And so it begins. The comparisons. The "I want it, and I want it now" arguments. The importance of hardware and design in justifying a handset's $800 price tag, at the sacrifice of durability. It's a double-edged sword, this industry.

Yet, this is shaping up to be the most exciting year in mobile tech that I can recall. Between the outrageous rumors, candid interviews, and software updates that are bound to happen, we are staring straight down the barrel of all that is exciting and new for 2013.

I'm not talking about the freedoms like new smartphone names or budget-friendly devices that come along with all rumors; I'm talking about the characteristics of devices that are "new" and "innovative," with no track-record in the the volatile mobile market. 

I feel like this kid.

But before I delve too deep into my perspective of 2013, first things first, I'm happy with the HTC One. It might be "The One" (sorry, honey). To say it's not a masterpiece of craftsmanship and design would be biased. Having the One at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint is going to be stupendous for HTC who has been under tremendous pressure to release another masterpiece like the Nexus One, or HTC Evo 4G. No longer will consumers be forced to choose between carrier exclusive devices like HTC's past efforts with the One X on AT&T, the EVO 4G LTE on Sprint, and the One S on T-Mobile.

Having a single device on (almost) every carrier just makes sense. 

HTC's One also fits into 2013 nicely. It has an SLCD3 1080p display and Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor. The One is made out of aluminum and has new marketable features like HTC Zoe, a new camera software that snaps a 3-second video in lieu of a traditional picture. HTC is betting on the idea that your camera gallery isn't as good as it can be and hopes that consumers will enjoy seeing quick "snip-its" of videos. To say HTC cares about your memories would be an understatement - they're making them for us.

In fact, HTC's paramount presence in 2013 is what I'd like to outline…with a twist, because it wouldn't be as fun to describe something I want without first discussing the trends we are witnessing firsthand with HTC's new flagship.

Buzzwords, features and timing will play a large role in a device's success in 2013.

The plight of the early adopter is a constant battle for euphoria. In mobile, there is no bad time to release a device so as long as it sells. But as a smartphone fan, there are definitely better times to release a new flagship. 

Like the original HTC Evo 4G on Sprint. That was a good time to market display size, a kickstand, and 4G-connectivity. No other smartphone could rival it in 2010. It sold very well.

Yet, the market has changed. Gone are the days of clear differences between smartphones and their hardware features. The 2013 keywords are 1080p, quad-core (Dare I say octa-core, too?), non-removable, and fluidity. Put them all in one sentence and you have a flagship device. If you leave one out, you're in trouble. In a sense, we're witnessing the elimination of "features" since everyone is adopting them.

As we break the cusp of a new season of smartphones and sales pitches, there are fewer reasons for devices to be differentiated. In a way, the industry is better off with a set of standards. It makes choice less brutal in the long-run when you can go into any of the four major wireless carriers and walk-out with comparable phones.

This is where timing comes in. As an HTC fan, my decision is clear. If I want the best smartphone made by everyone's favorite Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer, I'm going to go with the HTC One. But what if I don't? Is there a reason to wait? What if a better phone comes out? Is there going to be an iPhone 5.5S?

HTC, meet Timing, the bearer of every manufacturer's innate tendency to want to be first, and their unparalleled enemy to what's coming soon.

And readers, meet Features, like BoomSound, BlinkFeed, and Zoe, all of which make as much sense as Banana Phone does out of context.

Features are those things that Apple has sold consumers for the better part of the iPhone's lifespan. iSight, FaceTime, and iTunes. Advanced, ultrafast, EarPods, and Retina Display.

They're buzzwords and that's where the mobile market is headed. We most recently caught a glimpse of the power a brand plays with the Galaxy S III last year. Burst Shot, S Beam, and HD Super AMOLED were marketed like no other and proved effective, nearly dethroning the iPhone 5 as the best-selling handset in every quarter of 2012.

If Samsung is any sign of what's to come, it's HTC who has the most to gain with effective marketing of their new features of Sense 5. It's looking set to be a good year for HTC if Apple, Motorola, and Samsung can't market similarly. I'm excited to see how the HTC One stacks up against Apple and Samsung's hero devices.

Excellent hardware and software simplicity are proven to sell.

And I'm bummed. There's a reason Aaron Baker includes benchmark tests like Quadrant Standard in his review videos: they're relevant. But in 2013, it's looking like every flagship device will score 12,000 on Quadrant Standard and record 1080p videos at 30 frames per second. So, now what?

