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Why the iPhone 6 should take a cue from the new HTC One

Michael Simon | March 28, 2014
Each time a flagship model is due for its annual refresh, the respective rumor mills ramp up with wild speculation that spurs dreams of unique enclosures defying logic and reality, metal-and-glass marvels that redefine what we know about smartphones and shatter every last convention.

htc one m8 hands primary

You'll never get either side to admit it, but Android and iOS have learned an awful lot from each other. From the pull-down Notification Center to the fine art of inertial scrolling, the two operating systems may have different spins on things, but at their cores, they're really quite similar.

Each side receives, shall we say, inspiration from the other. Whether you're on Team Siri or Team Google Now, you can get some idea of what's on tap for your next update by studying the other; iOS 7 was a radical departure for Apple, but major features like the Control Center and multitasking card carousel took obvious cues from Jelly Bean, while Projects Butter and Svelte certainly owe a debt to Apple's engineering.

htc one m8 gold
The new HTC One (M8) is notable for how similar it is to the first version: same shape, same speaker grilles, just subtle refinements and an additional camera.

But when it comes to hardware, our expectations are a little different. Each time a flagship model is due for its annual refresh, the respective rumor mills ramp up with wild speculation that spurs dreams of unique enclosures defying logic and reality, metal-and-glass marvels that redefine what we know about smartphones and shatter every last convention. Even when specs and spy shots leak, we still hold out hope for that QHD 2K display or teardrop design until the inevitable letdown, when the update merely brings a simple riff on the same old concept while packing a few more megahertz and a new sensor or two.

But perhaps we're not looking closely enough. Much like the respective OSes, maybe we can learn something by studying handsets, too.

Refining design

When the HTC One launched last year, it was a revelation. Closer to an Apple product than an Android one, it was dripping with sex appeal, a chiseled slab of aluminum that flaunted the components other manufacturers tried to hide and turned its speaker grills into an industrial design element. It had an understated flair that was as good to hold as it was to look at, and it even sold well for a while--no small feat for a non-Samsung Android phone. But more importantly, HTC had hit upon a classic design that instantly stacked up against the Galaxies and iPhones of the world.

But when it came time to unveil its successor, HTC pulled something of a curveball. There were no secrets, no speculation--instead of fueling a run-up of rumors, the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer crafted an Apple-like response to the hype, meticulously refining last year's handset rather than crafting something new for newness' sake.

 

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