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HTC vs Samsung: Why HTC is losing the fight big time

HTC vs Samsung: Why HTC is losing the fight big time
Up until recently, HTC meant much more than it means now in the Android universe. It was a big factor. HTC's smartphones stood for quality, reliability and experience that are unmatched by any other Android manufacturer. Today, HTC is going through its biggest slump ever, with many analysts believing that it will never be the go-to company it once was.


THE SLUMP

It all happened pretty quickly, and few of us actually saw it coming. Until that disastrous fourth quarter of 2011, HTC was basically raking in record profits every new quarter. Then, suddenly, the Q4 2011 report of the company came to announce a staggering income drop of 41.1% compared to the previous quarter, and all of this when you have in mind the traditionally strong Holiday season. Something must have gone terribly wrong for HTC, as such dramatic drops rarely occur without a reason. So, what could have caused it?

Before the release of the Samsung Galaxy S II, it was HTC which made the killer Android phones. They weren't necessarily as pretty as they were in the early days, but they had killer specs and large screens that were so appealing to the Android crowd. When the Galaxy S II came out, however, it easily trumped HTC's efforts. The S II was faster and thinner than HTC's finest at that time - the EVO 3D. While Samsung's phones were getting visibly better, it was like High Tech Computer's line-up was becoming increasingly stagnant. There was little change between models, and eventually users just started to care less and less about what HTC was doing. With a flagship smartphone like the HTC Rezound, which was pretty good, but couldn't get noticed due to the buzz generated by the Galaxy S II, the Galaxy Note and the later-than-usual launch of the iPhone 4S, it was a critical moment for HTC, which eventually caused it to lose all traction.

With things not getting back to normal for HTC, the Taiwanese manufacturer decided that it has seen enough, and undertook a radical overhaul of its line up. At MWC 2012, it introduced the One series, which featured the new flagship model, One X, a mid-range offering in the One S, and a budget-oriented solution, called One V. The public was excited, and once again, the Android pioneer showed that it's a force to be reckoned with. Of course, all eyes were on the One X, as HTC clearly made a statement that this will be the one Android smartphone when it comes out. What happened next? Well, the One X came out, some said it's the best Android phone ever, others didn't share their opinion, and HTC continued to report weak financial results, with some analysts going as far as to compare its fate with the ones of Nokia and RIM. Is it really that bad?

Not yet, but it may get there, if the company doesn't take immediate actions to change its thinking. In our opinion, although some external factors may also be at play here, HTC's products themselves are the biggest reason for HTC's poor market performance lately.


UX IS KING

HTC is traditionally strong when it comes to design. There's no doubt about that and the company has showed it many times. Except for some relatively small elements, the One X is one helluva good-looking smartphone - much better-looking than Samsung's current flagship, the Galaxy S III. Still, there's no doubt that the Galaxy S III will sell much more, compared to HTC's finest. No, we don't believe that brand-recognition has so much to do here. Everyone who has actually held both handsets in their hands will tell you that the HTC feels way better. The problem, we believe, resides in the sub-par user experience of the handset. Don't get us wrong, the One X performs very well, but it just isn't on the same level as the other devices in its class.

The HTC One X was supposed to bringthe company back to relevancy,but it largely failed in its fightagainst the Samsung Galaxy S III

The HTC One X was supposed to bring
the company back to relevancy,
but it largely failed in its fight
against the Samsung Galaxy S III

As it stands currently, the latest Sense UI does more to hamper the Android ICS user experience than to improve it. We can understand the need to differentiate a product that runs the same software as its competitors, but not when this actually holds the device back. Of course, most of these software problems can be fixed by installing third-party software, or even flashing a custom ROM, but this isn't a solution. When your competitors are offering perfectly good stock applications, you cannot afford to offer a weaker experience, and require your users to search for more appropriate 3rd-party software. When you think about it, normal customers (those who create the volume that manufacturers need to stay afloat) would rarely need any additional features that are often found with third-party apps. Most often, the features built into the system's core apps are more than enough. That's why it's a big deal if customers can't find that basic functionality in the built-in apps. We're of course referring to the browser in the Sense-powered One X, which is simply disastrous (for that class of phones). Clumsy user interface, unintuitive navigation, slow Flash performance... and all of this is really important, since the browser is among the most used applications of any smartphone.

