All posts in “HTC”

Save nearly $200 on this HTC VR headset bundle in time for the holidays

If you’re in the middle of holiday shopping, then that means you’ve been scoping out some big deals on awesome stuff, and that includes this HTC Vive VR headset bundle for nearly $200 off.

Image: HTC

This special bundle of the day from Amazon includes three hot items. The first is the HTC VR System, which includes an immersive VR headset, a 360-degree controller, and a front-facing camera to keep your aware of your real-world surroundings as you play. This normally costs $599.

Image: HTC

The second is the VIVE Deluxe Audio Strap, which features adjustable padded earphones with 360-degree sound capabilities for a more immersive VR experience and normally goes for $100.

The bundle also includes a $100 Amazon gift card that you can use for just about anything. Might we suggest some VR games, perhaps?

This entire bundle costs nearly $800 altogether, but you can pick up everything today for only $599 — a 25% savings.

HTC intros a $349 version of the U11

I honestly thought HTC had sent the wrong phone in the mail when the U11 Life arrived. The new phone looks almost identical to its namesake at first glance — and that’s by design. Of course, on closer inspection, the differences are pretty clear, particularly when you’ve got the standard U11 on-hand.

The Life is essentially the budget version of HTC’s latest flagship, running $349 — actually a pretty steep discount over the U11’s $649. That doesn’t come without cutting some corners, of course — and HTC found places to cut back just about everywhere. Even still, the phone looks to be a pretty solid deal for the price.

The most immediate difference is the downgraded display, which drops from a 5.5-inch Quad HD to 5.2 inches at 1080p. Perfectly fine for a budget handset, but the kind of thing you’d be pretty disppointed with if you payed more than $400 for thing. The other big aesthetic change is the move from the extremely reflective glass finish to the just kind of reflective glass. That’s both a move to lower costs and to ruggedize the phone a bit more by sticking the coloring under the surface. But don’t worry, it’s still a fingerprint magnet.

The rest of the key spec differences are as follows:

  • The rear facing camera has been knocked down from 16-megapixels to 12, the dual-LED is now a single and optical image stabilization is gone. Interestingly, the front-facing camera is staying put at 16MP.
  • The flagship Snapdragon 835 chip is now a middle 630.
  • The battery has been bumped down from 3,000mAh to 2,600.
  • The entry-level 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM are now 32GB/3GB.

The position of the USB-C port and down-facing speaker have been swapped for some reason. Of, and it’s worth noting that, as with the standard U11, the headphone jack is gone here, marking one of the first time a budget handset has dropped the port. Up to now, that’s primarily been the realm of premium devices with the implicit understanding that people who can pay the price for a high-end flagship probably also have access to Bluetooth headphones

Otherwise, you’re getting a lot of what you’d also get on the standard U11, including Edge Sense, the squeezable sides that Google coopted for the Pixel 2. Though here, as with the U11, it can either trigger Google assistant or Alexa, rather than having to call them out by name.

HTC’s also added the ability to use it to launch apps and trigger features within them. The water/dust resistance is the same rating at IP67. The phone also ships with the company USonic earbuds, which feature built-in noise cancelling. The handset ships with Android Nougat, but HTC plans to upgrade it to Oreo within a month of so (with an Android One version being made available in other markets).

As far as potentially cannibalizing potential U11 sales, HTC says the plan here was to stagger release by about six months, in order to offer up a cheaper alternative as interest in the company’s latest flagship was naturally winding down. Interestingly, the company has also announced the six-inch U1+, though that one’s not destined for sale in the US.

The U11 Life, meanwhile, is currently available online. It will hit T-Mobile stores on November 3.

Google buys a big chunk of HTC’s smartphone business

Image: Dustin Drankoski/Mashable

The rumors are (mostly) true: Google is buying a part of HTC to beef up its hardware business.

Google announced the agreement late Wednesday. Senior Vice President of Hardware Rock Osterloh wrote in a blog post that a “team of HTC talent” would join Google’s hardware team, along with a non-exclusive license for some of HTC’s intellectual property.

