Hold The Criticism: The M10 is Not the Worst Device Never Released
Whenever a flagship from a major smartphone OEM is about to be released, there are a lot of things that precedes the main release. While the actual product is shrouded in secrecy, the marketing and social engines of the company go into overdrive generating hype for a device that publicly does not exist.
Often, this takes the form of “leaks” and confirmations from “sources close to the company”. To be fair, leaks is perhaps not the best name — they are now so common, so entrenched in Android culture, and so likely intentional, that we shouldn’t discard the possibility of current leaks being nothing more than deliberate viral marketing and hype building
Love it or hate it, a lot of us eagerly look forward to such details. We love smartphones, and we readily feed on each and every information that we can lay our hands on. So whether these details are actually leaked from sources that were supposed to be confidential, or whether they are hand fed to us from the company itself, they give us a fair idea of what we can expect from a device. This gives the product hype, an element of expectation that a consumer has, built up as a sum total of what they have seen in the past, what the company does currently, and what products are expected to do in the future. The state of competition, government and the (almost) free market serve to complicate this, adding a sense of uniqueness to the product. The final product is something that people anticipate, yet are pleasantly surprised.
We recently posted renders of the upcoming HTC M10 aka HTC Perfume. The comments and discussion that ensued had a common vibe to it: people were writing off HTC’s latest smartphone altogether, before it was even released!
A lot of the hate that HTC got emanated from the HTC One A9‘s design, which the HTC Perfume will be following. To be fair, it is not a completely bad design. The intense dislike is steered more towards the fact that it looks like an iPhone, than it is for having an actually horrendous physical appearance. During the launch of the HTC One A9, HTC did stress that the trend of all metallic smartphones in the modern day was started by them, with the HTC One M7 (2013) being one of the classics in design that the company has produced. Apple then took “inspiration” from the metallic unibody, combining the style of the M7 into a more conventional and iPhone-esque flat appearance to give us the iPhone 6 (2014). Doing a quick comparison of the phones in the chronological order of release will put this into a better perspective.
It’s quite obvious that the HTC One A9 did not evolve directly from the One M9, nor did the iPhone 6 evolve directly from the iPhone 5. The design pattern demonstrated in the gallery is evolutionary when you look at it combined — see any one company’s phones and you’ll notice them making very bold jumps from their past. Both the companies are guilty of taking “inspiration” from the other, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The iPhone 6 sold a lot. The HTC One M9 – not so much. So it was clear that HTC needed to take a bold leap from their past. The One A9 was an experiment to test the market’s reception towards a design refresh, and the HTC Perfume will the resulting product from that experiment. Of course, the Apple marketing machinery has imprinted the design of all the iPhones as revolutionary, original and cutting edge in their own right. When a company from the other side of the river takes it up as one of its own, the fanboys are bound to rage over it.
Not all was bad with the HTC One M7. Or the M8 for that matter. The One M7 won many accolades for its design, including the “Best New Mobile Device” from the GSM Association at the MWC 2013 and the “Best Smartphone for 2013” a year later. The One M8 similarly was crowned the best smartphone by various sources. Blogs and websites alike showered the phone with many praises. Popular YouTuber MKBHD even crowned the M8 as the Best Smartphone of 2014 in his opinion.
So, what went wrong with the HTC One M9? Part of the problem (and excluding the 810 issues) was that it looked the same. HTC opted for the same design for the third time in a row. This wouldn’t have been as much of a problem, if it weren’t for — wait for it — leaks. Leaks painted a completely different picture of the device! They imagined the device to sport thinner overall bezels, a refined front BoomSound speaker design and a much sleeker approach for an all-metal build. The other sets of leaks for the One M9 that were floating around, the ones which actually depicted the device, were cast off, simply because they looked too much like the One M7 and M8. Stories of dummy units only intensified the mass hysteria resulting from one of 2015’s biggest disappointments.
And now, with the HTC One M10 going off on a completely different tangent design-wise, naysayers have returned. This time the complaint is that the device looks too much like the iPhone, with no sense of originality to the Perfume.
We’d agree with all of this, if it weren’t for one glaring oversight. The HTC One M10 has not yet been released. The leaked live images do not do justice to the device as said by the leaker himself, and the renders fail to address the actual feel of the device in hand. It could feel like an iPhone, or it could have its own sense of identity. This is still very much of a possibility at this stage. The leaks could be fake, as it happened in the case above, or they could be misleading — the OnePlus 2, for example, looked awful in the TENAA leaks, but much, much better in the real world.
The HTC One M10 has a lot of potential, especially given that the previous flagship failed to address many of the on-going complaints we’ve had for the M series. The Snapdragon 810 – another one of the reasons why the M9 was not considered the best – has made way for the more powerful and less thermally throttled Snapdragon 820. The rest of the specs are more or less at par with the other flagships that are coming out this year, so the M10 Perfume should not feel out of the league this year. There’s also talks that HTC will also go for a more streamlined Sense UI, one that is lighter than previous versions in terms of being system intensive, so that’s another plus.
There’s a lot riding on the M10 Perfume. As much as we’d like HTC to not screw it up, there’s a much larger incentive, a necessity if you will, for HTC themselves to not screw it up. The stage is all set for the HTC M10 Perfume to perform and as judges, we should try not to enter with preconcieved notions. Judgement is to be withheld till the device is actually launched, and we will be sure to judge all aspects of it when it does. But until then, please Hold The Criticism.
What do you think? Is it really too early to judge? What can HTC to change the minds of old fans and newcomers? Let us know your thoughts below!