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HTC One M9 (Hima) rumor roundup (Update: 1/28)

Posted by wicked January - 28 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

htc one m8 outdoors aa (8 of 14)

Update January 28: We’ve added the most recent details on the M9, including a credible render shared by @evleaks.

Original post:

As we’re heading towards the Mobile World Congress in early March, more and more reports and rumors about the HTC One (M9) emerge. It’s likely that the M9 will battle Samsung’s latest Galaxy S release for the MWC spotlight, and we can’t wait to see what the two phone makers have in store for us.

Following a few months of vague and unreliable reports on HTC One (M9) (aka HTC Hima), we’re now beginning to see a slew of credible reports that give us a good idea of what to expect. We’ve already learned that HTC will introduce a wearable along the M9 on March 1, but the latest gossip points to a larger device codenamed Hima Ultra coming at the same time.

As we learn more about these devices, we’ll update our HTC One M9/Hima rumor roundup with the latest info. Let’s kick it!

DESIGN

Hima (M9) should feature similar design language to its predecessors.

Hima (M9) should feature similar design language to its predecessors

Given how the One has evolved from the M7 and M8, we imagine the next-gen flagship will retain a similar look and feel when compared to its predecessors, though we expect there will be at least some minor refinements to HTC design’s language.

There have been whispers that HTC will further improve the build quality by switching to a tougher aluminum alloy when compared to the M7 and M8, but really there’s few concrete details about how it will differ. The device is also said to be launching in Gray, Silver, Gold or Gunmetal Gold color choices.

If well-known leaker Upleaks proves correct, we can tell you the size of the phone will be quite similar to the One M8 at 144.3 x 69.4 x 9.56mm. For those wondering, the M8 came in at 146.4 x 70.6 x 9.4mm.

One set of images that recently leaked appear to show a device with very thin lateral screen bezels, but the same large bezel at the bottom, with the HTC logo. It’s possible that the images actually show a prototype or even a Hima hidden in a M8 chassis in order to conceal it. One interesting feature is the large camera module on the back, but it remains to be seen whether this will make it to the final design or not.

HTC-One-M9-2015-Proto2 nowhereelse.fr

HTC-One-M9-2015-Proto1 nowhereelse.fr

According to a HTC Source report, the images above actually show a decoy planted by HTC to send us down the wrong path. Furthermore, trusted leaker @evleaks returned from his retirement to reveal what he claims is a render of both the One (M9) Hima and the Hima Ultra, a possible successor to the One Max that features a fingerprint sensor on its front.

m9-htc

Both device feature top to bottom glass fronts, instead of the panels hosting the grilles of the BoomSound speakers. The speakers themselves are still present, but they are partially covered by the front glass, save for narrow slits at the top and bottom. The HTC logo, which used to be placed on the large bezel at the bottom of the display has been moved down, and the bezel itself is gone. Overall, this design means the One M9 will be more compact than its predecessor, at the expense of sound loudness.

Bloomberg recently reported that the One M9/Hima will look a lot like the M8 in terms of design and size, keeping the same distinctive and sleek look of the One series.

DISPLAY

At least when it comes to size and res, the One M9 should provide a similar experience to the M8.

At least when it comes to size and res, the One M9 should provide a similar experience to the M8

Some of the early rumors associated with the HTC One M9 claimed the phone would have a larger 5.5-inch display, but the most recent rumors have instead pointed towards a more modest 5-inch 1080p display. While not as impressive as the QHD resolutions adopted by some of 2014’s flagship products, the One M9 (Hima) appears to have a much smaller display than most of the phones that have went with QHD, and so the difference in resolution shouldn’t be that noticeable.

The One M9 Max/Hima Ultra appears to feature a 5.5-inch display, though that’s just an estimation based on the render above.

HTC ONE M9 SPECS

Again early HTC One M9 rumors suggested the device wouldn’t rock the boat when it came to specs, as it was believed to carry a relatively modest Snapdragon 805 chipset. More recently, more than one rumor has suggested that this isn’t really the case and that the One M9 will actually pack a Snapdragon 810 with 3GB RAM. Considering the fact that the LG G Flex 2 is launching with this chipset, we can’t say we’d be too surprised. Battery life is also expected to make a minor jump upwards, going from the 2600 mAh battery in the M8 to a 2840 mAh battery. As always, except the battery to be non-removable.

