HTC hopes to lead again with One M8 smartphone
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HTC hopes to lead again with One M8 smartphone

HTC announced its successor to the “best smartphone in the world” yesterday with the official launch of the One M8 in New York.

The launch of its new flagship handset followed months of teasers from HTC and the now rather predictable leak. The Taiwanese phone maker will be hoping a bump in specs and new camera technology will help arrest the company’s slide after two years of declining revenue.

The new One features a Snapdragon 800 processor that clocks up to 2.3 GHz – or up to 2.5 GHz on the Asian model. The 1080p display is slightly larger at 5 inches and the metallic body 9mm taller and 2.4mm wider.

On the back twin lenses powered by a 4.1 “ultrapixel” camera allow users to alter the focus of pictures after taking the shot.

On the latest UI, Sense 6.0, HTC has opened the native news aggregator Blinkfeed up to developers to allow apps like Fitbit push data into the feed.

Also improved is the battery performance: HTC claims its “extreme power saving mode” – much like Samsung’s “ultra power saving mode” – will allow a phone with a full charge to last for two weeks.

Speaking at the launch in New York, HTC Americas president Jason Mackenzie took aim at rival Samsung, whose underwhelming flagship Galaxy 5 was released last month.

“This is so much better than just launching another phone and throwing a few dimples on the back,” he said.

Samsung has risen rapidly in recent years and now sells 3 in every 10 smartphones shipped worldwide, according to Gartner. But HTC’s fortunes have been just the opposite: since its zenith of 10.7 per cent global market share in 2011, its market share now is just 2.6 per cent globally – and falling. It has been pushed aside by Samsung, Apple, and low-cost Asian competitors like China’s Xiaomi.

The Taoyuan-based firm – which makes only smartphones – saw a 30 percent decline in sales last year following a 38 per cent decline the year before.

“If it wasn’t for the One, HTC probably wouldn’t be here today,” Scott Croyle, vice president of design at HTC told The Verge earlier this month.

Hopes of a turnaround may lie across Taiwan strait in China. HTC has said it is aiming for 20 per cent of the high-end market in China, which may be achievable. According to market analyst Canalys, HTC already has a 10 per cent share of phones costing more than Rmb3000 ($500).

HTC co-founder and chairwoman Cher Wang told Reuters last month she expects 2014 to be a more profitable year, with a renewed focus on the developing markets and mid-range models. Pricing is often a decisive factor in markets like China where handsets typically aren’t subsidised by carriers but bought outright – putting the pricey One out of reach for many.

The One M8 is available for pre-order in the US and the UK, and HTC says it will be available in Australia, Taiwan, China and parts of Europe by the end of April.