For HTC, 2012 wasn't a pretty year. In January, the Taiwanese phone maker posted a 90 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit as it struggled to build an identity alongside the mass appeal of Apple's iPhone 5 or the glitzy engine humming inside Samsung's Galaxy S III. The figures spoke loud and clear: Something needed to change.
On Tuesday, the company pulled the curtains off the HTC One, its new flagship Android smartphone that, according to The Verge, "sticks closely to the company's tradition of wowing fans with lofty specs," but also "innovates dramatically in a couple of key areas." Tech bloggers are excited. Twitter is abuzz. Here's everything you need to know about it:
What's so great about the HTC One?
It has lovely new aluminum chassis. A big 4.7-inch LCD display with 1080p resolution. The smartphone displays sharp images at 468 pixels per inch (the iPhone 5 packs 326ppi, by comparison). Beats Audio technology. The HTC One has a new HD camera feature the company is calling ZOE (more on that later). All in all, says The Next Web, it's a "beast of a phone."
What's under the hood, specifically?
If you really must know…
• Android Jelly Bean
• A 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor
• 2GB RAM
• 32GB or 64GB internal storage
• 4.7-inch LCD screen (1,920 x 1,080 pixels); 468ppi
• 4G LTE
• NFC technology
• Bluetooth 4.0
Anything really unique about it?
The HTC One comes with an infrared sensor so that you can use it as a remote control for your TV. (Which kind of makes sense, since your phone's usually within arm's reach and typically doesn't get lost in the couch cushions.) It also has two relatively powerful front-facing speakers dubbed HTC BoomSound. In other words, it bucks the tinny sound emanating other phones' speakers so that you can play music at a picnic, or perhaps even annoy other passengers on your morning commute. (Kidding. Please don't be that person.)
But perhaps the most unique new feature is the HTC's new ZOE camera. The phone kicks aside the megapixel myth with an elaborate new image technology that allows the One's 4-megapixel camera to capture photos closer to 16 megapixels. It's complicated, but essentially the ZOE system utilizes bigger pixels to transform the One into a gritty little point-and-shoot that's capable of capturing photos in low-light situations with a better tonal range than most other phone cameras.
What are critics saying?
Most of them like what they see. Darrel Etherington at TechCrunch says it's a clear shift in strategy as HTC tries to become more Apple-like. With the One, "we get a back-to-basics simplified naming scheme, a physical case that better approximates Apple's high-market industrial design, and an emphasis on user experience and software, instead of crowing loud and long about the spec race that has been popular among Android OEMs in the past." Roger Cheng at CNET says the new phone shows that HTC is finally demonstrating a "willingness to break from tradition," which can be felt all the way down to the phone's software design. The One could be a big hit, as long as it gets some marketing muscle behind it, "because it was totally overshadowed last year by Samsung." Chris Davis at Slashgear is similarly effusive, calling it an "ambitious device," and arguably HTC's "best handset to-date."
When can I get it?
March 15 for T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. Interestingly, Samsung's Galaxy S IV is due out around the same time.