I have a fairly extensive personal history with HTC devices. Stretching back all the way to the days of Windows Mobile, I’ve been fairly consistent in owning at least one HTC device a year since 2009. The brand has consistently created devices that have piqued my interest, and rarely have I been truly disappointed with the phones that I’ve owned. In fact, I’m inclined to say that some of my very best experiences with a smartphone have been with HTC phones.
Despite my mostly positive experiences, however, it’s clear that HTC no longer has the same powerful influence in the industry as it once did. Although HTC has undoubtedly created some of the most memorable devices in mobile, frequent strings of questionable decisions has left the company “worthless” at the moment – in the literal value sense, not figuratively speaking.
It’s actually quite disappointing to me. Although I was never particularly fond of my HTC Touch Diamond or my HTC Snap (two of the worst phones I have ever owned, but primarily because of Windows Mobile and not necessarily because of hardware) I was a huge fan of the HTC EVO 4G, the HTC myTouch 3G Slide, and of course the HTC One M7. The EVO was remarkable in the sense that it was the first “4G” phone (using Sprint’s WiMax network) released in the U.S. The myTouch 3G Slide was a pleasant experience because this particular device had a great physical keyboard for an Android.
The HTC One M7, however, was the most outstanding to me because of everything it represented; namely, hope and second chances.
The M7 arrived after HTC took a nosedive in popularity. The company was releasing a ton of devices under confusing aliases and neglecting to update all of these phones in a timely fashion, and sometimes not at all. Morale for HTC was way down, and it didn’t take much for rival Samsung to take the spotlight away from them. But when the M7 was released, everything changed.
“Beauty and brains” was the term I remember using to describe my initial reaction to the HTC One M7. The aluminum unibody design had a certain beauty about it that no other Android device had been able to attain. For so long Android devices were the less-attractive alternative to the “premium” design and stigma of the iPhone, but the M7 was widely regarded as being the first Android to truly rival the iPhone’s superior reputation.
I initially chose the Samsung Galaxy S4 over the M7, but I was not as impressed with the S4 as I thought I would be. A mere $35 later (restocking fee), the M7 managed to capture my interest in Android once again. After having switched to the iPhone after being fed up with the bugs I experienced with my Android devices, HTC reeled me back in. Not only did the M7 have beautiful hardware, but HTC’s Sense redesign was exceptionally good-looking as well. Dual front-facing speakers was also a massive plus, and made me realize that phones should almost always have a front-facing speaker.
Maybe it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time, but the M7 really did seem like HTC was getting itself together. The M8 didn’t amuse me as much, but I still considered it a great phone. The M9, on the other hand, was too similar to the M8 in looks and just didn’t really seem like that great of an upgrade. It’s a great flagship in its own right (what isn’t these days?) but if you’ve owned the M7 or M8 there isn’t much reason to get hyped.
They say history has a way of repeating itself, and in this case I hope that’s the case. HTC has given me some of my best experiences in the smartphone industry, and it’s a shame to see them in dire straits again. I hope to see another device come from HTC that sparked as much hope and wonder as the M7 did for a lot of people.