The Bloomberg report we mentioned above also says the HTC One M9/Hima will feature a Snapdragon 810 processor, and a report published on Forbes points to the same direction.

As for other sensors? It’s hard to say what HTC will or won’t bring to the table. With more flagships bringing stuff like heart rate monitors and fingerprint scanners to the mix, it’s possible HTC will follow suit. The M7 and M8 didn’t pack these extras, but it is worth mentioning that the HTC One Max did in fact offer a fingerprint reader upon its debut. It looks like the Hima Ultra will keep the fingerprint sensor, though many users could find its shape and placement questionable.

CAMERA

Ultrapixels and Duo likely won't see a return on the rear of the Hima (M9).

Ultrapixels and Duo likely won’t see a return on the rear of the Hima (M9)

HTC has come under a lot of flack for its Ultrapixel camera, but this time around HTC is finally switching things up a bit. Reportedly, the phone will offer a 20.7MP rear facing camera, though the exact sensor isn’t known just yet. On the front, reports say there will either be a 13MP shooter or a 4MP UltraPixel camera — with the former being similar to the Desire Eye’s setup and the latter akin to the new Desire 826.

The concept render below shows what we can expect from the One M9. Rumors point towards the M9 Max keeping the Duo Camera found on the M8, but we’ll need more conclusive proof in this area.

On the camera app side, expect to see HTC’s Eye Experience suite of software improvements, that will make all your images, but especially your selfies, much better.

 

SOUND QUALITY

One thing HTC is known for is its sound quality, but that could change a bit with the One M9 because of the aforementioned change in design of the BoomSound speakers. While a drop in loudness is to be expected, the smaller chambers could also mean the sound is less rich than on the M8, unless HTC managed to mitigate the issue.

In the past, Beats has powered the sound tech behind the One series, but according to at least a few early reports, HTC may be teaming up with Bose this time around. The device is said to feature Dolby 5.1 surround technology integration.

SOFTWARE FEATURES

Not a lot of rumors have focused on what exactly might be different with the HTC One M9 (Hima) software, though you can expect it to run Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense 7 on top. One report mentioned advanced “location services” without providing other details. Given that HTC is expected to release a smartwatch along the M9/Hima, it’s likely that there will be at least some basic customization to take advantage of the wearable device. No other news on special software features or improvements just yet, though we’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we learn more.

RELEASE DATE

This week, HTC sent out invites for a press event taking place in Barcelona on March 1, the day before the official opening of MWC. While the M9/Hima wasn’t mentioned or hinted at, we’re positive we will get to see it then, alongside a wearable companion. As for the actual availability date, if all goes well, HTC should make the new flagship available with a few weeks from its official introduction.

RETURN OF THE MAX SERIES?

htc-one-max-silver

The original One Max

A bit earlier in this post we said that rumors originally claimed the One M9 would offer a 5.5-inch display, only for later reports to suggest the actual size will just be 5-inches. As it turns out, the 5.5-inch claim may have some merit, though it applies to the upcoming “Max”-sized model and not the standard M9.

The One Max series has pretty much be a one-off release for HTC. Tons of reports surfaced about an alleged One M8 Max (aka One Prime) last year, though nothing ever became of these rumors. Now the latest claim is that the One M9 Max, aka the HTC Hima Ultra, will debut with a bigger 5.5-inch QHD display that is “bezel free” in design, allowing for the phone’s footprint to be as small as possible.

Allegedly the phone will have the same Snapdragon 810 processor and 3GB RAM as its littler brother, the One M9. In fact, the only major difference in specs will be the display size.

WRAP UP

One M7 and One M8

One M7 and One M8

Just like the Galaxy S6, all we have is a semi-fuzzy image of what to expect from HTC’s One M9 at this point. That said, most of the Hima/One M9 rumors are consistent in regards to the fact that the phone won’t see huge changes in design language and, like the M8, will simply further refine the HTC One formula, instead of trying to reinvent it.

What do you hope to see from the HTC One M9 (aka Hima)? Let us know in the comments. Also be sure to participate in our poll!

Or Maybe This is Actually the New HTC One (M9)? Please, Please be It.

