HTC's MWC showing this year was a bit of washout. But that's OK -- we know it's saving its big guns for its own super-secret March 25th unveiling. But what will be revealed as 2014's flagship HTC smartphone? The HTC One...er...Two? Here are the whispers we've heard about the forthcoming sequel to last year's best Android phone.
Ha! HTC was storing up a problem for itself when it named 2013's top Android device the HTC One. How do you follow that? The HTC One Two is certainly too awkward to run with. As we'll get onto in a second, the new handset is likely to be an evolution of the HTC One's design, not a revolution, so it's possible that it could be called the HTC One+ (as suggested by modder LlabTooFeR), or "New HTC One", taking a leaf out of Apple's third-generation "New iPad" naming convention. A teaser video released yesterday saw HTC itself refer to the handset as "The All New HTC One". At the very least, we're confident with its codename -- just as last year's HTC One was codenamed the M7, expect to see many leaks and rumours surrounding an "M8" device to be associated with whatever is revealed on March 25th.
Update: Thanks to a leak from the mobile network Three, it looks very likely that the phone will be called the HTC One M8.
The HTC One was a superb phone at launch, packing in top-shelf, premium specifications. The leaks so far suggest that its successor will be no different in this respect, looking to bother the top-of-the-line models from rival manufacturers, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2 and iPhone 5S.
Ever-ready smartphone leaker EvLeaks gave an early indication of the 2014 HTC One's spec sheet. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor was tipped for inclusion, alongside a 5-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display, putting the handset in near-phablet territory when it comes to size. The same processor and screen size was also suggested by an AnTuTu benchmarking score, along with info pertaining to the inclusion of 2GB of RAM. Perhaps most excitingly was the benchmark result's blistering 3D performance -- if accurate, 3D gaming on the handset will be among the best on the market, and easily surpassing the first HTC One:
The HTC One's dual front-facing speaker array came highly-praised, and HTC appears ready to make further improvements to this well-received feature. While it didn't reveal specific details, a teaser video from the company confirmed that it has made improvements to the BoomSound speaker array.
Most interesting of all the alleged specs however is the rumour that the handset codenamed M8 could include dual-rear camera sensors. A separate AnTuTu benchmark notes the inclusion of a 2.1-front facing and 4MP rear-facing camera units, but a Bloomberg report suggested that the rear camera would be paired with another 2MP sensor. This would reportedly allow for advanced depth of field effects, with two simultaneously-captured snaps combined in software to allow for selective blurring of foreground and background elements.
These leaks were followed up at the start of March with a lengthy video leak. While the internal specifications don't get a mention, we do get a look at the handset's dual-cameras, onscreen navigation buttons built into the updated Sense 6.0 UI and the welcome inclusion of a microSD slot.
And, while the following specs have only come out thanks to a supposed retail unit appearing on eBay, we may see that quad-core Snapdragon chipset being of the 801 variety, clocked at 2.3GHz.
This is purely speculation on our part, but it'd be a real shocker if the HTC One's successor didn't come loaded with Android 4.4 KitKat. It's in every top-of-the-line, recent Android handset, and it'd be a real shame if 2014's HTC One missed out. We can't see that happening, so we'd bank on KitKat making an appearance.
Of course, HTC is renowned for its unique Android re-skinning, and many sources point towards a new version of the HTC Sense UI being included in the forthcoming handset. LlabTooFeR believes that HTC will be ditching hardware touch-sensitive buttons this time around, preferring to use onscreen back, home and menu keys built directly into the UI:
EvLeaks popped up again too with an alleged fullscreen shot of the Sense 6 UI. In it, time and weather details sit in a module at the top of the homescreen, while the phone, messaging, apps, browser and camera apps show slight depth-adding shadowing. These images sit over what appears to be the return of the BlinkFeed, the divisive social and news feed aggregator that debuted with the HTC One. With both HTC's traditional launch shot "10:08" time on the image, and a snap of UEFA football partners featured, this has all the hallmarks of a legit leak from HTC's labs:
Whether or not you were a fan of BlinkFeed, the build of the HTC one was undeniably attractive, with its sleek aluminium design. In this respect, the HTC One for 2014 is unlikely to differ much. Leaked images so far have again pointed to an aluminium casing. This snap from @htcfamily_ru shows a very familiar looking handset, excepting the inclusion of the second camera sensor on the rear:
And as if the inclusion of the dual-camera system wasn't already a dead-cert, EvLeaks once again pops up with a close-up photo of the "twice as beautiful dual-camera array:
Looking at the shadowing towards the edge of the handset in the above shots, it appears the new HTC flagship could sport a slightly curvier frame than its predecessor. EvLeaks again pops up here with a slew of extra images, reportedly official press shots from HTC, showing the handset in grey, silver and gold casing options:
Looking at the handset from this front angle, we can again see that dual-speakers feature, while the light sensor and front-facing camera appear ever-so-slightly more centralised than with last year's HTC One. The power button appears to be visible along the top of the handset, with the volume rocker on the right hand side and SIM-slot on the left. With a side-loaded SIM tray, it seems unlikely that the HTC One will need nor use a removable back plate (as was seen in the oversized HTC One Max) which makes the inclusion of a removable battery or dual-SIM slots unlikely to feature also.
If the standard casing isn't to your liking, it now seems that there could also be a smart case launching alongside the new HTC One. Once again, it's EvLeaks with the teasing details, showing off a hole-ridden case, using lights to display at-a-glance information such as time and weather:
— @evleaks (@evleaks) March 8, 2014
Updated: The leak to end all leaks came in on March 24th -- a 14-minute long hands on with the device, captured from every conceivable angle. Sure, its explanatory voice over may be in German, but there really is nothing left to wonder about with this years HTC One if this is indeed the real deal:
The new HTC One handset will almost certainly be revealed at the afore-mentioned March 25th press events, taking place in both London and New York. As for when it'll hit stores, that's a little more difficult to judge. The first HTC One suffered significant delays around its launch, and we would hope that the company has now learned from the mistake and prepared its supply chain accordingly, allowing for a release soon after the reveal.
Interestingly, a recent court patent battle between Nokia and HTC seemed to let slip the estimated release window for the handset. Hon Mr Justice Arnold stated that:
HTC is close to launching the successor flagship model to the HTC One. HTC has not revealed the launch date. Nokia has adduced evidence which suggests that the launch date is in the first quarter of 2014 and possibly as early as February 2014. HTC has not contradicted this.
While that February date has obviously slipped, for the handset to hit that "first quarter" date it would have to hit stores by the end of March. Could HTC be planning to follow up the launch event with immediate availability of the handset?
For the time being, HTC is holding its cards quite closely to its chest, but note that it has announced that its YouTube page will be hosting a series of teaser clips in the run up to the handsets launch. Keep an eye on it for further snippets, while we'll make sure to bring you all the latest New HTC One rumours, launch date and pricing information as we hear word of it.
Updated: Thanks to Carphone Warehouse, it know looks like the HTC One will go on sale immediately after its reveal on March 25th. Those that head down to Carphone Warehouse's London Westfield Stratford, Westfield White City, Oxford Circus, Centrepoint, Tottenham Court Road or Selfridges outlets will be able buy the smartphone from 4pm the very same day.
Updated: This post was originally published on February 27th, and updated on March 10th 2014 to include the 12-minute video leak, camera system close-up and smart cover, and then again on March 17th to include Three's name leak and the supposed retail unit appearing on eBay.