HTC offers to replace cracked screens for free on One family of devices

HTC, in a bid to set itself apart from the smartphone pack and regain some of its luster, said that as part of a new program it will give U.S. customers who purchase any of its HTC One family of smartphones a free one-time screen replacement for cracked screens within the first six months of owning the device.

The HTC One mini is among those devices covered by HTC's new screen-replacement program.

The screen replacement is part of what HTC calls "HTC Advantage," a program for U.S. customers who purchase the One, One max or One mini smartphones.  The screen-replacement program applies only to new devices purchased from now on (older devices will still be covered on customers' insurance plans from carriers, if they have one).

The Advantage program "marks an enhanced focus and commitment to customers who select the best and want to keep it that way, by delivering both hardware and software commitments" to the One family of phones, the company said, which HTC has tried to drum up interest in. The phones, especially the flagship One, were well-received by critics and analysts in 2013, but failed to reignite HTC's sales.

Cracked screens are common for any smartphone customer, so by giving customers that free bit of peace of mind, HTC is hoping to regain a bit of unique stature among customers. After becoming the largest U.S. smartphone maker, HTC has slipped in recent years, thanks in large part to the marketing might and high-end products of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics.

In addition to the screen replacement component, HTC said it wants to speed up the delivery of Android software updates. The company pointed out that it was the first company after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to deliver Android KitKat to its customers.

HTC said it has proactively committed to upgrade the HTC One mini and HTC One max to KitKat in the coming months, and HTC also said it will continue to support the HTC One family of smartphones in the United States with major Android upgrades for up to two years from the initial launch date of the phone.

Further, HTC said its One family customers will also be getting a boost in cloud storage via Google Drive. HTC One max owners get 50 GB of storage, with other models receiving 25 GB (after Sense 5.5 has been installed).

HTC said earlier this month it will return to making less expensive smartphones in an effort to shore up its shrinking revenues. The company has a press conference set for Feb. 24 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it is expected to reveal new phones. However, it will likely wait until March 25 to reveal the successor to is flagship One; HTC recently sent out invitations to a media event on March 25. The announcement will be made via simultaneous events in London and New York, and HTC said that the phone in question will be its "primary flagship for 2014."

For more:
- see this release
- see this Engadget article
- see The Verge article 
- see this Engadget article

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