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HTC will sell unlocked One M9 for $649 online on March 27

The latest flagship smartphone from HTC will hit carrier stores on April 10, the same day as the Samsung Galaxy S6.

The HTC One M9 has stiff competition on April 10. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

April 10 is shaping up to be a busy day for smartwatch and smartphone fans.

HTC said Thursday that its latest premium smartphone, the HTC One M9, will land in carrier and retail stores on April 10. That's the same day that Samsung plans to release its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge and that Apple opens up its Apple Watch for preorders and in-store fittings.

But the Taiwan-based phone maker will also get something of a head-start. HTC also said that on March 27 it plans to sell an unlocked version of the One M9 for $649, with the option of a 12-month interest-free financing option. It will go on sale Friday starting 12:01 a.m. ET. Sprint will also begin selling the smartphone tomorrow.

HTC is in a fight for relevancy with its latest smartphone. Like its predecessor, the One M9 has been praised for its look and its use of metal rather than plastic, although critics say the design doesn't differ enough from the M8 and that the quality of the camera lags behind the competition. The One M9's launch comes at the same time that Samsung has stepped up the build quality of its latest flagship smartphone, and when Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are continuing to perform well.

And HTC is hardly operating from a position of market or mind share strength compared to the juggernauts of Apple and Samsung. In 2014, it held just 1.6 percent of the global market -- and that's a slip from 2.2 percent the year before and a peak of 8.8 percent in 2011, according to IDC. That didn't help HTC's financial picture, but the company has shown signs of recovery over the last two quarters as its revenue and profits have stabilized.

The company also has to adapt to a change in its top leadership. Last week, Chairwoman Cher Wang took over the CEO job from long-time chief Peter Chou, who shifts to a role helping with the development of new products. In recent months, it has been working to diversify its business with a range of gadgets such as the HTC Re camera , HTC Grip fitness band and HTC Vive virtual-reality headset.

US customers get a sweet deal with HTC's , which allows buyers to request a free replacement in the first 12 months, no questions asked. It's part of the company's push to create the perception that HTC is a luxury brand, although it's unclear how many people will be swayed by the offer.

Sprint is the first US carrier to get the phone. It will offer the HTC One through its leasing program, which costs $20 a month plus the wireless service fees. For $30 a month, customers can turn in their smartphones for a new model every year. Sprint is also knocking off $50 from a Harman Kardon One wireless Bluetooth speaker (normally $150), if customers purchase it with a One M9.

AT&T customers can preorder the phone at 12:01 a.m. ET tomorrow. The HTC One will sell for $200 with a two-year contract, $709 without a contract, $23.64 a month under the AT&T Next 24 monthly installment plan, $29.55 a month under the Next 18 plan and $35.45 a month under the Next 12 plan.

T-Mobile will sell the One M9 for no-money down and $27.08 a month for 24 months. Customers can order the smartphone from T-Mobile's website starting tomorrow at 6 a.m. PT.

Verizon will sell the smartphone for $200 through a traditional two-year contract, or $24.99 a month for 24 months through its Edge monthly installment program.

HTC said the One M9 will come to Verizon Wireless and Sprint, but that the carriers would release their own pricing later.

Updated at 12:47 p.m. PT: To include information from Verizon and Sprint.

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HTC One M9 (32GB - silver gold)
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