Sprint introduces its exclusive HTC One M8 Harman/Kardon

The struggling wireless carrier tries to appeal to customers by focusing on streaming music.

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The HTC One M8 Harman/Kardon edition Sarah Tew

Hoping to excite customers, and keep them from leaving the network, Sprint announced Tuesday a new version of the HTC One designed to provide a better music-listening experience, and signed a pact with Spotify.

Sprint, the third-largest US carrier after Verizon and AT&T, has partnered with audio products maker Harman Kardon to create the HTC One M8 Harman/Kardon. The phone will improve the sound quality of compressed music files, CEO Dan Hesse said at an event in New York, where he also announced a deal with streaming music service Spotify. The device is available May 9 and will cost $230 on contract.

"Today, wireless networks can carry a lot more traffic," Hesse said. "Video has taken advantage, and now it's time for music to do the same."

Sprint sorely needs some buzz. As it's been working to overhaul its existing 3G network and add faster 4G LTE service, Sprint customers have defected to other carriers. Nearly half a million customers left Sprint in the first quarter of 2014 -- 12 percent higher than a year ago. The Overland Park, Kan., company Tuesday posted a first-quarter loss of $151 million, or 4 cents a share, and said sales rose less than 1 percent to $8.88 billion.

Hesse said compression has allowed people to buy music in the form of MP3 files and stream music from their devices.

"But we've also sacrificed something in compression," he said. "We're missing the highs and lows of music."

Hesse said compression essentially makes the music "watered down," but the HTC One M8 will have technology called Clarifi, which will put back the missing notes. The phone, which has a black back and champagne highlights on the front, will also come with Harmon Kardon earbuds, valued at $140. Hesse said it's one of 14 devices that have an FM tuner.

To learn more about the device, check out our first take of the HTC One M8 HK edition.

Additionally, Hesse reiterated that Sprint will launch HD voice by mid-year, and the HTC One Max will get Wi-Fi calling. Hesse expects 20 million HD voice customers by the end of the year.

The company had been expected to announce news around its HD voice and audio services.

Sprint had rolled out its voice feature to a few test markets, but Hesse said previously that Sprint would roll out the feature to all markets in the US by July.

Sprint has been planning this move to HD voice for a while. Previously, the HD voice feature hadn't found huge success in its test markets, delaying its launch.

HD is meant to improve call clarity by capturing a larger octave range and eliminate background noise. HD voice is suppose to capture sound over seven octaves. Currently the threshold for typical cell phone service is four octaves.

Updated 8:29 a.m. PT: Added more information from the event. Updated 9:47 a.m. PT: Added more quotes from Sprint CEO Dan Hesse.

 

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