HTC One smartwatch has faced numerous launch delays since it was reported in 2014. But just after two months, reports surfaced that HTC had killed off the project owing to rising costs of building the watch and strong competition from big brands like Samsung and Motorola.
Towards the end of 2015, it was again reported that HTC was reviving the project. Everyone anticipated a launch in early 2016.
Obviously, that did not happen and we are still waiting for the smartwatch as 2016 almost wraps up. At least the Taiwanese company does not seem to have killed off the project this time so there are high hopes that it could still see the light of day.
As we await the HTC One smartwatch, perhaps before the end of 2016, let us recap what we already know about it while also speculating a bit on what features it might have.
If you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment below.
HTC One Smartwatch Design
Design was one of the major reasons HTC has repeatedly delayed its smartwatch project. Reports indicated that the company was not satisfied that the design they had come up with was unique enough to stand out in a crowded smartwatch market.
Specs on the upcoming HTC One smartwatch are sparse but rumors are that it will take on a round shape with a 360X360 display resolution. More and more brands seem to prefer the rounded style to Apple’s signature blocky shape. Huawei, Samsung and Garmin all have come up with some sleek round smartwatches hoping to beat the more popular Apple Watch.
It therefore makes a lot of sense for HTC One to go with a round watch face. This is not to mean that it is a safe choice. There is some severe competition when it comes to rounded timepieces. Samsung Gear S2 and the recently released S3 have the highly praised rotating bezel that creates an unbeatable user experience.
When it comes to display, the Huawei Watch is best in class.
For luxury, nothing beats Garmin Fenix Chronos.
What exactly will HTC, with another round smartwatch, bring into the market?
This, as we will see later, is one of the hazards of delaying too much when new technology is abuzz. By the time HTC comes round to launching its own smart wearable, brands like Samsung and Huawei will have already stolen the spotlight. Unless they can push the boundaries and create something truly amazing then they will be regarded as just another Huawei/Samsung copycat.
HTC devices are generally well designed. Their Smartphones feature all-metal builds, something we expect to be replicated in the smartwatch. We also expect premium bands, maybe leather or steel. Chances are that users will be able to customize the look by switching among different bands, perhaps even third party ones.
There really is not much we can say about the HTC One smartwatch design.
We just have to wait until the company confirms that the smartwatch is indeed in the plans and give a solid release date. In the meantime, we can only hope that the technicians at HTC have taken the time to learn from the successes and failures of other smartwatches.
Given these many delays to the smartwatch, we expect nothing short of amazing.
As we mentioned before, we are speculating on most of these features based on the scattered reports available and our own educated guesses. So take them with a grain of salt.
1. A fitness-focused watch?
It is essential for HTC to find a niche in the market where the smartwatch will fit and gain market recognition. Apple Watch is a premium smartwatch with a balance of “smartwatch” and fitness features.
Pebble Time and the soon to be launched Pebble Time 2 are smartwatches focused on fitness and health tracking. Samsung Gear S2 is a mid-range smartwatch for people looking for a good quality wearable at a reasonable price.
Where will HTC One fall?
One area they could go into is fitness. It is an already crowded field but they could differentiate themselves enough to stand out. If they can offer premium smartwatch features (connectivity, music control, apps, notifications etc) while also providing a great fitness tracking platform, they could create an appealing timepiece.
But if they are to get into fitness, it is either all or nothing. The watch has to have the full range of fitness features including step counting, sleep tracking, heart beat monitor, accelerometer and so on. Another must-have is GPS.
Apple Watch, shockingly, left out GPS in its debut smartwatch, but added it to the Series 2.
HTC should avoid a similar mistake. GPS has the downside of draining battery life. But the upside is that they appeal to both ordinary joggers and serious fitness enthusiasts.
Getting into health and fitness should not be too hard for HTC considering they already have some experience in that area. In early 2016, a collaboration between HTC and Under Armour led to the HealthBox.
The HealthBox is a package consisting of a fitness tracking band (UA Band), a smart scale (UA Scale) and a chest strap for heart rate monitoring (UA Heart Rate).
The issue of a fitness-focused watch is a dilemma. On one hand, everyone is doing it and it will take a lot to really stand out, essentially making it a gamble. On the other hand, a watch with few or no fitness features is pretty much useless. Who said making a smartwatch people want to buy is easy?
2. Android Wear or Proprietary OS?
This is another big question that we are pretty sure we have the answer to.
