HTC debuts One M9, Grip fitness tracker and enters virtual reality market

BARCELONA, Spain--As expected, HTC debuted its new flagship smartphone, the One M9, on the eve of the start of the Mobile World Congress 2015 trade show. The device will  be available in mid-March from  AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S). The company also revealed  a new fitness tracker geared toward serious athletes and surprisingly announced its entrance into the virtual reality market with a VR headset.

The One M9 comes in pink, grey, silver and gold and features a 5-inch full HD display. The smartphone runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop and includes the HTC Sense Home Widget. The device also sports Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snadragon 810 octa-core CPU with 64-bit processing and features a new 20-megapixel camera. HTC is dispensed with its UltraPixel technology for its rear camera, which some analysts and reviewers found to be a weak spot on previous versions of the One. In addition, it comes with HTC Connect which allows for wireless streaming of media content from the phone to a compatible TV or computer.

T-Mobile is touting the M9's front-facing speakers and its inclusion of HTC BoomSound, as a perfect teaming for the company's Music Freedom service, which essentially zero-rates the data generated by select music streaming services, so that the data charges incurred by the services are not applied to users' monthly data allotments

HTC's flagship wearable is the HTC Grip, a fitness tracker that is powered by Under Armour's fitness app. Grip is targeted at serious athletes that want to achieve certain fitness goals, which places it more directly in competition with Nike's FuelBand. The device sports five sensors, a gyroscope and a compass.  It can track date when someone is walking, running or even working out in the gym. According to HTC CEO Peter Chou, the device will track a person's progress and make recommendations.  "Grip will train you as if you have a team of professional coaches," Chou said.   

While the Nike FuelBand is still available for purchase, CNET reported last spring that the company had laid off about 70 percent of its engineering team and decided to not produce future iterations of the device. Instead, the sports company has been pouring its energy into its Nike Fuel app.

HTC's move into the wearable space isn't a surprise. In January the company announced  its partnership with Under Armour and its support for UA Record, a health and fitness app for Android and iOS devices that lets users monitor and share their fitness data and goals.

Also in January, HTC said its new Connected Products business unit would produce at least one product in the "connected self" category this year. HTC defines "connected self" as devices intended to improve and organize a consumer's mobile health and performance.

Much of HTC's news at Mobile World Congress had been predicted, however, the company did manage one surprise with its debut of the HTC Vive, a virtual reality headset that features 70 sensors to provide a full 360 degree tracking.  The company has teamed with VR expert Valve on the product. The headset uses Valve's Steam VR tracking and input technologies.  The company also said it is working with partners like HBO and Lionsgate on the device. HTC said  that it will deliver a developer edition this spring with the consumer edition available by the end of 2015.

For more:
- see this Valve release
- see this One M9 release
- see these One M9 specs
- see this HTC Grip release

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