WiMax 2+ adds support for high bandwidth single-channel support

Japan's KDDI Corp. (TYO:9433) is currently stuck in third place, having been for the moment passed by Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984).  Softbank has 30.3 percent (as of Feb. 2014) of the mobile market in Japan (via its SoftBank, eMobile/eAccess, Willcom, Wireless City Planning (WCP) brands).  KDDI has 28.9 percent of the market via its au, Okinawa Wireless, and UQ Communications brands.  Both trail market leader NTT Docomo Inc. (TYO:9437) which controls a whopping 40.8 percent of Japanese connections.

The fierce competition on the high-tech island nation has led to great high-end handsets.  KDDI was pleased this week to announce that it would be carrying the HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) 2014 J Butterfly.  It did not indicate whether its deal to carry the device was exclusive.

The HTC J Butterfly is the latest in a series of high-end handsets from HTC that have made it a serious contender in Japan.  Previous models included:
  • HTC J (Japan)
  • HTC Butterfly (Japan)
    • December 2012
    • HTC Droid DNA (U.S.; Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) exclusive)
  • HTC Butterfly S (Japan)
The HTC Butterfly J (HTL23) continues in the line of the Butterfly S, incorporating features from the same-year U.S. HTC One model (this time the 2014 HTC One M8), while improving the spec somewhat.  

HTC J Butterfly

The published spec includes:
  • Body
    • Material: Colored Plastic
    • Colors: Red back / Black front ; White back / White front; Blue back / Black front
  • Weight
    • 156 g (5.503 oz.) [4 g lighter than HTC One M8]
  • Dimensions
    • 70 (W) x 145 (H) x 10.0 (D) mm (2.756 x 5.709 x 0.394 in.)
      [Slightly thicker that One M8, but smaller face]
  • Display
    • 5.0-inch
    • Super LCD3
    • 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
    • 443 ppi
  • Durability
  • SoC
    • Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) Snapdragon 801
    • MSM8974-AC
    • CPU: 4 x Krait 400 cores @ 2.45 GHz
    • GPU: Adreno 330 @ 578 MHz
    • Baseband: Class-4 LTE 
    • Wireless: 802.11 n/ac ; Bluetooth 4.0 / Gen8B GPS
  • Supporting Wireless:
    • LTE Advanced (LTE-A)
      • 2x2 MIMO antenna for carrier aggregation (CA) for downlink
      • 2 x 20 MHz (800 MHz ; 2.1 GHz)
      • Down: 75 Mbps (Megabits-per-second) per link, 150 Mbps total
      • Up: 25 Mbps (single antenna transmission in uplink)
    • WiMax 2+ (2 GHz)
      • Down: 110 Mbps
      • Up: 10 Mbps
  • Camera
    • Rear
      • Duo Camera (same as M8)
      • 13 megapixel image camera (CMOS) + 2 megapixel depth camera
      • Bokeh and other 3D image post-processing
      • Dual pulsed LED flash
    • Front
      • 5 megapixel (CMOS)
      • "astonishingly beautiful selfies" (umm...)
  • Storage
    • Internal: 32 GB of NAND Flash
    • External: microSD (up to 64 GB) / microSDXC (up to 128 G)
  • Memory:
    • 2048 MB (2 GB) of LPDDR3 @ 933 MHz (14.9 GB/s)
  • Battery
    • 2,700 mAh [+100 mAh vs HTC One M8]
  • Extras:
    • With device:
      • "JBL (R) High-Performance In-Ear Headphones"
    • Available to purchase:
      • "au +1 collection" accessory kit
      • "Dot View" smartphone case (notifications without opening the case cover)
Clearly the star of the show is the advanced wireless technologies onboard the Japanese HTC One M8 variant.  Japan is among the most advanced nations in the push for LTE-A, and KDDI is on the forefront of this push.  It's making clever use of its adjacent 2 GHz spectrum as WiMax 2+ for slightly higher throughput on a single antenna, when the 800 MHz band isn't available for aggregation.  When the 800 MHz and 2.1 GHz band are available, it can go even faster via aggregating the two downlinks.

KDDI LTE + WiMax 2+
[Image Source: KDDI]

The body is undeniably colorful.  Some may view the switch from the aluminum unibody to the colorful plastic body as a "cheapening" of the U.S. variant, but in reality it's more of a calculated move by HTC to appeal to Japanese buyers.  While HTC may partake in some cost savings, the bigger underlying reason for the colorful lineup is because Japanese buyers tend to gravitate towards colorful devices.  Phones like the colorful Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 5C that saw disappointing sales in the U.S. saw relatively strong sales in Japan.
HTC J Butterfly

Overall there are no quantum leaps in the J Butterfly, but the addition of support for more advanced wireless technologies and formalization of the waterproofing/dustproofing (which weren't formally guaranteed on the HTC One M8) are nice nods to Japanese buyers.

KDDI writes that HTC will be holding a press conference on Aug. 19 at its Tokyo, Japan local headquarters to officially announce the device.  The phone will launch "as early as late August" on au and partner networks.  The price should be announced at the press conference later this month.

Sources: KDDI [1], [2]

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