But the browser isn't the only weak element in the Sense machine that can ruin the experience for users. the whole Sense UI itself isn't among the most stable ones out there, sometimes crashing completely, and wasting time to reload the homescreen, widgets, and everything else.

Now, as unpleasing to the eye as the Galaxy S III can be, this is something you won't experience with it. The thing is that the Samsung phone works, and it works well. It's snappy and creates the impression of seamless, light operation that just allows you to get things done quickly and efficiently. Despite all its efforts, HTC hasn't been able to enhance its UI in such a way that would make it more easy to use.


THE SOLUTION

There are several things that HTC has to work on if it wants to remain relevant on the market. The first thing is to fine-tune its handset line-up's design characteristics. What we mean by that is that HTC should have a high-end, big-screened smartphone to compete with the increasingly bigger devices introduced by Samsung. Meanwhile, however, even if it doesn't have the vast resources of Samsung, it needs to pay close attention to the 3.7"-4.3" range. The One S was a good try, but it had some issues with its hyped ceramic coating, and such kind of things usually tend to drive customers away from a model. And of course, it also had Sense. Whether HTC should focus on the low end, especially with all these talks of it going to China, is a tough question. HTC is a company that has always produced higher-end gear, so it should be just fine if it doesn't have a very strong presence in that part of the market. Still, maybe we're inclined to say that considering the traditionally weak budget-oriented devices by HTC.

Secondly, HTC should stop making big promises. Take, for example, the ImageSense camera, which is outperformed by most of its competition, although it was said to be the next big thing in smartphone photography. And then we have Sense, which needs to be dramatically reworked. The UI has to get much simpler, with a bit less options, and faster, smoother operation. Users who demand great customization options usually know how to get them, so there's no need to scare the mass public away.

At the end of the day, we believe that there's still time for HTC to refocus and regain its lost positions as a premium Android smartphone manufacturer, but it needs to act quickly, because the other sharks in the pool are growing bigger and bigger by the day.

180 Comments
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posted on 09 Aug 2012, 07:58 5

47. MeoCao (unregistered)


Haha, I prefer people disliking my post to them ignoring it.

You have 17 reactions so this is a good post.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 05:55 26

1. hung2900 (Posts: 961; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


"Everyone who has actually held both handsets in their hands will tell you that the HTC feels way better."
i wont.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 06:17 22

11. MeoCao (unregistered)


I agree, I like the GS3 streamlined shape more than 1X, the phone doesn't catch dirt as 1X and it excites me more too b-c it's very different from all other phones while 1X is nice but looks very familiar to older HTC phones. SGS3 is beautiful!

The thing I like about 1X more is the screen and that's all but GS3 screen is nearly as good.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 06:23 12

12. MeoCao (unregistered)


I read an very good article on Pocket Now about HTC and I agreed. HTC tries too hard to please the carriers at the expense of the users.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 07:45 5

42. hung2900 (Posts: 961; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


11 people disliked my opinion (just an opinion) because they don't wanna hear smth against what they like?

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 08:38 21

60. ladyhaly (Posts: 106; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


I have held both and I will say it over and over and over again---
the HTC One X feels way better than the pebble-inspired Galaxy S 3.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 08:56 9

68. IamYourFather6657 (Posts: 321; Member since: 01 Jul 2012)


I agree with you

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 10:19 5

100. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


I still love holding my One X, but I got to say, SGS3 felt pretty nice in hand.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 11:36 4

115. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1888; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


I agree! I love holding my One X. The SGS3 just looks a little odd to me, but I do love its performance. HTC def. ignored what majority of people want from a phone: battery life and smoothness of its UI. 1800mA isn't enough, and they really should have overlook at the success of Razr Maxx. Who really cares about the phone is 5mm thicker, but people will notice the phone can actually last whole 2 days. On top of that, its beautiful UI, sense 4, is still too heavy for the device (I really hope 4.1 will be a lot better), I really hate when I exit out of an app and seeing the loading screen... WTF!? They never bother to test their device before release to the public? That is not acceptable. Never thought of the situation that someone might have to dial 911 and have to wait about 10 second for the phone to load its UI. On top of all that, they completely destroyed the Android's best friend, multitasking. I really can't take the fact that if I'm reading stuff on the browser and switch to text my friend, and switching back will require me to reload the page? Really, HTC.... Took out the best feature of Android OS and still can't make sure your UI is smooth 100% of time... Please do something different to rise again. Sticking to what used to work isn't working for you anymore.

