UPDATED: AT&T withdraws from arrangement to carry Huawei phones in its stores

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The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the day that AT&T had backed away from a deal that would have seen AT&T Wireless carry and sell an undisclosed Huawei “flagship” mobile phone in its retail locations.  Sean P and I have discussed that this might have been a solid way for Huawei (currently one of the top smartphone OEMs in the world, but who’s made limited inroads in the US market as of yet) to get a foothold in the very lucrative United States sales territory.

We’ve both argued back and forth during our podcasts in the past about whether carrier support is necessary for sales success, and what it boils down to is how you define success.  Huawei is very large and isn’t having any issues selling phones, period.  But if they want to grow even further, a deal with a US carrier seems likely.  WSJ also reported today that Huawei is seen as a “spy threat” and this may have had something to do with AT&T withdrawing from the deal.  Considering the current US government climate and attitude towards wired and wireless broadband carriers, and its support of the end of net neutrality, it probably wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that nationalism played a role in this whole dance.

Huawei will have to find another partner in the US carrier market to tango with.

**UPDATE:  9to5Google is reporting that it was indeed “political pressure” that scuttled the AT&T and Huawei deal, with Huawei reportedly suprised by the news.  This makes snese, considering that Huawei was poised to make a major announcent at CES 2018 this week which was presumed to be that they had indeed landed a carrier deal with AT&T.

**2nd UPDATE:  Android Police is now reporting that Verizon may be under similar pressure to end a deal with Huawei that was scheduled for later on this year.

Chinese OEM Huawei to have US carrier presence in 2018

huawei_logo-4In a move that could surely cause waves with other carriers and mobile OEMs, Huawei appears to have entered into an agreement with AT&T to bring a flagship phone to their retail stores, starting early next year.  Sean P and I have talked about during the podcasts about how without a carrier presence in the US, most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) don’t have a ton of sales success.

While Huawei has made some very solid value and flagship phones in recent years, their sales figures in the United States haven’t been as stellar as overseas.  This move is poised to start to change all that.  We will definitely be following this story as we get closer to 2018.

 

[News] Samsung Galaxy Note 2 now available through AT&T

If you are an AT&T customer and have been waiting for a 5.5 inch phone+tablet to arrive, you need wait no longer.  As of today, the Galaxy Note 2 is now available for purchase through AT&T for $299 with a 2 year contract agreement.  As this phone boasts some of the best specs in the phone world right now (see the full review of this beast here) its worth a long look.  Now admittedly…if you’ve seen the Galaxy S3, this phablet is bigger (by almost a full inch) so make sure you test it in  before you buy.  But if the size doesn’t bother you (as it surely doesn’t bother my partner here on the site) this is a great phone.

If you’ve got spare cash and need a new phone (and are with those AT&T people) check it out.

*Source: Droid-Life

[News]HTC announces the One X+ and One VX exclusively for AT&T

This morning HTC officially announced the One X+ and One VX exclusively for AT&T.  Both phones are due out in November.

The One X+ is a refresh of the One X and comes with a 4.7″ Super LCD-2 720p screen, a Tegra 3+ quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 64(!)GB of standard on board storage and a larger 2100mah internal battery.

The One VX sports a 4.5″ qHD screen, a 1.5ghz dual-core S4 Snapdragon, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of standard on board storage, an SD card slot and a 1810mah internal battery.

It’s too bad both phones are limited to AT&T because the One X+ would be an excellent Samsung Galaxy S III alternative if it was available on other networks.   HTC needs to figure out a way to get their phones on all the major U.S. carriers if they want to be competitive.

HTC ONE X+
Release Date: November
Carrier(s): AT&T
Price: $199.99 on contract

CPU/GPU: Tegra 3+ 1.7ghz quad-core/Tegra 3+

Screen: 4.7″ Super LCD-2 (RGB) 1280x720p
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps

Memory: 1GB RAM

Storage: 64GB
Battery: Non-Removable/2100mah
Outlook: A very nice update to the already excellent One X.  The One X+ has flagship specs, more standard storage than any other smartphone (64GB!), a larger battery and is still the best looking Android phone available.
HTC ONE VX
Release Date: November
Carrier(s): AT&T
Price: $99.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.2ghz/Adreno305
Screen: 4.5″ Super LCD-2 (RGB) 960×540
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/5MP/1080p@30fps

Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 8GB
Battery: Non-Removable/1810mah

Outlook: A good looking mid-tier phone reminiscent of the One S.  The One VX has a powerful dual-core Snapdragon S4 with an updated Adreno 305 GPU.  The One VX looks to be an excellent option for the casual smartphone user. 

