HTC unveiled the HTC One series, its first Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” smartphones, which will begin shipping globally in April through more than 140 mobile operators and distributors.
Unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 26, the phone maker’s new handsets include the HTC One X 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) from AT&T, the One S 4G HSPA+42 phone from T-Mobile and the One V.
The handsets come as HTC tries to regain some of the luster it enjoyed when it launched the HTC Droid Incredible and Evo 4G two years ago. HTC saw its sales and profits fall in 2011 as its Android lineup has lost to the likes of Samsung, Sony, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and others.
So urgent is its desire to entice consumers to buy a One series device that HTC partnered with cloud storage provider Dropbox to offer 25 gigabytes of free cloud storage for two years.
HTC intends the One X to be something of a “multimedia livewire,” or entertainment superphone. AT&T’s One X is fueled with a new 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor for its LTE network, though the overseas version is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor.
The handset possesses a 4.7-inch 720p HD screen covered in Corning’s Gorilla Glass and sports Beats Audio for crisp, full sounding music. Beats Audio is known for enabling music and video content to be played at a higher volume and better bass than typical audio technologies on the market.
HTC is renowned for its Sense user interface, and the One X will be one of the first devices in the United States to offer HTC Sense 4, which enhances Beats Audio and offers improvements to HTC Watch, allowing users to view related content while browsing movies.
Sense 4 also facilitates a new quick launch feature for the One X’s camera that snaps photos in less than a second. The auto-focus feature locks in on picture targets in less than a second, and shooting provides nearly unlimited continuous shots when a user presses and holds the shutter button.
HTC’s ImageSense includes an auto-burst feature that will automatically take a burst of shots if the subject moves while the user presses the shutter button. The One X’s 8-megapixel HD camera plays off of the HTC ImageChip, reducing noise and color bias and boosting picture quality in photos and videos.
HTC One Series Is Serious About Audio
Another feature offers more contrast for photos and enables the camera to capture multiple photos from one instance, and with different exposure levels. The One X camera software will layer the images together to create a single photo.
The One X includes Video Pic, which can capture pictures while recording video in HD and can capture a still image from previously recorded video. HTC believes this feature will help users who can’t decide whether they want still pics or live footage.
Finally, the One X has a 1,800-mAh battery, which will be boosted by the 30 percent increase in battery efficiency from the S4 CPU. AT&T said this lets users create and edit homemade videos without lag. AT&T will begin selling the One X in April, but did not disclose an exact date or price for the hardware.
The One S offers Qualcomm’s S4 1.5GHz dual-core processor and is HTC’s thinnest phone to date at 7.9 millimeters.
The device trades the One X’ 4.7-inch display for a Gorilla Glass-bound 4.3-inch screen. Beats Audio is also featured in the One S, which T-Mobile is pairing with Google Music. HTC’s Sense 4 and ImageSense camera technology are also key parts of the One S.
The HTC One S comes in an ultra-matte black ceramic metal surface, the result of a microarc oxidation (MAO) process, developed for satellites, and an anodized process that renders a light-to-dark “gradient fade.”
On the lowest end of the One series scale, the One V includes a 3.7-inch display and is powered by a 1GHz single-core processor and a 5-megapixel shutter.
Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, commented on HTC’s One series in a statement sent to eWEEK:
“Following a mildly disappointing 2011, these devices form the vanguard of HTC’s new strategy for greater brand coherence and a simpler value proposition. HTC’s strategy to streamline its branding and to offer fewer, better-differentiated products is a reaction to both market forces and engineering necessity.”
The market should indicate early on in 2012 whether or not HTC’s streamlined strategy, something Motorola is also adopting this year, will pay off.