Look Out Samsung: HTC’s One is a “breakthrough phone” which will ‘disrupt’ the market

HTC Blinkfeed
The no. 2 Android vendor in Australia is back with One bang -a revolutionised Blinkfeed interface, dumped “big fat lie” megapixel cameras for Ultrapix and even turned mobile into a mini boom box with two speakers.

HTC One, with its brilliant 4.7″ Full HD (1080p) screen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.7GHz quad-core processor, is “not an evolution..its an entirely new engine” declared Darren Sng, HTC Senior Director, Product Marketing for Asia, who travelled straight from the London launch to be at the Oz launch.

The HTC marketing guru was clearly still feeding off the hype surrounding the One, despite the red eye flight.

Smart Disruptions

HTC’s One marks “4 big disruptions” to the smartphone market: Blinkfeed live interface, Zoe Camera (stunning), Boom Sound audio (front dual speakers) and Sense TV, Sng told the packed crowd at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The difference between a BlackBerry and HTC One X was just the icons” he said.

But HTC has seen Sense.

Its new Sense version 5 dumps the previous HTC interface with the usual apps and clock for ‘Blinkfeed’ and is “the best Sense we have built since the original.”

“Definitely companies like Apple and Samsung are going to look at HTC One and ask ‘are we doing enough…what can we do differently?” Sng told SmartHouse, yesterday.

Apple hasn’t changed its smartphone since 2007, it just added an extra row of apps, he said.

There’s no doubt – HTC’s One is a stunner. We spent half an hour prodding the phone with a HTC rep and its definitely a game changer and will give Samsung and Apple a run for their money, if HTC can get pricing and distribution right.

HTC is changing the way we will use smartphones and will no doubt shake up the Android market as it is now more akin to a Windows 8 Phone with a feel similar to the Windows ‘live tiles’.

One’s Blinkfeed interface revolutionises the way smartphones users consume content. It is a “bold new interface” that boots apps (and the traditional Android interface) out the door and packs all your feeds–news, Facebook, Twitter, reminders, images and other info you choose–on the homescreen in a live stream.

Users can literally flick or ‘blink’ your way down through all your live feeds – “Blinktime changes your snacktime” Sng told SmartHouse. It changes the way you interact with your phone during your downtime whether its on a train or just at home.

No more tapping apps or typing website addresses – its all about instant flicking.

You have 1400 content sources to choose which you can customise – from the likes of Huff Post, SMH to ESPN.

Smile for ‘Zoe’

The Zoe camera was another amazing feature, and like Blinkfeed, it marks an “entirely new experience” for smartphone camera-users, says Sng.

Its makers also claim Zoe is “the best smartphone camera in the world,” that gather 300 percent more light than traditional phone camera sensors.

But how can this be true if the camera is only 4.3MP – Samsung S3 is 8MP, Sony has a 13MP camera and HTC even had a 16MP camera on one of its previous phones.

“Megapixels isn’t quality” declared Sng, …its a “big fat lie” so instead, HTC looked to change the game by introducing its “breakthrough” sensor with Ultrapix.

“Users want quality, not MP.”

Zoe has over 100 upgrades on previous HTC cameras. What you can’t do on this isn’t worth doing- the camera takes 20 frames in a 3 second video and you can choose the best picture.

Zoe also makes a 30 second HD video collage of your photo album (called Zoe Highlights) you took at a particular event (the screen is Full HD, don’t forget) highlighting what it senses are the most memorable moments.

You can also edit the pics – face smooth, red eye, choose the best smile with a tool called Always Smile, Object Removal, the awesome Sequence Shot and choose from all 20 shots to get the best pic possible from Zoe, which by the way means ‘life’ in Greek. It also captures video and replays in Full HD, can take great self portraits on wide angle front lens and 360′ panorama.

So forget having to take the photo again if it looks rubbish – One’s Zoe captures so many images you don’t have to.

Unlike any other smartphone, One has Boom Sound with dual speakers out the front that are loud, will display lyrics on screen and also boasts cool visual frequency displays as your tunes are playing and has a dedicated amplifier.

One in OZ

HTC One is an “entirely new interface for smartphone users” said Ben Hodgson, HTC MD Australia.

So how does he think One will fare among Aussie phone users?

“We are confident and have got good support from our [telco] partners” Ben Hodgson, Country Manager, HTC ANZ told SmartHouse.

“We can predict the future…but we’re optimistic about what’s ahead.”

HTC has suffered huge losses in the past year – its Q4 net profit slumped a whopping 91% from 2011 figures, due to the increasing popularity of Samsung who now make the top Android phone.

When asked about HTC’s recent financial woes globally, Hodgson remained coy but said: “we’ve maintained share.”  It’s still the No. 2 Android phone maker after Samsung, according to IDC.

The launch last night was packed out with journos from Australia, New Zealand and Asia racing to get a first look at HTC One, the smartphone that has everyone talking about HTC.

One will be the hero HTC smartphone this year, the flagship, and all other HTC devices this year will  be “complementary” to the hero, according to a HTC rep.

HTC didn’t give anything away on price, although it will be available at all carriers, Vodafone, Optus, Telstra and Virgin (185 globally) and will also likely to be sold in retailers, as it looks to spread One far and wide. Analysts warn HTC needs to get One pricing right.

However, we imagine it will be at the higher end of the smartphone market, competing with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S IV (unveiled soon) and the iPhone 5.

“Its just the beginning” of HTC’s reinvention of Sense, says Sng. And judging from what we sense there’s a lot more to come from this Android underdog.

The phone is made of all metal and glass and has been commended by many for its smooth unibody design. It’s beautifully light and Full HD screen (468 ppi) instantly captures the eye.

It comes in 3G and 4G, and comes in glacial silver and black.

HTC was once the biggest (and the first) maker of Google Android smartphones, before Samsung came along and took over.

That is possibly HTC’s weakness – it is not as well known a brand as global giant Samsung.

“Maybe we should start making TVs and washing machines”, a HTC exec whispered to me last night, but added “we like to do one thing the best” –  smartphones and tablets.

 And they’ve done a pretty good job, we reckon.

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