[Special Feature]Holiday 2012 Smartphone buyer’s guide

The next couple months are poised to be very exciting for smartphone buyers.  Along with the recently released iPhone 5 and host of other great phones already released this year, a number of flagship devices are on the way.  Here’s a look at some of the devices broken down by operating system:

Android:

HTC Droid DNA
Release Date: November 20th
Carrier(s): Verizon
Price: $199.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro/Adreno 320
Screen: 5″ Super LCD-3 (RGB) 1920x1080p
Camera: 2.1MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 2GB
Storage: 16GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2020mah
Pros: A 5″ 1080p screen featuring a ridiculous pixel density of 440ppi.  Stylish design with typical HTC quality materials.  The S4 PRO is the most powerful CPU/GPU in the current Android universe.
Cons: Large for the average consumer.  No SD card slot.  Internal battery.
Outlook: The specs of the DNA are as impressive as any phone on the market.  The 1080p screen would be the first of its kind on any smartphone and the quad-core S4 Snapdragon CPU is one of the most powerful available.  The relatively small battery may be cause for concern however.
Similar phones to consider: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, LG Intuition, Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy S III

HTC ONE X+
Release Date: November
Carrier(s): AT&T
Price: $199.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Tegra 3+ 1.7ghz quad-core/ULP GeForce
Screen: 4.7″ Super LCD-2 (RGB) 1280x720p
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 64GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2100mah
Pros: Improved version of the already great One X.  The AP37 Tegra 3+ quad-core CPU is an upgrade from the dual-core S4.   The 720p Super LCD-2 is one of the best screens on the market.  Fantastic design with high end matte polycarbonate uni body.  Looks and feels premium.  Bigger battery.  Great camera.  More standard on board storage and any other phone (64GB).
Cons: No SD card slot.  Internal battery.  HTC ImageChip/ImageSource camera system doesn’t produce better pictures than the competition (though still very good).
Outlook: The One X+ is the best looking Android phone on the planet.  It has a powerful quad-core Tegra 3+ CPU, a beautiful screen, plenty of on board storage and a great camera. Unfortunately the Tegra 3+ chip is still the 40nm variety meaning it runs hotter and uses more battery than other quad-core processors. 
Similar phones to consider: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

LG Optimus G 
Release Date: November 2nd (AT&T), 11th (Sprint)
Carrier(s): AT&T, Sprint
Price: $199.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5ghz/Adreno 320
Screen: 4.7″ IPS+ LCD (RGB) 1280x768p
Camera: 1.2MP(Fr)/13MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2100mah
Pros: Top CPU/GPU available.  Flagship specs across the board including ram, camera, and screen. Back cover is a unique polarized jewel pattern.
Cons: No SD card slot.  Internal battery.  Glass back is fragile.  No front facing notification LED.  Launching with Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Jelly Bean.  Historically LG’s Android skin is among the worst.  LG doesn’t always update their phones in a timely manner.
Outlook: The LG Optimus G has a super powerful quad-core S4 Snapdragon CPU, a high resolution 4.7″ screen and a generous 2GB of RAM.  The only negatives are LG has a bad reputation for supporting their flagship phones and it’s launching with Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Jelly Bean.
Similar phones to consider: 
AT&T: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
Sprint: Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III

