If nothing else, HTC has always been renowned for its keen sense of design. Its software may have taken a detour down a treacherous path, but the hardware has rarely ever let us down.
The Nexus One, One X, One M7, One M8, One S, DROID DNA, DROID Incredible, and many of the in-between devices were all rather pretty and built exceptionally well. (We’ll go ahead and forget the ThunderBolt, Rezound, and Inspire 4G existed, Deal? Deal.)
In particular, though, HTC has been on a hot streak for the last year and a half. The One M7 was – and still is by many – considered to be one of the most gorgeous Android handsets of all time. The aluminum chassis, opposing, machine-drilled speaker grills, and beautiful chamfered edges gave it a distinct appearance which set it apart from the droves of cheap-feeling, plastic-clad smartphones from its competitors.
This standout design sparked a handful of knockoffs from no-name manufacturers.
It doesn’t take a lot of digging or searching through various forums to find victims of buying fake One M7s. There’s even a video from MaxBack.com explaining how to spot a fake One. Although branded as official HTC smartphones – some very high-quality fakes – the telltale sign that these aren’t true M7s is the MediaTek MTK6589 SoC inside.
Other knockoffs aren’t so nice, however, with plastic battery doors, SD card slots, and dual-SIM slots, says xda-developers member wailly. Some of these often come with varyings specs, as well, such as: 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, a cheap Li-ion battery, and a different resolution in the camera.
Knockoffs of popular smartphones aren’t anything new, however. Apple’s iPhone, particularly because it wasn’t available in parts of Asia until recently, was ripped-off countless times, found running stock versions of Android.
But the exquisite design of the One M7 and M8 also inspired something we’ve previously only seen between compatriots like Samsung and LG: a legitimate competitor who seemingly really appreciates HTC’s work.
Last week, we caught a glimpse of an upcoming Huawei smartphone, the Ascend D3.
It isn’t exactly a knockoff; it’s not trying to be a One M7 or M8. But that doesn’t mean Huawei isn’t trying to capitalize on the popularity and distinct appearance of HTC’s smartphones. When I saw the leak last week, despite having read the headline, I immediately thought, “What HTC phone is this?”
After closer inspection, it clearly isn’t an HTC phone – it plainly says Huawei across the front, along the bottom. But it definitely has some similarities with the M7 and M8, as far as we can tell from the poorly framed image.
The edge-to-edge glass in the middle is flanked by the distinct, light-colored bezels at the top and bottom. Of course, the speaker grills are missing, but it’s impossible to deny that, to some degree, this Ascend D3 shares some visual qualities with the M7.
So I did some light digging and took a stroll back to the devices Huawei showed off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain back in February. It announced the MediaPad X1, MediaPad M1, and Ascend G6, the latter of which is a boring snoozefest. The pair of MediaPads, the X1 and M1, however, also have a rather distinct look.
Of the two, the MediaPad X1 looks the least HTC-like. Its front looks like any other generic tablet. From behind, however, it features a distinct two-tone design – a silver metallic center, flanked by white plastic on the top and bottom – which actually looks a lot like the Silver iPhone 5s.
The MediaPad M1, though, takes a page straight out of HTC’s book. The top and bottom bezels of the front are fitted with front-facing speakers. And their white color contrast heavily with the black trim around the display.
My aim isn’t to bash Huawei.
I’m actually happy to see the company stepping up its design game, which has been a serious sore point for the company since it started in this smartphone game. It’s never been one to compete on the high-end Android level, but rather provide countless, affordable, Android-powered smartphones for prepaid carriers and emerging markers. Understated, boring smartphones was its game.
I’d rather see Huawei flex its creative muscles a little more and play with different designs, not just take inspiration from everyone else.
Further, I’m skeptical that it’s only improved aesthetics, not the actual quality of the devices. While the MediaPads and the Ascend D3 look nice from afar, I’d have to get them in my hands to see for myself how they actually feel.
I’m still trying to forget the nasty, cheap feeling of the Ascend Mate2.
How do you feel about Huawei’s inspiration? Some have said the MediaPad M1 looks better than HTC’s devices. Do you agree, or do you think it looks like a cheap knockoff of HTC’s design?
Image via @evleaks