Anatomy of a Rumor: the Gingerbread-Powered HTC Aqua
Just in case you needed a reminder about how wildly inaccurate rumored device specs can be, we bring you the case of the HTC Aqua, an odd-looking handset which spread around China late last year as possibly HTC’s first Gingerbread smartphone. In fact, a search for HTC Aqua yields numerous “product pages” where the handset’s features and specifications are presented in the same official-looking manner as any other item: 3.7-inch WVGA display, Android 2.3, 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1, etc. Some e-tailers are even taking pre-orders on the nebulous device.
We first caught wind of the Aqua through habitually leaky e-tailer Offwire, which lists it prominently among HTC’s other models. Apparently the original source of the story is popular Chinese electronics site IT168, which published several images of the phone that appear to be screencaps from a video. Its single, dedicated back button (plus dual call buttons) is something of a rarity — and this is where the rumor begins to go awry. Instead of discounting current smartphone platforms based on the design, IT168 posits that the slim silver button above the Send button acts as a function key to enable the other Android hardware inputs. After that, the rest of the features are simply speculation, from the screen size to the resolution to the OS version. As translated by Google, the article concludes that:
“HTC rumors published in 2011 several heavyweight smart phone, HTC Aqua Android 2.3 will be the first model it? Let us wait and see!”
So by now you probably know that this is not some high-powered Gingerbread machine, but just the opposite: the CES-launched HTC Freestyle feature phone destined for AT&T and powered by Qualcomm’s BrewMP platform and 528MHz MSM7225 chipset. No 3.7-inch screen, no WVGA resolution, not even Wi-Fi.
To be clear, the point of this story is not to single out nor harsh on IT168 — plenty of other sites republished the imaginary specs verbatim, without even questioning the plausibility of the button hypothesis. Not to mention the fact that publications all over the world — including our own, at times — are guilty of the exact same sort of erroneous speculations: trying to make the facts fit the conjecture instead of vice versa. The only takeaway here should be that when you’re reading a list of purported specs that seems to have appeared out of thin air, you’re probably best off viewing it with a high level of skepticism.