Don't get too excited yet, however; details still loom
HTC overnight on its Facebook page publicly confirmed what it first told us some weeks ago (and that we've largely expected anyway) -- that some current phones will receive updates that contain some features of Sense 5, which will make its debut in the coming weeks on the new HTC One.
Devices specifically mentioned were the HTC One X, One X+ and One S -- from the original "HTC One" line of 2012 -- as well as the HTC Butterfly, which was the first 1080p display phone that emerged late in the year.
HTC will be offering upgrades to some of its existing devices in the next few months, including global variants of HTC One X, One X+, One S and the HTC Butterfly. Also, note that some features enabled by the new HTC One hardware will not be available in the software updates.
That second sentence is the key, however. Not all Sense 5 features will be added to current devices. That's hardly a new phenomenon -- HTC's been working updates like that for a few generations now. It's a balance between previous-generation hardware and next-generation software.
More: The HTC One forums
So we don't yet know what Sense 5 features could make their way to older devices. The HTC One X, One X+ and One S have half the RAM as the HTC Butterfly, for example. And none of those phones has the newer Snapdragon 600 processor that's in the HTC One. Same goes for the updated ImageSense processor.
If we had to wager a guess, it's entirely possible that some of photo features found in Sense 5 in the HTC One will be off the table. That goes back to the difference in Snapdragon processor versions as well as HTC's image processor. Presumably the new homescreen layout -- with BlinkFeed allowing for quick "snacking" of news and social streams -- wouldn't present as many technical challenges.
And then there's the usual mess of upgrading phones in the United States, where everything and everything has to go through the operator. It's possible they might not want to undergo the time and expense of such a major update. We hope that's not the case, but stranger things have happened. Plus, we're still waiting on the AT&T HTC One X to get its first, long-awaited update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, to say nothing about a major feature update.
Also note that the Droid DNA -- essentially Verizon's version of the HTC Butterfly -- isn't specifically mentioned. Nor is any other specific U.S. version.
Updates to current phones that will bring Sense 5-like features aren't that much of a surprise. But until we get more details -- there's a lot missing here, still -- we're not going to break out the champagne just yet.