HTC today kicked off a short promotion that will reward buyers of the One M9 smartphone with $100 in Google Play Store credit. Buyers will need to scoop up the phone from HTC.com no later than Oct. 31 to claim the $100 in free app, music, movie, and game content.
Cricket Wireless today said the LG G Stylo and HTC Desire 626s are available at its stores and on its web site. The G Stylo costs $199.99 and the Desire 626s costs $149.99. Service plans for these Android handsets are as low as $35.
HTC announced that it will take several cost-cutting measures, including the elimination of jobs. HTC plans to cut about 2,250 employees, or 15% of its headcount by the end of the year, in order save money. Between the job reductions and other actions, HTC hopes to reduce expenses by about 35%. The company is also reorganizing a bit and will form new business units to help it better focus on selling phones, develop its virtual reality tech, and market its connected lifestyle products. Once a leading maker of smartphones, HTC's global share of the smartphone market has dropped to just 2% amid fierce competition at the high and low ends of the market.
Verizon Wireless today said the HTC Desire 526 and Desire 626 will reach its store shelves in the near future. The 526, which has a 4.7-inch qHD display and an 8-megapixel camera, will be available online and in stores starting Aug. 13 for $120 or $5 per month for 24 months. The 626, which has a 5-inch display and 8-megapixel/5-megapixel camera combination, will be available in the coming weeks. Verizon didn't say how much the 626 will cost. Both phones run Android 5.1 Lollipop, have 2,000mAh batteries, and support memory cards. They will be sold through Verizon's postpaid and prepaid businesses.
Nextbit today said it plans to fully reveal its first smartphone on Sept. 1. The company has not revealed any details about the handset just yet, other than to say it will make use of Google's Android platform and will hook into Nextbit's cloud services. "The idea is to take Android a step further, and extend beyond the hard specs of the phone to offer features that consumers have been clamoring for over the past few years," said the company. Nextbit is based in San Francisco and run by former Googler Tom Moss. HTC's former head of design, Scott Croyle, is also aboard. The company is backed by Google Ventures and other investment firms. The Nextbit phone will be available for order on the Sept. 1 launch date.
HTC today said it plans to make cuts to its employee base and reduce the number of handsets it releases in a bid to become more competitive with market leaders Apple and Samsung. "The cuts will be across the board," said HTC CFO Chialin Chang. "They will be significant." The company reported earnings today and recorded a loss for the second quarter. It predicted that it will lose money in the third quarter, as well. The company will trim jobs through the first quarter of 2016 in order to get a handle on expenses. HTC said it will bank on high-end models in emerging markets, such as India, where it has a solid share of handsets priced between $250 and $400. HTC didn't specify which handsets it might drop. The HTC One M9 is the company's flagship smartphone. It also sells the Desire 626s and Desire 520/526 entry-level phones.
ParkerVision today said it lost an appeal of allegations that Qualcomm was infringing on some of its patents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a district court ruling maintaining that ParkerVision did not prove infringement of its patents by Qualcomm. The appeals court also agreed with the district court in denying Qualcomm's attempt to invalidate one of the patents. ParkerVision said, however, that the appeals court reversed the lower courts decision regarding the validity of ParkerVision's other claims. "We are highly disappointed with the appellate court's decision both with regard to infringement and validity of certain of our patent claims," said Jeffrey Parker, ParkerVision's Chairman and CEO. "Despite this setback, we will consider further options on appeal, and will move forward in our second infringement case against Qualcomm, HTC and Samsung." ParkerVision designs radio-frequency technology for wireless devices.
Nextbit, a small San Francisco-based startup, today announced that it plans to build smartphones. The company is only teasing an Android handset at the moment, and said it will reveal more details about the device and its plans in the weeks ahead. Nextbit is run by CEO Tom Moss and counts among its staff at least two former HTC employees, including Scott Croyle, HTC's former head of design. "We want to set this off as something different," said Croyle, speaking to Recode. "We don't have to be for everybody." Nextbit already offers cloud-based storage. The company remained mum on the specifics regarding its smartphone plans, such as whether it will target the entry level, middle, or top of the market.
HTC has made a system update available to the T-Mobile variant of the One M9, and the phone earns some significant improvements with the new code. To start, it gains the camera enhancents given to the international edition earlier this year, as well as the kill switch required by California law. It also adds battery improvements and new support for Google Wallet. The update is being pushed out over the air.
