HTC: Metal makes a better smartphone

2013-03-26 09:16
The HTC One will be launched in SA. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The HTC One will be launched in SA. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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HTC One camera

2013-03-20 08:22

HTC's Jon French chats about the light sensor of the One smartphone in this YouTube video.WATCH

Johannesburg - Premium materials used to construct high-end smartphones make more of an impact with consumers, HTC has argued.

The company is bringing its One smartphone to South Africa later in the year and insists that the metal unibody finish puts it ahead of competitor devices.

"I come back to that analogy: Would you rather buy an expensive plastic watch or an expensive metal watch? Most people would say metal, we believe," Jon French, HTC vice president of sales and operations for the EMEA region told News24.

The metal case of the device raises the standard in smart mobile devices, traditionally cased in plastic.

HTC was unrepentant about the One when it was introduced to media in Johannesburg. The company dared reporters to compare their device to the latest from its competitors.

'Death grip'

Samsung released its latest Galaxy S smartphone and some applauded the design, though a metal finish was expected in some quarters.

HTC conceded that its messaging around its devices was below par, but promised that the One would see a more forceful campaign as the company seeks to grow market share in SA.

"I think the market’s always ready for a good phone. Are we going to be more bold in our communication? Yes, we are. We’ve got to tread that fine line between arrogance and confidence," said French.

Building a metal phone is challenging because of the difficulty of placing the linking the device to mobile networks.

Apple ran into difficulty with the iPhone 4 where users experienced signal problems, eventually dubbed the "grip of death", in relation to the way the device was held.

Apple eventually provided users with a free plastic case to remedy the problem and apologised to customers.

"Phones aren't perfect and it's a challenge for the whole industry, and we're all doing the best we can, but every phone has weak spots," former Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the time.

Design challenge

HTC said that the One presented a design challenge.

"It's one of the things that sets us apart because it’s not easy making a phone in metal. Plastic, honestly, is easy. Metal is difficult because you've got this challenge of how do you get a radio signal out of something that's metal.

"The antennas are built into the phone in such a way that it looks like a very cool design feature, but actually the whole phone is made out of metal," said French.

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