It’s time to place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, on what new high-end Android smartphone you think will dominate sales for the remainder of 2014. Or at least until the second wave of launches comes, probably headlined by Google’s Nexus 6, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 and LG’s G3.
So will it be the shoo-in favorite, Samsung’s Galaxy S5, despite middling critical reception and a fugly design? Or the rising underdog, Sony’s Xperia Z2, a fairly modest rehash just as much as the S5 is a rehash, yet definitely not as disappointing?
But wait, we have a last-minute contender for the early 2014 world heavyweight title. Better yet, we will have it in three weeks’ time. It’s HTC’s All New One, aka M8, aka One Plus or One Two. First expected at the Mobile World Congress in February, the all-metal spearhead was “delayed” for unknown reasons, though ultimately it may land on store shelves at around the same time as the GS5.
Does it have the necessary “qualifications” to take on its five-star (more like four-star) rivals? Can it build on the first-gen One’s average sales numbers and prove once and for all HTC is a name to be reckoned with in the mobile landscape? Here’s what it’s all about, and we’ll let you be the judges:
All New HTC One – branding and availability rumor roundup
As HTC’s naming scheme has been rather hectic of late (and that’s putting it kindly), christening One’s follow-up was always going to be a delicate issue. In theory, the smart thing to do would be to start fresh. Either with something other than numbers for names, or with a “Two”. As in the HTC Two.
But it sounds awful. Also, you can’t start over with a sequel that’s more of the same. Plus, it’d be foolish to deny this thing’s family ties with the 2013 One, since people
loved liked its predecessor. Bottom line, “All New HTC One” is the only half-elegant way out of this conundrum. I mean, it worked for Apple, right?
As for timelines, everyone knows HTC plans to unveil the 5 incher on March 25, and roll it out commercially in April. The million-dollar question is will they pull it off? As in, will they deliver a turnaround time of just a few weeks? It’s not easy, especially when dealing with a slab made of metal, but it’s essential for all new One’s survival.
Also essential – pricing. But there’s not much leeway there, as HTC can’t raise the bar compared with their last spearhead, or significantly lower it. So $200 with contracts, and $650-$700 outright it is.
Design speculations and leaks
It’s pretty pointless to continue talking about “speculations” in this department when the “M8” has made its way online in lengthy hands-on videos, as well as press photo form. So let’s cut the act. Aesthetically, the all new One is an open book.
Coated in silver, black and gold right off the bat, the handheld is both similar and different from its forefather. Similar, as it keeps the overall design language intact, with smooth lines, metal everywhere, sleek horizontal bezels incorporating powerful front stereo speakers, and a classic, polished rear.
Different, as its edges are a little more rounded, the metallic texture more striking, and capacitive navigation keys… gone. Also, the 2014 HTC One reportedly supports microSD card expansion, meaning the back cover will no longer be bolted.
Specs and features
Enough with the Quad HD hoopla. Full HD resolution on 5 to 6-inch phones is perfect… for now. So no, don’t expect HTC’s All New One to trump the GS5 or Xperia Z2 in image and video reproduction quality. Not on paper, though in reality things might be different. After all, thanks to the smaller footprint, HTC’s flagship will boast superior pixel density: 440 ppi.
Our biggest concern with M8’s rumored hardware is the 2 GB RAM. That’s on par with the GS5, but inferior to the Z2. Plus, if an S5 Prime is indeed looming large on the horizon, it will definitely pack north of 3 gigs memory.
The processor? It’s almost certainly a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, which is probably the best HTC can do at the moment. Remember, the S805 won’t actually ship until May, at the earliest.
Which brings us to the alleged pièce de résistance on the All New One: dual rear cameras. No one’s sure of their real-life benefits, but everyone speculates they’ll improve focus, depth of field, maybe add some post-capture effects in the mix.
The thing is HTC is likely to gamble on UltraPixel technology once again, which simply didn’t work last year, so their hardware highlight could well backfire in the end. In other news, no fancy (gimmicky?) fingerprint sensor or heart rate monitor is in the cards, while the battery size remains the biggest puzzle.
Since the 5 incher is not a lot bigger than last year’s 4.7 incher, and the waist is roughly the same, my guesstimate is… 2,700, maybe 2,800 mAh. Let’s not forget though that the juicer might be user replaceable this time around.
Software and others
Android 4.4 KitKat is a must for high-enders and mid-rangers nowadays, so it’s no surprise the All New One will run it out of the box. It’s also no shocker HTC plans to overhaul its Sense UI, which thus reaches its sixth iteration.
BlinkFeed will of course increase the productivity and user friendliness of Sense 6.0, and overall, you have to hand it to HTC. They’ve come a long way with their once clunky, uncomfortable, distressingly invasive Android skin.
Other features that may or may not influence your buying decision include a standard 16 GB of on-board storage (32 and 64 gigs options are also expected), BoomSound and Beats Audio enhancements, 4G LTE speeds, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 2.1 MP front snapper.
All things considered, do you reckon the All New HTC One could be an Android frontrunner, or just another dark horse? Sound off in the comments section below.