HTC One: Same name, but a different device, inside and out

HTC took the wraps off its new One flagship phone today at a press event in New York. 

HTC CEO Peter Chou shows off the new HTC One phone during a launch event in New York, March 25, 2014.

On Tuesday morning, at a press conference in New York, HTC introduced its latest flagship phone, a high-powered device dubbed the HTC One. Lest there be any confusion, yes, the last HTC flagship was also known as the One. (HTC seems to be following the strategy employed by Apple, which before the iPad Air started referring to its full-sized tablets simply as iPads, without all the numbers after the title.) 

But this isn't the same phone. The 2014 One comes equipped with a 5-inch HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, and the Duo Camera – a dual-lens job that HTC says will result in sharper, more dynamic photographs. Over the Android OS, HTC has layered its in-house HTC Sense user interface

"Android users know that every phone maker tends to customize the experience, generally with unnecessary features and ill-conceived design changes," Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal writes in a hands-on review. "HTC's Sense software is one of the least offensive. If Samsung's loud color palette is like a trip to the circus, HTC's more elegant design is a ballet." 

The One launches this week in the States; prices start at $199, with a two-year contract. Of course, as we've noted, no matter how positive the reviews for the previous HTC One – and they were very positive – HTC has had trouble keeping pace with rivals Samsung and Apple. 

Over at CNET, Roger Cheng notes that at least part of the issue may lie in HTC's marketing budget, which last year was $75.8 million – far less than the $350 million-plus spent by both Samsung and Apple during the same time period. "They really need to raise their awareness in the marketplace," Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research, told Mr. Cheng in an interview, referring to HTC. "They're nowhere to be found in certain markets."

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