Will the HTC M7 become a victim of mounding rumors?Chase Bonar - Contributing Editor
At the beginning of 2012, HTC stole the show with its stunning One X. It broke barriers of design on many hardware and software fronts. We all breathed a sigh of relief because HTC was back on buyer’s radars. Finally. But five months later, Samsung stole the spotlight with their Galaxy S III and some of us completely forgot about that One thing HTC made. However, if HTC plays its cards right these next few weeks, we won’t have to worry about that repeating for 2013 because the M7 is unlike any other phone they’ve ever made.
Despite CEO Peter Chou’s rather pragmatic approach to the new year, there has to be a point of reflection for the company to completely get into the tech giant mentality before they unveil their next flagship. That time began when the leaks began. HTC can hardly forget that we won’t recognize the device if they launch it away from MWC, but that doesn’t mean we won’t give them our full and undivided attention at their own event.
Among the specs leaks, the latest rumor is that HTC is planning to unveil the M7 ahead of Mobile World Congress. This is rather unexpected of a device that we all planned to see on the same stage as their previous hero device, the One X. But it just goes to show that there’s no stage big enough these days for any manufacturer and that we should not expect anything. Rumors may be fun, but we never know when they actually hold water.
Having said this, HTC would be making the right choice by unveiling it early at its own event. In the day and age when rumors completely take away the substance of a device’s launch, there’s only one way to recapture the attention of your audience: break the news on your own time, where you're comfortable, and take a chance with some jokes about it. We’re all fans in the end, right?
HTC’s hand is looking good, but consumers will have to decide if it’s good enough. Competitors like Apple, LG, and Samsung will be coming down the river hard with new designs and features.
The HTC M7 has very big shoes to fill from both a hardware and software standpoint, but I think it will be a solid jab into the sides of most manufacturers for a few reasons. For starters, the alleged specs of the M7 include: 4.7-inch 1080p 468ppi SoLux display, quad-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm APQ8064 processor, 32GB internal memory, 2GB RAM, 13 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front-facing camera, Android 4.1.2, Beats Audio, and a non-removable 2300mAh battery.
It’s no slouch indeed. But will people buy it? I believe so.
The deal breaker for some will be the display because it is not changing in size from the outgoing SLCD2 on the One X and One X+. At 4.7-inches, it’s not even as large as current 2013 flagships like the Sony Xperia Z and ZL. It’s just shy of the 5-inch standard set forth by the DROID DNA, and if the rumors are true, the on-screen keys will reduce the screen real estate even more. Jeans will rejoice worldwide. Too bad jeans don’t buy smartphones. Nonetheless, a smaller display means more pixels per inch and I have no doubt our eyes will be pleased. Judging by the outgoing SLCD2 display, I have high expectations and I’m not at all worried that HTC can’t deliver. The displays HTC uses are easily the benchmark for all displays in the mobile arena, and in my eyes, their primary selling point. So, the size of the display is the only variable that could make or break the company’s launch. My guess is there won’t be any riots or structure fires, so don’t lose sleep over it.
Despite the highest density of any display available, will consumers still question the quality of the device? Likely, which is why I believe it’s going to be a love-hate device for many. You will have to go with your buying behaviors of the past and stick to HTC’s undeniable reputation for delivering benchmark materials or look elsewhere. As our own Aaron Baker says, 2013 will be the year of personalization and if Sense 5 can deliver, you’ll deal with everything else. It’s a big gamble for the Taiwanese tech giant at the moment, but you don’t get anywhere without making taking chances. It’s a good time for HTC to deliver something other manufacturers are not and screen size is one area which will not go unnoticed by competitors. If you believe 4.7-inches will suffice like I do, you have no reason to worry about this device, presuming you can deal with on-screen keys and Sense. But that won’t stop consumers from questioning the M7’s overall quality compared to its competitors.
Another interesting rumor is that according to the famed @evleaks, it will launch on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon with minimal carrier branding, which is very exciting indeed. A first for the company, in fact. If it can do so while keeping the same identity, it will be a rather large step for HTC, and I’ll be particularly impressed that they said “no” to carrier requests. It’s no secret that HTC’s desire to be a part of any of the Big Four’s smartphone portfolio has not always worked to their advantage. They have typically succumbed to any carrier requests and made carrier-specific devices for each. Despite relative success of the DROID DNA on Big Red, the One X and One X+ were not as much of a stable point in AT&T’s Android portfolio as the Taiwanese company may have preferred. Thus, sales were nothing spectacular despite top-notch build quality, the fantastic ImageSense camera software, and speedy day-to-day performance.
The last feature that should get consumers talking are the new features of Sense, HTC’s often criticized Android overlay. Though we have only seen images, we don’t know how it will truly function. Many have said it will bring a lighter and more simple user-experience, but we can only hope. If there’s one thing I took away from Sense 4+ it’s that HTC needs to tone down their memory management and increase the RAM on their devices. When I daily drove my EVO 4G LTE, at any given time I had no more than 300MB of RAM available. Hopefully Sense 5 can cut back on memory management and slim down the weight on top of Jelly Bean. If they manage to make Jelly Bean slow, it’s going to be a mystery that HTC will have to make sense of.
What do you think, reader? Do you think the screen size, launch on multiple carriers, and Sense 5 are going to get people talking in a positive way about the M7? Do you think any of those features will entice people to pay less attention to competitors, or is HTC just playing it safe and making a One X with on-screen keys? I believe we are going to surprised by the device, but that doesn’t mean we can’t forget about it after the next best thing comes along. Let me know how you feel about HTC’s impending launch and how it will do in the comments below!