HTC unveils “HTC Advantage,” will fix your broken screen for free

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HTC today announced the “HTC Advantage,” a new benefits package for buyers of its flagship smartphones. The new initiative is custom-built to ensure that “when you buy the best, it stays that way,” says HTC’s VP of Customer Experience Ed Kuhner.

The program is made up of three principle prongs, with the first being something we’ve seen signs of already: a commitment to timely Android updates for the flagship One line. The company has demonstrated it can deliver updates to the One series in a timely fashion, and HTC now says it will commit to major Android updates for two years after the launch of a product – a tidbit it leaked in its Reddit AMA last week. Asked to clarify what a “major” update was, HTC said that a “dessert flavor change” was considered major: Jelly Bean to Kit Kat would be covered, for example, but a more incremental upgrade like 4.4 to 4.4.1 would not be guaranteed.

The company also plans to continue offering HTC Backup, a service that saves personalized user data including “accounts, apps, bookmarks, home screen layout, settings, and widgets,” among others, for quick restoration after a customer changes devices. There’s not much new here -customers still get access to 25-50GB of cloud storage in concert with Google Drive when they buy a One-series device- but HTC Backup will come in quite handy to those who take advantage of the final, most important feature of HTC Advantage: free cracked-display replacement.

Broken phone screen? No problem

gravity-killed-my-smartphone

Under the new warranty, which applies to One-series devices purchased on or after today’s date, HTC will repair a customer’s cracked screen at no cost, so long as it hasn’t been more than six months since the original purchase. All a customer need do is ship the broken phone to the company’s Houston-based repair center and he or she will receive a replacement unit, for free, within a few days. If time is of the essence, the customer also has the option of paying $29 for a replacement device to be overnighted instead. In either case, an HTC customer care rep will be available to talk the customer through a backup if possible, so that the replacement phone can be quickly restored upon arrival.

HTC was keen to stress that, while some carriers may market the HTC Advantage as a selling point, this is not a carrier-related offering or service plan; rather, it’s an expansion of HTC’s warranty for the One family. And speaking of “One” – that’s exactly how many times you’re allowed to break your screen and get a free repair: once. Still, from a cost standpoint, HTC’s new offering compares very favorably with Apple’s iPhone screen repair program, the newest iteration of which advertises a “while you wait” repair at the Apple store, but only once you cough up $149 – and then only if you carry the iPhone 5c.

 

Note that the HTC Advantage plan is an offer from HTC Americas: while the company would not rule out eventually expanding it beyond the U.S. (and perhaps beyond the One line), at the moment it remains confined to those arenas. And while HTC was coy about whether this initiative would extend to the forthcoming M8 flagship, the company did say it was planning for HTC Advantage to be around for a few years at least.

Clearly, HTC is trying to push the “surprise and delight” angle here – and a timely Android update schedule mated to the promise of a free screen repair is certainly a potent cocktail. It’ll be interesting to see what effect HTC Advantage has on the company’s device sales in the long term (and what actions carriers take to position their insurance plans against it), but in the here and now, we think this is a pretty solid foundation on which to sell the next generation of HTC flagship.

Full press release below.

HTC AMERICA CHALLENGES INDUSTRY STANDARDS WITH INNOVATIVE OWNERSHIP EXPERIENCE AND NEW COMMITMENTS TO CUSTOMERS
 
First-of-its-kind HTC Advantage™ delivers one-time cracked screen replacement, commitment to future software innovation and content solutions for 
HTC One® family of smartphones 
 
Vice President of Customer Experience to Lead HTC Advantage
 
BELLEVUE, WA — February 18, 2013 — HTC America Inc., a leader of mobile innovation, is building upon years of product and design firsts by charting new territory to redefine the mobile experience with today’s launch of HTC Advantage™, an unparalleled initiative that gives HTC smartphone owners in the United States added benefits they need after investing in a new smartphone.
 
HTC Advantage marks an enhanced focus and commitment to customers who select the best and want to keep it that way, by delivering both hardware and software commitments for the HTC One family of smartphones – HTC One, HTC One mini and HTC One max.  HTC Americas is working to solve the challenges of today’s mobile lifestyle featuring a free one-time cracked screen replacement within the first six months of ownership, a commitment to future software innovation, and content storage and backup solutions that consumers need in today’s digital world. 
 
