Not to be left out of the MWC 2016 media day fun, HTC has today taken the wraps off four new phones ahead of the Barcelona show — three brand new Desire phones, and a global version of the previously Asia-only One X9.
To recap, the One X9 is a close relative of the last major HTC release, the One A9. It's got a curvaceous metal body, a 5.5-inch 1080p display and a 13-megapixel rear camera with OIS. Unlike the A9, there's no fingerprint sensor, and HTC's trademark BoomSound front-facing speakers make a return for superior audio quality. And the X9 sees HTC making the transition back to capacitive buttons for back, home and app-switching freeing up more space on the display itself.
Even with these differences, the A9 — and, let's face it, iPhone — design DNA is clear to see in the X9, which is essentially a bigger version of that device with some different design priorities. That includes a larger 3,000mAh battery — a big deal given the A9's relatively anaemic battery life — and different processor, MediaTek's octa-core Helio X10. And it's also a dual-SIM device, allowing you to make and receive calls on two different numbers, while using one for LTE data.
On the software side you're looking at Sense 7 and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and the version of Sense we previewed on the X9 seemed closer to Sense proper, as opposed to the more Google-influenced interface of the A9.
It's an interesting lateral move from the A9, and one that maybe tells us a little about the future direction of HTC's high-end products.
Meanwhile in the more price-conscious Desire range, HTC unveiled three new handsets sporting new, colorful design features. Following on from the dual-tone colors of previous models, the Desires of 2016 feature "micro-splash" effects on the polycarbonate — a process which HTC says gives each phone a completely unique pattern of dots. Aside from this fresh coat of paint, this year's Desire phones look a lot like their predecessors, with glossy curved plastic and a splash of color around the accents.
The more affordable of the HTC"s new mid-rangers is the Desire 530, a 5-inch phone with a 720p display powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor. It's a relatively slim, ergonomic little phone available in dual-color "micro-splash" configurations — Stratus White Remix and Graphite Gray Remix. The display seemed reasonably bright and clear in our brief time with the phone, while Sense 7 and Marshmallow delivered the performance and responsiveness we'd expect from a modern HTC phone. Others at this price point might be pushing forward with metal-bodied designs, HTC's plastic still looks and feels good — even if it hasn't changed all that much over the past couple of years.
The Desire 630, the middle phone in HTC's new Desire lineup, is a slightly higher-specced (but otherwise identical) version of the 530, with improvements including a 13-megapixel rear camera and BoomSound with Dolby Audio.
Towards the high ender of the Desire line there's the new Desire 825, a phone which also uses the "micro-splash design" pattern, transforming this into a larger form factor. The screen resolution remains at 720p, while upping the size to 5.5 inches. You'll bump up to a Snapdragon 400 processor as well — a quad-core chip at 1.6GHz — along with a similar 13-megapixel camera and BoomSound with Dolby Audio capabilities.
What's more, the 825 brings some interesting visual changes to the front of the phone, with a new stylized, accented earpiece and One X9-style capacitive keys.
HTC also revealed that its latest Desire phones are the first to include its sensor hub technology, allowing for features like Motion Launch and activity recognition — features that had been limited to its high-end devices until now.
The HTC One X9 will launch across the EMEA region (that's Europe, the Middle East and Africa) from the end of February from major retailers and HTC.com, while the Desire phones will follow from March. In the UK, we're told the Desire 530 will come with a representative price tag of between £109 and £119 ($157-171).