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HTC Bolt hands-on: a time-travelling smartphone

In the United States, the new HTC smartphone is called the Bolt and is actually only produced for Sprint, the local network operator. The HTC Bolt will also be available in Europe but, confusingly, under a different name: HTC 10 Evo. In our first hands-on review, we look into what is so revolutionary about the HTC Bolt.

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HTC 10 Evo release date and price

In the US, the HTC Bolt is already available through the Sprint network operator. The full price from Sprint without any payment plan is $600 (or you can opt for the two-year contract at $25 monthly and get the device included for free). HTC has not yet been able to tell us about the price and availability at other shops or network operators.

The HTC Bolt is available in two colors: Gunmetal Black and Glacier Silver. The Gunmetal Black is considerably darker than the Carbon Gray of the HTC 10. Whether this pleases you or not is, of course, a matter of personal taste.

HTC 10 Evo design and build quality

When unpacking the device for our hands-on review – which, unfortunately, we only a day to do – you get an immediate feeling that this HTC smartphone handles like a high-quality smartphone. The design corresponds to many features of the HTC 10. The HTC Bolt is bigger and heavier, and the back does not have the ergonomic rounded curves of the HTC 10. However, the back of the HTC Bolt is flat. The camera peeks a few millimeters out from the otherwise-flat housing.

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We are already familiar with the wide, beveled edge of the HTC 10. / © ANDROIDPIT

The outstanding design feature of the HTC 10, of course, is the very wide, beveled edge. The Bolt also has this distinct feature. If you hold the HTC Bolt in your hand for the first time, this edge seems sharp upon first impressions, but just like the smaller sister model from the HTC 10 series, this edge ensures a secure hold. With the larger dimensions of the HTC Bolt, a secure hold for the smartphone in your hand is not bad because ultimately, you need to be able to grip and use the smartphone with one hand.

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Headphones are now connected via the USB type-C connector. / © ANDROIDPIT

On the underside, a few things have switched places. The speaker has been moved from the right side on the HTC 10 to the left side on the HTC Bolt - but this doesn't seem to have any practical effect. The fact that the HTC Bolt does not have the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the upper edge makes it much more comfortable to use. On the HTC 10, there were two sharp corners on the wide, beveled edge, which was disruptive to some users. Since the jack has been dropped from the HTC Bolt and a USB type-C headphone is included, there are no sharp corners on the top of the case.

HTC 10 Evo display

For a smartphone with the dimensions of the HTC Bolt, the display is the dominant feature on the front as well as the main attraction for people. The display of the HTC Bolt occupies nearly 70 percent of the front of the smartphone and relies on the Super LCD 3 technology from the HTC One M9. For the HTC Bolt, however, the screen diagonal has been increased to 5.5 inches and the resolution increased to WQHD (2560 X 1440 pixels). 

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HTC Bolt: display technology from the One M9 with the resolution of the HTC 10. / © ANDROIDPIT

While HTC has taken a step backwards with the display panel compared to the 10 series, there was a generation jump in terms of screen protection from Gorilla Glass 3 to 5.  Whereas the HTC 10 without Bolt in the name still has Gorilla Glass 3, the Bolt now has Gorilla Glass 5. The newer version is designed to sustain falls of up to 1.60 meters, while the Gorilla Glass 3 in the HTC 10 was designed more for protection against scratches.

The LCD 3 panel of the HTC Bolt looks quite good and stable in the viewing angle. In our detailed review over the coming days, we will find out how good the HTC Bolt display is in everyday use. But we will refrain from conducting a drop test. 

HTC 10 Evo special features

HTC follows a trend with its Bolt phone: protection from ingression of water and dust according to its IP certification. Like the Pixel and Pixel XL, also built by HTC, the HTC Bolt is certified against the elements with a certification of IP57. In general terms, this means that the HTC Bolt is not completely dust-proof but it is protected from “damaging” amounts. This is indicated by the number “5” in IP57. The second digit indicates that the HTC Bolt is protected from temporary immersion in water. HTC protects against immersion of up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter.

HTC 10 Evo software

HTC delivers the Bolt with Android 7.0 Nougat and the manufacturer’s own Sense overlay. As with the HTC 10, at first glance the Sense overlay is hardly noticeable to the layman, and the amount of bloatware in our HTC Bolt was reduced to a minimum. However, Android Nougat experts will notice that HTC has already integrated night mode into HTC Sense, which was removed from Android 7.0 and has just returned to version 7.1 with the Google Pixel phones. For all further innovations in Android 7.0, we recommend the following article, noting all the innovations for Android Nougat, as additional reading.

