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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  • Samus - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    The only worthwhile android device is a $100 android device like the Moto G Play or something. Why waste money on something that is going to lose all its value in a year to get virtually the same experience.

    I don't get the concept behind premium android devices. Just makes no sense. The most expensive one I've ever considered is perhaps the $300 OnePlus.
  • Murloc - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    I guess taking decent pictures or playing 3D games.

    I don't do that, so I don't buy high end phones.
  • Murloc - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    this isn't any different for iOS or WP devices btw
  • philehidiot - Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - link

    I can absolutely see your point. But conversely my girlfriend bought a cheap Android phone and regretted it massively. Granted it was a crap one but she ended up using my 3 year old flagship device which still works brilliantly. The difference is that now she will use her phone for a lot more, including navigation (which destroyed the battery on the old device and couldn't keep up), youtube (useful for reference when doing something on the car or cooking and you don't have a laptop handy) as well as the much better camera. When previously she wouldn't have bothered using the smartphone camera she now does because a) it's not shite and b) the high quality screen means it's actually worth looking at and sharing photos on the phone. The other thing to remember is that the cameras on many a high end smartphone are approaching what you'd get in many compact cameras (albeit without optical zoom) according to Which? magazine here in the UK. Whilst this is debateable by photography nuts it does mean for the average Joe we get a decent enough camera in our pockets all the time. Not only does this mean you always have a decent camera but it means you don't have to buy one - the savings of which you can add to your device budget. You also have the added advantage of your photos being backed up to the cloud and so if your phone does get nicked then you still have the data. This is not something most stand alone cameras can do as they don't have a mobile data connection.

    I can see your point but when you have a high end phone and use it for a while it's unlikely you'll want to go back. Myself I go through two whole battery charges a day on my M9 (multiple factors but screen on time is the biggest) and that's simply because I use it for reference during work, emails, reading and editing presentations (try watching a powerpoint presentation with attached videos on a low end device), youtube and web browsing at lunch time and a massive mix of things in between including reading in the pub which isn't exactly pleasant after a while on a low end screen. The other advantage to a high end phone is it's more likely to be supported with security and OS updates throughout the product's lifespan. Partly because it has the power to run the newer features (like split screen multitasking - something I'm looking forward to) and partly because that's what the extra profit margin paid towards. You'll also find that, as software is developed based on the average specs out in the wild, as the average phone spec rises you'll be left behind - this means that applications are updated (mandatorily), you'll often find them slowing down over time as they are aiming for higher and higher specifications over the couple of years you own the device.

    Whilst there are some damned good low-mid range Android phones out there, I feel that they are ultimately let down by screen, camera, R&D and long term support. I use my phone to such an extent that it's worth every penny to get something that works properly.

    Sorry for the long post but I thought you made such a good point about lower end devices that you deserved someone who does invest in a high end model justifying their reasons why.
  • darkich - Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - link

    ^ great post, with which I agree completely, aside from the part about understanding the point to which you replied to.

    I really doubt Samus has used a true high end Android device enough to warrant an credible opinion.

    And he's obviously missing the whole world-changing paradigm of computing that's happening before his eyes.
    I suggest him to go read the first and last paragraphs of the Note 7 review on the Verge..that guy simply nailed it.

    And that's exactly why myself, after using a Note 3 for three years as my main computer, camera, media and gaming device (still serves me amazingly well but the physical wear and tear started to show, the camera and GPU have become outdated, as well as the battery endurance), am now left waiting for the Note 7 re-release.
    There's just no alternative for me.
  • londedoganet - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    Oh, is that why every second comment on any article is "where's the HTC 10 review, Anandtech has sold its soul and become Apple shills, even Anand has gone to work for Apple"?
  • jfallen - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    All this in-depth review of the display but not once did you care to look at it though a set of polarized glasses...

    If you did you'll note that they polarized the display so that the screen appears black when holding the phone in the normal up-right position while wearing polarized sunnies... UNFORGIVABLE!!! design decision and that's why I don't one.

    Still rocking the HTC ONE M7 with it's unpolarised screen, MHC and dual front speakers. The original and still the best ;)
  • ToTTenTranz - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    I suffer from this issue with my HTC Butterfly 3 (exclusive japanese model that is pretty much what the M9 should've been), which seems to have this very same 5.2" 1440p screen.

    I have to say it really bothers me having to hold the phone in landscape if I'm wearing my polarized Oakleys.
  • Demi9OD - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    I use a matte screen protector and don't have any problems.
  • ChronoReverse - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    After I put on my TGSP (Orzly), the polarization issue was resolved for mine (Tianma panel)

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