HTC Preps New One, Plus Tablets And Smartwatches For Comeback Bid

HTC One

Details continue to leak surrounding the forthcoming successor to HTC’s One smartphone, but HTC doesn’t appear to be pinning its hopes on just One option. New statements from the company point to HTC looking at smartwatches, Windows Phone 8, and even tablets in order to claw its way back to relevance.

Much of the focus at this year’s Mobile World Congress has fallen on Samsung, which showed off its Galaxy S5 flagship on Monday. HTC, though, is waiting until late March to show off the successor to 2013’s HTC One. Currently codenamed the M8, the HTC One follow-up will reportedly continue in the same tradition of high build quality that earned its predecessor rave reviews.

SlashGear pointed out this week that the M8 will feature a largely aluminum frame, with only a bit of plastic in its construction to allow wireless signals to escape. The next version of HTC’s flagship will feature a patch of plastic on the top of the device, as well as two strips along its back. What’s more, HTC is going to offer the One successor in an array of colors, including the original silver aluminum, a darker gunmetal finish, red, gold, and blue.

The next HTC One will also have an array of features aimed at making sure it is worthy of the flagship designation. Along with the latest version of Android, version 4.4 KitKat, the new HTC One will likely pack a 2.26GHz quad-core processor and up to 3GB of RAM. That would put it on par with Samsung’s GS5, and HTC’s aluminum build materials should give the manufacturer a quality edge over most of its competitors. That is, of course, assuming HTC can put together a marketing campaign comparable to its rivals’.

That device, though, won’t be unveiled until late March. In the mean time, HTC is trying to steal some of Samsung and Sony’s thunder by showing off a line of lower-power devices at Mobile World Congress. On Monday in Barcelona, HTC unveiled the Desire 816 and Desire 610. The Desire 816, according to BGR, is HTC’s mid-range option, with a 5.5-inch screen, 13-megapixel camera, and a middling processor. The Desire 610 was also announced on Monday, and it packs low-end specs, including a 4.7-inch display, 1GB of RAM, and an 8-megapixel camera.

Those two devices will represent HTC’s attempt to address the mid- and low-ends of the Android handset market, both in the West and in developing markets such as China and other parts of Asia. They’re not HTC’s only options going forward, though. A recent report from The Verge had software giant Microsoft naming HTC as being among a number of companies that will develop new Windows Phone devices in the near future. HTC was among the first manufacturers to produce devices running Windows Phone 8, rolling out the HTC Windows Phone 8X and 8S, but those devices saw low consumer adoption, and the company has not released any handsets running Windows Phone in the year and a half since their unveiling.

Likely even more important than its mid-range handsets and Windows Phone offerings, HTC has confirmed that it will roll out a smartwatch this year. The company’s chairwoman, Cher Wang, confirmed to CNET on Monday that HTC does have a smartwatch in the works, and that it will likely see release by Christmas of this year. Wang also noted that the sort of attention to design seen in the HTC One will play a role in the making of HTC’s smartwatch.

“People think watches are jewels,” she said, hinting that HTC’s wearable offering will probably feature higher quality construction than Samsung’s recent offerings.

HTC is also looking to get into tablets. Wang confirmed that it makes sense for HTC to produce something for the tablet segment, considering its presence in the Android handset market. To date, no Android tablets have been able to compete with Apple’s iPad in terms of sales, due in no small part to the iPhone maker’s emphasis on build quality. With the experience gained in producing two generations of the HTC One, HTC could very well produce a comparably high quality device, perhaps in the process releasing the first runaway hit Android tablet.

All of these would be aimed at reversing a disturbing trend for the company. The last several years have seen HTC hemorrhaging market share and revenue in the face of the Samsung juggernaut. HTC’s phones were typically seen as the highest quality Android devices, even before the company switched to aluminum with the One; still, the manufacturer has never been able to put together a marketing campaign to rival Samsung. The South Korean tech giant simply releases a device, calls it “The Next Big Thing,” and spends upward of $150 million making sure its commercials are everywhere. Meanwhile, HTC hires Robert Downey, Jr. to come up with amusing word combinations that “HTC” could stand for. HTC keeps at it, though, and it’s hard to complain when the devices they push out are as hard to criticize as the One.