HTC 10 may be the best phone, but it may not be enough
HTC, the Taiwanese phone maker, announced its latest flagship, the HTC 10, on Tuesday evening, about two months after Samsung, LG and Sony showed their mettle at MWC Barcelona.
On paper, the phone matches its competitors on most specs: a quad-HD display, the latest Qualcomm chip, 4GB of memory and expandable storage. A major difference is the use of UltraPixel technology, as the rear camera is equipped with an 12 UltraPixel sensor. Although history hasn’t been kind to UltraPixel – remember the issues with the HTC One M8 – it looks like the company has managed to knock it out of the park this time around.
While Indian media have yet to get their hands on the phone, the HTC 10 boasts the best camera in a smartphone, according to DxOMark – a trusted standard for image quality. It’s supposed to be on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and beats the Sony Xperia Z5 for image quality. And for what it’s worth, HTC promises two-day battery life on its new phone, although such claims have rarely translated into actual use. At this point, therefore, it has everything you could ask for in a flagship. But that doesn’t matter. The HTC 10 seems destined to be another equally popular one, and its issues are the company’s own making.
At the time of writing, the company is still undecided on which variant of the phone to bring to India. HTC desperately flip-flopped on simple decisions, leading people to wonder what version of the phone it would launch in India, and even a statement that was supposed to clear things up, only further confused things.
Instead of giving everyone the Snapdragon 820 model it touts worldwide, the Taiwanese manufacturer first said it would bring the HTC 10 Lifestyle to India, which is equipped with a Snapdragon 652 chip at the place. It might be a good performer on its own, but doesn’t match the Snapdragon 820, which is found in competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5. When someone shells out over 50,000 rupees – which is most likely the asking price based on HTC’s past – this sort of second-string treatment reflects badly.
HTC’s rocker also extends to its aesthetics and design philosophy. Its One M series was not only beautiful to look at and wonderful to grip, but its dual-speaker grille made it one of the only flagship phones with stereo speakers. The new dual-speaker setup on the 10 might deliver an even better experience, but I have to doubt what the company is thinking with the design of the phone. There’s nothing exciting about its looks, and it’s hard to see HTC convincing anyone not to look at the S7 Edge instead.
Which brings us to marketing: HTC ditched the ‘One’ and ‘M’ monikers this year for the best HTC 10. But that’s far from the first change. Over the past four years, the company has gone from calling its flagship, the HTC One X, to HTC One, then to the HTC One M8 and M9 before this time moving on to the HTC 10. At the same time, Samsung launched the S3, followed by the S4, S5, S6 and S7 – one each year. It’s a much simpler approach that won’t confuse even those who don’t know anything about smartphones.
Unfortunately, marketing is an avenue in which HTC has consistently failed, and its issues have defined its struggles in recent years. With a massive double-digit drop in revenue and the company abandoning its forecast for the future, HTC may not have many more phone launches to spoil.
As someone who owned and loved an HTC One M8, it saddens me to see it slowly ebb. What it shows though, is that making a great phone is only part of the equation.
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