Taiwan’s HTC has been a relatively quiet player in the smartphone arena, preferring to deliver a long series of well-received devices rather than tooting its own horn. However, with the Google Nexus One—and then the HTC Evo and Desire&mmdash;the company took a more visible role in the Android smartphone market—and now the company looks like it might be willing to step into the spotlight, announcing the Desire HD and Desire Z Android smartphones at a press event today in London. And it wasn’t just new phones HTC was showing off: the company also plans to launch its own Sense suite of Web-based services to back them up and further differentiate them from the rest of the Android ecosystem.
“We’re excited to be taking the HTC Sense experience beyond the phone to a whole new level with a series of connected HTC services we call HTCSense.com,” said HTC CEO Peter Chou, in a statement. “Our customers will value the holistic approach we’re taking to enhance their mobile experience.”
HTC has long put its own Sense user interface on top of Android (along with Brew and Windows Mobile), which incorporates information from social services like Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter along with enabling users to set up multiple home screens. Now HTC plans to extend sense into a suite of services and additional on-phone applications. The Web service—run at HTCSense.com—will enable users to track down missing phones (by making it ring loudly, or plotting its location on a map) or lock or wipe down lost or stolen phones so personal or company data isn’t at risk. Users will also be able to use the service to transfer contacts, text messages, can call history to a new phone using a PC Web browser.
HTC’s two new phones are the Desire HD and the Desire Z. The Desire HD will focus on entertainment, featuring a 4.3-inch 800 by 480-pixel display along with Dolby Mobile and SRS virtual sound, along with a 1 GHz Qualcomm 8255 Snapdragon processor. The Desire HD will also pack an 8 megapixel camera with dual flash and be capable of recording 720p high-definition video. The Desire Z will feature a “pop-hinge” design that reveals a QWERTY keyboard for email and messaging: the phone will also feature a 3.7-inch 800 by 480-pixel display, an 800 MHz Qualcomm 7230 processor, and a 5 megapixel camera along with the capability to capture 720p high-definition video. Both phones will feature HTC Fast Boot, so users can quickly make calls or check email without having to wait for the phone to fully initialize.
HTC plans to launch the Desire HD in European and Asian markets beginning in October; the QWERTY-equipped Desire Z should launch in North America later his year. No pricing or carrier partnerships have been announced.