Posted by Kellex January - 28 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

What if all of those HTC One (M9) “Hima” leaks from the past week were nothing but decoys, dev units in shells made to look like last year’s One (M8) in order to throw off the scent of the hunt? If the retired @evleaks and his new leak have anything to say about it, then I would guess that’s exactly what we saw. In a picture posted to Twitter this morning that lines up the past handful of HTC flagships, along with the tag “Old habits die hard… ,” Evan may have just given us the first real image of the HTC One (M9) and its bigger brother, rumored to be called the One (M9) Plus or One (M9) Ultra or “Hima” Ultra. 

Let’s start first with the One (M9), which is pictured below on the left.

I think it’s pretty obvious, after looking at the picture here and then back at the previous set of supposed leaks, that those leaks, assuming they were real, were really phones tucked into shells made to look like the (M8). Something just seems so off about them, with multi-colored shell/front combos, and jagged, poorly made edges. And then you look at this render, and it certainly seems as if this phone could fit inside that old body.

So what are we looking at? The image is small (we blew it up some), but shows a metal-backed body, BoomSound speakers tucked into the top and bottom edges of the phone (think Nexus 9 style), an edge-to-edge display, centered front-facing camera, and…wait for it…seriously, wait for it…NO BLACK HTC BAR. When I wrote up my “5 ways that HTC could make the phone of the year,” I talked specifically about this area and that it needed to be gone in order to help shrink down the height of the phone. If this is real, then oh my.

The phone looks great. Now, we just need confirmation that it isn’t so damn slippery, that HTC tossed in a real camera in the back, and that the power button has been moved to the side. Tick off those boxes, and HTC, you have done it.

htc one m9 hima

As for the One (M9) Plus (one the right), which is a less official name than “One (M9),” this device is rumored to be a Galaxy Note-esque, oversized phone. Previous leaks showed a phone that was massive and with a fingerprint scanner, two things we are seeing here. We have side button placements, a similar all-metal body to the One (M9), a front-centered camera with odd ring around it, dual massive BoomSound speakers, and the return of the HTC black bar.

Well, what are your thoughts now? We still have over a month to go until these phones are unveiled, but I get the feeling we are about to learn a whole lot more.

Via:  @evleaks

Or Maybe This is Actually the New HTC One (M9)? Please, Please be It. is a post from: Droid Life

Lollipop is rolling out to the HTC One (M8) in Europe

Posted by wicked January - 28 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

one-m8-4

Last summer, HTC promised the One (M8) would be updated to Android L within 90 days of the release of the L source code to HTC. That term expires on February 3, and it looks that HTC will hold its promise, at least for users of One (M8) in Europe.

HTC communications executive Jeff Gordon teased the release of Lollipop to European variants of the M8 on Twitter:

Several users on Twitter and Reddit are confirming the arrival of the OTA update in Europe, as well as the Middle East. According to noted HTC ROM developer and leaker LlabTooFeR, the updated software version is 4.16.401.10 and the update weighs in at 780MB.

htc m8 lollipop Michal Foltak

HTC rolled out Lollipop to the developer and unlocked versions of the One (M8) earlier this month, but now the rollout is going out to carrier versions. As always, these rollouts go out in waves, and depending on your carrier (and luck), it may take a while before the OTA hits your phone. But it doesn’t hurt checking manually from the About Phone section.

There aren’t many visual changes, but core features like lockscreen notifications, floating notifications, the redesigned notification dropdown, and the new recent activities interface are all present.

Have you received the OTA on your One M8?

HTC Hima image ‘leaks’ possible decoys

Posted by wicked January - 27 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

It appears HTC has been fooling us all along: a source familiar with the ongoing development of the company’s upcoming take on its HTC One flagship device has reportedly said that images leaked earlier this week are no more than decoys meant to throw nosy snoops off the trail. This is not a weird thing to do in the secret world of device development, with Apple most (in)famous for their paranoia regarding leaks of their new devices.

The HTC-inclined tech blog “HTC SOURCE” points out via a trusted source of theirs that the leaked images of the widely-anticipated HTC One M9, codenamed “Hima,” do not necessarily reflect the final product. The leaked pictures suggest the Hima shares a design aesthetic similar to its predecessor, the HTC One M8, leaving not a few enthusiasts puzzled. But then again, industry watchers are also quick to point out that the M8 won several design awards, which might be the reason why HTC would be keeping it, if at all.

