HTC launches the One smartphone

HTC One imageHTC has unveiled the new flagship smartphone it hopes will challenge Apple and Samsung.

The Taiwanese firm launched the gizmo in New York, a week before Mobile World Congress starts in Barcelona. The early move is thought to be an attempt to steal a march on rivals who are expected to reveal their own new devices next week.

The One certainly looks high-end enough to compete with the industry’s major players. Using Google’s latest Android Jelly Bean operating system, it features a 4.7-inch 1080p display and comes with what makers are describing as an “ultrapixel” camera.

Its body is made up of aluminium with front-facing stereo speakers and features none of the plastic components that can make some smartphones look cheap.

HTC has lost a lot of its market share over the past two years or so, but the company believes its new One handset has what it takes to regain consumer confidence.

It has software features which should help the One stand out from the crowd. BlinkFeed is a content feed that you can personalise, which HTC says will “aggregate the freshest content from the most relevant sources as identified by you, providing instant access to news and social feeds without the need to jump between multiple applications and web sites.”

But while HTC is branding the One’s camera technolody as “ultrapixel,” it may have difficulty convincing consumers for whom a decent camera is a key point when choosing a new smartphone. While many new smartphones now come with a 13-megapixel camera, the One’s features only four.

HTC one pixWhat it does have, however, is some interesting features which are designed to make capturing the perfect shot easier. HTC Zoe captures short high-definition videos instead of still images, both before and after the camera shutter is pressed. This allows users to choose their favourite picture to capture that special moment. The clever software can also turn a gallery of still images into a mini video.

While you might not get as many megapixels as some rivals, the One also comes with a camera sensor than those traditionally included on smartphones, meaning you can shoot clear shots in poorly lit situations, a problem that often crops up on other smartphone cameras.

Despite positive reviews last year, HTC’s previous flagship smartphone, the HTC One X, failed to sell as many as the firm had hoped and profits plummeted.

But HTC firmly believes it has a winner on its hands this time round with its revamped gizmo. “We’re created the best smartphone on the market,” said HTC chairman Peter Chou. “We just need to let the world know about it.”

Analysts said marketing would be key to the new HTC One’s success. Lu Chun-kuan, an analyst with Gartner, said: “Last year, the Butterfly and the One X were actually very good devices but the sales were not as good as the firm expected. The market is getting more and more competitive, so they have to make sure that consumers are aware about the new technology HTC can bring to them.”

We’ll have to wait until next week at the Mobile World Congress to find out just how strong immediate competition is for the HTC One.