As I was watching the (rather boring, albeit bizarre) event from HTC yesterday, where the new HTC Desire Eye smartphone and RE camera were officially unveiled, I found myself in a myriad of mixed thoughts. First and foremost, the RE camera looked uncannily like an inhaler, or perhaps a bit like the revolver from the mystery game, Clue. I think the only thing that looked stranger than the camera itself was the clothing choices of the models showing it off, but that’s beside the point. While the RE camera seems like it has a lot to offer, I was much more interested in the smartphone on the scene.
My initial thoughts on the HTC Desire Eye switch back and forth between impressed and confused. On the one hand, I’m impressed at HTC’s dedication to appeal to the selfie generation (because in our minds, nobody can take better pictures of us than us). On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that HTC could have made a better impression by taking this headlining feature and placing it on something more worthwhile - like the HTC M9, for example.
Taking a closer look at the HTC Desire Eye’s specs, you’ll find that they closely resemble the HTC One M8. That’s great given how high-end the phone is, but it’s also several months old at this point. We’re about halfway between generations of One phones at this point, and it would have made sense to just leave well enough alone at this point. Many had mentioned before that HTC was planning to release a new M8 with a better camera - an idea which some people weren’t too keen on - and technically, by name, HTC decided against that.
But a rose is a rose by any other name, and the HTC Desire Eye might as well have been named the HTC One M8 Eye (or, you know, something like that). This phone just gave users who are still wary about the use of the UltraPixel camera a different option. 13-megapixels on the front, and 13-megapixels on the back, but that’s about the only changes that have been made. Everything else is just rehashed specs with a different design, and a different name.
I’m not opposed to the idea. I think a good front-facing camera is something that a lot of people would be interested in. As awkward as taking “selfies” might be, it’s become the preferable way for many people to take photos. Also, given that most phones don’t provide a physical camera key anymore (can we bring that back?) it’s one of the best ways to ensure that you’re not sitting there smiling like a dingus for longer than you have to because, as it turns out, your finger isn’t hitting the on-screen camera button properly; but in order to get a clearer picture you need to use the much better rear-facing camera. Front-facing cameras give you a preview of what the photo will look like before you take it. Most smartphones only give you 1 to 2-megapixel cameras on the front these days, so a higher megapixel is a plus.
But I don’t think an entirely new device should have been released solely in the name of selfies - especially under carrier exclusivity to AT&T - just to add better cameras. I think a better release at this time would have been the HTC One Max - which might still happen, of course, but probably could have benefited from yesterday’s event more than the Desire Eye did. The addition of a great front-facing camera could have really made the M9 stand out. Hopefully we'll still see this in the M9, but it won’t be as big of a surprise given that HTC beat themselves to it.
While I don’t think the HTC Desire Eye has killed anticipation for the M9, I do think that it was somewhat of a lackluster announcement. HTC needs more than that to keep building rapport at this crucial time.