I still love my One X though, but just have bones to pick with it.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 11:40 3

116. Phullofphil (Posts: 802; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


if you beleve in what your writing then who realy cares about what other peopl think. Its going to happen. Alot of people were disapointed how the sg3 looks and then theres always the super fans of any device or the haters that will always defend even if ther wrong. I am not saying this is you but if all you care is to have everybody like your opinion than whats the point of having one. Because most likely it not going to be from the heart and will be a misrepenstation of who you are

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 11:47 1

118. Phullofphil (Posts: 802; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


I have always liked HTC phones as far as the phone design is conserned. I never got one for my self for two reasons. 1:Battery life has always sucked for how i use the device, Motorola has always done me good there and samsung has always been in the middle for how i use it. 2:I dont like how much they change the design of android, I am not fond of my samsung touchwiz on my gs3 either but the HTC just does to much to somthing that really isnot broken and at stock is a great operating system. Motorola i think is the best one only because there blur stuff is really light and does not take to much away from android. I think my galaxy nexus when i installed a jelly bean rom has a better user expierence then my sg3 for the most part and i would be just fine if i still used it and never got the sg3. I do love my sg3 but especially with the locked boot loader its hard to do what i want to it. Thats where i like the fact that HTC is really good about unlocking boot loaders.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 12:19 6

121. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


They have it all wrong, there is no problem with user experience of the handset. It the lack of NO REMOVABLE BATTERY!!! That's was people turn off by HTC new line up. Hence the reason SGSIII kicking butt. I'll take SGSIII Please!

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 12:53 2

125. MeoCao (unregistered)


Of course I care about how people perceive my posts, but this does not mean I do not say what I think. You have to write what you think but it must add value to the conversation.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 15:14 3

132. bigdawg23 (Posts: 462; Member since: 25 May 2011)


Feel isnt the biggest thing to me. It is function and operation. I used to really like HTC phones. However, after a horrible experience with a Vivid, my chances of going back are slim. When it comes to function, I prefer the SGS2, SGS2SR and Galaxy Note.

AT&T was very generous to offer me any phone to get out of my VIvid, including the SGS3. However, I took the Galaxy Note.

Now from the modifying aspect, Samsung hands down. It takes no time for me to root and rom my Samsung phones. My HTC Vivid was a pain to get the same option. Personally I am beginning to like Touchwiz more than HTC Sense.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 17:40 2

135. RomeoJDR (Posts: 244; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)


maybe not everyone, but but you'll be hard pressed to find someone not owning an SIII ora Samsung loyalist saying otherwise. The SIII is currently the best phone, but the casing looks and feels too cheap to be housing the premium components held within.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 19:03 13

136. Mario1017 (Posts: 336; Member since: 04 Sep 2011)


I have the S3...and i can safely say...it feels like a brittle piece of plastic. It doesn't even feel like a poly-carbonate device.
Talking about streamlined? the S3 is flat on the front and back, and i find it very uncomfortable (and slippery) to hold it without a case.
I know its your opinion to dislike the One X, but majority of people will say the One X looks and feels better.
The only reason i got the S3 was because it had a micro SD card slot, if it wasn't for that I would not have even looked at the S3.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 20:56 2

137. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


no its to show they do not agree… is that not obvious?

and i thumbed you down because i disagree.. the one x is extremely pleasing to the eye and feels like a more premium device than the SIII to me

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 22:24

138. doublehammer (Posts: 75; Member since: 07 Aug 2012)


ill never understand the whole "premium" thing to me. I think its nothing more than marketing and a head trip.

How does it do in a drop test?
how scratch resistant is it both on screen and body?
How much power does it have?
How good is the experience?
How pretty is that screen?
How is the battery life?

