NEW YORK—Sprint and HTC’s One (M8) flagship smartphone each just got a little better.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, at a press event here just hours after hosting Sprint’s first-quarter 2014 earnings call, literally lifted the veil off a new smartphone for the network, an already improved version of the just-released HTC One (M8).
Flanking Hesse on a small stage were his collaborators on the phone, HTC CEO Peter Chou, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Harman Kardon CEO Dinesh Paliwal.
The HTC One (M8)-Harman Kardon edition, which Sprint exclusively will sell, features Harman’s Clari-Fi, technology that restores much of the fidelity that’s lost when audio files are compressed.
As much as 90 percent of the music gets compressed during streaming, and as a result, said Harman’s Paliwal, “we’re losing what artists took massive efforts to produce.”
He added that he tells his kids, “Your generation is missing out on what artists really intended.” With the Harman-edition M8, he added, “we were able to correct that.”
Sprint has also packaged this in a feature it calls “Lossless HD Audio,” explaining that the phone has the ability to deliver six times the digital information of a compact disc and 60 times the information of an MP3 or streaming music source when playing high-res digital downloads.
The settings menu of the new M8 includes an On-Off switch for Harman Clari-Fi (the device ships with the switch defaulted to On), as well as a Lossless HD Audio switch, which becomes enabled when a user is wearing earbuds.
“We’re putting the vocals, the percussion … where they were on the stage, and it comes to you as a live experience,” said Hesse.
The Harman-edition M8 also comes bundled with new earbuds with “extended bass response” and a retail value of $149. Harman would also be happy if users also chose to pair the phone with its padded, leather SoHo headphones, which were on hand at the event, or one of its home speakers.
When purchased alongside the new M8, Harman is offering its Onyx Studio speaker, normally $399.99, for $99.99.
HTC’s Chou said he’s been using the new (included) earbuds every day. “I can tell you, it is incredible,” he assured the audience. “Pure and rich.”
“Of course, we knew that a phone with world-class songs would have to have a classic look as well,” Chou added. “So, we gave it this unique, black metal finish with champagne highlights. With one look, you will know this phone is premium and powerful.”
The newest M8 is also the latest Sprint device capable of accessing Spark, a 4G technology that Sprint says is faster than competitors’ 4G networks. Alongside its early morning earnings news, Sprint announced the launch of six new Spark markets, bringing its total to 24. By year’s end, it expects the technology to reach 100 million people.
Sprint Introduces HTC One (M8)-Harman Kardon Edition With Spotify
Spark also makes possible High-Definition (HD) Voice—technology that dramatically reduces background noise and extends the normal voice call from a range of four octaves to seven. To experience it, both participants on a call must have HD Voice-enabled phones, which both versions of the HTC One (M8) are.
Sprint Sound Sessions
As for the world-class songs component Chou mentioned, Sprint also used the event to introduce a new national entertainment platform, Sprint Sound Sessions. The latter includes Spotify, with its 30 million songs; Sprint Music Plus, a music store and player; NextRadio, an application for listening to FM radio broadcasts; and Music Live, an “immersive and interactive experience” with continuously updated new music and services that include Top Songs, Spotify, NextRadio and ID-a-song capabilities.
Sprint customers will receive three free months of Spotify services and then the option to keep using the service for $9.99 a month. (Take note, you’ll have to opt out of the paid service after three months, not in.)
Sprint customers on Framily plans, however, will get six months of free service and then the option to pay $7.99 a month if there are between one and five people in their Framily or $4.99 if there are between six and 10 people in their Framily.
(After 18 months, however, the promotion will end and the price will rise to $9.99 a month.)
Sprint will begin selling the HTC One (M8)-Harman Kardon edition online May 2 and in stores May 9, for $0 down and then 24 monthly payments of $28.34.
Hesse, clearly pleased to be in so much good company, told the audience, “This revolution was made possible by four diverse companies … and four CEOs who share a common bond, a passion for music.”