I really like what HTC has done with the One line this yearAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Every company has their share of good times and bad times. We see this quite often in the mobile industry - one minute Nokia was the king of all things mobile, and the next moment you've got BlackBerry hot on your trail. BlackBerry trips and Apple comes along and hip-bumps you out of bounds, and HTC picks up the pace for Team Android until Samsung gets some crazy jet pack power that boosts it all the way into next Tuesday. Manufacturers and platforms are never a solid thing, so while one minute a manufacturer is doing leagues better than another, that doesn't necessarily mean it will stay that way forever. We've seen it with just about everybody.
I'm going to take a moment to focus on the recent history of HTC, on the Android side of things. HTC started out as one of the most popular, if not the most popular, manufacturer for Android. HTC was the maker of the very first Nexus device, and the first device (out of many) that I remember being told was "The iPhone Killer". HTC also manufacturered the popular MyTouch devices for T-Mobile, and more notably they also created the EVO line of devices, which were the first to use the 4G (WiMax) network. HTC has released some pretty fantastic devices, but like the beginning of this article stated, all good things must come to an end at some point. Although HTC may have been releasing some of the most iconic Android devices in its early days, there did come a time where HTC phones became redundant, confusing and just not matching up to expectations that customers had for the devices.
For me, HTC was the best manufacturer in my eyes until I got my hands on my EVO 3D. I loved my EVO 4G, and the 3D thing seemed pretty darn cool in theory. I was a little bummed that I was going from an 8-megapixel camera to a 5, but since there two cameras in order to utilize the whole "3D" part of the EVO 3D, it wasn't really that big of a deal. As it turned out, the whole 3D part of the EVO 3D played out as being rather gimmicky for me. I never used it because you had to hold it in a very particular manner in order for it to work, and when it did work it didn't work that well. The battery wasn't great, and Sense 3.0 wasn't exactly the greatest thing since sliced bread either. It just wasn't what I expected it to be. It wasn't a terrible phone, but it wasn't a phone that I would recommend to people. It was the phone that led to me to try the iPhone.
Aside from my own experience, HTC's biggest mistake probably occurred last year with the launch of the first One line. There was no HTC One yet, but there was an HTC One X. And HTC One S. And V, and XL, and X+. There were so many different iterations of the HTC One X phone from last year, and absolutely none of them were self-explanitory about what differed from one to the other. The XL and the X+ could have very well meant the same thing. Even that's something that I have to admit that Samsung did better than HTC; I might not like that Samsung is always releasing so many phones, but they at least name them appropriately. The Galaxy Zoom is a camera phone, the Galaxy Active is a phone for people with more active lifestyles, the Galaxy Mega is big, and the Galaxy Note comes with a stylus. You can infer what the device's main purpose is without really having to do too much extra digging.
But that was last year, and this is a whole new year with a whole new set of phones. Although I think that HTC could have picked just about any other name and been alright with it, I'm really happy with how they're handling the 2013 One line. One name for three different iterations of the device. You have the original HTC One, the HTC One Mini, and presumably the soon-to-be HTC One Max. Finally we get some adjectives in there so we know right off the bat what phone we're talking about. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.
Another thing that I really like what HTC is doing with the One is keeping it consistent. One of my biggest issues with how Samsung handled all of their iterations of the Galaxy S4 was that some of the ideas were just so off the wall that they really didn't need to have the Galaxy S4 name attached to it. Like, the Galaxy S4 Zoom and the Galaxy S4 Active could have probably fared just as well if it was just the Galaxy Zoom and the Galaxy Active, but that's probably getting too picky. My beef really was with the Galaxy S4 Mini not really being a Mini version of the Galaxy S4 other than in hardware design, but the specs between the two devices could hardly be considered similar. But the HTC One Mini, as I described in my written review, did a really great job of capturing all that was great with the HTC One and squishing it into a smaller package. I was very impressed with how smooth the device ran, how great the sound was and the fact that the same camera was used. It really was the HTC One Mini, and judging by the HTC One Max I'm assuming that I can expect the same out of the hybrid phone/tablet device as well.
HTC has gone through some rough times lately, but I think that the One this year has been a great start for the company to help them pick themselves off the ground. What are your thoughts, readers? Do you think the One is helping HTC's image out, or should they have done something different? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!