The evolution of HTC's flagship Android smartphones: from the Dream to the One M9

The evolution of HTC's flagship Android smartphones: from the Dream to the One M9
HTC is currently not one of the major smartphone makers when it comes to sales. However, some years ago, the Taiwanese company was at the top, with 2010 and 2011 being its best years (back then, Nokia and BlackBerry were also still at the top). In 2008, HTC manufactured the world's first Android smartphone, and, since then, it had time to launch lots and lots of other handsets, many of which have been among the best in their class.

Earlier this month, at MWC 2015, HTC announced its latest flagship Android device, the One M9 - a perfect occasion for us to take a look at all the flagship Android smartphones that the company introduced until now. Join us below to see how things have evolved.

HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1

As you probably already know, this is the world's first Android smartphone that we told you about a bit earlier. Launched in late 2008, the T-Mobile G1 / HTC Dream looks ancient by today's standards: it's very thick, its display is small (3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixels), and there are no less than 6 hardware buttons on its front side. The G1 / HTC Dream ran Android 1.0 at launch, while featuring a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a single-core 528 MHz Qualcomm processor, 192 MB of RAM, and 256 MB of expandable storage space. The handset also had a 3.2 MP rear camera which initially couldn't record video (though this was fixed after a software update).


HTC Magic

Released in April 2009, the HTC Magic was the world's second Android smartphone, and the first to run Android 1.5 Cupcake out of the box. While it doesn't have a hardware QWERTY keyboard, its internals are largely similar to those of the HTC Dream.


HTC Hero

Later in 2009 (in the summer), HTC launched the Hero, which is notable for being the first smartphone to use HTC's own Sense UI on top of Android. It was also the company's first smartphone to offer a standard 3.5mm headset jack, the first to feature a multi-touch display (3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixels), and the last HTC flagship to have that peculiar protruding chin below its screen.


HTC Desire

Announced in February 2010, and released around the world later that year, this was HTC's first Desire-branded smartphone (as you may know, now the brand is no longer used for flagship devices). The HTC Desire brought important improvements over HTC's previous Android flagships, including a 3.7-inch display with 480 x 800 pixels, a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, and 576 MB of RAM. At launch, the Desire ran Android 2.1 Eclair with Sense UI. The Desire shares most of its internals with the Google Nexus One, and also has a lot in common with Verizon's Droid Incredible (though this one looks quite different).


HTC Desire HD

The Desire HD is called like this not because it offers an HD (720p) display, but just because its 8 MP rear camera can record HD video. It was launched in the second half of 2010, being one of the largest smartphones available at the time (of course, its 4.3-inch, 480 x 800 pixels screen is quite small now). The Desire HD had several carrier-specific versions for the US market, including Sprint's HTC Evo 4G (which was actually released before the Desire HD), Verizon's HTC Thunderbolt, and AT&T's HTC Inspire 4G.


HTC Sensation

The Sensation (also known as Sensation 4G) was HTC's flagship smartphone of 2011, featuring a 4.3-inch display with 540 x 960 pixels, a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S3 processor, 768 MB of RAM, and an 8 MP rear camera with 1080p video recording. Android 2.3 Gingerbread with Sense 3.0 UI came pre-installed from day one. Related devices include: HTC Sensation XE (with a slightly faster processor), HTC Sensation XL (with a 4.7-inch display), T-Mobile's HTC Amaze 4G, AT&T's HTC Vivid, and Verizon's HTC Rezound.


HTC One X

In 2012, HTC introduced the One X, which, alongside the One S and One V, created a brand new family of HTC smartphones. The One X was the world's first handset to be powered by Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor, though some variants used a Snapdragon S4 CPU. Other notable features include a 4.7-inch display with 720 x 1280 pixels, 1 GB of RAM, and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with Sense 4 UI.


HTC Butterfly / HTC Droid DNA

Initially announced in October 2012 in Japan, the Butterfly was one of the world's first smartphones to sport a 1080 x 1920 pixels display (a 5-inch screen, to be exact). In November that year, the handset was released in the US, exclusively via Verizon Wireless, under the name Droid DNA.