HTC-One-M9-820x420

However, the aforementioned source says that HTC is merely fooling everyone, like it did two years ago. Back then, the company released pictures of the M7 in development using replacement parts, renderings, and working test units and successfully managed to keep its true design away from the public until the actual launch. If this is true in this case, it would be reasonable to expect the Hima to look just a tad bit different from the HTC One M8. Initial reports seem to indicate that the M9 would probably go for an edge-to-edge glass front, with the BoomSound speaker slits aligned with the top and bottom edges. It is also reported that the front camera’s design and placing will be similar to the HTC Desire 826, with the lens positioned centrally above the display screen.

That HTC would hide the Hima in the shell of an M8-looking design would probably not be a surprise to anyone. As for the other details that have made us drool—a 5-inch, full HD 1080p display, powered by a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor running on Sense 7 or Android 5.0 Lollipop, and Cat6 LTE speed—we do sincerely hope that they are true. Nevermind if the Hima is actually hiding as of this time.

SOURCE: HTC Source

[tiimeline]

DIY mod for hard-to-press Nexus 9 buttons now available

Posted by wicked January - 27 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

We’ll be honest: We love the HTC Nexus 9. We’ve raved about it before — how sleek and elegant it looks, about its 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor with dual Denver cores running at 2.3GHz, and that vibrant 8.9-inch display (2048×1536 pixel resolution). Now if only those really iffy volume and power buttons would have an easy fix. It turns out, there might just be hope for us and the rest of the tablet world who use Google’s premier tablet.

Users of the Nexus 9—specifically the early versions—have complained of difficulties with the volume and power rockers on this otherwise impressive device, noting that these buttons were quite hard to press and provided hardly any feedback to work with. Up until now, the solution had been to buy a later release of the Nexus 9, where the problem apparently had been corrected by HTC.

nexus_9_rocker

Thanks to XDA member “lfrst05″, there’s no more reason to dispose your early release Nexus 9 prematurely, as there is now a way to fix those troublesome buttons. The ingenious modder has noted that the volume and power rockers on his unit were not raised high enough above the surface of the body and speculated that this might have been a production error.

This DIY mod for the Nexus 9 is relatively simple, needing only a small Phillips screwdriver, a pair of tweezers, and a piece of paper—along with nerves of steel and steady hands, as, with any modification, this has the potential for disaster if you can’t figure out what you’re doing. If you really want to improve the performance of your Nexus 9 on your own, you can check out the official XDA forum thread (see source link below) for the mod and try for yourself.

SOURCE: XDA

AT&T is now rolling out the Eye Experience update for the HTC One (M8)

Posted by wicked January - 26 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

HTC_One_M8_Back_Duo_Camera_TA_02

As promised last week by Mo Versi, Vice President of Product Management at HTC, AT&T has now started pushing out the long-awaited Eye Experience update for all its carrier-branded variants of the One (M8) located in the United States. The upgrade brings the latest build of KitKat, in addition to a multitude of new features, bug fixes and stability improvements.

Hit the break for the full changelog.

  • Enables HD Voice
  • Updates Android OS to Android 4.4.4
  • Security enhancement
  • Bluetooth enhancement
  • Adds AMBS Cloud Messaging Integration
  • Adds Copy and Paste camera feature
  • Adds Usage Manager App
  • Improves battery performance
  • Updates AT&T Ready2Go
  • Updates Visual Voicemail

To initiate the upgrade manually, make sure you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. Then, from the home screen, press the Menu key, followed by Settings. Scroll to the bottom and tap ‘About Device’, followed by ‘Software Update and ‘Update Now’.

Source: AT&T

Come comment on this article: AT&T is now rolling out the Eye Experience update for the HTC One (M8)

Android Community Weekly Digest: Jan. 25, 2015

Posted by wicked January - 26 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

It’s been quite a start to the year, with CES kicking off 2015. Things are relatively more quiet now in the mobile world, the calm before the storm that will be MWC 2015. For this week, we turn our attention to some existing and upcoming accessories for your mobile devices, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few juicy tidbits about devices and businesses. Welcome to this year’s first Android Community’s Weekly Digest, covering the period from January 19 to January 25, 2015.

News

January marks the start of a new year, and naturally we have to take a look back at the previous one. AnTuTu compiled a few numbers from 2014, which has a few interesting revelations. Despite its size, Chinese startup OnePlus still managed to make a dent in the market, entering the top 10 most popular devices. And despite worries about its financial performance, Samsung still reigns the charts. That said, Chinese OEMs are really heating up, giving more established and larger companies a good run for their money.

