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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

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plastic please
By Motoman on 2/17/2014 4:23:10 PM , Rating: 4
I do not understand at all the people who think they want a metal body on a cellphone...or phablet or tablet for that matter.

There are no problems with plastic use in such devices. I can't even count how many plastic cell phones I've used in my life, and not once has there ever been a single crack or even scratch beyond the most superficial.

Plastic will bend and bounce back. Metal deforms. It seems like a metal case shows wear more easily. And it makes the device heavier.

I can't see any viable benefit of metal in this usage over plastic. It's not solving a durability problem, or a fitness-for-purpose problem, and it's certainly not addressing any weight problem. And it makes the device more expensive too.

As far as I can tell it's purely an aesthetic thing - which, I guess, to each his own...but the way it gets played up on sites like this and the media as a whole, you'd think there was some serious concrete benefits to it.

But there's not. Plastic, please.

RE: plastic please
By EnzoFX on 2/17/2014 5:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it is largely aesthetic, sometimes it just feels better when you're holding a higher grade of a material. Aesthetics count in the high-end. This isn't the high-end so I don't expect too many to whine about it for this device.

RE: plastic please
By Solandri on 2/17/2014 5:15:14 PM , Rating: 3
I suspect the misguided "metal = better" stereotype will persist until flexible screens and circuit boards become commonplace. At that point you'll be able to take a plastic device and bend it around a table's edge without causing any harm. And then maybe people will finally concede that flexible is better for this particular application. I'm never going to use my phone as a hammer - I don't need it to be as stiff as one.

After the Model T made automobiles popular, people began dying in car crashes. In response, the automakers made car bodies stronger and stronger. By the 1950s, their stiff chassis and body could survive a collision mostly intact. But when the first extensive crash test studies were done, they found that while the car bodies were surviving the crashes just fine, the people inside were being turned into jelly. By making the exterior stiffer, they were inadvertently transmitting the entirety of the impact forces to the occupants.

That's when the idea of crumple zones took off. By having the exterior bend, flex, and fail in a graceful manner, it could absorb most of the impact forces. Those inside would thus be spared from the worst of the collision forces. Making something too strong can be just as bad as making something too weak.

RE: plastic please
By wordsworm on 2/17/2014 7:21:13 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, so you want a crumple zone on your phone?

RE: plastic please
By flyingpants1 on 2/17/2014 6:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Metal is dumb. There is only one metal Android phone for a reason. Nobody cares. Metal is for hipsters. Most people (50%+) use a case.

The HTC One was an incredible phone in its own right but it's easy to see why it failed. The Samsung S4 had a higher clockspeed, higher MP count, larger screen, removable battery and storage, and was cheaper to build. I've heard the build costs for the HTC One were over 50% of the sale price.

I'd like to see more worthwhile midrange phones.. so far the only one worth using has been the Moto X.

RE: plastic please
By superflex on 2/18/2014 9:11:47 AM , Rating: 1
I've heard the build costs for the HTC One were over 50% of the sale price.

Yet the HTC One is generally $50 cheaper.
I hope Samsung at least provided some anal lube with your SGS4, because it's obvious who's getting screwed here.

RE: plastic please
By kmmatney on 2/18/2014 12:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
One only nice thing about the metal and glass on my old iPhone 4S is that it kept the phone looking brand new. Especially the glass backing - after 2 years of use there wasn't a single scratch or mark, and I sold it for more than I originally paid. That said, I'm perfectly fine with my current LG phone with a removable plastic back. A removable back allows for flip covers, and you can easily replace the battery if the original goes dead.

I thought the HTC One would have been better off keeping the metal front, but using a removable plastic backing, to allow battery replacement/memory expansion.

RE: plastic please
By chµck on 2/17/2014 6:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
That's what nokia's been doing for years.
They have the best plastic/polycarbonate phone bodies.

RE: plastic please
By atechfan on 2/18/2014 9:17:22 AM , Rating: 2
It isn't just plastic vs metal. Some plastic phone feel much better than others. Sometimes it is just perception. Samsung phones have a removable back that is quite thin. It doesn't really matter as it isn't a structural piece, but people feel the flex and wrongly assume the phone is fragile. Nokia Lumia phones, on the other hand, feel rugged, but sacrifice a removable battery. Both are plastic, but the perceived build quality difference is still there.

RE: plastic please
By Flunk on 2/18/2014 9:25:23 AM , Rating: 3
Plastic gets a bad rap because some manufacturers use the cheapest glossy plastic on their phones. Most of Samsung's plastic phones feel terrible in hand and are rather fragile.

Some of the better ones like Nokia's Lumia line, the Moto X and the LG Nexus 5 have great plastic cases, but there are still a bunch of badly-made plastic cased phones on the market.

By anthonyjohnson7 on 2/18/2014 4:33:37 AM , Rating: 2
Little bit disappointed with HTC as whole body is made up of plastic. They even not clarify that is this device support Wireless Charging? As I recently purchased my wireless charger from Amazon from which mostly support all Smartphone! So do they also work on HTC8?

By retrospooty on 2/18/2014 7:30:49 AM , Rating: 2
This isnt their high end phone, its the mid range.

Dear Jason
By flyingpants1 on 2/17/2014 3:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
last year's HTC One, which had a deceptively strong 5 megapixel Ultrapixel camera.

HTC One's Ultrapixel camera was 4MP, not 5MP.

I have no desire
By CZroe on 2/17/2014 8:55:47 PM , Rating: 2
I have no Desire for a plastic phone with no removable battery or expandable storage to justify it.

I DO wish some manufacturer would do this with forward-facing stereo speakers. I'm not even too concerned with the quality. I'm a little hard of hearing so I loved the loud stereo speakers on my Xperia PLAY and making them forward-facing would be great (my Galaxy Note 3 is a step backwards in that respect).

I know, I know: I deserve the down-rating this post will, no doubt, receive for the bad pun. ;)

Plastic body phone
By charliehill on 3/11/2014 5:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
Some people insist metal but plastic is all right for me when I choose phone and accessories,not heavy,feels well, like this car charger here:
plastic but wonderful !

me-too phones
By coburn_c on 2/17/14, Rating: 0
"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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