The deal is less dramatic than what was expected by many — that Google would buy HTC’s entire smartphone business in a long-term bid to go toe-to-toe with Apple in the smartphone market — but it does show Google felt it needed more direct control over hardware assets to be more nimble competitor. 

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but a Reuters report that broke just before the deal was announced said Google paid about $1 billion. By comparison, when Google acquired the entirety of Motorola Mobility in 2011, it paid $12.5 billion.

HTC, which has struggled financially in recent years as its influence in the smartphone market has dwindled, sent out a tweet shortly after the announcement proclaiming it’s “here to stay.”

Google’s Osterloh said the people leaving HTC were already working with Google on the Pixel smartphones, and that the second generation of Made by Google products — including the Pixel, Google Home, Chromecast, and Daydream View — would be revealed at the company’s upcoming Oct. 4 event in San Francisco.

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Google, HTC sign $1.1B USD cooperation agreement to boost Google’s hardware game

Google and HTC have entered into an agreement where certain HTC employees will join Google. As part of the transaction, HTC will receive $1.1B USD in cash from Google. Google will also receive non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property. HTC says many of the employees worked with Google to develop the Pixel smartphones.

This is seemingly part of the search giant’s new hardware strategy, which is why it ended up acquiring part of another smartphone maker despite having previously acquired and then divested itself of Motorola’s mobile business.

Sources had reported that the reason share trading was halted on September 21 was because of a major pending announcement, and a VentureBeat report included an internal invitation for HTC staff to an all-hands meeting at which the news would be announced.

Media waiting outside during Thursday’s internal announcement at HTC headquarters in Xindian, New Taipei City

HTC has helped create a number of Google devices, and provided the manufacturing for the Pixel smartphone. It also built the last Nexus, the 6P, before Google took over design duties for its own smartphone hardware.

“HTC has been a longtime partner of Google and has created some of the most beautiful, premium devices on the market,” said Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google, in a released statement. “We’re excited and can’t wait to welcome members of the HTC team who will be joining Google to fuel further innovation and future product development in consumer hardware.”

The Taiwanese company has focused increasingly on its emerging VR business, which includes the HTC Vive headset. It continues to make its own smartphones, too, and received some high critical praise for its U11 device this year.

The deal between Google and HTC will see the latter company retain its branding, but Google will take over some of its hardware engineering resources, which should help it own even more of its device-making process. Google had stepped back from in-house hardware after selling its Motorola unit to Lenovo, but recently re-engaged on that front with a different approach focused on premium smartphones, as well as accessories and smart home and connectivity devices like Google WiFi, and Google Home.

HTC stock suspension adds fuel to Google acquisition rumors

HTC is to suspend trading of its stock on the TWSE tomorrow, ahead of what it says will be the release of “material information” pertaining to its business. The news was reported earlier by the FT

The move has spiked speculation about a potential sale of HTC’s mobile division, with the Taiwanese device maker struggling for years to try to turn around its fortunes in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

In recent years loss-making quarters have become the norm for HTC, which posted its first ever loss making quarter in Q3 2013. And despite management changes, portfolio trimming and even pushing into a new product category (VR, via a partnership with games publisher Valve) it has been unable to pull its business out of a long slide.

Media reports in Asia have recently linked Google’s parent company Alphabet with a possible acquisition of HTC’s mobile business. And a note on HTC’s investor website references speculation in the China Times that “HTC might announce the sale to Google” — going on to specify its “countermeasure” to this report is to state: “HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation”.

If Google is indeed set to pick up HTC’s smartphone division it would not be the first time it’s swooped in to try to salvage one of its Android OEMs. The company acquired Motorola Mobility in 2011, shelling out $12.5BN on the purchase. Then in 2014 it sold the division to Lenovo for $2.91BN — holding on to “the vast majority” of Motorola’s patent portfolio.

Smartphone leaker Evan Blass has tweeted that he’s been sent a copy of an internal HTC invite for employees to a town hall meeting tomorrow — which apparently includes “Google acquisition” as one of the topics.

Blass says the same source further claims the deal that the two companies have finalized will see Google acquire “certain hardware engineering assets” from HTC, while the latter retains its brand — and will focus on VR and the Vive.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this post with any response.