Later today we'll be getting our first look at the next-generation HTC One (M8). It's difficult to overstate the importance of this launch for HTC, as it looks to battle back in a market dominated by Apple and Samsung.
This is the eighth flagship Android handset in HTC's history, a series that goes all the way back to 2008 and the first phone to feature Android to go on sale in the UK.
From the runaway hits of the Desire and Desire HD to the classy but niche HTC One, it's been a tumultuous ride for the manufacturer. Take a trip down memory lane with us as we remember how HTC got to where it is today. There's no mention of Robert Downey Jr., we promise.
T-Mobile G1 / HTC Dream
Name: T Mobile G1 Date of launch: October 2008 Dimensions: 117mm x 55.7mm x 17.1mm Weight: 158g Screen size: 3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 1.0 CPU and RAM: single core 528MHz processor, 192MB RAM Camera: 3.15 megapixels
HTC's earliest flagship phone was one of the first Android handsets to go on sale — remember that Google's operating system started a long way behind iOS, BlackBerry and even Windows Mbbile. The general consensus was that this was a very good phone indeed, second only to the iPhone 3G in 2008.
Our review listed "an awful lot of reasons to get excited" about it — integrated GPS, the Google-powered mapping capabilities, the open Android Market and *ahem* its slide-out keyboard. Google's Android was off to a flyer, and as TechRadar put it: "The G1 is a stellar phone and points to a future when a phone is as flexible and useful as the PC on your desk."
Name: HTC Magic Date of launch: May 2009 Dimensions: 113mm x 55mm x 13.7mm Weight: 118.5g Screen size: 3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 1.5 Cupcake CPU and RAM: single-core 528MHz, 288MB RAM Camera: 3.15 megapixel
Half a year after the T-Mobile G1 arrived, HTC was back with another effort. Sporting very similar specs to its predecessor (though with a whopping 96MB of additional RAM), the Magic was a slimmer and lighter animal. Its main purpose in existing seemed to be to ditch the slide-out keypad that the G1 had offered: Android was updated very frequently in the early days, and the freshly baked 1.5 Cupcake had an on-screen keyboard.
Our take on the handset mentioned the improved touchscreen, the increased quality of Google's own apps and the sleekness of the design. The iPhone 3GS appeared a month later, selling 1m units in three days. The HTC Magic took three months to reach the same number, but Android was on the march.
Name: HTC Hero Date of launch: July 2009 Dimensions: 112m x 56.2mm x 14.4mm Weight: 135g Screen size: 3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 1.5 Cupcake CPU and RAM: single-core 528MHz processor, 288MB RAM Camera: 5 megapixel
The HTC Hero was the first flagship device from the Taiwanese manufacturer to look something like the modern handsets we see today. That may be partly because it was the first phone to sport HTC's own Sense UI skin on top of Android. Aside from the camera upgrade, the specs were again very similar to the company's earlier efforts, but with multi-touch enabled pinching and zooming, and a standard 3.5mm audio jack finally in place.
We concluded our 2009 review with the assessment that this was the best Android phone to hit the market yet. Even with the iPhone 3GS selling well, HTC's profits and market share rose significantly as the year drew to a close.
Name: HTC Desire Date of launch: March 2010 Dimensions: 119mm x 60mm x 11.9mm Weight: 135g Screen size: 3.7 inches, 480 x 800 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 2.1 Eclair CPU and RAM: single-core 1GHz processor, 588MB RAM Camera: 5 megapixel
HTC's first flagship phone for 2010 was the HTC Desire, and it was responsible for tempting tech-savvy users away from Apple in significant numbers. In the reader survey that we ran on TechRadar at the time, 47 percent of iPhone owners said they were planning to switch to the Desire.
Its appeal was largely down to its powerful specs list, with the 1GHz CPU and 3.7-inch 480 x 800 pixel screen putting it right at the cutting edge for spring 2010. Videos and photos now looked half-decent on a mobile, while it was the first of HTC's phones to launch on a number of networks simultaneously — something that may have given it an edge over the Nexus One, which HTC was also manufacturing.