Motorola Droid Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD 
Release Date: October 18th
Carrier(s): Verizon
Price: $199.99 (Razr HD) & $299.99 (Maxx HD)  on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.7″ Super AMOLED Pentile Matrix 1280x720p
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Non-Removable/2500mah(HD)/3300mah(Maxx HD)
Pros: Above average(HD), and insane(MAXX) battery life.  Premium materials including Kevlar back plate.  On screen buttons.  SD card slot.  Very good HD screen.  Radios and call quality are top notch.
Cons: CPU and GPU  arenslightly outdated compared to other forthcoming flagships.  Pentile matrix screen.  Ships with Ice Cream Sandwhich instead of Jelly Bean.  Verizon charges too much for both.
Outlook: If you need a phone that gets serious battery life, both the standard RAZR HD and RAZR HD MAXX are excellent choices.  Owners of the RAZR HD MAXX are reporting  they get multiple days on a single charge with 7+ hours of on screen time.  Verizon charges too much for both phones, but Amazon is currently selling the RAZR HD for $149.99 and the RAZR HD MAXX for $199.99.  Do yourself a favor and spend the extra $50.00 to get the MAXX.  
Similar Phones to consider: Apple iPhone 5, HTC Droid DNA, LG Optimus G, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Release Date: T-Mobile and Sprint – October 25th
                        AT&T – November 9th
                        Verizon – November 27th
Carrier(s): AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon
Price: $299 on contract
CPU/GPU: Exynos 4412 1.6ghz quad-core/Mali-400
Screen: 5.5″ Super AMOLED (RGB) 1280x720p
Camera: 1.9MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Removable/3100mah
Pros: Very large RGB Super AMOLED screen (Samsung’s first non-pentile HD screen!).  Large removable  battery.  SD card slot support for up to 64GB.  S-pen functionality.  Excellent camera. Multi-window function is seriously cool.
Cons: Very large for the average consumer.  Looks like a very large Galaxy S III.  Physical home button.  Cheap feeling materials.
Outlook: The Galaxy Note 2 offers a powerful quad-core Exynos processor, the best Super AMOLED screen Samsung has produced to date, and a healthy 2GB of ram.  The S-Pen stylus and Note 2 specific software offers unique functionality.  The Note 2 is physically very large and not for everyone.
Similar phones to consider: 
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile: N/A
Verizon: HTC Droid DNA, LG Intuition

Sony Xperia TL
Release Date: November 2nd
Carrier(s): AT&T
Price: $99.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.6″ LCD 1280x720p
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/13MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Non-Removable/1850mah
Pros: Quality screen.  Unique, clean design.  SD card slot.  On screen buttons.
Cons: Smaller internal battery/mediocre battery life.  CPU and GPU slightly outdated compared to other forthcoming flagships.  Launching with Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Jelly Bean.
Outlook: The Xperia TL has a nice 4.6″ RGB 720p screen, a 13mp camera, and a dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU.  The $99.99 price point is a pleasant surprise and makes the TL a solid value.  Anyone looking for a budget friendly smart phone on AT&T should give it a look.
Similar phones to consider: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

LG Nexus 4
Release Date: November 13th
Carrier(s): T-Mobile/Unlocked
Price: $299/8GB & $349/16GB
           $199 T-Mobile on contract
CPU/GPU: Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro/Adreno 320
Screen: 4.7″ IPS+ LCD (RGB) 1280x768p
Camera: 1.2MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 8GB/16GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2100mah
Pros: Top CPU/GPU available.  Flagship specs across the board including ram, camera, and screen. Nexus phone means non-encrypted boot loader and stock Android.  Nexus phones get updates as soon as they’re available. 
Cons: No SD card slot.  Internal battery.  Storage options are very limited.  Won’t work on Sprint or Verizon, and no LTE support for AT&T.
Outlook: The LG Optimus Nexus brings top notch specs, a non-encrypted boot loader and stock Android together in a tidy black package.  
Similar phones to consider: 
AT&T: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
T-Mobile: Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

Windows Phone 8:

HTC Windows Phone 8X
Release Date: November 8th
Carrier(s): AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon
Price: $99.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5ghz/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.3″ Super LCD-2 (RGB) 1280x720p
Camera: 2.1MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/1800mah
Pros: Fantastic Super LCD-2 screen with a very high 342ppi pixel density.  Unique and colorful design borrowed heavily from the Nokia Lumia line.  Solid polycarbonate body.  Beats audio integration.
Cons: No SD card slot.  Internal battery.  Thick compared to iPhone 5 and flagship Android products.
Outlook: The HTC 8X has a 4.3″ 720p screen and the same dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU as all the competing WP8 flagships.  The design is similar to the Nokia Lumia 920 and appears to have the high build quality and solid materials that HTC is known for.  
Similar phones to consider:
AT&T:  Apple iPhone 5, HTC One X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
T-Mobile: LG Optimus G, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
Verizon: Apple iPhone 5, HTC DNA, LG Optimus G, Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

