Earlier this month, HTC announced its latest flagship: the U Ultra. The smartphone comes packing a 5.7-inch QHD which is joined by a second 2-inch (160x1040) “ticker” display for notifications. Other features include 4GB RAM, up to 128GB of internal storage, a 12MP rear camera and a front-facing 16MP camera.
Conspicuously missing, however, was Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 835 processor. In its place was last year’s top-end chip, the Snapdragon 821, which itself is a slightly higher-clocked Snapdragon 820. As we learned earlier in the week, this is due to the fact that Samsung hoarded the initial supply of Snapdragon 835 SoCs until at least April, which means that other smartphone OEMs simply won’t have access to enough processors to launch new flagships based around the chip.
HTC U Ultra
For those disappointed in the appearance of last year’s SoC on HTC’s new $749 flagship, there’s another flagship in the works with the new Snapdragon 835. Chialin Chang, HTC’s President for the Smartphone and Connected Device division, confirmed the new smartphone, stating, “Every time there is a brand new CPU with power that we can leverage, we're always at the forefront doing that. Some people are talking about the timing [of our release] but timing was determined 9 months ago. This is the best CPU out there.”
HTC won’t be able to make that claim for much longer, as Samsung’s Snapdragon 835-powered Galaxy S8 is set to launch on April 15th and will likely be priced similarly to the [relatively] pricey U Ultra.
“We want to have a couple of months of leadership before the next flagship CPU comes. But that will be in another period of time- not at MWC,” Chang continued. “Not for us or any other player. I can tell you that for sure. When the new CPU comes, HTC will have another flagship.”
Unfortunately, there appears to be at least a couple of problems with HTC’s strategy. For starters, if Chang’s statements are correct, HTC will be launching two flagship devices within a relatively short period of time. For those that are partial to the HTC brand, what’s to stop them from skipping them U Ultra altogether and waiting for the Snapdragon 835-powered alternative? After all, $749 is a lot to pay for a smartphone that will be leapfrogged in a few months time.
Secondly, by the time HTC does get its U Ultra successor to market, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will likely be dominating the sales charts and enjoying a multi-billion-dollar ad campaign to raise public awareness. Will HTC be able to compete against those odds?