HTC has launched a new range of Android phones dubbed the One Series. It's also ramped up the smart phone arms race by firing out its first quad-core device -- the HTC One X.
At a press conference in Barcelona on the eve of Mobile World Congress, the Taiwanese mobile maker also opened its kimono to reveal the other two phones in the range, the HTC One S and HTC One V.
There's no word yet on pricing but HTC says it hopes all three One Series devices will hit the shops around early April. CNET UK will get hold of one in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for a full review in due course.
All three phones run the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), and include Beats Audio tech to improve music playback. Camera performance has also been overhauled thanks to a new HTC image chip, an f2.0 lens and an improved sensor across the range.
HTC says boosting image quality is a big focus for all the phones in the One Series range. It reckons a quality snapper is one of main things people look for when choosing a phone. As well as better optic components, HTC has speeded up its photo capture and auto-focus software, claiming the latter locks in in less time than it takes to blink an eye (0.2 of a second versus a tardy 0.3 to bat your lashes).
There's a new burst mode, which allows you to pap an action sequence by holding down the shutter button. The new camera UI is capable of capturing up to 99 shots in each burst. HTC has also added the ability to snap pictures while you're shooting video -- getting round the whole 'should I take a photo or is this cute cat moment cute enough to be worth a video' dilemma.
HTC has partnered with Dropbox for the One Series -- meaning all three phones come with 25GB of cloud storage, free for two years. Here's the lowdown on the three handsets:
HTC One X
The quad-core One X is HTC's new flagship device -- packing in a mammoth four cores plus an extra one for day-to-day use so battery performance doesn't suffer when doing lightweight tasks. There's a gigantic 4.7-inch SLCD display and a whopping 8-megapixel camera. And if that's not enough, there's 32GB of built-in memory, support for 720p resolution video and you can turn your phone into a wallet, thanks to contactless near field communication (NFC) tech.
The handset is big enough to double as a tea and biscuit tray, but HTC has kept the weight down by choosing a polycarbonate (that's plastic to you and me) unibody casing, rather than its traditional favourite -- metal. The One X comes in two basic colours, white and grey.
HTC One S
The One S stands on the next step down on HTC's device podium, with a generous 4.3-inch AMOLED display, a dual-core 1.5GHz chip and an 8-megapixel camera. Despite its big shiny face, the S is a slender creature -- we believe it's about 7.6mm thick, and we'll confirm this later. It's also clothed in some fancy finishes -- with a black ceramic metal option that HTC reckons is the sort of thing you'd normally find adorning satellites or racing cars. The ceramic coating feels soft to the touch yet is apparently very tough.
It's created using a process called micro arc oxidation, which involves bathing the material in a plasma field and then electrocuting it so the metal carbonises. All this effort just so you can look cool in the pub.
If you don't like your phone to suffer so much for fashion, there's also an anodised metal finish that features a gentle, lighter grey to darker grey colour gradient on the back. The effect is quite subtle so don't be too surprised if someone mistakes it for a sweaty handprint.
HTC One V
The One Series device on the lowest step of the podium is the HTC One V. It may get the bronze, but it'll still be a hero to Android fans because it runs ICS, rather than Gingerbread.
The HTC One V is a design refresh of the HTC Legend (itself the follow-up to the HTC Hero), adding a gun-metal grey jacket, a leaner form factor and smoother surface finish.
It has a hand-friendly 3.7-inch display, which is slightly larger than the Legend's screen. It packs a beefier chip too -- 1GHz versus the Legend's 600MHz. The camera is a mere 5 megapixels but it includes all the other optic improvements HTC has introduced to the One Series range, such as the f2.0 lens and larger sensor.
As well as packing the latest Android OS, all three devices run a new version of HTC's Sense user interface, which has been "streamlined" to remove unnecessary graphical flourishes, features and animations that might have been getting in the way of the phone user's experience. Sense prevails, you could say.
A few new flourishes have been added to the tweaked UI though, including a Recent Apps menu that takes after HP's WebOS deck of cards interface by displaying recently used apps as a swipeable stack of cards. To return to an app you just tap it, or you can flick a card off the top of the screen when you've finished with that app.
At the press conference, HTC also unboxed a couple of accessories that will accompany the One Series. These include a wireless HDMI dongle called Media Link HD, which plugs in the back of a TV. It lets you flick content from your smart phone to view it on the big screen via a mirror mode and a three-finger gesture.
HTC is also releasing a Bluetooth dongle designed to plug into a car stereo to make it easier to tap into phone functions such as calling, navigation and Internet radio when sitting in your motor.