Sprint is gearing up to launch its first Windows Phone 7 device on March 20, the HTC Arrive, Sprint announced. You may also see this one referred to as the HTC 7 Pro, which is how it's referred to globally. The HTC Arrive will run $200 after a $100 mail-in-rebate and obligatory 2-year service agreement or eligible upgrade.
The Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Tab 10.1, LG Optimus 3D and Sony Ericsson Xperia Play grabbed the big headlines at Mobile World Congress 2011. If you thought CES was fun, the annual Barcelona event will have had early adopters reaching for their wallets and breathlessly hunting for preorder opportunities. Hit the jump for a quick take on news, pending announcements from the major handset providers, and a brief analysis of what it all means for you.
HTC made a couple of rather interesting moves this week, starting with the "strategic investment in Saffron Digital," or so HTC says on its website. According to The Wall Street Journal, HTC will acquire the London-based mobile platform firm outright, which HTC says will prove a "key asset as content becomes more and more complex and localized." But that's only half the story. Hit the jump to see what else HTC has been up to and why OnLive gaming might soon be headed to a tablet near you.
Well, at least one of the hot new phones shown off at CES is getting an official launch date. The HTC Inspire 4G for AT&T has been given the green light, and the deal seems sound. The Inspire will be on sale February 13th for the suspiciously low price of $99.99 on a two year contract. This is an Android phone running version 2.2 of the OS with HTC's updated Sense experience on top. The screen is a 4.3-inch Super LCD at 480x800 resolution. There is no front-facing cam, but a rear-facing 8MP sensor is present. It runs the same current-gen Snapdragon processor found in the Desire HD.
The 4G referenced in the name is not AT&T's upcoming LTE network, rather we’re talking about HSPA+ here. Both AT&T and T-Mobile have decided to brand their enhanced 3G networks as 4G. Speeds will be higher than regular 3G, but probably will fall short of what Verizon's LTE is capable of. The bandwidth you are getting can be pumped out through a mobile hotspot app on the device, but expect to drop a few coins each month for the privilege. Anyone planning to surprise their sweety with an Inspire 4G this Valentine's Day?
Verizon is expected to launch the much anticipated HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE phone in the coming weeks. Although there were some previous leaks indicating that the device might be capable of simultaneous voice and data, we were skeptical. CDMA networks running on EV-DO like Verizon have not traditionally been capable of this feat. But now Engadget is reporting that a new leaked document seems to confirm the Thunderbolt will have what is called SVDO (a modification of EV-DO). This would allow users to use voice and data at the same time on 3G.
There is, however, a catch. The internal memo also indicates that the "experience will not be one that is consistent with our brand." We take that to mean it won't work particularly well. Perhaps data speeds are greatly reduced, or there is voice drop out. As a result, Verizon is instructing employees to not discuss the feature with buyers. The document is dated today, so if real, the information is fresh. Do you buy it?
Norwegian site Amobile claims to have gotten a hold of the details (and blurry image) on HTC's upcoming Android tablet, called the HTC Flyer. Much like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Flyer will be a blown up Android phone. The device will be running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, not Honeycomb like the official Google-backed Motorola Xoom. The Flyer will also be running a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255, probably at 1GHz.
Other relevant hardware details include a 7-inch 1024x600 screen, an HDMI-out, front and rear cameras, and HSPA+ 3G. The interface will be a modified Sense UI made especially for tablets. Amobile indicates that the documents are a few months old, so it is possible that HTC has changed course in the wake of Honeycomb, but we expect a close Google partner like HTC was appraised of the roadmap and decided to move ahead with a Sense-infused Gingerbread build anyway. Do you think the Flyer is going to be a reality?
As Android grows, so too does HTC, Taiwan's No. 1 smartphone maker. It's been a banner year for HTC, which announced fourth-quarter earnings twice as high as one year ago, according to an AP report.
HTC continues to cash in on the smartphone frenzy and saw its net profit for the fourth quarter reach $500 million. That's a 160 percent jump from a year earlier and a 31 percent surge from the third quarter. All this success has HTC thinking about tablets, albeit cautiously.
"It's a new market with many competitors, and we don't want to rush into it," said Peter Chou, HTC chief executive. "We hope the product we eventually unveil will be one that meets consumers' needs."
HTC is wise to play it patient here. Early Android tablets, while showing some promise, lack the polish that Google's upcoming Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is supposed to bring to the table. Honeycomb is being built from the ground up with tablets in mind, and from what little we've seen so far, it appears to be a much more appropriate OS to base a tablet on.
In the meantime, HTC is killing it in the smartphone market. The handset maker shipped 24.6 million handsets in all last year, which is more than twice the number it shipped in 2009.
Major kudos are in order for a band of modders known as The Dark Forces Team who went and released a Windows Phone 7 ROM for HTC's HD2 handset.
You can find instructions on the XDA-Developers.com forum, which aren't terribly hard to follow. You'll need to download the Windows Development Tools and Zune PC App, and once you've done that, it's just a matter of following a handful of easy steps.
The latest hack/ROM even allows access to the Marketplace and Xbox LIVE service, at least for now. Keep in mind that this isn't an official release, so the usual disclaimers about warranties, bricked devices, and proceeding at your own risk all apply.
Some of the first tablets built around Google's much anticipated Android "Honeycomb" platform will likely come from Motorola, Samsung, and HTC. Citing industry sources, DigiTimes says the search giant is giving priority to these three companies for cooperation to develop slates around the first version of Android intended specifically for tablet computing.
Honeycomb was built from the ground up for tablets, and from what we've seen, it definitely shows. Google posted a teaser video this week of Honeycomb in action, and while it's still Android, it's Android like you've never seen it before.
Being one of the first out the door with a Honeycomb tablet could prove a major advantage, and a major disadvantage for those left waiting in the wings. DigiTimes says Compal Electronics "tried in vain to cooperate with Google" on a Honeycomb tablet for 2010, but Google instead has given priority to handset makers.
We might look back on 2011 as the year of 4G (in addition to the year of the tablet, year of Sandy Bridge, the year 3D fizzled, etc). That's what HTC's hoping for, as company execs have set an internal goal of shipping around 10 million 4G-enabled smartphones with support for either LTE or WiMAX, DigiTimes reports.
For the sake of comparison, HTC shipped just 3.5 million 4G smartphones in all of 2010, and that includes 3 million of the popular Evo 4G devices for Sprint. The other 500,000 were myTouch 4G phones for T-Mobile. Combined, the two smartphones accounted for 14 percent of HTC's total smartphone shipments.
This year HTC plans to supply 4G models to Verizon, Sprint, and some lesser known names in Europe and Japan. One of these will include the HTC Incredible HD, which will start shipping to Verizon in the second quarter.