Those are measures of "premium". This whole "tin vs plastic" nonsense is just that.. nonsense. Your talking about a material that costs either 0.3 cents a yard or 0.5 cents a yard. neither are "premium".

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 22:27 1

139. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3114; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


Agreed. I have held the One X and the SGS3. While sure the One X feels more solid, when it comes to feeling comfortable, that's a WHOLE different story. I'm not saying it feels horrible in your hand. But thanks to the nice curved edges and plastic, the SGS3 feels way smaller than it actually is. Plus with the power button the side(instead of being on top), it makes using your phone much more comfortable as well. Devices are getting bigger and taller but our hands are not.

Samsung is doing a great job of making their customer's happy and dare I say...making a fan base around them as well.

It's ironic that the first real phone I had was the Samsung Glyde on Verizon. I HATED IT, I HATED IT, OH MY GOD I HATED IT!!!!!

Thought I would never use another Samsung phone again. That remained true up until the first Galaxy S device came out and from there, Samsung has been doing an amazing job.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 23:22 6

140. RomeoJDR (Posts: 244; Member since: 09 Dec 2011)


Guess that's why nobody buys Apple's products.

posted on 10 Aug 2012, 01:51

142. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


its more of a feel than an actual on paper comparison… the one x is extremely good looking, unlike the s3, and the plastic it uses, although still plastic, looks and feels much better than the s3… yes, they might both be plastic, but there is a certain amount of real-world application involved

and the article is right… sense on my one x makes me want to scream sometimes… i mean it got rid of one of androids best features-- multitasking

posted on 24 Aug 2012, 19:53

181. bbdol (Posts: 19; Member since: 27 Oct 2011)


I bet you would feel even better in my hands. ;)

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 05:56 6

2. bohdan4ik13 (Posts: 109; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


LG have big problems too

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 06:15 1

10. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


actually, every single company now have big problems. Even samsung, which is the market leader have a big problem(apple suing samsung). It's a matter of how you learn from the mistakes you've made at use it to humbly redo your strategies and be strong again.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 06:47

24. pkiran1996 (Posts: 166; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


Lol I've not heard anyone mention LG in a long time

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 07:02 2

31. Mittal (Posts: 494; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


yup! I dont see any other company than Apple and Samsung to be having a gala time in the smartphone scene currently!(Not talking of quality of the devices here)
I wonder if i am wrong to say that Moto and LG are having a tougher time than HTC at the global level ryt now.
PA you should do similar articles for LG, SONY, MOTOROLA also!

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 08:07 1

49. PhoneLuver (Posts: 481; Member since: 05 Jul 2010)


The biggest disappointment was the fact that the One X only had an 8MP camera! It may sound a little stupid, but the first thing many people ask is what camera does it have, then what processor, and then what screen resolution.

They should have set the trend with 12MP cameras.

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 08:25 6

55. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Apple suing Sammy is more of an annoyance. Apple was suing Sammy the entire time that Sammy was putting up a record-setting quarterly sales and profit result.

I would add one item for HTC to fix - get consistency in your phones across carriers. Sammy has released the GS III across all 4 carriers in the U.S. and it is basically the same phone for each carrier. HTC has the One for AT&T and T-Mo, the EVO 4G LTE for Sprint, and what - the Rezound (not quite, but that points out another problem) for VZW? Personally, I would have done the EVO 4G LTE for all 4 carriers.

And then there is the matter of the user experience the article mentioned. Maybe go to vanilla JB and offer an alternative to the G-Nexus (with maybe 2 Gb of RAM)?

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 08:42 2

61. ladyhaly (Posts: 106; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


I agree with creating a vanilla Android choice BUT---

Is 2 GB of RAM even needed with vanilla Android? The reason why the Samsung Galaxy S 3 had 2 GB of RAM in other markets is because its built-in apps, S-voice for instance, were very RAM-heavy. But vanilla Android doesn't seem to suffer from the same, does it?

posted on 09 Aug 2012, 08:43 4

62. ladyhaly (Posts: 106; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


But choose a different writer. Someone who would bother to do proper in-depth research. Because, seriously, if I wrote a half-hearted uninformed article like this, I would probably question where my heart is.

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