Ina Fried

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HTC Introduces the One Phone It Hopes Will Help It Regain Footing (Well, the Several Phones)

Taiwanese cellphone maker HTC on Sunday announced the phone it is counting on to help it regain the rapid growth that has stalled out in recent quarters.

“You want a phone that is sleek and eyecatching, so that when you pull it out, your friends go, ‘Wow, what is that?’” CEO Peter Chou said, at an event in Barcelona. “Today, I am proud to introduce just such a phone — the HTC One.”

Chou noted that taking photos is the No. 2 thing people do with their phones (after making calls), and promised that the HTC One will be good enough to replace the standard camera.

“It is the one phone you will need,” Chou said. “It is the one camera you will need.”

The flagship HTC One X device will pack a 4.7-inch screen along with a quad-core Nvidia chip in most models, and a Qualcomm chip in its LTE variant.

“HTC One is a speed and performance beast,” Chou said.

Despite its name, the HTC One will come in different shapes and sizes, including a thinner HTC One S model with a 4.3-inch screen and the HTC One V, a model aimed at a broader mass-market audience.

AT&T will carry the HTC One X “in the coming months”; while T-Mobile said in a statement that it will be the U.S. launch partner for HTC One S this spring. Prices were not announced.

The phones will begin shipping globally around April, Chou said, with 150 carriers across the globe committed to carrying the device.

Chou said that the new phone boasts improved software and optics, and a custom image-processing chip. Among its camera bona fides, the HTC One X can take video and shoot pictures at the same time. Other features include improved low-light shooting, thanks to an f/2.0 lens and other abilities.

Among its features are the ability to take a picture within 0.7 seconds — the time it takes people to react to something they see. The camera can autofocus in 0.2 seconds, and can keep taking pictures as long as you hold down the shutter.

“You will not miss another shot,” Chou said. “You can keep them all, or pick a favorite.”

“It is literally faster than the blink of an eye,” he said.

HTC is also integrating Dropbox into its HTC Sense software, with 25 gigabytes of storage included for two years — enough to store 10,000 images, Chou said. He promised improved sound and music management, as well.

“Getting music on a phone is still hard for people,” he said. “HTC One makes it easy.”

Chou said that one only has to sync with their PC once; music will sync over Wi-Fi from then on.

Chou also drew a contrast between HTC and other companies like Samsung and Sony, noting that its Media Link software works with any brand, as opposed to rivals whose strategy focuses on direct ties with their own TVs.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik