HTC seeks salvation with squeezy design

Former critics’ darling HTC will unveil its 2017 flagship on 16 May, hoping that a squeezy case will win back buyers.

HTC’s M8 won many “Phone of the Year” prizes in 2014, being dubbed the “Alfa Romeo” of the phone world. But its lacklustre 2015 successor added little new, and contributed to a dramatic fall in sales. – HTC had neglected the cut-throat mid market. HTC was slow to dismantle its lavish cost structure, and had placed an expensive long-term bet on the Vive VR system. The result was a tide of red ink. Unlike Sony, LG or Samsung, HTC didn’t have a large diversified parent company. In Q4 2014 HTC banked NT$47.9bn (US$1.52bn), in Q4 2016 less than half that. (pdf)

The company’s official teasers confirm that the “U Ultra” will have a squeezable frame, of sorts. Leaked user documentation had already indicated the presence of an edge sensor around the frame, which responds to pressure.

This then activates UX actions or applications.

HTC One M8The hallmark HTC dual speakers and strong audio electronics appear to be retained. A good DAC offering 24bit sound was one differentiator that last year’s 10 could boast. Otherwise leaks point to the U being routine fare for a 2017 flagship: Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch WQHD display.

A bigger question is whether HTC will price the new flagship at “old” flagship prices, c.£550, or more in line with models like the Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S8, over £700, or somewhere in between, as with the £649.99 LG L6 (and Huawei P10).

We’ll find out more soon enough. ®