HTC are a business under pressure. Many of their products are widely regarded as being brilliantly designed, but without the financial and marketing muscle of some of their larger peers (Samsung, for the most part), HTC’s devices are often overlooked. In 2015, some of HTC’s devices were not as well received as the business would have liked, such as the One M9, which was considered to be too similar to its immediate predecessor, the M8. More recently, HTC has released the One A9, which during the run up to the release, was teased as being HTC’s hero device. Indeed, the One A9’s upper mid-range specification does not set the world alight, it appears to have it where it counts.
The device is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 System-on-Chip, which uses a modern octa-core, big.LITTLE, , 64-bit architecture and is paired up with either 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB or 32 GB of local storage. There’s a 5.0-inch, 1080p AMOLED panel, a 2,150 mAh battery and a metal chassis measuring just 7.3mm thin. This specification disappointed many potential customers as not having an eye-bleeding specification, but instead the device concentrated on design, form factor and having usable, good quality features such as the rear camera and the software, which featured HTC Sense running over Android 6.0 Marshmallow. HTC were betting that those people who cared about specification might not pick the One A9, but instead people coming into a shop will see the balanced set of features and buy the handset.
It appears that the One A9 may well be a hero device for HTC after all, and has had an impact in the shorter term. Consolidated revenues rose almost 15% to a six month high of a shade over $300 million (NT$10.3 billion in November. Unfortunately, compared with November 2014, this year the monthly revenue fell by 39%. In the calendar year to date, revenues were down by a third compared with the same period last year to NT$115.2 billion. HTC are hoping that the One A9’s sales momentum will continue into the end of the year as the device is being released across more markets, which is a traditionally strong period for smartphone sales. And it will be interesting to see what happens with HTC’s sales figures into the New Year as customers start to think about the next flagship models, typically released at the turn of the first quarter.