How much do you care about sound?
If you were too busy getting down to the latest EDM club anthem to answer, HTC's latest mid-ranger might be the phone for you.
The Desire 10 Lifestyle puts sound ahead of everything - well, everything except price. It's a £250 (RM1355) phone that doesn’t quite pack the punch of top-end competitors, but it’s doubled down on speakers and squeezed in a high quality DAC that’ll play nicely with Hi-Res audio files.
Is that enough to look past a basic screen and entry-level performance, though? I’ve been rocking out to one for the past week to find out.
HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle design
Right out of the box, the Desire 10 Lifestyle divided opinions in the Stuff office - and not just over the ridiculously long name. We just couldn’t decide if it looked good, or if it had edged into tacky territory.
The culprit? The glinting gold trim around the edges of our Polar White review sample.
You could go for Stone Black, Royal Blue or Valentine Lux (whatever that is) instead, but they’ve all got more than their fair share of bling.
There’s an odd mix of matte and glossy polycarbonate plastics on the back and sides, too, but at least the metal frame underneath gives the Lifestyle some heft and rigidity.
Whether you like the look will boil down to personal taste, but either way, there’s no denying the Lifestyle is a bit of a brute. With touch-sensitive buttons below the screen and a speaker above, it feels a lot bigger than its 5.5in screen size suggests.
Despite the oversized dimensions, though, it’s missing a few features that should be par for the course in a 2016 mid-ranger.
Case in point: no fingerprint sensor. Much cheaper phones have managed to pack one in this year, so HTC has missed a trick by not doing the same.
At least it still ticks a few boxes, including the SD card slot. Kinda handy if you plan on filling your phone with massive Hi-res music files. There’s a headphone jack up top (whew) and microUSB charging at the bottom - no USB Type-C here.
HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle display
The 5.5in LCD panel should be perfect for watching video and gaming on the go, but we wish HTC had splashed out on a 1080p screen.
Instead, the Lifestyle is stuck lingering at 1280x720. Disappointing? Yes. Dealbreaker? No, not quite.
Unless you’ve got your nose to the screen, you won’t notice the pixel grid, and it still manages to pack plenty of detail into your pics and videos.
That lower resolution should take away some strain from the CPU and graphics chip when you’re playing games or watching video, too - hopefully giving battery life a bit of a boost.
It won’t rival any phone rocking an OLED screen for colour vibrancy or contrast, but YouTube videos still have a decent amount of punch.
It’s bright, too. I had no trouble using it in bright sunshine, and it helps make whites look super bright - handy when you’re reading web pages.
HTC Desire 10 Lifestyle audio
The display might only be so-so, but the Lifestyle doesn’t pull any punches in the audio department - whether you’re listening through headphones or the phone’s own speakers.
That’s because it’s packing Boomsound, with a tweeter up top and a woofer at the bottom, separating high and low frequency audio for music closer to your home Hi-Fi than something you’ve just pulled from your pocket. Each speaker has its own dedicated amp, too.
Yep, you really can crank up the volume and listen from the other side of the room - it’s impressively loud. OK, so that “subwoofer” isn’t going to worry the neighbours, but you’ll notice the improvement over most other phones.
HTC has added Dolby Audio, too, dynamically equalising your tunes through the 24-bit DAC. If you’ve got a pair of HTC headphones, it’ll automatically tweak the sound signature to match.
Before you groan at the thought of using the duff pair of bundled buds, though, know that the set you get with the Lifestyle are actually pretty damn good, providing much better audio quality than any other freebie pair.
There's a noticeable crispness to the Lifestyle that I didn't get on other phones, even with the same pair of headphones. Audiophiles might find it too far removed from that must-have neutral sound, but it did a great job adding some bite back into YouTube uploads of old 90s rave tape packs.