I keep telling myself that I really shouldn’t be holding out hope for HTC. The company I once blindly trusted to make my favorite smartphones has become inconsistent at best as of late. Regarding their smartphones, the outcome is about as predictable as a coin flip: you might get what you want, and you might not.
The same could be said for any manufacturer, really, but I feel it’s particularly true for HTC. The company nabbed the spotlight in 2013 with the unveiling of the HTC One (M7), arguably the first premium designed Android device. The HTC One M8 was a solid follow-up, but the HTC M9 failed to fix the problems that needed to be fixed, and may have even made the problems worse. Then they came back with the HTC 10, which seemingly fixed everything, but unfortunately fell flat due to a high price tag and little to no marketing. It was the great comeback that nobody knew about.
Then, earlier this year, HTC surprised everybody with the introduction of the HTC U Ultra and U Play duo. And by surprised, I mean confused. Were they flagships? Did these devices replace the HTC One line of devices? The answer: Yes. Wait, no. Maybe.
No answer given was clear on what the introduction of U Ultra and U Play meant, but if recent rumors regarding HTC hold any truth to them, it’s likely that HTC has another flagship up its sleeve for 2017, code named "Ocean".
While leaks and rumors are starting to pour through regarding the device, there’s only one thing we know for certain, and that’s that Ocean will not have the official name of HTC 11. Considering that the HTC U Ultra’s code name was "Ocean Note", it’s quite possible that the U Ultra and U Play were introduced as a transition between the apparent design shift between previous HTC One flagships (metal unibody) and HTC’s future flagships, which appear to follow closely with the metal and glass design of the U Ultra according to a recent image leak from Evan Blass:
Unfortunately, that means I’m setting myself up for disappointment, because I was not personally a fan of the U Ultra’s design. Shiny? Yes. Impractical? Also yes. The only thing worse than having glass covering one entire side of your device is having glass cover two entire sides of your device. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will take dings and dents in a metal body over a shattered glass body any day.
And just in case you thought it couldn’t get any worse, @LlabTooFer, another known insider, claims that the HTC Ocean will not sport a 3.5mm headphone jack, which has already proven to be a difficult move to get away with.
Still, it’s possible that the HTC Ocean stands a chance. After all, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 helped usher in a new era of Galaxy devices with its now iconic glass back, and Apple hardly suffered – if at all – for its removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Then again, that’s Samsung and Apple, and HTC has already a hard time with these same changes introduced with the U Ultra. Does the HTC Ocean really stand a better chance?
Perhaps. One aspect of the HTC Ocean that’s under speculation is its rumored Sense Touch feature, which will allegedly allow the user to control various aspects of the phone (gestures, menus, etc.) through “swipes and squeezes” to the device’s frame. It sounds like an interesting idea in theory, but we’ll have to wait to find out if A.) it’s true and B.) how well it actually works if it is true. With it, I think HTC may just have something innovative enough to generate interest; without it, I’m not sure how well the HTC Ocean could really do – assuming these other rumors are true as well.
As with all rumors, it’s best to take with a grain of salt. I find it’s best to expect the worst, that way you either get what you expected, or you’re pleasantly surprised. I’ve been burned by the hype train one too many times to feel optimistic about rumors anymore, but they are still fun to ponder. When it comes to HTC, I'm not sure I'll ever completely give up hope that they'll have a renaissance of some sort. Heck, I'm still silently rooting for Palm to come back in some way, shape, or form if that gives you any idea of what kind of delusional hopeful I am.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the HTC Ocean rumors? Are you still holding out hope for HTC to make a comeback, or has something else caught your interest already? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!