HTC today said it is pushing back the launch of the HTC Grip, a wearable fitness devices it announced earlier this year. "After extensive wear testing and user feedback, we have decided to align Grip with the entire product portfolio for health and fitness launching later this year," said the company in a statement. "This will be a state-of-the-art comprehensive portfolio of products for this category powered by [Under Armour Record]." The Grip was expected to arrive in the spring.
HTC today said it plans to expand availability of the One M9+ outside of Asia to select European markets. The One M9+ is a slightly larger version of the M9 that has different camera and processor configuration. The design is similar to that of the One M9, including the metal materials and BoomSound stereo speakers. The screen measures 5.2 inches and has quad HD resolution (the M9 has a 5-inch full HD screen). The phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio X10 processor with eight cores clocked at 2.2 GHz (the M9 has a Qualcomm processor). The phone has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, with support for memory cards up to 128 GB. The M9+ has a 20-megapixel main camera with a 2-megapixel secondary camera to capture depth-of-field information (similar to the One M8). The front camera relies on HTC's ultrapixel design. HTC gave the One M9+ a fingerprint sensor, which is positioned on the front of the phone in the home button. Connectivity options include Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, WiFi, and LTE. The phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Sense 7. Pricing and availability will be announced by individual carriers. HTC hasn't said if the phone will be sold in the U.S.
Sprint today announced that its Sprint Prepaid service will offer the HTC Desire 626s in marshmallow white beginning July 19. The phone costs $129.99. Service plans start at $35 per month and do no require contracts.
HTC today announced several new additions to its Desire line of mid-range Android handsets. These devices tout style and affordability with a middling set of specs. More importantly, they'll be sold by virtually all U.S. carriers. Here are our initial impressions.
HTC today revealed a new family of Desire handsets. The 626 series (pictured) and 526/520 series share many features, though the former is a bit more mid-range and the latter is decidedly entry-level. Traits common to the 626, 626S, 526, and 520 include Qualcomm's 1.1 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 210 processor; 2,000mAh batteries; single-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS/GLONASS; support for 2 TB memory cards; and Android 5.1 Lollipop with HTC Sense.
- 626/626S: In keeping with prior Desire designs, the 626/626S are formed of polycarbonate and have variable color combinations. These larger Desire handsets have 5-inch 720p HD screens and 8-megapixel main cameras with 720p video capture. The 626 has 16 GB of storage, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 5-megapixel user-facing camera. The 626S has 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera.
- 526/520:The 526 and 520 share most design features, but differ in some key specs. They have a simple appearance and cheaper materials. The 526, intended for Verizon, has a 4.7-inch qHD screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1.5 GB of RAM. The 520, intended for Cricket Wireless, has a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, 8-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 8 GB of storage, and 1 GB of RAM.
AT&T will begin updating the HTC One M9 to Android 5.1 Lollipop on July 15, according to HTC rep Mo Versi. Notably, the system update includes improvements for the camera. The update will be available over-the-air.
Beginning today, most smartphones sold in the U.S. will include anti-theft security tools. July 1 marks the day by which phone makers and network operators agreed to implement free theft deterrents on smartphones. According to the CTIA, most of the industry has responded by placing remote lock/wipe capabilities on consumer devices. The addition of an activation lock on the Apple iPhone, for example, has dramatically reduced iPhone thefts in major cities. The activation lock prevents a stolen device from being activated by another person, thus making it useless to thieves. Remote wipe features allow people to erase the personal data from their handset if lost/stolen to protect their identity. The major participants in today's action include Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, Microsoft, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and ZTE. "Today's fulfillment of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is another example of the wireless industry proactively working together with policymakers and law enforcement to help protect consumers' smartphones in the event they are ever lost or stolen. We will continue to work with all interested parties to continue to deploy new technologies and tools to improve device theft-deterrence tools. We remind consumers to take a few minutes to use PINs, passwords, apps and other device features to protect their mobile devices and personal information." The industry was coerced into acting "voluntarily" when the FCC threatened to make such protective measures mandatory.
Sprint today introduced a new plan that combines the cost of a service plan with the cost of a handset in one monthly payment. The Sprint All-In plan costs $80 per month and includes unlimited talk, text, and data, and a Sprint Lease on handsets such as the Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, and HTC One M9. There are no up-front phone costs aside from a one-time, $36 activation fee. The $80 monthly rate does not include taxes. Sprint believes this is the simplest, most straight-forward plan in the market. Sprint will use soccer star David Beckham to advertise the plan, which is available in Sprint stores beginning today.