Nokia Lumia 920
Release Date: November 11th
Carrier(s): AT&T
Price: $99.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5ghz/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.5″ PureMotion  HD+ LCD(RGB) 1280x768p
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/8.7MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 32GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2000mah
Pros: The 4.5″ PureMotion HD+ screen looks fantastic and has Synaptic’s new super sensitive touch technology.  The 8.7MP PureView camera is superior for low light photography and image stabilization and generally excellent.  Solid polycarbonate uni body with unique and colorful Nokia design language.
Cons: No SD card slot.  Internal battery.  Even thicker and heavier than the HTC 8X.  The gloss back looks cheap compared to the matte back on the Lumia 900.  Camera is great in low light, but only okay during the day.
Outlook: This is the flagship Windows 8 phone.  The dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU is the same as the HTC 8X and Samsung Ativ S, and is only outgunned by the quad-core Android CPU’s.  The 4.5″ HD screen is by all accounts excellent and is sensitive enough to be used with gloves.  Camera tests have shown superior low light ability and image stabilization compared to the iPhone 5 and HTC One X.
Similar phones to consider: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Ativ S
Release Date: November
Carrier(s): AT&T and Verizon
Price: $199.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5ghz/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.8″ Super AMOLED (Pentile Matrix) 1280x720p
Camera: 1.9MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Removable/2300mah
Pros: Much thinner body than either the 8X or Lumia 920.  Largest screen (4.8″) of the group.  Has an SD card slot and large removable battery.  Excellent camera.
Cons: Lower quality (pentile matrix) screen and cheap materials compared to the competition.
Outlook: Essentially a WP8 version of the excellent Samsung Galaxy S III.  The 4.8″ screen is the largest of the group, but the lowest quality due to being pentile matrix.  The camera is excellent and the battery is large and removable.
Similar phones to consider: 
AT&T: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S III
Verizon: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC DNA, LG Optimus G, Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD, Samsung Galaxy S III

Best Phones Already on the Market:

Apple iPhone 5
Released on: Sept 21, 2012
Carrier(s): AT&T, Sprint and Verizon
Price: $199.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core A6 1.3ghz/Tri-core PowerVR543
Screen: 4″ IPS LCD (RGB) 1136x640p
Camera: 1.2MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/1440mah
Pros: One of the thinnest, lightest phones on the market.  Very good battery life.  Screen is top notch.  Excellent camera.  High quality materials and classic design.
Cons: Screen is small at 4″ compared to other smart phones.  Non-removable battery and no SD card slot.  No notification LED.  Apple’s iOS allows very little user customization compared to Android. Proprietary Lightning port means more expensive cables.  Android flagships have caught up in the specs and quality department.
Outlook: One of the best all around phones on the market.  Powerful while also very thin and light.  Excellent 4″ screen and camera.  The best small phone available.
Similar phones to consider:
AT&T: HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
Sprint: LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S III
T-Mobile: LG Optimus G, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
Verizon: HTC DNA, LG Optimus G, Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

HTC EVO 4G LTE
Released on: June 2, 2012
Carrier(s): Sprint
Price: As low as $49.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5ghz/Adreno 225

Screen: 4.7″ Super LCD-2 (RGB) 1280x720p

Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps

Memory: 1GB RAM

Storage: 16GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Non-Removable/2000mah
Pros: The 720p Super LCD-2 is one of the best screens on the market.  SD card slot.  Looks and feels premium.  Excellent camera.
Cons: Non-removable battery.  HTC ImageChip/ImageSource camera system doesn’t produce better pictures than the competition (although they are still very good).  Still on Ice Cream Sandwich, but Jelly Bean is rumored to be coming out soon.  Two-tone matte/gloss design is questionable and not as nice as the HTC One X on which the Evo is based.

