HTC unveils new $699 flagship phone without support from AT&T at launch

HTC introduced its latest flagship phone, unveiling a high-end device with predictably compelling specs. Whether the HTC 10 will help the company claw back some customers in an extremely competitive market, though, is far from clear.

The phone features a 5.2-inch Quad HD Super LCD 5 display with 564 ppi pixel density, a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera and – like several other new, high-end devices – Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor. It runs Android 6 with HTC Sense, but the carrier's latest version of its Android wrapper reportedly features less bloatware than previous editions, with the company eschewing apps that duplicate Google's offerings and including only complementary apps.

The HTC 10 also offers improved battery life, according to HTC, and a separate tweeter and woofer with dedicated amplifiers.

The phone with begin shipping in early May with a $699 price tag. In the U.S. it will be offered by Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, but, interestingly, not AT&T.

The manufacturer will sell an unlocked version of the phone, however, that will be compatible with the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile.

HTC emerged as a major smartphone manufacturer several years ago, but the company has lost footing as growth in the worldwide market has slowed. Like some competitors, HTC has been particularly hard-hit in China, a once-booming market that is now flooded with Android devices and where penetration rates have begun to flatten.

HTC was dropped from the main stock index in its home market in September, and it cut jobs last August after posting a disappointing second quarter. The company had hoped to receive a boost from the release of two new models in the second half of 2015, but it didn't rank among IDC's top five smartphone vendors worldwide in the fourth quarter of last year.

The HTC 10 will square off against a new wave of high-end phones that includes the LG G5, Huawei P9 and Samsung's Galaxy S7, which has received rave reviews.

"It's very difficult to get excited about smartphone announcements nowadays, even flagship devices," Stuart Robinson of Strategy Analytics wrote in a brief preview of the new phone. "The main components (processor, memory, display, camera, battery, connectivity, sensors) are all good enough to make any smartphone capable of performing exceptionally well on benchmarks. There's always room for improvement of course, but the component improvements are generally small incremental steps rather than giant leaps.

"So HTC has its work cut out to make the specs of the new HTC10 stand out from the rest," Robinson observed. And the job will be that much harder if HTC can't bring AT&T into the fold.

For more:
- see this HTC press release

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