HTC prides itself on being a company built on subtlety rather than brute strength, a rare but exalted market niche that it maintains by eschewing the 'rich colours, beautiful people and phones on pedestal approach' so typical of the mobile industry. According to John Wang, HTC's chief marketing officer, 'we've changed all that'.
The company continues on its chosen path of 'quiet simplicity' with this triptych of new devices, announced at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Justifiably acclaimed for laying their own discrete and highly functional user interface atop two very different operating systems - Android and Windows Mobile - these new phones are the first to feature the next generation HTC Sense software.
At its heart, HTC Sense is about integrating the datastreams that we're all constantly generating, allowing someone to aggregate the myriad tweets, images, messages and status updates that cascade forth on an hourly basis. But rather than create a collection of gimmicky apps aimed at text-heavy teens, HTC Sense is a sober but slick interface, not a million miles from a certain Cupertino-sourced smartphone but also distinctive enough to stand proud on its own merits.
The new phones include two Android devices, the HTC Legend and the HTC Desire. The former is essentially Hero Mk2, taking the form factor of last year's must-have device, slimming it down and enveloping it in a cutting edge piece of aluminium bodywork, milled from a solid lump of the metal - a '3D unibody design', according to Wang. Sleek and wieldy, the Legend is pitched at the design-conscious power-user, including a brand new news aggregator application and an organic LED (OLED) screen, dramatically bolstering quality and colour depth.
OLED is also the key feature of the HTC Desire, the company's new flagship. The large (3.7") multitouch screen is driven by a one gigaherz Snapdragon processor, apparently one of the most powerful ever fitted to a mobile device. The new OS makes selecting, editing and even translating text a breeze, as well as automatically re-sizing web page - and copy - to the width of the screen.
Finally, there's the HTC HD Mini, a shrunken down version of the bestselling HD Windows Mobile Phone. With HTC Sense making light work of the Microsoft underpinnings, this is a business-ready device for those with small pockets but hefty demands. Within six months the iPad will have introduced a new paradigm into the mobile device market, so we're keeping an eye on Taiwan to see what HTC dreams up to keep itself in the technological fast lane.
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Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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