Cricket Wireless today said its goods and services will be available at 213 Meijer stores across the midwest beginning June 27. Consumers in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky will be able buy prepackaged phone kits from phone makers such as HTC, Samsung, and ZTE. The stores will also sell Cricket's universal SIM card kits for those who already have a compatible device. Cricket Wireless is owned and operated by AT&T.
HTC is not interested in being acquired by Asus, said the company today. Last week, Asus' executive team suggested it was considering such a move, but hadn't made a final decision. "[HTC] has not made any contact with Asus regarding this matter," said HTC on its web site, "and it will not consider a merger with Asus. As an international brand, HTC will continue to design world-class innovative smart devices through its pursuit of brilliance brand promise." Asus is much larger than HTC, which has struggled in recent years to bounce back from sagging smartphone sales. HTC recently forecast a significant drop in profits for the current quarter. Its financial position leaves it susceptible to acquisition.
Asustek Computer is thinking about buying competitor HTC, but it hasn't made a final decision just yet. The company has discussed the matter among its executives, according to CFO David Chang. "Our chairman has chatted about the topic internally," said Chang to Reuters. "Still, the chances of an actual takeover are not big as Asustek is a company that has depended on organic growth." Asus and HTC are both located in Taiwan. HTC has struggled in recent years. It once held a high spot among Android device makers, but stumbled badly. Earlier this week, HTC forecast a steep loss for the current quarter due to unexpectedly low sales of its flagship smartphone, the One M9. HTC's precarious position prompted acquisition talks. Asus has a more diverse product portfolio and a stronger balance sheet.
Boost Mobile today announced the launch of BoostTV. BoostTV is a video service that offers limited content for free. The video is streamed over Boost's network. Boost is also offering a premium $10 add-on called BoostTV Live Sports. The sports package provides access to a handful of extra channels, including AyM Sports, Azteca America, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports en Español, Fightbox, Latin American Sports, and TyC. The package also provides access to live soccer matches, such as the upcoming Copa America. BoostTV is available to the HTC Desire, LG Tribute, Motorola E, and the Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy S6. Boost Mobile said more handsets will be supported over time. The BoostTV app itself is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sprint is offering the same Live Sports TV service to its regular, postpaid customers, too. It is available to most Android and iOS smartphones sold by Sprint.
HTC recently made the HTC Mail application available as a stand-alone app in the Google Play Store. By separating the app from its Sense user interface, HTC is now able to update the app with new features and resolve bugs more efficiently. Previously, such updates were limited to distribution with full OS rewrites. The version available today in the Play Store doesn't add any new features over what's available to devices running the latest version of Sense. HTC Mail is free to download.
MixRadio today made its customized radio service available to Android and iOS devices for the first time. Microsoft acquired MixRadio when it purchased Nokia's handset business, but later divested it to a messaging company called Line. Due to its relationship with Nokia and Microsoft, MixRadio has been exclusive to Windows Phones until today. The new Android and iOS apps, which are available from the Play Store and iTunes, include thousands of free, curated radio stations similar to how Pandora operates. The service lets users create and listen to personalized radio stations, and can be cached on devices for offline playback. The app is supported by ads, but MixRadio may launch an ad-free version later this year. It is available in 31 countries, including the U.S. In addition to announcing the new apps, MixRadio said it has partnered with HTC to provide music-related news stories for HTC's BlinkFeed application.
HTC today clarified statements made regarding its plans for smaller — or "mini" — versions of its flagship phones. A report, quoting an HTC executive, suggested that HTC did not plan to bring any more smaller-stature phones, such as the One mini 2, to market. HTC President of North Asia Jack Tong did say the industry is moving toward phones with screens larger than 5 inches. Tong "did not say HTC is not planning any more mini versions of its phones," said HTC spokesperson Jeff Gordon in an email to Phone Scoop. "To be clear, I'm not confirming HTC is coming out with an HTC One M9 mini," tempered Gordon, "only that Jack Tong didn't say what some press are attributing to him." In 2013 HTC followed up its One M7 flagship with a smaller and lower-spec'd mini variant. The company did the same thing in 2014 with the M8, but has yet to reveal any such plans for the M9.
HTC today provided a significant update to its Zoe photo/video editing and sharing app. The app now supports Google's Chromecast, which will let users cast a Zoe video from their phone to a Chromecast-equipped TV or other device. The app makes adjustments to the clip sequence user interface, too, which makes it easier to readjust, reorder, and remove clips from Zoes. The app also adds the ability to "retry" failed video uploads, and will now continue playback seamlessly when users rotate their phone (rather than restart from the beginning). HTC's Zoe app is free to download from the Google Play Store.