Outlook: Based on the HTC One X, the EVO 4G adds a removable battery and SD card slot at the expense of design asthetics.  Although the phone was released in June, it still sports competitive specs.  Can be had for as low as $49.99 on contract (Amazon). 

Similar phones to considerApple iPhone 5, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S III

HTC ONE X
Released on: May 6, 2012
Carrier(s): AT&T
Price: As low as $49.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5ghz/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.7″ Super LCD-2 (RGB) 1280x720p
Camera: 1.3MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/1800mah
Pros: The 720p Super LCD-2 is one of the best screens on the market.  Fantastic design with high end matte polycarbonate uni body.  Looks and feels premium.  Excellent camera.
Cons: No SD card slot.  Internal battery.  HTC ImageChip/ImageSource camera system doesn’t produce better pictures than the competition (although they are still very good).  Still on Ice Cream Sandwich, but Jelly Bean is rumored to be coming out soon.
Outlook: The best looking Android phone available.  The One X is still competitive from a specs standpoint even though it was released in May.  Can be had for as low as $49.99 on contract (Target). 
Similar phones to considerApple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III
Released on: June 21, 2012
Carrier(s): AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon
Price: As low as $149.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Dual-core Snapdragon S4 1.5ghz/Adreno 225
Screen: 4.8″ Super AMOLED (Pentile Matrix) 1280x720p
Camera: 1.9MP(Fr)/8MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 16GB/32GB
SD Card Slot: Yes
Battery: Removable/2100mah
Pros: Large 4.8″ screen.  Super thin body.  SD card slot and large removable battery.  Excellent camera.  2GB of ram.
Cons: Lower quality (pentile matrix) screen and cheap materials compared to the competition.  Still on Ice Cream Sandwich, but Jelly Bean is rumored to be coming out soon.
Outlook: The Galaxy S III is a great all around smartphone.  It has a dual-core Snapdragon S4 CPU, a 4.8″ 720p screen, 2GB of ram, an SD card slot and a large, removable battery.  Prices are currently in the $99.99 range (Amazon), but Sprint will be selling the Galaxy S III for $49.99 on Black Friday.  Other carriers will likely drop the price during the holidays too.
Similar phones to consider:
AT&T: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, HTC One X, HTC One X+, LG Optimus G, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
Sprint: Apple iPhone 5, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S III
T-Mobile: LG Optimus G, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III
Verizon: Apple iPhone 5, HTC DNA, LG Optimus G, Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy S III

[Op-Ed]HTC is back to making great phones, so why are they still struggling?

HTC ruled Android phones in 2010.  They started the year off by releasing the Nexus One and then followed that up by releasing the Droid Incredible on Verizon in April and the Evo 4G on Sprint in June.  The Droid Incredible and Evo 4G in particular received significant advertising support from their respective carriers and were massive hits.  It seemed like HTC could do no wrong and the record profits they turned in seemingly every quarter reinforced this notion.

Then 2011 came around and HTC’s fortunes changed dramatically.  HTC starting falling behind the competition in a number of crucial areas.  Performance benchmark scores, battery life, reliability and stability all seemed to lag behind the competition.  The proprietary skin HTC put on Android called “Sense” was continually getting more system intensive and started negatively impacting the speed of the devices it was on.  On top of all that, Samsung released the Galaxy S II and dramatically raised the bar for Android hardware.

(Photo courtesy of almostlikeeverything.com)

Looking back at the phones HTC released in 2011 it’s hard to say that any of them were terrible.  However almost all of them could be described as underwhelming.  The Thunderbolt, Sensation, Sensation XE, EVO 3D, Vivid and mid-range models like the Incredible 2 and female targeted Rhyme all seemed to fade away quickly and quietly (or in the case of the Thunderbolt maybe not so quietly).  Reviewers liked the phones, but complained about bad battery life and noted how HTC had fallen behind in screen quality.  They tried differentiating their phones by adding features like Beats Audio, but features like Beats didn’t seem to resonate with consumers.  The HTC design aesthetic had also grown stale.  Their phones were virtually indistinguishable from one another and were heavier and thicker than the competition.  Can you tell the difference between these three completely separate models on completely different carriers?