HTC 10 Evo performance

In terms of performance, we were not expecting anything massive in terms of evolution with the HTC Bolt because instead of having this year's top processor, the HTC Bolt is stuck with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 from last year. The processor has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory, which can be extended by up to 2 TB by a microSD card. Even if the technical equipment in the HTC Bolt can’t keep up with its almost six-month-old namesake in terms of the CPU, GPU and RAM, that doesn’t mean it is lame. Sure, it won’t reach the performance of the HTC 10 but it will reach that of a Nexus 6P, since it is almost identical to it in this regard. The reputation has already been confirmed in an initial preliminary benchmark but a final statement and assessment of the performance will be available in a few days.

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Externally, you cannot see the 2015 hardware of the HTC Bolt. / © ANDROIDPIT

HTC 10 Evo audio

The evolution in terms of audio is strongly felt in the HTC Bolt. Away goes the legacy of the past – the analog 3.5 mm audio port – and in comes the digital connection via USB type-C and Bluetooth.

Thanks to a digital interface via the USB type-C, the HTC Bolt can now also process information from the headset and use it for the adaptive audio feature. This feature was already available in the HTC 10 with an analog connection, except that the audio profiles were set by a question-and-answer procedure. Thanks to the digital connection, HTC can now add a microphone in the provided headset, which can then be optimized for your auditory canal based on a series of noises. Unfortunately, we have yet to see how well this works because the headphones were missing from our review device and the smartphone was only in our editorial department for one day.

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Bye-bye 3.5 mm audio jack, there’s no space left for that on the HTC Bolt. / © ANDROIDPIT

As promising as sound with headphones is, I am preliminarily disappointed with the sound from the speaker. The reason for the preliminary disappointment is the lack of the stereo HTC BoomSound from the HTC 10. In the HTC Bolt, the Taiwanese manufacturer unfortunately only offers a mono speaker. What a shame.

HTC 10 Evo camera

The two cameras on the HTC Bolt are not identical to those in the HTC 10. The main camera has an image sensor with 16 megapixels but HTC has remained silent on the size of the sensor and the pixels. The same goes for information on the 8 MP front camera. 

What we learned from our hands-on with the HTC Bolt is that the main camera has an optical image stabilizer and the lens has an f/2.0 aperture. The camera focuses with the help of phase detection, while an additional laser autofocus is missing from the HTC Bolt.

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The camera on the HTC Bolt comes without laser autofocus but with 16 megapixels. / © ANDROIDPIT

We will intensively test the two cameras in our final review of the HTC Bolt. So far, we are assuming that photos and videos will be appealing but we can only address this adequately in our final review if the quality matches up with competitive smartphones in the same price segment.    

HTC 10 Evo battery

The energy storage capacity of the HTC Bolt is nearly 3,200 mAh and it can be charged quickly through Quick Charge 2.0. HTC offers a maximum talk time of up to 23 hours. According to the manufacturer, the standby time should be up to 20 days in 3G/4G networks. In our detailed review, we still have to assess how well the hardware, software and battery work together. If you just look at the pure technical data, the HTC Bolt and its battery is comparable to the Nexus 6P (3,450 mAh), the Google Pixel XL (3,450 mAh) or even a Huawei Mate 8 (4,000 mAh). Perhaps this picture will change with everyday use.

HTC 10 Evo technical specifications

Dimensions: 153.9 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
Weight: 174 g
Battery size: 3200 mAh
Screen size: 5.5 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2560 x 1440 pixels (534 ppi)
Front camera: 8 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: Dual-LED
Android version: 7.0 - Nougat
User interface: HTC Sense
RAM: 3 GB
Internal storage: 32 GB
Removable storage: microSD
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1

Early Verdict

At first glance, the HTC Bolt hardly holds anything that makes it a (r)evolutionary step from the HTC 10. The hardware is older, HTC Sense with Android 7.0 Nougat will also soon be found in the 10 series. What is then left as an added value? The larger display, the larger battery, the IP57 certification and the missing headphone jack. If you absolutely need these features, you will certainly enjoy the HTC Bolt. Subjectively, when I hold the HTC Bolt in my hand, I feel like I’m holding a time machine. Past, present and a pinch of future-looking features are united by HTC in the Bolt.

Whether the HTC Bolt still offers special advantages, we will find out in our final review, which we will bring to you in one week, at the latest.

HTC 10 Evo - where to buy?