HTC has made updates available to its Lock Screen and Sense Home apps for the One M9 and other handsets. The Lock Screen gains a significant refresh thanks to Lollipop-style notifications, full-screen album artwork during music playback, and more detailed local weather information. The Lock Screen can now display Yelp reviews and BlinkFeed content, too. As for Sense Home, HTC improved the home screen widget and themes, and resolved a number of bugs and performance issues. Both HTC Lock Screen and Sense Home are free to download from the Google Play Store.
HTC today rolled out an update to its camera application for the One M9 and One M8. The new camera application adds RAW camera mode to the one M9, which lets users capture, download, and adjust full-sized digital negatives. The app also adds a Crop-Me-In shooting mode to the One M8. Other new features for both the M9 and M8 include an adjustable divider in Split Capture mode, and the ability to add and remove camera shooting modes. The HTC camera application is free to download from the Google Play Store.
HTC is pushing out a system update to AT&T's version of the One M9 that improves performance of the camera. In addition to the camera, the update also fixes bugs and resolves some overheating issues. The new build number is 1.32.502.31. HTC warned that the update will reboot the phone several times and may take up to 20 minutes to complete. HTC has already pushed a similar update to the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the One M9.
Verizon Wireless said its version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will begin to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop today. The over-the-air update will roll out to all users gradually. According to Verizon, seven of its handsets now run Lollipop, including the Motorola Moto X (2nd gen); Galaxy Note 4, S5, and Note 3; LG G2 and G3; and the HTC One M8.
Google has begun pushing the Android 5.1 Lollipop update to several Play Edition smartphones, including the HTC One M8 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Android 5.1 makes a number of improvements to the devices' performance, and also adds several new features. Google tweaked the Quick Settings menu, added support for HD voice, improved security by blocking non-authorized device resets, and changed how users adjust notifications and alerts. Play Edition handsets, which are available directly from Google, are unlocked and run a native version of Android. They are entirely devoid of manufacturer and carrier user interface overlays. The Android 5.1 Lollipop update is free to install.
AT&T today made Android 5.0 Lollipop available to its variants of the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Lollipop adds priority mode for managing notifications, battery saving tools, and Smart Lock for protecting devices with nearby Bluetooth accessories, among many other features. Both HTC and Samsung have also revised their Sense and Touchwiz user interface overlays for the One and GS4, respectively. AT&T suggests users download the system updates via WiFi. The updates are free to install.
LG is slowly revealing aspects of its forthcoming flagship smartphone bit by bit. The G4, expected to arrive at an event later this month, will have LG's newest user interface called LG UX 4.0. The UI has a new design based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. According to LG, UX 4.0 "provides more optimized and intuitive convenience to each individual at every user level." One new feature is called Quick Shot, which lets users to take pictures by double-tapping the phone's rear key even while the display is off. The camera itself gains new functions, too, including a manual mode that gives users full control over the camera's settings and behaviors. LG updated its calendar app with a drag-and-drop scheduler and improved its Smart Bulletin tool with the ability to collect data across more apps. The UX also introduces LG's version of Google Now, called Smart Notice. LG says Smart Notice provides personalized notifications for weather, travel, and more by analyzing users' daily routines and habits. LG also posted a teaser video on its YouTube channel regarding the G4's camera. The camera will have an aperture of f/1.8, which means it can let in a little bit more light than most competing smartphone cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S6, for example, has an aperture of f/1.9 and the HTC One M9 has an aperture of f/2.2. Earlier this month LG revealed a new 5.5-inch quad HD display for the G4. Together, these hints provide a decent picture of what the LG G4 will offer. The LG G4 launch event is scheduled for April 28.
HTC today announced the One M8s, a handset that looks like the M8 but dials back the specs to help lower the price. The phone has the same unibody metal design and full HD 5-inch screen, but uses a Snapdragon 615 processor and changes up the camera sensors. The 615 has eight, 64-bit cores with four clocked at 1.7GHz and four clocked at 1.0GHz in a big.LITTLE configuration. The phone includes 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 128GB. The duo-camera has a 13-megapixel sensor and an aperture of f/2.0, while the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. The phone, which is being released in Europe, has limited support for LTE (bands 3, 5, 7, 8, 20), but includes Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, and WiFi. The One M8s features HTC's signature Boomsound stereo speakers, packs a handful of sensors, and includes a 2,840mAh battery. The phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the older Sense 6.0 user interface overlay from HTC with BlinkFeed. The phone will be available in select markets in gray, silver or gold. Pricing is set at about $410.