“We recognize that people spend good money to buy smartphones. Creating premium products that offer customers the best and latest has always been the HTC way, and now we’re carrying that commitment beyond the handset purchase to ensure customers remain satisfied beyond day one,” said Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC Americas. “In line with our history of firsts, we want to be the first to protect the investment customers make in our premium devices, and have created a new position of vice president of Customer Experience to oversee this commitment as well as the launch and evolution of HTC Advantage.” 
 
Ed Kuhner, vice president, Customer Experience, HTC Americas said, “Keeping customers happy is something we believe a premium product maker should do, so we commit to continually listening to our customers and developing new, innovative solutions based on customer feedback and addressing their pain points over time – that’s the HTC Advantage.” 
 
Free Cracked-Screen Replacement
Even with ongoing improvements in manufacturing, more durable construction, stronger scratch resistant screens, and the addition of protective cases, broken screens are an unfortunate and costly part of mobile phone ownership. Starting today, HTC Advantage is doing away with that frustration by giving U.S. customers who purchase any of the HTC One family of smartphones a free one-time screen replacement within the first six months of ownership.  
 
HTC Americas Commitment to Android Updates
When a customer purchases a smartphone, they can’t always be certain they’ll receive future software enhancements or performance improvements. HTC Americas is rectifying the issue and aspires to lead the industry in Android update delivery for the HTC One smartphone, evident by the speedy delivery of the latest version of Android (KitKat 4.4.2) and HTC’s latest innovation in HTC Sense 5.5 across numerous carriers in North America.  HTC was the first in the U.S. and Canada, outside of Google-owned companies and Google Play editions of devices, to begin delivering KitKat to its customers.
 
HTC Americas has also proactively committed to upgrade the HTC One mini and HTC One max to KitKat in the coming months, allowing consumers with the HTC One family of smartphones to receive continued support from HTC and the latest operating system (OS) innovation. HTC not only strives to deliver faster updates, but to provide full transparency to consumers on the process and status of each device update. In addition, HTC Americas is committing to support the HTC One family of smartphones in the United States with major Android OS upgrades for up to two years from the initial launch date of the phone.
 
Peace of Mind
Smartphones have become the one thing that consumers can’t leave their home without since it’s their communication hub, primary camera and vital access to entertainment.  With the volume and variety of information and memories stored on smartphones, HTC One customers can have peace of mind that their content is accessible with 25GB – 50GB of free additional online storage*, along with the ease of transferring content from their computer to their phone, and back up and restore** options directly from HTC. 
The HTC One 
The HTC One smartphone launched to critical acclaim in 2013 receiving numerous awards for its innovations in design, imaging and audio experiences from the mobile industry, technology reviewers and consumer reporters. The family of smartphones expanded with the addition of the HTC One mini and HTC One max smartphones offering consumers more choice with pocket-friendly and super-sized options. 
 
Availability
HTC Advantage launches today in the United States where it is available with new purchases of the HTC One family of products.  For more information on HTC, the HTC One family of smartphones or HTC Advantage please visitwww.htc.com/advantage.  
 
About HTC
Founded in 1997, HTC Corp. (HTC) is the creator of many award-winning mobile devices and industry firsts. By putting people at the center of everything it does, HTC pushes the boundaries of design and technology to create innovative and personal experiences for consumers around the globe. HTC’s portfolio includes smartphones and tablets powered by the HTC Sense® user experience. HTC is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE: 2498). For more information, please visit www.htc.com.
 
* Additional online/cloud storage through Google Drive Google.  Offer is for 2 years of storage from date of redemption; must redeem before 1/1/2016. Fees and/or other terms may apply after offer expires. See Google Drive support site for details (https://support.google.com/drive/answer/3333549?p=drive_offers_htc&rd=1). Google Drive app is not provided by or associated with HTC Corporation.
 
** Backup/restore services are provided through HTC Backup and requires signing up for HTC Account and third party storage account.  HTC Backup does not back up some content, including paid apps, photos and music.  See https://www.htcsense.com/legaldoc/#tac for HTC Account and HTC Backup service’s terms, content backup limitations and requirements.
 
Some benefits may be limited time offers and may not be available for your carrier or device.  Free one-time screen replacement within the first six months of purchase is available only to original purchasers of HTC One, HTC One max, and HTC One mini devices purchased on or after 2/18/14.  See full terms and conditions at http://preview-www.htc.com/us/go/customer-advantage-warranty/ Android software update commitment refers to HTC’s focus on providing timely software updates and is not a guarantee of specific updates or timeframes.  Visit http://www.htc.com/us/go/htc-software-updates for status of updates.
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About The Author
Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Reviews Editor, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA.Read more about Michael Fisher!