Well, as long as we can use our devices as they're intended to, the sky is the limit. Or that's what I'm led to believe with Sense 5 and personalization.

It's the year of fluidity. And the only way we can compare our phones is by looking across the aisle at the chick in red. Her name is Apple and she's not Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter.

The iPhone's hardware has long complemented it's software. When at times it seemed it wasn't quite enough, we were forced to step back and analyze why Apple made the choices it did. Look no further than Apple and Google's bout in the Maps-saga. Regardless, iOS is arguably one of the most simple to navigate and "customize." And it sells like water in the Sahara.

Unfortunately, the oasis is no longer as clear as it once was for Apple. HTC is taking notes on their success. They're moving away from stock Android and addressing the needs of the average consumer with Sense 5. BlinkFeed aggregates news and social media into a simplistic stream. It's the main page on your new HTC One. It's the One page they want you to see when you unlock your phone. It's okay if you blink...because it's always there.

In fact, it's so simple that they didn't even address stock Android's shortcomings. HTC simply trusts that you'll just use BlinkFeed. A quick swipe to the right reveals a stock home screen not unlike one you'd see on any other Android device running version 4.2 Jelly Bean. Dare I say it's akin to stock Android you'd find on a Nexus 4, but with a digital clock widget and HTC's new icons? 

Oh, yes I did.

So, do we need BlinkFeed? No. Yet, I'm inclined to think Sense 5 is a rather bare bones approach to mobile computing, like iOS. The fact that we no longer have a traditional homepage might seem simple even compared to iOS.

But aren't people wondering why iOS still looks the same? Is a 6.5-year old operating system a good benchmark when personalization and software features are looking like the true differentiators between devices in 2013?

I believe so, which is why I also believe HTC's hardware will draw enough attention in lieu of its simplistic software. The aluminum unibody construction is stunning. The edges are glossy and the back looks matte. The HTC One is a triumph in aesthetic appeal. Just don't keep your case too far away because it looks damn fragile.

What do you think about 2013 so far? If you had to judge HTC's new hero device, the One, would you say it's appropriately attacking the year with its features and hardware? Or is HTC playing it too close to the chest with its simplistic approach to mobile computing? One thing's for sure, the HTC One is gorgeous and Sense 5 is looking amazingly simple to use. I'm just concerned it might not be the right time to rest your laurels on the approach harbored by Apple, a company with a proven following and competitive marketing team. Let me know how you feel about 2013 and HTC in the comments below!

Images via HTC.

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Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the HTC One Silver 32GB

