Last week, HTC Taiwan’s Facebook page teased a new phone launch for March 20. The announcement finally came, but it’s actually something we had known about for the past couple of months.
The logical guess was the arrival of a successor to last year’s flagship HTC 10, which was revealed around this time in 2016. Instead, we’re all being treated to a more expensive version of the underwhelming HTC U Ultra that was unveiled last January.
The limited edition version adds a sapphire screen to the already premium smartphone. This raises the introductory price from the $750 of the original to — wait for it — $950 after converting from the New Taiwan dollar price of NT$ 28,900. Oh, boy.
Fortunately, the built-in storage has been upped from 64GB to 128GB, but that still isn’t enough to justify the $200 increase. Sure, sapphire displays are a rarity in smartphones, but tests have shown the more ubiquitous Gorilla Glass to be more than sufficient for daily grinds and occasional drops.
This is such a disappointment for long-time HTC fans. The best phone to come from the manufacturer’s factory in recent memory — the Google Pixel — isn’t even branded as an HTC. The U Ultra with its underpowered specs and outrageous price isn’t enough to stand against the flagships we’re seeing this year.
Care to share your strategy with us, HTC?