HTC One is highly likely to be an Android Wear Smartwatch. The reason for this is simple. HTC currently does not have its own proprietary operating system. All its Smartphones come equipped with Android.
Considering that HTC One will be an advanced full-featured smartwatch, it makes a lot of sense to opt for Android Wear. If it were something as pared down as Pebble (which does not use Android Wear), then they could probably develop their own OS.
Only Samsung has stuck to its own OS but that is because they already had Tizen to begin with. Developing a new operating system takes a lot of time, work and resources.
Samsung has been at it for years, HTC not so much. They will not suddenly start diverting precious resources towards creating an OS that might not even work well. And it is not just about creating an operating system but also creating apps and encouraging developers to create apps for the new platform.
There is also the small issue of Android Wear being the dominant OS for smartwatches. Tizen, as well known as it is, has faced market resistance. HTC cannot even hope to create a smartwatch OS that overcomes Android Wear. Google’s Android Wear has always been the safe choice for smartwatch makers that want their products to sell.
Android Wear, despite early hiccups, has been coming along quite nicely. In the recent release of the second version of the wearable OS, Google made it possible for android wear devices to connect to iPhones in addition to many other improvements. By going with Android Wear, the HTC One smartwatch is more likely to sell well than if they decide to load it with a proprietary OS.
3. Other Specs
We expect the smartwatch to carry most basic specs found in most smartwatches today. Below we outline some of the specs that have been reported as well as those that are likely to be included in the smartwatch.
- Color variety. HTC One Smartwatch will likely come in a variety of colors, most likely three. Some reported varieties include teal, black or blue and lime.
- Removable bands. To enable further customization, the smartwatch might feature removable bands that can be switched with the company’s own or third party straps.
- IPX7 waterproof rating. It is likely that the watch will be designed to withstand the accidental splash or light rain but not a dunk in the swimming pool. Additionally it will have an average dust proof rating.
- It will feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon chip. HTC and Qualcomm have had a long and close relationship and it is unlikely that the smartwatch will feature anything but a Qualcomm-made processor.
- At least 1GB in RAM and 4GB in internal memory. These have become the standard features for smartwatches. Anything below this and the smartwatch will not be as competitive as HTC desires. If they want an edge, they could go with 2GB in RAM to improve speed and overall user experience. They could also increase the internal memory to allow users to store more music and apps on the watch.
- Standard 1-2 day battery life. We have yet to see a full featured smartwatch exceeding 2 days of battery life and it is unlikely that the HTC One smartwatch will either. Unless they cut back on some features like GPS and include a lower quality display, users will have to contend with the now-standard dismal battery life. But it would really give them an edge if they could find a way to increase battery life to at least 3 days without downgrading on any feature.
These are basic specs that are in almost every smartwatch. Considering how cautious HTC seems to be in entering the smartwatch market, they could be preparing to come out with some unexpected features to guarantee strong sales. One feature they could include is 3G capability. This will allow the smartwatch to enjoy a higher level of independence from Smartphones. Users will be able to receive emails and notifications without being connected to a Smartphone.
The company could go for shock and awe and include a front facing camera on the smartwatch. This can be used to take selfies and video communication. This is highly unlikely but with competition heating up so much, you never know.
4. HTC Smartwatch Pricing
Despite HTC’s best efforts to create an excellent smartwatch, the eventual pricing will decide its success. Remember that HTC is not Apple or Samsung. There are Samsung and Apple fans that would by anything the companies spit out regardless of the price. For HTC, pricing is a major determiner of success. It will depend on what kind of watch they create.
Reading from how they price their phones, the HTC One smartwatch is most likely to be a mid-range smartwatch in the same range as Samsung Gear S2. We expect a smartwatch starting at around $250. It is possible that there will be a number of watches with different price points. The cheapest could start at $250 with a standard one costing $300 and a luxury one starting at $400. The price will vary mostly based on the body type and bands of each variant.
5. HTC One possible launch date
Among the many things we have speculated on in regards to HTC One smartwatch, we are least sure about this one. The date has been pushed forward so many times that no one is sure when the watch is going to come out. It started in 2014, then a launch date of early 2015 was reported, then late 2015 and then early 2016.
There is a major HTC event coming up on September 20, where the company is expected to announce the new HTC Desire 10. There is no news on whether the smartwatch will be announced then, so we just have to wait.
But time is running out for HTC. They have to launch either by the end of 2016 or very early 2017. Otherwise, they are looking at a situation where a much-hyped HTC One smartwatch loses its appeal with a market that has been waiting forever.