Top-Popular-Android-Smartphones-2014-AnTuTu-

And while January usually marks the start of something new, we are also saying goodbye to some things this year. Google is graduating its Glass Explorer program and removing the smart eyewear from its store shelves. And although the tech giant assures that it isn’t the end yet, some are already considering Glass dead. And it might not be the only one out the door either. Google almost silently removed the HTC One M8 Google Play Edition from its listings, removing the last GPE device from Google Play Store, raising questions about the device line’s future.

Out with the old and in with the new, as they say. And as early as now, we’re getting quite a number of them, some from CES 2015 alone. Catching up with the crowd is HP, who has just revealed a three new tablets designed for work. The most notable feature of these tablets, however, are the styluses that make use of Qualcomm’s fancy new ultrasound pen technology. But perhaps the star surprise of the past two weeks is the Xiaomi Mi Note and its even more premium sibling the Mi Note Pro, mixing Xiaomi’s usual quality specs with a price tag to die for.

MWC 2015 rumors

With the Mobile World Congress just a month away, we’re hunkering down on the rumors of what’s hot and what’s not. HTC’s upcoming flagship is the center of much attraction and speculation, not to mention leaks of all kinds and sizes. Leaked photos of what is allegedly the One M9, known in rumors as the HTC Hima, reveal a design that is almost totally similar to the One M8. It is the insides that count, as the say, and this is where things get a bit interesting. While it will be HTC’s nominal flagship, and indeed the 20.7 megapixel Sony rear camera sensor and UltraPixel front camera might attest to that, rumor has it that a separate One M9 Plus, known as the Hima_Ultra elsewhere, will have some additional features, like a fingerprint scanner and a DuoCamera setup.

htcOneM9Version2-600x346-600x346

And as far as rumors go, word on the Web is that Samsung is ditching Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 for its own Exynos chip in the highly anticipated Galaxy S6. The reason? Samsung’s tests supposedly showed that Qualcomm’s 64-bit octa-core chip overheats enough for the Korean manufacturer to seek out a different solution. Rival LG, who is using the exact same chip for its G Flex 2 out in Korea this week, claims it has not had such problems at all.

Time to Accessorize!

Now we come to last week’s highlight. While most of our attention are, naturally, lavished on mobile devices themselves, it is only fair to give the supporting cast their share of the spotlight. From battery packs to item locators to TV tuners, we have a variety of trinkets to fill your fancy and your imagination.

For your smartphone’s battery needs, we’ve seen Ampere, a wireless charging sleeve that can juice up your phone even while it rests inside your bag or pocket, no wires required. Upp, on the other hand, offers up more juice for a price and with a bit of eccentricity on the side, utilizing hydrogen cells to power up your smartphone. And speaking of eccentric accessories, the Exodrive Kickstarter wants to solve the problem of having no microSD card slots by putting the slot inside the phone’s case instead.

For those with a more musical bent, IK Multimedia is finally giving Android users a sliver of hope. In addition to the iRig 2 announced at CES 2015, the outfit is now announcing the iRig UA and an iRig Mic Studio, both compatible with our favorite mobile platform. If you prefer to consume media rather than create it, D-Link has jsut made available a micro USB tuner dongle for Android.

For those who are bit trigger happy for that camera button, we also have some gadgets for you. Vany takes on the idea inspired by the Lenovo VIBE Xtension Flash and tries to create an LED ring light that will brighten up your selfies. For more serious photographers, the Seek XR thermal camera can help you hone in on a subject even in the darkest of nights.

vany-2-600x400

If you constantly lose your umbrella, then the Kisha “smart umbrella” might be for you. Harnessing the power of Bluetooth, plus a very smart mobile app, Kisha will ensure that you won’t forget your umbrella in public places or forget to take them with you on rainy days. The more adventurous mobile user might be a bit more interested in the KiiTAG2 which pretty much lives up to its name of being a digital swiss army knife.

Perhaps the most curious accessory of all isn’t actually an accessory but a SIM card. Trying to capitalize on the growing preference of instant messaging over traditional SMS, WhatSim converts any smartphone into a device dedicated to chatting over WhatsApp. For only $10 a year, you are guaranteed untethered WhatsApp coverage across 150 countries, but probably nothing else beyond that.

WhatSim is Here! The First WhatsApp Sim That Makes You Chat With WhatsApp Absolutely Free of Charge and With No Limits. Even Without Wi-Fi Connection

Have a favorite smarpthone or tablet accessory in mind? Hit the comments below and let the community know! We might even discover some hidden treasure that will augment or even considerably change our smartphone lifestyle in a snap.