Jonah Becker, HTC's VP of Industrial Design, announced he is departing the company. Becker joined One & Co., a design firm bought by HTC, 17 years ago. He succeeded Scott Croyle, who himself left HTC a year ago. "It's been an amazing journey with One & Co and HTC, but it's time for a new adventure," said Becker through his personal Twitter account. Of his departure HTC said, "We would like to thank Jonah for his work with HTC, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. He has been succeeded by Daniel Hundt, based in our San Francisco design office." Becker's departure comes just a week after HTC announced a change at the executive leadership level. Long-time CEO Peter Chou switched roles to run the company's Future Development Lab. Cher Wang, who helped found HTC, has assumed the role of CEO. HTC is on the cusp of releasing its 2015 flagship smartphone, the One M9, which Becker played a large role in designing.
Sprint today said it will begin selling the HTC One M9 both online and in stores on Friday, March 27. Sprint is offering the device for $0 down followed by 24 monthly lease payments of $20. Customers who want to upgrade their device after 12 months can pay $10 more per month. Sprint leases require customers to turn in their device at the end of the leasing period, but they'll be able to lease a new phone with $0 down. For a limited time, customers who buy the One M9 from Sprint will be able to purchase a Harmon Kardon speaker for $99 (savings of $50). Sprint said it is still willing to pay all of potential customers' costs if they switch to Sprint from a competing carrier.
Verizon Wireless today released pricing and availability details of its variant of the HTC One M9. Verizon is opening up pre-orders for the device on April 1. The phone will reach Verizon's retail stores on April 10. Verizon is selling the M9 for $199.99 with a two-year contract or for $25 per month for 24 months with a Verizon Edge plan. The One M9 will launch with Verizon's Advanced Calling 1.0 capabilities, which enables HD Voice and Video Calling to other compatible Verizon smartphones over LTE. Activating this feature also lets Verizon customers talk and surf the web at the same time.
AT&T and T-Mobile today followed up HTC's announcement concerning One M9 pricing and availability with their own. AT&T will begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 12:01 AM tonight and will sell the device in stores April 10. The device will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract or $708.99 at full retail. Customers looking to pay over time can get the One M9 for $23.64 per month with Next 24, $29.55 with Next 18, or $35.45 with Next 12. AT&T is selling the 32GB model in silver or gray. T-Mobile plans to begin accepting pre-orders for the M9 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time on March 27 and will sell it in stores April 10. T-Mobile is offering it for $0 down followed by $27.08 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile will also sell the device at the full retail cost of $649.92. T-Mobile's version of the device will have WiFi calling. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will ship the One M9 as customers place orders, which means they'll likely arrive before the April 10 in-store availability date.
HTC will make the One M9 available for purchase on its web site beginning Friday, March 27 for $649. Carrier and major retailer sales of the device will kick off on or about April 10. HTC will be offering an unlocked version of the One M9, which supports the LTE networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, in addition to major carrier models. The company is offering a 12-month, interest-free payment option for customers who'd rather pay for the device over time. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon plan to sell the phone and it will also be available from Amazon, Best Buy / Best Buy Mobile, Costco, and Target. The phone will be sold in gunmetal gray or two-tone gold/silver and in 32GB and 64GB models. The One M9 comes with Uh Oh protection, which will let owners get a free replacement device if theirs suffers a broken screen or water damage. The One M9 goes on sale via HTC's web site at 12:01AM Eastern Time. The phone features a 5-inch full HD screen, 20-megapixel main camera, Snapdragon 810 processor, BoomSound stereo speakers, and an all-aluminum chassis.
HTC today promoted Cher Wang, co-founder and chairman of HTC, to the CEO position. Wang is replacing long-time CEO Peter Chou, who is transitioning to a product development role. Wang has taken on more responsibility over the last two years as Chou focused more on creating devices. The company feels today's change is the next logical step in the progression it set in place several years ago. "We are seeing rapid changes in the industry, with the smartphone as our personal hub connecting us to a growing world of smart devices," said Wang. "We pioneered the smartphone industry; now we are applying that thinking to realize the potential of a new generation of connected products and services." The company debuted the RE camera last year, partnered with Under Armour earlier this year, announced a wearable, and showed off a virtual reality headset. "As an entrepreneur at heart, I am excited to see so many new opportunities [and] to help shape the next stage of HTC's development," concluded Wang. HTC said Peter Chou will continue to help the company find new growth opportunities.
HTC today said the One M9 will begin shipping April 10. U.S. carriers haven't said when their individual variants will go on sale, but they should offer the phone soon after the April 10 launch.