Once riding high at the sharpened edge of Google’s Android spearhead, HTC can take major credit for successfully smashing what was increasingly looking like Apple iPhone log-jam as famous former heroes such as Blackberry withered on the vine when touchscreens caught on and took hold.
Their HTC G1 (aka Dream) phone was the first ever Android phone. Taking Google’s first tentative shot at a smartphone iOS after Apple’s efforts broke cover and giving it a physical form (complete with full, slide-out keyboard), Android was to spend years as a iOS’s poorer, cheaper relation before Samsung teamed improved (arguably more iPhone-like) versions of the software with increasingly polished and desirable outers.
HTC continued to hammer the budget market however, releasing a cascade of interchangeable, me-toos with confusing names over differing territories and – while enjoying hits such as their EVO (the first 4G phone) – they never shook their public perception as ‘the phone you bought when you lost/broke your good one’.
VR pivot and Google buyout
Despite literally employing Tony Stark to try to reinvent the company and rebuild their rep, HTC found themselves in a forced pivot away from mobiles and into VR for their highly regarded (though not exactly household) Vive VR gear and nascent Viveverse metaverse.
The HTC mobile story effectively ended when in early 2018 Google themselves bought the lion’s share of HTC’s mobile tech and technicians and used both to build out their own Pixel brand and do the job themselves.
But now HTC phones are back. Or at least the product they teased at this year’s Mobile World Congress event in March 2022 is revealed today. Featuring major ties to their Viveverse and packed with yet-to-be-explained Web3 skills, it’s finally here and it’s… the HTC Desire 22 Pro.
Yes, there have been 21 HTC Desires. And here’s the new one.
A ‘fresh’ start?
So this new phone isn’t exactly the fresh start we were hoping for but at least the hype still sounds good. Promising to “Redefine immersion,” it’s “Swift. Versatile. Dynamic. Desire 22 [P]ro is the phone to carry you into the future. Designed for immersive experiences in a world where the physical, digital, and virtual interconnect – and with the capacity to run 2D and 3D content on extended reality (XR) devices. Get ready to add a new dimension to the way you live, work, and play.”
What does that actually mean? Well, it means that there’s a medium spec Snapdragon 695 processor, a decent 120Hz 6.6” FHD+ screen, 8Gb of RAM and 128Gb of storage and a pricetag that pure HTC. So a ‘top spec’ Android phone for just £399 UK.
The biggest ties to the Viveverse turn out to be a bundle pricing with their Vive Flow headset (meaning you can bag the pair for £763) though it’s not clear what advantages the Desire 22 provides when combined with the Flow, a device compatible with any Android handset. And there’s a teased but yet-to-be officially announced built-in crypto wallet with a free NFT (of indeterminate value) to get you started. (This crypto wallet may only be coming to certain territories for legal reasons.)
We believe that one day there will be a ‘metaverse phone’. A device that does provide new utility, does deliver Web3 experiences away from desktops and VR, and does that in new ways and will – potentially – be a huge hit. We await its arrival with interest.