BARCELONA, Spain–HTC unveiled its plan to get back to growth with a portfolio refresh that the Taiwanese smartphone maker hopes will reinvigorate its brand after a weak fourth quarter and worries over slowing growth.
From left to right it’s the HTC S, X and V.
HTC used its press conference here Sunday ahead of the official start of the Mobile World Congress trade show to announce the One series, its new lineup of smartphones. The series includes the high-end One X, the super thin One S and the “pocket friendly” One V that HTC said is designed for “broad appeal,” language that typically denotes a less expensive product. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) will exclusively launch the One X in the U.S. market in the next few months, but AT&T and HTC did not announce a price or specific release date. Separately, T-Mobile USA announced it will sell the One S, though also did not provide a specific release date or price. Other U.S. partners for the One series include C Spire Wireless, MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), U.S. Cellular and Sprint Nextel’s (NYSE:S) Virgin Mobile prepaid brand, according to HTC, though no specific devices for those carriers were announced.
At its press conference, HTC CEO Peter Chou said the company’s goal is to create the one phone, the one camera and the one music player anyone would need. Chou said the HTC One lineup “showcases our focus on premium design and premium performance. In fact, we are seeing unprecedented excitement for HTC One. HTC One is the best phone we’ve ever made and we are going big with them.” HTC’s One series will launch globally in April, he said, and will have the broadest distribution for any phone HTC has ever launched–through 144 carriers around the world. The non-LTE versions of the One X run Nvidia’s quad-core 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 chipset–a first for HTC–while the LTE variants have Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon processor.
The LTE-capable One X runs the Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 version of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, the Sense 4 UI from HTC and will be the first AT&T phone to features Beats Audio technology for enhancing audio quality for music and multimedia (HTC acquired a 51 percent stake in Beats in August). HTC said the device also allows users to share content wirelessly with any HDMI-enabled TV set, and lets users share content while still performing other tasks like checking email. The device’s 4.7-inch 720p HD screen is made of Gorilla Glass and the gadget sports a dual-core 1.5 GHz S4 Snapdragon processor and an 8-megapixel enhanced with what HTC has dubbed “ImageSense.”
As for the HTC One S, which is headed for T-Mobile sometime in the spring, the gadget measures 7.95mm thin and runs Android 4.0 and HTC Sense 4. It will support T-Mobile’s HSPA+42 network techonology.
Chou said the company wanted to focus intently on the camera for its phones because after voice calls, taking photos is what people use their phones for most, and that most camera phones, even on high-end smartphones, do not take high-quality photos. The company reworked every part of the camera including the lens, sensor and software, while integrating a new HTC “ImageChip,” or custom silicon for the platform. The company said the combination of the new camera features reduces noise, removes color bias and enhances picture quality in photos and videos, and that the camera’s f-2.0 lens with a back illuminated sensor takes better pictures in low light. HTC said the suite lets users take nearly unlimited continuous shots simply by holding the shutter button, and via a feature called “autoburst” users can automatically take a burst of shots if the subject moves while they press the shutter button. The device can also capture pictures while recording video in HD and has the ability to capture a still image from previously recorded video.
For music, Chou said users can connect One series phones to a computer and HTC’s Media Manager software will install to allow users to transfer songs, artists and playlists from a music library, including from iTunes. After the first sync with a computer, the devices can use Wi-Fi syncing, so any new content will be updated on the device wirelessly and automatically. Chou said the device’s music hub will bring together different services users may have, whether it’s Spotify or streaming radio services. HTC One users will also get 25 GB of storage online storage service Dropbox for two years.
HTC reported a 26 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit earlier this month–its first quarterly profit drop in two years. In early February HTC also forecast a tough first quarter as it undergoes a “product transition,” presumably an allusion to the new One line, and warned that its first-quarter revenue could fall as much as 36 percent from the fourth quarter. HTC has been under pressure from other companies in the increasingly crowded market for devices running Android and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.
HTC posts weak Q4 results, warns sales could fall 36% in Q1
Analysis: Why Apple and Samsung are killing it in the smartphone market
HTC buys $ 300M stake in Dr. Dre’s Beats to upgrade mobile audio
HTC’s Q4 profit drops nearly 26% as Samsung’s profit soars
HTC reassures market after cutting its Q4 revenue forecast
HTC cuts revenue forecast, re-evaluates $ 300M purchase of S3 Graphics