(Photos courtesy of htc.com)

At the end of the 2011 HTC released the Rezound on Verizon.  The Rezound got lost under the massive hype of the Galaxy Nexus and the massive marketing behind the Droid Razr, but was an excellent phone in its own right.  It had the best screen and camera of the trio and also had an SD card slot the others lacked.  The battery life was at least equivalent despite having the lowest capacity.  HTC also gave users the ability to unlock the bootloader through their development site.  The phone was still quite a bit thicker than the others, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.  

As 2012 rang in, how would HTC respond to the rise of Samsung and their own sagging market share?  The answer came with the announcement of the HTC One line at the Mobile World Congress in February.  HTC announced a trio of new smartphones: the low-range One V, the mid-range One S, and the flagship One X.  The One S and One X were stunners.  The One S had a super thin body (7.9mm!), a dual-core Krait S4 processor, and a 4.3″ qHD Super AMOLED screen.  The One X featured a super thin (8.9mm) Polycarbonate Unibody with a 4.7″ RGB Super LCD 2 screen, a quad-core Tegra 3 processor (dual-core Krait S4 in the U.S.), and 1GB of ram.  Both phones also featured a dedicated camera chip called ImageChip that HTC claimed greatly improved image quality.  Finally, both phones featured the newest version of Sense (4.0) which was much less of a resource hog and a generally “thinner” skin.  
The designs were a huge departure from what HTC had been doing and both were gorgeous.  Almost a year later the One X is still one of the best looking phones on the market. 
(Photo courtesy of htc.com)
So, HTC learned its lessons from 2011, introduced fantastic products for 2012 and triumphed, right?  Well, not quite.  T-Mobile got the One S in April.  The One X was released by AT&T on May 6, 2012.  Verizon passed on the One X and eventually got a heavily modified One S variant called the Droid Incredible 4G LTE in July.  Sprint got a heavily reworked version of the One X that they called the Evo 4G LTE in June.  The Evo 4G LTE variant added in an SD card slot, a removable battery, and a lot of questionable design choices.  They took one of the most beautiful phones on the market and gave it a bizarre two tone gloss/matte backing with a red kickstand in the middle.  
(Photo courtesy androidguys.com)
While all these different variants were slowly trickling out, Samsung unleashed the Galaxy S III on May 3rd. A single version of the GSIII was released on all major carriers on June 21st and it has sold over 20 million units worldwide.  Meanwhile the One series has been a sales disappointment and is now getting price drops to move inventory.  Obviously the Galaxy S III was a major improvement over the One X and that’s the reason it was so much more successful, right?  Well, actually no.  Both screens are 720p, but the RGB Super LCD-2 unit on the One X is superior to the 720p pentile Super AMOLED unit on the GSIII.  The cameras are both 8mp and are pretty equivalent.  Battery life is similar.  The GSIII has an SD card slot and a removable battery, neither of which the One X has.  The GSIII also has 2GB of ram while the One X has 1GB.  The dimensions are similar.  From a materials perspective the One X makes the GSIII feel and look cheap.  
Both phones are excellent products and choosing between them could easily come down to user preference. So why has the One series disappointed while the Galaxy S III soared?  Distribution.  Samsung was able to get all the carriers to release an identical product a month and a half after it was announced.  HTC announced the One series in February and it took them 5 months to get something on every carrier.  The only stock variants of One series phones on U.S. carriers are the One X on AT&T and the One S on T-Mobile. Verizon and Sprint got heavily messaged variants that were both inferior to the design they were based off of.  
The One X is a fantastic phone and it’s a shame it only made it to one carrier intact.  Under different circumstances it could have (and probably should have) been a massive hit.  
Over the next couple months it looks like HTC will unleash a One X + (featuring a quad-core Tegra 3+ processor) and a 5″ 1080p quad-core monster that may or may not end up being a Nexus phone. Going forward HTC needs to handle releases like Samsung (and Apple) does.  Get one version of their phone released on all carriers within a month or two of announcing it.  If consumers get to compare the new HTC phones against other Android handsets, I believe they compare favorably.  Consumers will buy great products given the chance, and HTC is back to making great products.
(Photo courtesy droid-life.com)