Are you ready for two similar flagship devices a year?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| April 30, 2014

You know things are changing when Samsung's holding back.

Things are always going to change, one way or another, it's just a matter of when. And if we're really looking at the amount of devices we have available from each manufacturer, we can see that something is definitely changing: We're no longer inundated with devices, ranging in a wide variety of sizes and specs, or sometimes just offering a slightly different look to another device released in the same year.

Our selection has been greatly reduced, as companies look to offer you that one device that boasts all of their efforts, in the supreme effort that you'll buy one. Or maybe more than one, because why not. That isn't to say that companies like Samsung don't have a lot of devices out there, because they do. Still. But there's just a change in the air, and it doesn't look like Samsung's ready to go so heavy anymore.

However, the change that may be coming may not make everyone happy.

Last week, we heard about Samsung's rumored Project KQ device. Essentially, the premium version of their recently launched Galaxy S5. I wrote about why that shouldn't surprise you -- especially because of Samsung, but also because Samsung wants a phone that can challenge the high-end devices that will inexorably launch later this year, and the Galaxy S5 may not be the best way to do that so many months later.

So, launching a newer handset, a "premium" flagship of the device they launched earlier in the year, actually makes sense. After all, you should be buying your phones for what they offer, right? We all used to be accustomed to the fact that technology gets replaced quite frequently, sometimes even in the sam lifecycle.

It doesn't look like Samsung is the only company thinking about going that route, if the rumors are true. Yesterday, we heard about HTC and what's being called the One M8 Prime. There isn't much to be known about it quite yet, as the Rumor Mill has been relatively quiet on the unicorn device, but the name does suggest that HTC could be considering another M8 variant that's tilted towards "premium" than "mid-range."

This could also be the new branding for a larger M8, like we saw with the One M7 Max last year. The belief on the street, though, is that this is another flagship device. A handset that, theoretically, would be a replacement to the One M8 if it were launched a year later, rather than just a few months down the road.

Two flagship devices, similar in a lot of ways, released in the same year? That would be different, and if this is the route companies are thinking about going, they're going to have to be prepared to weather the backlash that's pretty much inevitable.

However, maybe it isn't that bad of an idea.

They've already released their first flagships of the year, right? They're powerhouses in their own right, but they're priced as we might expect, and nothing all that shocking there. But, if they release a premium variant, with slightly tweaked specs in all the right areas, they could hike the price just enough to make the premium device and "standard" flagship sit on the same shelf and make sense in the process.

For Samsung, a Galaxy S5 with a few changes under the hood, but also a redesign with metal instead of plastic, could very well put the premium sticker on whatever new device they have coming down the pipe. What about HTC, though? A change in some internals, maybe, like more RAM, but the biggest focus would probably be on the camera, right? Do you think HTC would ditch their UltraPixel brand for a premium version of their One M8? Me either.

If this what's going to happen from here on out (because I don't see this being a one-year, try-and-then-quit move), then consumers might have to start utilizing some patience before they buy their next smartphone, just to see what else companies have coming down the pipe throughout the year. Maybe stop buying devices early on, then. Who knows. In any event, how would you feel about two similar flagship devices launching in the same year? Let me know!

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