Friday, 6 February 2015


Above: HTC CEO, Peter Chou.

Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers! It's so lovely to see you! I hope that all is well with you and yours!

Hey! Are you due for an upgrade soon? How does the HTC One M9 or the Galaxy S6 grab you?

#HTC #OneM9 #Hima #1stMarch #TimCook #Samsung #GalaxyS6 #GalaxySEdge

When I think about HTC several things come to mind...

1. CEO, Peter Chou was trashing the Samsung Galaxy S4 upon the launch with very uncomplimentary choice words regarding the Air gestures.

2. Beautiful designs that look like they’ve come out of Sci-Fi movies from different eras – the Desire reminds me of the Buck Rodgers of 1939 but in a positive way.

3. Deeply disappointing cameras.
I will never understand why rivals in business or any other arena think that talking trash against the other will cause the other to crumble or something... Maybe this kind of thing works in the martial arts / boxing sports industries but it definitely does not work in the mobile device industry. Apple? Apple against “those other guys”? Well, if the recent record iPhone 6 & 6 Plus sales are to be believed and anything to go by then I am certain that this is because Cook and co did not focus the attention upon so called rivals (remember: iOS and Android are two separate platforms). Ever since Apple kicked up a stink against Samsung and Android in general they’ve been inadvertently promoting “those other guys” and especially Samsung. Had Apple mentioned the rival Galaxy Note at the iPhone 6 Plus launch it would have diverted the attention to the better handset and cause people to think about the up and coming Galaxy Note 4. Smart move!

Going back to HTC... Apart from the beautiful and original handset designs HTC never did anything with Android other than to enclose it with its Sense UI overlay. Whether you like Samsung’s TouchWiz or not you just have to appreciate the marvellous things that Samsung has brought out of Android such as the Air gestures and eye tracker for example. Sense is okay, but I do prefer TouchWiz. That said, I do wish for aspects of TouchWiz to come in the form of widgets... Ironically, now that Android is going into the 64-bit era I don’t think there will be an issue of lag even in the heaviest of version of TouchWiz. That said the 32-bit Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6 are equally fast and there is no lag thus so far!

Because Sense does not bring much – if anything to the Android UI HTC ought to think about giving consumers a vanilla or close to experience like that of the Moto handsets from Motorola.

What I love about Android in general is that the operating system inspires manufacturers to create the most amazing designs... ...just take look at LG and the G3... Mwah! Gorgeous! The Sharp Aquos Crystal... WOW! I do think that HTC definitely blazed a trail in the design department. I actually wanted the One M7, M8 and I know that I would want the M9.

Certainly the One M7 beat the iPhone at its own game; the front-facing speakers are wonderful! The unibody feels so good in the hand. As I’ve said before, the One M7 came across like an alien visitor had left his / her phone behind. ET can’t phone home...

I have to say that, as a Samsung fan, that I was tempted to go HTC as the Samsung designs got safe after the Galaxy S3. I was also tempted by the LG G3 too! But there is one department that HTC has always been lacking in...

I can’t think of a single HTC handset that features a decent camera. I did a review on a HTC Sensation a while back and the camera was bad despite the wonderful design. So, when I heard “Ultrapixels” and how it really boiled down to 4MP I knew that the One M7 was not for me. I LOVE smartphone photography and the one manufacturer that has kept true to its camera promise is... <drum roll> ...Samsung! I was so very impressed with the Galaxy S3 camera and it got better for the Galaxy S4, Note 2, 3 and 4.

I am always bewildered by some of the “reviews” I’ve seen on Samsung’s premium efforts with regards to the camera interface... ...some reviews say that the camera interface is too complex when it is anything but! If you own a good digital camera you will find similar – if not the same – options for auto, night photography, sports and so on. Fair enough, it does take a bit of time to get used to but once you have tried out the photo options you’d be prepared for any situation instinctively. Another thing that I love about Samsung premium handset cameras is that I can say “shoot” and the shot is taken. The camera is a principal reason why I have stuck with Samsung handsets. And while the designs have become fairly safe they do grow on me once the handset is in my possession.

What I find frustrating about HTC cameras is that the photos are grainy – so much noise is present in photos taken in various situations. Obviously, night shots suffer the most. Video can be choppy and not crisp.

It seems very obvious to me that HTC wants to be like Samsung – maybe not so much now as Samsung’s profits seems to be sliding at the moment but HTC releases a bunch of interesting looking handsets – well, they are variants of the One M design that all feature a disappointing camera.

I wonder to myself as to why HTC doesn’t get the camera of its flagship right before releasing all these other handsets. I find that a bit strange. Who is buying these handsets? I can’t say that I have seen anything but the One M7 & M8 on the streets of London. I’ve learned to not bother with HTC midrange handsets as the power isn’t there and, again, the camera is disappointing.

As always, the HTC handsets look tempting but they just aren’t happening for my tastes.

I think that HTC could actually do it this time... ...the One M9 could actually be the handset that can challenge the Samsung Galaxy S6 in a big way! Here are some rumoured specs:-

5" 1080p Super LCD3 display.
Snapdragon 810 chip.
Adreno 430 GPU.
3GB of RAM.
32GB, 64GB and 128GB of internal storage options.

If the 5” 1080p display is correct then it shows HTC is looking to maximize the battery longevity. Quad-HD displays are great but they do drain the battery somewhat. Hmmmm... I am not too sure if 5” is a good thing by today’s standards. When I look at the iPhone 6 and then the 6 Plus I wonder why anyone would bother with the smaller version. That said, a lot of people seem to think that 5” is just about right. I guess that once you go beyond 5” it’s hard to go back. I love the Galaxy Note 4 and Nexus 6 screens and I am looking at getting one or two more handsets this year... A 5.5” screen is what I am looking for. If I go below 5.5” then it has to be something special. There's another rumour going around that HTC will release a 6" version alongside the 5"! We'll see...

The camera rumours get interesting with a 20.7MP main camera with either a 4MP Ultrapixel or 13MP front-facing camera. Now, if the camera comes from Sony then it could make a great difference to the sales as non-technical consumers have come to understand the photographic possibilities of a premium smartphone. I reckon that many consumers got taken in by the metal unibody and front-facing speakers. If they heard “Ultrapixels” and thought that meant a decent camera then they certainly found out the hard way. There again, I can imagine that there are many people that feel the 4MP Ultrapixel camera is enough for their social network feeds. I think such folk are in a minority.

The One M9 could be a best seller for HTC and it will be announced 1st March 2015 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Yes, the same date as the Samsung Galaxy S6 launch! Ooooh! Fight! Fight!

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