 

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  • find other review and specs from my articel in cellphonesspecs.com

  • So far I am liking mine, especially with the $20/month and the $100 service credit and free shipping for getting it during, I guess, holidays promotion time. Also got a $100 sprint service credit and free shipping etc for getting my wife the iphone 7 lease upgrade form her 6S... So my ~$165'ish bill this month is a negative $58. Nice. (unlimited data)

    So far it's (Bolt) fast, nice camera, great screen. My PNY 128gb micro sd card sometimes throws up a notification that it was unmounted, but every time I check it's mounted. (doesn't happen often - might be the card)

    It is a little warm to the touch but not excessive.

    The charge time is great. If the water resistance is for real that is a great feature. The aluminum case is da bomb. The case lines are great. Ordering a screen protector due to the GG5 scratch possibility since they upped the shatter resistance. (there is always a trade-off between shatter and scratch resistance - it's a tug of war. I'm a wristwatch guy so I know - glass vs sapphire)

    So far I am loving this phone and see it as a real price/performance ratio WINNER.

    It's seems to be getting the Rodney Dangerfield no respect from brand conscious nerds and the online media. One of my Apple'ified colleagues shook his head and laughed at it because he is an Apple suck--- , er, fanboy.. I laughed right back at him.

    4G LTE speeds are pretty darn quick.

    Okay, then pass on a great phone.

  • Sprint / HTC please get us the latest update for 7.0 Thanks

  • I am with Sprint for almost 2 decades and lucky that here in PBC FL the coverage is great. I was also able to get the same discount and loyalty credit as the guys up top so the deal was incredible. I was having issues with sluggish and only a couple of freezes that I think I wound up fixing myself and I was able to avoid a factory reset. The phone is incredible and people should not listen to the BS about the processor being a year old. My HTC Sprint M8 HK runs an 801 processor and NEVER had a speed issue on ANYTHING. Must be those fanboys that are paid to keep Apple (On a Mac now) and Samsung going. I hope we get a software update soon to bring us up to the Google Pixie also made by HTC. BTW, even while I had the hiccups the call quality was excellent even inside my condo with re-enforced concrete walls on the intra-coastal. LOVE this phone.

  • Jay Hova 8 months ago Link to comment

    I also picked this up on black Friday for 300$ . I got the gunmetal black which I think looks great(more of a charcoal black) but I can see why they wouldn't call it that lol . So as some one who uses flagships I em still impressed with this device (didn't pick up a phone with the 810 due to have the iPhone 6s and note 5 with the exynos chip) so I was a bit worries of the overheating issue and possible lag . I have been using this with a thin clear case and have yet to experience over heating , I em a heavy user and even when playing Gameloft games , need for speed , NBA live and NBA jam, GTA San Andreas I have yet to experience uncomfortable heat or lag. Runs basic games as smooth as can be . Over all with Android 7.0 running the snapdragon 810 it has performed better then I expected . I am averaging anywhere between 4-5 hours of screen on time .HTC is currently giving away a free USB type c dongle if you register before the end of the year if you needed to use old headphones . The included headphones are better then any apple or Samsung headphones they include. I personally own a pair of JBL Bluetooth headphones and my car also has Bluetooth so it's been a Nome issue for me . Over all if you can get a good deal on this phone between 300-500 it's well worth it . At 600$ you might find a better buy . In terms of LTE speeds I have been able to get 78mbs down and 10mbs up which is pretty good here in Phoenix Arizona . Sorry for the long overview just wanted to give readers a point of view from a regular consumer.

  • Also picked this up on black Friday for 50% off... although I was not aware of the loyalty -- so I'll be checking into that.. thanks Robert. This phone has been a star so far -- although they said it does not have stereo sound, just a mono speaker -- that speaker puts out a surprising amount of sound for a smart-phone. Also extremely impressed by how fast the fingerprint reader is -- almost instantaneous -- major improvement from GS6 or even Iphone6s. On the negative side, the camera takes a few seconds to launch, longer than either previously mentioned phones --- although it works fine once launched. HTC did a great job not loading down stock android with sense -- I literally thought I was using stock with added blinkfeed on the left screen. Battery is average, phone does heat up a bit when in use... overall impression was good -- solid phone, great price (on Black Friday anyway).

  • 600 is a little steep in price. A got one on black Friday 50% off. And on top of that I got a Sprint loyalty and got a $10 a month credit. So that brings the Bolt for me to a total of $60! I am enjoying it very much and so far it's done everything I needed it to do without any problems.

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