Desire HD to the new HTC One (M8)
HTC Desire HD
Name: HTC Desire HD Date of launch: October 2010 Dimensions: 123mm x 68mm x 11.8mm Weight: 164g Screen size: 4.3 inches, 480 x 800 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 2.2 Froyo CPU and RAM: single-core 1GHz processor, 768MB RAM Camera: 8 megapixel
Usually referred to as the big brother of the Desire, the HTC Desire HD helped to confirm 2010 as HTC's best year yet. Back at the start of the decade, you would've thought a 3.7-inch screen was too much, but the Desire HD upped this to a whopping 4.3 inches.
Other improvements included a 8 megapixel camera and the latest 2.2 Froyo version of Android, but it had stiff competition in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S and the iPhone 4.
Our review of the phone was mostly positive, but dodgy battery life (thanks in part to that large screen) meant it wasn't an unqualified success. It certainly proved popular with punters, with several stores running out of stock in the first few months.
Name: HTC Sensation Date of launch: May 2011 Dimensions: 126.1mm x 65.4mm x 11.3mm Weight: 148g Screen size: 4.3 inches, 540 x 960 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread CPU and RAM: dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 768MB RAM Camera: 8 megapixel
HTC's "dual-core wonder" turned up in the summer of 2011, earning plaudits for its design and speed in our original review. With that dual-core 1.2GHz CPU, an impressive screen and 1080p video recording capabilities packed inside the 8 megapixel camera, it was well equipped to take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2, the LG Optimus 2X and the iPhone 4 (the 4S wouldn't appear until October).
The perennial battery life issue did take some of the shine off, and with Samsung upping its game, the HTC Sensation wasn't able to stand out in the way that its 2010 models had.
Name: HTC One X Date of launch: May 2012 Dimensions: 134.4mm x 69.9mm x 8.9mm Weight: 130g Screen size: 4.7 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich CPU and RAM: quad-core 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM Camera: 8 megapixel
HTC had now settled into a one-flagship-phone-a-year pattern, and in 2012 the company's hopes were riding on the HTC One X. With a quad-core CPU working behind the scenes and 1GB of RAM, HTC was continuing the trend of pushing the limit in terms of internal specs.
Once again we found ourselves impressed with the IPS LCD display and the performance of the phone, which was taking on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S3 at the time. "Let's not beat around the bush here: we love the HTC One X," was the verdict we gave, but despite all that it had going for it, the HTC One X couldn't quite claw back the ground that the manufacturer was losing.
Name: HTC One Date of launch: March 2013 Dimensions: 137.4mm x 68.2mm x 9.3mm Weight: 143g Screen size: 4.7 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels Launch version of Android: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean CPU and RAM: quad-core 1.7GHz processor, 2GB RAM Camera: 4 megapixel / Ultrapixel
It was a familiar story for HTC with last year's model: despite getting some rave reviews from the technology press, the HTC One struggled to make an impact in terms of actual sales.
We liked it so much we gave it a five-star review, praising the phone's "wow-factor" design, Sense version of Android and low-light camera performance.
Even a year after its launch, the 4.7-inch full HD display, quad-core processor and smooth metal chassis put most of today's handsets to shame.
Despite all of these plus points, the HTC One never really took off in the face of fierce competition from the Galaxy S4 and the significantly cheaper Nexus 4. HTC would have happily swapped one or two 'Phone of 2013' awards for a few more millions in sales.
HTC One (M8)
Name: HTC One (M8) Date of launch: March 2014 Dimensions (expected): 146mm x 70.5mm x 9.5mm Weight (expected): 157g Screen size (expected): 5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels Launch version of Android (expected): Android 4.4.2 KitKat CPU and RAM (expected): quad-core 2.26GHz processor, 2GB RAM Camera (expected): 16 megapixel / Dual Camera
And so — what will HTC do next? Sales are suffering as Apple and Samsung dominate the handset market, and the company needs a big hit to reverse the slide and become relevant again. According to the leaked information we've seen propagated across the web (see below), it looks impressive on paper, but as we've seen in the past that hasn't always been enough for HTC.
A lot will depend on the quality of the camera (rumors persist of a dual-lens model) and the price, which needs to be competitive for 2014 edition of the HTC One to stand a chance. We'll also be watching closely for any new innovations in the Sense UI, as Samsung's own Android skin goes from strength to strength.