With the release of HTC's poor quarterly figures, it's time now to think about what to expect with the company's next flagship - the HTC One M10. Much though we loved the HTC One M9, our time with it also revealed flaws and the things which need improving. With HTC's fortunes on the slide once again, HTC really needs to step things up with the One M10. Here are the key areas on which we think HTC needs to focus.
It's crunch time for HTC. After barely holding onto a net profit the last few quarters, HTC has slumped significantly in its most recent quarterly figures. HTC's internal figures (unaudited revenue) declare a quarterly income of 33 billion New Taiwanese Dollars (NT) with a net loss after tax of a massive eight billion NT.
For reference, this time last year, HTC reported 65 billion NT in revenue and a net profit after tax of 2.26 billion NT. In Q2, 2013, HTC reported quarterly revenue of over 70 billion NT with net profit after tax of one and a quarter billion NT. The turnaround has been huge in the relative profitability of the HTC One M7 and HTC One M8 compared to the One M9.
What does HTC need to change in the One M10?
So what does this mean for HTC? Not good things. The HTC One M9 suffered from backlash over its near-identical looks to the HTC One M8, despite being one of 2014's best smartphones.
The One M9 also suffered from claims of overheating and thermal throttling thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. Experiments into other product categories like the RE Camera clearly haven't paid off yet and the RE Vive virtual reality headset may very well prove too expensive to be competitive.
The good news is that this means HTC will really need to shake things up with the HTC One M10. The company simply cannot afford to take it easy. So you can expect HTC to go all out: new design, new features and hopefully a more thoroughly tested CPU.
In this list of 5 things we want to see in HTC's next flagship, we've also taken into account technologies that aren't ready for the mass market yet, and other projects of HTC's that we're really hoping have some part to play in the HTC One M10.
1. HTC One M10 design
The HTC One M9 looks fantastic - no one's trying to take credit away from it there. With that said, each successive 'One' redesign since the One M7 has been less noticeable than that of its predecessor. The One M7 blew us all away, and paved the way for aluminum to be a key feature in flagship phones. The One M8 impressed us with its added curviness. And the One M9? It just didn't really surprise is in any way. Apart from a nice brushed metal effect, there was a sense that we'd seen it all before, depriving it of that 'wow' factor of its predecessors.
HTC probably knows that it'll need to be a bit more radical when designing the One M10. For all its talk of the One series being the unchanging 'Porsche' of smartphones, the public seeks a refresh every now and then. The need for a rethink isn't as urgent as, say, Samsung's was building up to the Galaxy S6, but by next it will be high time HTC wows us again. Many also see the area below the bezel containing the HTC logo as a waste of space, so perhaps that could be used more productively?
What would you like to see in the HTC One M10 design? Should HTC infuse its chassis with a bit of Samsung-style glass, get rid of unused bezel space? Or maybe a radical change isn't really needed after all. There is a strong case to be made that the HTC One M9 is still the best-looking phone around, so perhaps HTC will take an 'as we were' approach (fingers crossed they don't).
2. HTC One M10 camera
The Achilles heel of recent HTC flagships has undoubtedly been the rear camera. Moving the 4MP (sorry, 'UltraPixel') camera from the back of the HTC One M8 to the front of the One M9 was a great move, but the 20.7MP camera on the back of the M9 proves that high MP count doesn't automatically equate to a great camera.
We'd like to - and expect to - see better autofocus technology, so you can take pictures quicker than with the One M9 camera (HTC could learn a few tricks from LG's Laser AutoFocus technology here). The One M8 actually had a wider aperture than the One M9 (f/2.0 vs f/2.2), meaning it was capable of letting in more light when taking pictures. We expect the One M10 camera to have an aperture of at least f/2.0, as well as Optical Image Stabilisation, if HTC is to finally become a contender in the camera department.
3. HTC One M10 display
The feature of the One M9 that will most certainly need an upgrade come M10 time is the screen, which is the same 5-inch Full HD IPS as the HTC One M8. Even upon release, the HTC One M9 display already lagged behind rival phone displays like those on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the older LG G3, both of which have QHD resolutions.
HTC's reasoning behind sticking with a Full HD display was to preserve battery power, but the strong lifespan in both the Galaxy S6 and LG G3 batteries suggests that QHD displays aren't necessarily the battery drains HTC thinks they are. We imagine HTC will have learned its lesson by next year, when QHD will very much be the norm.
Size-wise, flagship smartphones appear to have settled on the 5.0-5.2-inch sweet spot, so we're not expecting the One M10 display to be bigger than that (that job will likely be left to variants equivalent to this year's HTC One M9+ and HTC One E9)
4. HTC One M10 virtual reality?
One of the biggest surprises to have emerged from MWC 2015 was the announcement of the HTC Vive, a virtual reality headset designed in collaboration with PC gaming platform Steam.
From what we know so far, the Vive will be aimed at PC gamers, and early tests suggest it has huge potential to lead the virtual reality revolution. With HTC's main focus still being the mobile market, we're wondering whether the powerful VR headset will have some part to play on the HTC One M10. This will to some extent depend on the graphical firepower that the One M10 will be capable of, because utilizing such a technology on below-par visuals would waste its potential.
HTC has not indicated that the Vive will be used with its mobile devices, but we're hoping that HTC doesn't forget the mobile medium on which it built its reputation.
Turning from the mind-blowing to the mundane but extremely useful, we think that the USB-C cable is the most exciting cable since HDMI. It's just about ready for mass production, so we should be seeing it packed with devices soon.