HTC is somehow still making smartphones. The latest from the company is the HTC Desire 22 Pro, a £399 (~$486) mid-ranger that represents the company’s first smartphone by 2022.
HTC says this phone will somehow help you “enter the metaverse,” the “phone that will take you into the future.” Metaverse is the latest tech buzzword companies are hyping. It roughly means “related to VR”. The phone doesn’t seem to have any real VR features. HTC’s latest VR glasses, the Vive Flow, use an Android phone as the controller and can show the phone screen inside a VR environment. This phone comes with that Vive Flow Controller app, but you can install it on any Android phone that supports Miracast and gets the same features.
Probably the discussed gimmick is to divert attention from the fact that HTC Desire 22 Pro is a normal looking mid-range phone. It has Snapdragon 695, 120Hz, 6.6 inch, 2412×1080 LCD, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage and 4520mAh battery. It has Android 12, a fingerprint reader, wireless charging, a microSD slot, and an IP67 water-resistance rating, which HTC describes only as “splash proof.” As for the cameras, you have a 65MP main camera, 13MP ultrawide, 5MP depth sensor, and a 32MP front camera. HTC’s spec sheet eagerly lists “Face ID” as a feature, which is an Apple trademark. HTC probably means normal face recognition.
HTC’s buzzword-driven product development
HTC’s uncompromising strategy is what I would call “buzzword product development.” The company sticks to whatever the latest tech buzz is and vaguely touts it as a feature that change everything, Only to abandon the idea after a year or two. In 2014, the company’s hot new fling was the “Internet of Things,” which it interpreted as a camera with no viewfinder and a fitness band that never launched. In 2015, a renewed obsession with VR brought HTC’s only successful new product line, the HTC Vive, though you can attribute much of that success to the involvement of the PC gaming juggernaut Valve. (Valve left HTC for its second headset, and now HTC has left the PC-VR market.) Back then the company was very excited about “5G”, so its next big product was the 5G Hotspot whose The price was $600, thanks mostly to being a full flagship Android device in the unpocketable form factor of a smart display.
Recently, what’s left of HTC’s smartphone division has brought this hullless buzzword product strategy to smartphones. In 2017, the company touted AI and machine learning as the future, promising the HTC U Ultra would be a total “transformation” of the company. 2019 brought the HTC Exodus, a “blockchain phone” that can run a full bitcoin node, a wildly inappropriate use-case for a battery-powered, slow, storage-limited mobile device. Now we have got the Metaverse phone, and by the way, the company has already indicated that its next part will be augmented reality.
We always ask the same question of this smartphone-buzzword gimmick: How does it make phones better? Why would anyone want this? Why is this a selling point over your competitors? HTC never has satisfactory answers. To the extent that this phone really Doing Anything related to their marketing buzzwords, integration is usually a piece of included software—an app you can easily install on a phone better than a serious manufacturer. It’s the same story for this Metaverse phone, which is available to anyone with the HTC Vive app just preinstalled.
Oh, by the way, we have another discussion for you: NFTs, which this phone also has, of course. HTC actually launched the “Vive Arts NFT Store” a few months ago, and this phone has an app for it called Vive Wallet. Most invocations of “NFTs” involve a pyramid scheme where people buy URLs of bad artwork for absurd sums of money. HTC describes its NFT store as “designed for art and culture,” and in this case, it featured someone looking at a picture of the Cat Mona Lisa from their smartphone.
So far, the only countries confirmed for availability are the UK and Taiwan. In the UK, the HTC Desire 22 Pro is up for preorder now and will ship on August 1.