HTC unveils new Desire smartphone lineup for U.S. carriers, with prices targeted at $200 and below

HTC is aiming to bounce back from a weak launch of its flagship One M9 smartphone by releasing a bevy of mid-range phones in its Desire lineup to U.S. carriers, especially prepaid ones. The hope is that by targeting phones that cost $200 or less without a contract at U.S. consumers, it can regain market share and mindshare while still emphasizing the software and design touches of the M9.

In June HTC said that it may incur a net loss of between $256 million (7.95 billion New Taiwan dollars) and $291 million for the second quarter. If HTC does post a net loss, it would break its streak of four straight quarters of steady if small profits. The company also said it was seeing "slower demand for high-end Android devices."

"The high-end space is plateauing," Nigel Newby-House, HTC's executive director of North America strategy and planning, told SlashGear, though he said what HTC learned from making the M9 got translated into these mass-market Desire phones. "Just because we're designing a cheaper device," he said, "doesn't mean we treat it with any less care and attention than a flagship device."

HTC did not divulge the exact pricing for the four new Desire models, but said sales will start this week and continue over the next few months, and it will be up to carriers to determine exact pricing. "Everything is well under the $200 price point," Newby-House told SlashGear.

The various phones are coming to MVNO TracFone, AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and its Cricket prepaid brand, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and its MetroPCS prepaid brand, and Sprint (NYSE: S) and its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile prepaid brands.

All of the phones feature a quad-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 210 processor and LTE connectivity. The Desire 520 is the entry-level phone and sports a 4.5-inch display and an 8-megapixel camera, and will be available exclusively from Cricket, according to the The Verge.

Meanwhile, the Desire 526, which will be available on Verizon's prepaid service, is similar in many respects to the 520, but has a slightly larger 4.7-inch display.

The Desire 626 and 626s have higher-end specs and sport 5-inch screens with 720p displays, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 16GB of storage and 1.5 GB of RAM and a 2000 mAh battery. According to The Verge, the Desire 626 will be available on AT&T and Verizon and available as the Desire 626s on T-Mobile, Sprint, MetroPCS, Cricket, Boost, Virgin and TracFone.

All of the phones feature HTC's software enhancements from its Sense 7 UI, including HTC Themes, which pulls color and textural elements from a favorite photo to modify the look of apps, color scheme and home screen. HTC's Sense Home widget automatically curates apps based on the user's usage and location and is contextually aware of location, time of day and preferred apps at home, work or on the go. Meanwhile, HTC's BlinkFeed news reader and social networking app can intelligently recommend restaurants near you and recommended by friends when in a new city.

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

Related articles:
Analysts: Samsung, HTC and OEMs in general are losers in shift to equipment installment plans
HTC shoots down idea of a merger with Asustek
HTC slashes Q2 revenue forecast, citing weakness in China, premium smartphone sales
HTC expects Q2 sales to plunge by as much as 29% as turnaround gets bumpy
HTC earns small profit in Q1 as sales of One M9 smartphone begin
HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang takes over CEO role from Peter Chou

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