Define Innovation? According to Wikipedia, Innovation “is the development of new values through solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways”. And of course, there are tons of ways to innovate. For some, innovating is pushing the bar when it comes to design and for others it’s all about the company that’s able to give you more for your money.
Most people see the HTC One as innovation, and in a way it is. HTC at some point used Innovation as their catch phrase, and they deserved it. They made the Pocket PC a success with the beautiful design of the Compaq iPAQ back in the day, they gave us the first smartphone, the first 3G Phone, the first 4G Phone, the first Android device, the first slide-out keyboard and so many more of the things that have driven our industry to where it is. I think Taylor Martin said it best in our Pocketnow Live episode yesterday when he said that even if HTC hasn’t been first for everything, they’ve been first in everything that’s stuck in the industry.
The problem is when I ask people why they feel the HTC One is better than the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Their immediate response is that the HTC One is made of Aluminum. They call it build quality. Ok, fine, everybody is entitled to an opinion. The question now takes me to our first paragraph: Is making the HTC One out of aluminum real innovation?
The answer is no. I have a hard time remembering what material HTC used for the original Compaq iPAQ, but I’m almost certain it was made of Aluminum, and that was 13 years ago. If not, well the first-generation iPhone in 2007 was made of Aluminum. For those of you that will argue that the first iPhone had plastic at the bottom, well so does the HTC one on the sides. Make sure you watch today’s Pocketnow Live for Brandon’s confirmation on that.
Others tell me that it’s the new camera, and I’m sorry, but I chuckle at this. People tell me it’s not about the Megapixels but about the quality, and well, that depends. If you’re using a five-year-old monitor, then you’re right. If you ask all of us early adopters of Retina Display computers, well, pixels do begin to matter. And the sad truth is that Retina Display Monitors is the future, and Innovation should match that future. So you say it’s about the low-light performance? Ok, I could give that to the Lumia 920, but with the HTC One our three reviewers with a unit at hand have all discovered that even if it’s really good, you have to hold your breath to get a good shot and make it worth your time.
So, back to the first question, define Innovation? HTC has done an amazing job at making the bold bets that have pushed our industry forward, but being first is never as good as being the best. The Ultrapixel concept is great, but it’s clearly too early for its time. As Wikipedia’s definition states, HTC develops new values through solutions. Now, do they really meet new requirements, inarticulate needs or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways? My quick answer is no. Why not? Well, because not everything that they do delivers on its promise.
And then we have Samsung. They’re not about bold bets, but I honestly would consider them more of a copycat than a real innovator. That said they do innovate in something that’s very important, and that’s being able to deliver on everything they say. Instead of trying to convince you to want Ultrapixels, they give you some of the best megapixels in the industry since the Galaxy S III launched. So why do I feel the Galaxy S 4 has made the HTC One obsolete? Here are my thoughts, and please share yours at the end:
It’s the choice of materials
So aluminum is premium. It feels premium in the hand as well. Have any of you seen how the HTC Inspire 4G, the original iPhone or even the iPhone 5 have aged? All these phones were made of aluminum, and dropping any of them was seriously a horrible experience. Yes, aluminum is far better than plastic, but it’s not as resilient as plastic. As long as you don’t drop your phone, aluminum is amazing, but once you do, you’ll notice that a dent on plastic looks far better than your aluminum dent. I don’t drop my phones at all, but my iPhone 5 is already full of nicks all over. Is aluminum really the best metallic choice for a phone? Don’t get me wrong, I love aluminum on a phone, but I argue this concept. Specially when the phone heats-up.
Samsung gives you more for your money
We still don’t know the final price of the Galaxy S 4, but if we were to judge the market by the Galaxy S III, you’d know that it’s far cheaper to buy a 16GB GSIII and then a microSD card with 64GB than to buy a 64GB variant of the HTC One, and don’t even let me get started with the iPhone 5. If your battery starts malfunctioning on the Galaxy S 4, you can simply buy another one, where in the case of HTC, you have to ship the phone for repair. For those of you who haven’t experienced this, you pay for sending it in and then you spend two weeks without a phone. Trust me, I tried it with the One X. So bottom line, the Galaxy S 4 will age in a more graceful way than the HTC One simply because you can expand it.
Dare I need to say more? When HTC can bring me 8 Ultrapixels, my Retina Display MacBook Pro will love it, but so far, I’d rather stick to the Megapixels that work. Samsung has proven to provide great cameras on their Galaxy line-up, so why risk my money over an unproven concept? If I want better low-light performance, even with the HTC One the best bet is to use the flash.
The bottom line
Ok, so I’ll admit it, probably the title of this article should’ve been – The HTC One is too early for its time. Sadly, that’s not necessarily the case. HTC could’ve chosen to play it safe and they didn’t. The Galaxy S 4 may not be as innovative as the HTC One when it comes to bold bets, but I’d rather have innovation that I can trust, than innovation that people are still trying to accept. The Galaxy S 4 may not have made the HTC One necessarily obsolete, but if a concept hasn’t proven to satisfy every reviewer with an HTC One at the moment, than I guess unfinished would be the more adequate word, and I can’t say that about HTC. HTC is a hard working company and I have a lot of love and admiration for them. Sadly, at this day and age, those who perfect have proven to succeed far better than those who innovate, and I feel HTC needs to remember that going forward.
What about you? HTC One or Galaxy S 4? So far my money is on the Galaxy S 4, but I’d love to read where you stand.