HTC to Depart Slightly from Past Flagship Designs

Posted by wicked January - 26 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

Screenshot-2015-01-22-at-23.23.56HTC really hit a homerun with its HTC One design in 2013, and followed it up with another winner, the HTC One M8, in 2014. Although the design of both devices is gorgeous, some people are wondering if it might be getting a bit repetitive. These worries were exacerbated by news this week that HTC would be changing very little between its 2014 M8 model and its upcoming 2015 M9 model. This information, however, has proven to be false.

The M9, or Hima, will have some changes to the back of the device, with only one lens peeking out from its unibody, as opposed to two like the M8. However, the real changes will be on the front. The front camera should be larger and placed in the center of the top of the device, along with one of the two BoomSound speakers, the other of which will be on the bottom of the device. The bezels will be shrunk as well, with the glass panel stretching from the left side of the screen to the right.

These are just a few changes to the design, but more are sure to come as we learn more about the HTC One M9. HTC is historically very good at hiding crucial details, so we may have to be patient. What do you think about these changes? Are you looking for something more, or will this satisfy the design critic inside you? Leave a comment below, and share your opinion!

Source: HTC Source

Come comment on this article: HTC to Depart Slightly from Past Flagship Designs

Android Authority this week

Posted by wicked January - 25 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

Sonim XP7-29

This week was all about rumors, as a steady stream of details about Samsung’s and HTC’s next flagships trickled out. We have a good idea of what to expect from the One M9/Hima, with key details including a 20MP camera, larger battery, and an iterative design. Samsung did a little better at keeping the Galaxy S6 under wraps, but we still got a few juicy tidbits about the phone’s design and specifications. In other news, the Snapdragon 810 was in the spotlight, WhatsApp launched its first desktop client and banned 3rd party clients, Google’s plan to become a carrier leaked, and Cyanogen’s CEO revealed his vision of a Google-free operating system.

Inside AA HQ

It was a quiet week behind the scenes at AA HQ, with few public-facing changes, but quite a lot of work going on in the background. We’ve made some changes to the AA homepage, replacing the “hero menu” with a carousel showcasing our most recent videos. Our YouTube team is doing such a great job churning out great videos, that we feel this change will bring you more value in the long run.

We’re also ramping up our sister sites SoundGuys.com and TabTimes.com, with more news coverage and featured pieces, and adding some team members to bring you great content. We still have a long way to go with these properties, but we’re confident we can make them reference websites in their respective niches, just like AA is your source for all things Android.

Today, we’re giving out a Nexus 6 in our weekly sweepstakes! Throw your name in the hat here. Good luck!

nexus 6 first impressions (3 of 21)

Friday Debate podcast

The stuff you shouldn’t miss

Here are some interesting posts for your Sunday reading:

htc one m8 outdoors aa (12 of 14)

Top news of the week

And here are the top news in the Android world this week:

HTC One M9 rumors

Snapdragon overheating 

Whatsapp news

Galaxy S6 rumors

samsung galaxy note edge review aa (10 of 26)

Google going wireless

Cyanogen’s fighting words

 cyanogen kirt mcmaster steve kondik

Sound off

We always want to hear your feedback. Whether it’s criticism or praise, feel free to tell us what you think about Android Authority’s content, design, and community. Comment here or get in touch with us on our social channels:

Happy Sunday!

Opinion: For HTC, the only way is up

Posted by wicked January - 24 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

htc one m8 outdoors aa (12 of 14)

HTC’s story is one of ups and downs. Since its founding in 1997, the company made the jump from contract manufacturing (think today’s Foxconn) to successfully selling devices under its own brand. In the 2000s, HTC quickly climbed to the top of the mobile industry, thanks in part to an early bet on Android. But the good times didn’t last – market share, profits, prestige… it all went away, and HTC found itself struggling to stay relevant, pushed in a corner by Apple, and especially Samsung.

In the past two years, HTC has been as down as a company can be without closing down or selling out. “We’ve been through hell, but we survived,” an executive told us during one of the company’s regular Frequencies meetups. But can HTC do more than just survive? Can it thrive again?