HTC One (M7)

At launch (in March 2013), this handset was simply called HTC One, signaling a new direction for HTC, not just when it comes to branding, but also when it comes to design. The smartphone - still available to buy in many places - offers an aluminum unibody design, front-facing BoomSound speakers, a 4.7-inch 1080p display, 2 GB of RAM, and a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor. This was HTC's first device to use an UltraPixel rear camera. Initially, the M7 ran Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Sense 5.0 UI (in the meantime, it's been updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop).


HTC One (M8)

Announced and released on March 25, 2014, the HTC One (M8) is slightly larger than the One (M7), as it sports a 5-inch 1080p display. The M8 introduced an UltraPxel Duo rear camera, which lets users apply various effects to photos, though it fails to offer a significant increase in image quality. Other novelties that the One (M8) came with include a 5 MP front-facing camera, a Snapdragon 801 processor, and Sense 6 UI.


HTC One M9

Finally, here we have the newest HTC flagship handset: the One M9, which will be available around the world starting later this month. Once again, HTC equipped its flagship with a 5-inch 1080p display and BoomSound speakers (enhanced with Dolby Audio). Improvements over the One (M8) include an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, 20 MP rear camera, 3 GB of RAM, and a 2840 mAh battery.


Do you think HTC's Android smartphones have evolved in the right direction? What's your favorite flagship from the ones seen above? And, last but not least, what would you like to see from HTC in the future?

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34 Comments

1. chistoefur

Posts: 103; Member since: Nov 05, 2012

After some time, I'm finding myself less disappointed in the m9. I still think the design is great, and it can still stand up to the s6. Still just kinda worried about the camera, and that sd 810 chip :l

12. androidwindows

Posts: 216; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Agreed. At first I found the design kinda meh. But now I think it's actually pretty great. Too bad about the camera.

14. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

I also have to agree. I'm still leaning in the S6 direction, but the subtle differences are actually great. The front speakers are all one piece (wraps around the screen) and the lip on the side now eliminates that weird plastic seal that wrapped around the entire front and stuck out a little on the M8. I also like the darker grey version more than the lighter grey on the M8. It looks the same as the M8, but there are actually a lot of cool, subtle design tweaks that are much improved.

16. waddup121 unregistered

Its always been since after the M7, HTC has always been flippin around with their cameras. I know, even me, is tired of having basically a 4MP camera as its rear, and 20MP is a huuge upgrade which should make it 5x better. But those low-light pictures and such...too much of a struggle man :/

25. Mittal

Posts: 494; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

The current crop of the One series is really premium built (for which they charge extra here in India, always more expensive than Sammy flagships) and i am really fond of Sense. But my absolute favorite device from aesthetics point of view is the One S (anodized Aluminium one). That is a piece of art. But i think for the past 5 years, they have had some or the other glaring issue rendering their flagship offerings less than perfect. Earlier is used to be the notably bad battery life and starting M7 they did the UltraPixel. And now that they seemingly have outed the really good sounding M9, the world is getting a choice for getting good Chinese Flagships that can compete well with the biggies. I would say they should also work on improving their mid range offerings, the 816 being a good example!

2. GeekMovement unregistered

HTC was my favorite OEM during the EVO years. I was obsessed with their unique clock/weather widget as well as their sense UI overall. Really great to see them still coming out with great premium handsets (One series).

3. JMartin22

Posts: 2311; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

The design is a step down from the Droid DNA/HTC Butterfly. The M7+ line is a whole design flaw full off inefficacy and waste, you need to look outside of the material construct to see this.

4. maherk

Posts: 6637; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I am honestly not trolling, but i do find it super hard for me to tell which is which when i watch m8 vs m9 videos(surely not until they show the back)

5. JMartin22

Posts: 2311; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

The fans will tell you to observe carefully the pointless metal-over-metal design that needlessly increases thickness without offering a comparable battery capacity for that said thickness.

22. rnagic

Posts: 215; Member since: Jul 13, 2014

I think I understand where ur coming from. Seeing these phones really takes me down memory lane. I owned almost all of these phones so I'll always have a soft spot for HTC. Unfortunately, I fear phones like the oneplus will be the end of HTC's success. The same horsepower for half the price.