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Comments & discussions  

49 Reactions to this post

"Do you think HTC's features like BlinkFeed and Zoe will be enough to distract consumers from Samsung's impending launch of the Galaxy S IV?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Mark Belkowski No the gs4 will be king! Htc should get sued for that metro ripoff.
David Moreno I think HTC has a great device but they limit consumers from basic things that matter like expandable storage and removable battery. If they can simply do that more I'd really consider their devices. Anyone agree?
Steven Pereira I like the build of Samsung. It feels solid enough for me but easy enough to get in and out of when changing my flip style cases. I don't feel them to be cheap or flimsy - - light and flexible.
Sebastian Gomes Nope. I'm solely focusing on the gs4. The gs3 has so much love on xda forums
Jason Westrupp Oh I should add - also had a bunch of android phones from HTC and Samsung along the way - but always missed the ease of use and quick access to things that WP has - HTC is bringing that ease of use to the power of android - I hope it goes great :)
Jason Westrupp I hope it does get HTC back in the game - companies competing via innovation vs companies competing by patent suits is a win for us all. Personally - was a long time HTC fan until the Lumia 920 - and long time WM/WP user - but glad to see 'metro'/'modern ui' is making its way to android thanks to the live lock screen and through Zoe which is a limited version of cinemagragh - again competion via innovation - we all win :D
Timothy D Alston I stopped my HTC collection with the Sensation 4G. I've been a Samsung head ever since the Vibrant. I will never buy a phone where I can't open the back and change the battery.
Marlon Milligan Hopefully both companies will do well
Humza Ahmed If Samsung can stop making cheap, flimsy, and suicidal phones, I would consider them better than HTC
Odin Johnson Feature mean a lot and HTC is not on par with Samsung yet.
Glenn Rubio Urrea I really like the device but now that I own a Nexus 4 I'm reminded how much I hate having a non removable battery. I'll never do that again.
Jesse Ling doesnt look like any big deal to me at all.
Muhammad Musaab https://www.facebook.com/MyPixels
Reese Woodson Nope.........
Andre Roberts Hell NO!!!!!! It's a rap for htc
Arturo Atherly I personally like a phone to feel like it has substance...If the HTC ONE is worht its salt in EVERY sense of the word.....Then its gonna be a tough one!!! Now if Sammy comes with the THUNDER then I may very well get both of them.....Im a phone WHORE so who knows I just might buy all three devices(N4) and switch at my convienence!!!!!
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla Marketing is the key. HTC builds better devices when it comes to quality and thinking outside the box. Samaung is good at robotizing people with their features.
Matt Peters No, but the device is gorgeous.
Don Ernesto HTC equals=SHIT
Peter Blanco Don't think so. It upped the ante for design but Samsung seems to like plastic (Note 2 owner, no complaints) so I don't think it'll bother them.
Tony Abiama Nope, unless they have some good marketing this time around
Cesario Brito Jr. Juwon, HTC never had gimmicks? Come on dude.
Marti Ruiz i cant wait to see t s4
Aly Youssef I'd give the HTC One a chance, unfortunately it's not available unlocked in Canada yet and it might be a little pricey. The Nexus 4 broke all the rules when it comes to pricing.
Muzaffer Ruzmetov Not only features but design and specs
Juwon Donte Probably not people seem to enjoy their cheap plastic and gimmicks instead of having a good quality phone..I have an s3 an nothing about it really impressed me it was just a phone full of gimmicks
Tabib Rehman Its the build quality and design that should worry the s4
Dinael Valdivia 1st my EVO LTE I dont know why jaja I think is the size but the note 2 is excelent!!
Dinael Valdivia love my EVO 4G LTE & my NOTE 2 , 1
Luis Robles Figueroa My upgrade is in April so let if I get it. Currently own the HTC One S USA model in Blue Gradient. I am happy with the built quality.
Cezzar Micu Very happy with my Note 2, Note 3 will be the worthy successor
Jordan Williams After three flawed HTC devices in a row, plus finally having a Nexus 4 and stock android, the thought of non stock android, plus not getting more than one software update throughout the course of the life of the phone, I'm not that thrilled about the new phone. Yes, the new One is a pretty device. That's not enough anymore.
Cesario Brito Jr. Andre, too big huh? That's why it sold millions? Hmmm go figure.
Eric Butts Yes, i want this phone. My only worry is updates. Will HTC support this device and give it regular updates? That's the question.
Dre Desvignes Notes r just too big and samsung will draw a lot of attention with the s4, Motorola is amazing however, altho its already a difficult choice with samsung not even releasing the s4 yet I would choose htc over the others at this point.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis S4 will be cheap plastic & the one will be trash.
John Olatunde Fajimi Samsung has ongoing momentum and consumer expectations going for them with the Galaxy S line. HTC needs to really engage the minds and hearts of people beyond merely having high-end specs. And Samsung's not going to let up anytime soon. It's a battle of the Android flagships!
Nick Kathrein We'll have to see hour they all stack up. I really wish the camera app could be exported out so it could he used in ROMs like cm 10. My evo 4g lte has nice camera software but I want cm10. I am not in to touch wiz since android 4 was released. The one is a super phone for sure but stock android is better except the camera app.
Nolisha K Fairfax-Westwood no. I used HTC for years and they have done nothing to impress me. their 'new' os is the EXACT SAME infact i'd say its lacking :/ the EVO 3D is better than this OneX garbage. I felt so ripped off by the OneX that i switched to the Samsung just 2 MONTHS into a 3 YEAR contract. I WILL NEVER USE AN HTC AGAIN!
John McPhillips The S4 is going to blow the HTC out of the water...I'd tell you what I know but then I'd get canned...get ready...it will blow you away
Anthony Arreola S4 will be 2013 phone of the year
Christopher Manic Johnson It's detracting me, although, I must admit, I'm a bit biased... One X owner. Although, I am still pretty excited to see what Sammy brings with the S4.
Cesario Brito Jr. Its Note 3 or X Phone for me.
Gary Jones very hard
Brandon Kilpatrick The Motorola X phone is distracting me from both the HTC One and the Galaxy S4.
Qi Ren Quite hard

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