Should HTC move away from the candybar form factor?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: February 8, 2011

Over the past three years, the design of cell phones has gone through a substantial change. Moving from the flip form factor to a candybar style, phones are now designed to allow users to more easily consume media on the go. Equipped with a large touchscreen and very few buttons, the candybar form is the easy way out for many manufacturers and popular among consumers due to its thin and attractive style.

As CNN stated with their description of Android’s Law, the operating system and many of the internal components are no longer made by each cell phone manufacturer – the same is true for Windows Phone 7. This means manufacturers have more money and time to spend on the design of their phones. However, makers like HTC have stuck to one primary design with a few slide-out QWERTY devices occasionally thrown into the mix.

Being a fan favorite for some time, many would have expected HTC to venture out and try new things for a change. Instead, their lineup has grown stagnant and they keep pumping out phones that all look very similar and bring nothing new to the table. Take the ThunderBolt for instance, it is simply a rehash of the EVO 4G with a few tweaks and improvements, eight months after the fact. The same could be said of the Inspire 4G.

All of this is going on while other manufacturers are experimenting and probing new designs. Motorola, for instance, has created the Droid Pro, which is a mutant offspring of a BlackBerry and Android device – genius. They have even tried numerous form factors that flip and slide in unusual ways. Although they don’t exactly hold the crown for the most popular phone manufacturer, Kyocera has also brought something new to the market. Though the design is lacking, the concept behind the dual-screen Echo is brilliant.

With all of this experimentation and numerous fresh concepts on the rise, HTC needs to get things moving. They have fallen into a rut and continually produce the same ol’ same ol’. Albeit some of the best phones on the market, they all look the same and don’t exactly appeal to all demographics. There are people out there that love Android but cannot deal with software keyboards or landscape QWERTYs.

Back in the Windows Mobile days, HTC made some wafer-style handsets with front-facing keyboards that gave BlackBerry a run for their money. Although the hype of the Droid Pro fizzled fairly quickly, I’d be willing to bet that there are quite a few out there that would love nothing more than to get their hands on a HTC-made, front-facing QWERTY Android device (say that five times fast). The same goes for a HTC rendition of the Flip concept phone. However futuristic it may seem, Kyocera has already made a dual-display device. My guess is the Echo is only the first of many multi-screen phones, and if the concept does eventually catch on, HTC will not want to be late to that party.

Whether it be a vertical slider, a front-facing QWERTY, or a multiple display device, I'm ready for something new from HTC. They recently asked on their Facebook page, "Any ideas on what we are up to?" We can only assume we do, but I'm hoping we haven't the slightest clue. The Pyramid and their tablet would be nice to see at Mobile World Congress, but wouldn't something completely off the wall be so much better?