17. vincelongman

Posts: 5585; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Its quite easy IMO The sides M7 has plastic sides M8 has a metal unibody that is one piece M9 has a metal unibody that is two pieces, side and back are separate The rear camera M7 has a round cutout M8 has 2 cameras M9 has a square cutout and protrudes The front M7 has a metal/glass front with capacitive buttons M8 has a metal/glass front without capacitive buttons M9 has a glass front without capacitive buttons

7. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

i like the design of the droid dna

8. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

The One M9 is just the M8 with an S810, thicker body, and protruding camera...

9. Mutation.X

Posts: 185; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

M8 and M9 looks ugly.

32. yoosufmuneer

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 14, 2015

M8 was beautiful but M9 with that Square shaped huge camera just killed the beauty of design

10. Mutation.X

Posts: 185; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

M7, Dna-Butterfly, Sensation, HD, are stylish looking. M8 and M9 are to curvy.

11. Freecableguy

Posts: 42; Member since: Jul 21, 2014

I still use my HTC Desire as a 2nd phone. Working 100% after 4 years.

13. tiara6918

Posts: 2262; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

Glad to see htc finally made the one series their true flagship identity unlike their recent flagships that keeps on changing the name and design and multiple upgraded versions in just 6 months

15. bigwavesurfer4

Posts: 13; Member since: Jun 13, 2011

Man I'm surprised you guys all sound like a bunch of newbs. It's sad everyone is talking about M9, Droid DNA...what made Android the popular

18. bigwavesurfer4

Posts: 13; Member since: Jun 13, 2011

was the HTC hero and droid eris. Phenomenal devices for their time. Back then it was HTC vs. the Droid from Motorolla on Verizon. Everyone loved the bulky sturdy Droid, but i was all about the sense UI from HTC. Back then, the Marketplace hardly existed and widgets were labor intensive and absolutely ugly. Sense UI blew everyone out of the water. Back then, my friends would be flicking through their IOS screens clicking on music apps, then going back and clicking on this app and that app...while i had a music widget, bookmarks widget, facebook widget, clock and weather widget...that's what made android Worth bragging about back in the day when systems weren't coming up with their own "notification screens" and "lock screen widgets" etc etc...HTC was the King of its time. It's the classics that made our phones that great devices they are today.

19. gorkapr

Posts: 74; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

My first smartphone was the Evo 4g, and i fall in love with htc. The UI, the camera, kickstand and screen makes me loved for 2 years. Then i change to Evo 4g LTE and love the aluminium frame, the camera, UI, kickstand and tue battery, still function but not activated. And now i have the One M8 Harman/Kardon Edition, love the ultrapixel camera, the Boomsound and the unibody, plus the microsd slot. The evolution of HTC is very impressive and beautiful!

20. JetMK

Posts: 97; Member since: Jan 31, 2015

I forgot how beautiful the HTC Droid DNA was: sexy and smooth.

21. gaara6775

Posts: 738; Member since: May 20, 2014

I still have HTC desire and use it sometime. Love there old ui :D

23. NoFanboy

Posts: 300; Member since: Nov 18, 2013

I was rooting for you HTC, but I'm gonna have to go Samsung this year.

24. Phonecall01 unregistered

Android started with HTC. Respect!

33. yoosufmuneer

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 14, 2015

I agree but popularized by Samsung.

27. kabhijeet.16

Posts: 882; Member since: Dec 05, 2012

Wow, each one is a unique design.. A unique phone... Dear Apple, Samsung, Sony,............ Learn from HTC

28. Chuck007

Posts: 1409; Member since: Mar 02, 2014

If M8 to M9 is an evolution we'd all still be apes..

29. imo-x

Posts: 8; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

m8 to m9 is a huge disappointment from HTC. They could had made a more beautiful phone with less upper and lower bazzels, redesigned and small speaker grill etc. but they didnt :-(

30. karkavelas

Posts: 70; Member since: Oct 25, 2013

You are a disappointment also but we don't complain about it.

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