We’ve been through hell, but we survived”

If you believe HTC’s communication head Jeff Gordon, 2015 will be a great year for the Taiwanese company, thanks to the “best ever” product lineup and some “huge surprises.” Yes, 2014 was supposed to be a “positive” year too, and while cutting costs and increasing revenue in Q4 were positive developments, last year wasn’t what HTC had hoped for. With that said, 2015 shapes up to be different. March 1, the day the new One is set to launch, could be the day HTC begins its symbolic comeback.

htc hima m9 invite

HTC is promising Utopia for its MWC 2015 event

On the financial side, HTC already managed to stabilize by streamlining its portfolio, outsourcing some of its production, and other cost cutting measures. While painful, these measures allowed HTC to turn a (tiny) profit in the last three quarters of 2014. More importantly, after three years of falling revenue, HTC managed to increase its quarterly sales in Q4 2014. We’ll see if the trend continues in Q1 2015, but signs are positive.

Financial health is a reflection of a company’s product strength, and on this front as well, HTC seems to be going steady. The One flagship series isn’t a hot seller, but HTC seems to have carved a niche for itself, with its focus on design and premium build. Mind share is strong, and when people talk about attractive phones, the M8 comes up inevitably. Perhaps more important than the top of the line, the mid-range is strong as well. HTC calls phones like the Desire Eye and the Desire 820 “premium mid-range” and it has a point – these are some of the best phones you can get without spending flagship money. And the strength extends down-range, even though HTC hasn’t really tried to compete in the budget category.

htc desire eye review aa (3 of 27)

The HTC Desire Eye caters to the selfie lovers

More reasons to be optimistic are in the pipeline. Due at MWC in Barcelona, the One M9/Hima will bring a few tweaks to the series’ iconic design, and a big upgrade in a key area – camera. Multiple reports point toward a 20MP camera – HTC is done with the UltraPixel experiment and with the gimmicky depth sensor found on the M8. That’s great news – the inconsistent camera experience was one of the reasons the One (M8) only scored a special mention in our best Android smartphones roundup. The M9 shapes up to be a very well balanced device that combines premium design with solid specs and a refined software experience.

HTC is not just a phone company anymore

But HTC is not just a phone company anymore. There’s talk of a smartwatch (or at least a fitness band) launching along the M9 on March 1. If HTC manages to apply some of its design prowess to the wearables category (where design is probably the #1 differentiator), it could have a hit on its hands. Also, at CES, the company talked about its ambition to connect all aspects of our lives, from our health to our homes. The whimsical Re camera is a step in that direction, though perhaps not the most promising one.

Then there are the tablets. The Nexus 9 isn’t a popular device, the way the affordable Nexus 7 was before it. But HTC probably sees the Nexus 9 as a brand enhancer, rather than a moneymaker. HTC will surely follow up with its own brand tablet, perhaps as soon as MWC. The tablet category isn’t growing explosively anymore, but for HTC, expanding in this area is still vital, after years of relying exclusively on phone sales.

To wrap up: a refined flagship; a solid mid-range; new tablets; new wearables; expansion beyond mobile; slowly improving financials. These are all reasons to be excited for HTC in 2015. What about the pitfalls?

The mobile landscape in 2015 is more competitive and complex than ever. HTC was a victim of Samsung’s cutthroat tactics, but now the Korean giant is getting a taste of its own medicine from Xiaomi. Things are in flux, and that means both opportunity and danger for tiny HTC. Because odd as it may sound, HTC is a small player – with a 0.9% sales share, it ranked 16th in Strategy Analytics’ global tracker in Q3 2014, behind Oppo and Vivo. It sold 25 times fewer phones than the leader, Samsung.

HTC’s slice of the market is thinner than ever

As a small fish in a large, crowded pond, HTC needs to put out great devices, but it also has to convince buyers that its products are better than competitors from Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, LG, Lenovo/Motorola, and countless others. That requires smart marketing (an area where HTC struggled in the past, by its own admission), a flair for what consumers want, and the willingness to sacrifice profits. That’s clearly a challenge for a company that lacks the luxury of having a large, diversified group at its back, ready to support it with resources and money.

Turbulent as it may be, the current situation could give HTC the chance to snatch back some of the market share it lost so quickly since 2011. Is it now or never? Nobody can say for sure, but it’s hard to imagine HTC surviving for much longer without returning to real growth. Some voices are already calling for selling out to some cash-flush competitor hungry for international recognition. So, from that perspective, HTC’s only chance is to go up.