New phablet will highlight HTC's mid-range push

HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498) legal headaches are hopefully behind it for good thanks to settlements with Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  But the phonemaker now finds itself paying a lot of its revenue per device to its market rivals.  Some Android supporters say that's unfair -- the result of patent bullying
Others argue that Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft innovated in the operating system and smartphone space and that a new player like HTC that formerly made devices for companies like Nokia or Microsoft's mobile Windows partners needs to pay a certain ante to be dealt into the high stakes smartphone race.
Regardless of where your sentiments lie, it's undeniable that these payments -- and the failure of HTC's latest advertising push are impacting the Taiwanese Android phonemaker.  Once the top seller in the U.S., HTC has resigned to largely producing "mid-range" devices this year, to try to cling to its narrow profitability.
The first fruit of that approach may be seen in the leak of the Desire 8.  A week has passed and we now know for sure that the photos were accurate.
Unlike the HTC One, which packed a pricey, yet praised metal body, the Desire 8 appears to be going the iPhone 5C or Microsoft/Nokia Devices Lumia route, trading metals for cheaper plastics.

Leaked photos from an Engadget tipster last week showed us a polycarbonate body in white.  Other color options -- red, yellow, orange, and cyan -- are rumored to be available as well. 
A separate specs leak came courtesy of MyDrivers, a Chinese smartphone leaks site.  The camera will feature a 13-megapixel rear camera, but before you get excited that's not an Ultrapixel camera.  The screen size is 5.5-inches, just slightly smaller than last year's HTC One Max.
Thus expect the 13-megapixel camera to at best perform about like last year's HTC One, which had a deceptively strong 4 megapixel Ultrapixel camera.  That means that the HTC handset will likely fall behind the iPhone, high-end Microsoft Lumia devices, and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5 by Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005935) (KRX:005930) (which is supposed to pack a 20 megapixel shooter).  The phone is also supposed to feature stereo speakers and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera.
The rest of the hardware spec is expected to be similar to the HTC One, or perhaps a bit cut down even.  Thus, the phone could thus be viewed as a redesigned, cheaper HTC One, with a plastic body.
This week the leaks have received official confirmation -- well, partially at least.

HTC Weibo HTC Desire spec

According to a poster on GSM Arena who translated the above posters, they confirm at least one of the leaked features (the "beautification" feature for "selfie" shots form the front camera).  The translator writes:

The yellow poster reads: The scores are not fantastic because (it) is not running. (HTC) does not know marketing but spends all its budget on (developing) the product. New Desire 8 Series. Real Comeback (of a flagship). New Desire 8 series, worth waiting for...

The green poster reads: I love to take photos, and love them to look [pretty]. Selfies must look [pretty], and group shots must look [pretty]. 2014, new desire. I want a boyfriend that can take photographs. New Desire 8 series.

() are my inference from the text and [] are synonyms for the definition of pretty.

A post on HTC's (Chinese) Weibo account shows the same image of a white Desire 8 that the leakers obtained early. While the spec was not confirmed, the validation of the leaked images lends credibility to the spec leak claims.

The Desire 8 is rumored to possibly be unveiled on Feb. 24 in Beijing, China, or in early March. The device is rumored to be launching worldwide on March 18.

Sources: HTC on Weibo, MyDrivers, Engadget

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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