24 Mbps H.264 Baseline 192 Kbps, 48 KHz AAC

Right off the bat things are a little concerning here. For some reason HTC is using AVC Baseline for encode in 1080p30 and 1080p60 is absent altogether. I'm not sure why this is but really neither of those things should be the case. 720p120 also uses AVC Baseline which really shouldn't be the case. Interestingly enough, HTC has also included the ability to record video with FLAC audio which results in an mkv file output instead of an mp4 but as far as I can tell nothing else seems to change as far as video encode settings go.

1080p30 Video

In 1080p30 video HTC manages to pull off an interesting trick, which is that their video is actually properly stabilized instead of whatever is going on with the Galaxy S7 and G5. I would say that the color is also a little more accurate from what I saw at the time of recording but without a proper ColorChecker chart I can't really prove this assertion. At this point the HTC 10 and OnePlus 3 both have strange issues with artifacting around the sky that makes me wonder whether the Snapdragon 820 has some sort of issue with the encode blocks leading to such poor quality. Audio quality with FLAC is just clearly superior here though.

4K30 Video

In 4K30 the HTC 10 unfortunately loses the software stabilization so the result is basically just as shaky as the Galaxy S7 and by extension the Note7. Even using AVC High profile I can still see strange artifacts in the sky which is really strange. Audio capture continues to be better as far as suppressing wind noise goes than Galaxy S7, likely due to the use of dual level microphones similar to what we saw in the One M7. I would say color rendition is more accurate here as well but this is a subjective observation. The iPhones 6s continues to be one of the best phones for 4K30 capture almost entirely because it actually has the ISP throughput to process 4K video properly.

Slow Motion Video

In 720p120 the HTC 10 really starts to show its weakness. I suspect we're dealing with some kind of sensor limitation here because 4K30 is possible but for some reason 720p240 isn't. Color rendition is mildly cooler here as well relative to the Galaxy S7 but detail isn't great here and obviously it isn't going to be able to capture motion as well as anything with 240 FPS capture. The iPhone 6s would obviously beat it here by virtue of its 1080p120 capture.

Overall, video capture is somewhat disappointing on the HTC 10. It definitely isn't unusable and the FLAC audio is a compelling addition along with proper 1080p30 video stabilization, but things like poor slow motion capture and some strange artifacting and poor encode profiles mar the experience. Relative to something like the Galaxy S7 I would say that 1080p30 and 4K30 capture are clearly superior, but 720p120 and the utter lack of 1080p60 video means that depending upon what you use the camera for the HTC 10 can end up falling short of the competition. 720p240, 1080p60 for next year as well as AVC High Profile across the board would be great to see and would resolve a lot of the issues here.

Looking at the camera overall, I think the HTC 10 is very much the equal of the Galaxy S7 as far as camera goes. The Galaxy S7 and Note7 have incredible user experience due to the sheer speed of capture and focus, but the image quality, oil painting-esque processing, and somewhat off color rendition in a lot of cases means that the HTC 10 can give you a better result if you can tap to focus properly and possibly adjust the exposure metering. It definitely could use some work to clean up the details and loose ends, but HTC has finally shipped a camera that they can be proud of and lives up to the promise of the marketing and specs.

Still Image Performance Software UX: HTC Sense
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  • SomeDude2552 - Sunday, September 25, 2016 - link

    I'm starting to think that you are retarded, pull yourself togheter.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    There are also many of us that wait 6-8 moths after a phone releases before buying it, both to maximize the use of a previous phone and to let all the bugs get worked out before buying.
  • bigboxes - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

  • jospoortvliet - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    Another one here. I wait until prices have become reasonable.
  • JoshHo - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    Dead or not, there seems to be a lot of demand for a review of one even at this point in the lifecycle. It hasn't taken a lot of time away from any other reviews in the pipeline as much of this was written shortly after GS7 part 2.
  • fanofanand - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    Thank you for finishing this and getting it out there Josh, I know you have had a lot of demands placed on you and this will at least silence a portion of the complaints.
  • MrSpadge - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    "... and this will at least silence a portion of the complaints"

    Not sure about this. I've got the impression some people nowadays just go to a random review, state their desinterest in it and demand a review of something else. I won't mind being proven wrong, though.
  • MrSpadge - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    (I mean: in this case silencing wouldn't work as they'd soon switch to demanding the next review of some other phone)
  • ToTTenTranz - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    Same here. I know I was one of the people constantly nagging AT for this, so I'm really grateful.
  • zeeBomb - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    Thanks man for everything. The demand for thisreview was too much, and now people are complaining? People logic

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