The Ultrapixel cameras inside the HTC One and HTC One M8 already made it apparent that HTC was focusing on imaging as a way to help its devices stand out from the iPhones and Android devices it competes against. Now it’s backing that stance on quality camera technology and sensors with two new devices and what appears to be an entry into different markets. The HTC Desire Eye is a new smartphone with 13 megapixel front and rear-facing cameras. The HTC Re is the company’s first attempt to compete in the lifestyle camera market now dominated by devices like the GoPro.
HTC announced the two new devices and a slew of big developments in its consumer approach at an event this week. For traditional users the HTC Desire Eye is the biggest thing to come out of this focus on picture-taking. The HTC Desire Eye is a smartphone in the classic sense. Inside is a Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, BoomSound speakers and a 5.2-inch high-definition display.
It almost sounds like any other flagship smartphone until you consider the 13 megapixel front facing camera that sits wedged between the edge of the phone and that massive display. This front-facing camera and another rear-facing camera, which is also 13 megapixels, have BSI sensors that are tailored for shots in low-light. The HTC Desire Eye even includes two sets of Flash LEDS – one for each camera. The HTC Desire Eye is even great for under-water shots thanks to waterproofing that’s good for up to one meter and 30 minutes of continues exposure. HTC says the HTC Eye will launch on AT&T exclusive in the United States. We don’t know pricing yet, but we do know potential HTC Desire Eye buyers won’t have to haggle over storage. 16GB of storage will come built in, but a MicroSD slot will allow users to add more.
For nontraditional HTC users, the HTC Re and accompanying software are the best thing to come out of this week’s announcements. HTC Re is a lifestyle camera in the strictness sense. The HTC Re sort of looks like a flashlight with a curved end. Inside this curved end is a 16 megapixel high-definition camera that’s meant to capture video. The HTC Re captures anything that falls within 146 degrees of its wide-angle lens. It’s capable of capturing slow-motion videos like the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
HTC Re users don’t exactly hit an on switch when they’re ready to record. Instead, the HTC RE comes alive when it’s picked up. There is a physical shutter button though. Pressing that button down once snaps a picture and holding it down begins video recording. That physical shutter button is key since the HTC RE lacks an actual screen. HTC is hoping that HTC RE buyers are comfortable using their iPhone, iPad or Android device as a view finder. Automatic backups of images and video happen through the same iOS and Android app that acts as a view finder. The HTC RE will launch in the United States at Best Buy, AT&T, Verizon, Amazon and HTC”s own website for $199 sometime before the holiday season. The HTC Re will record high-definition video for 1 hour and 50 minutes before needing to recharge. Connection options include Bluetooth 4.0, MicroUSB and an SD Card slot. It’s waterproof in comes in three different colors just like the HTC One Desire Eye.
When HTC announced it’s Zoe highlight app, HTC One M7 users were enamored. Zoes were a unique way to savor memories. Owners quickly realized that HTC had a winning software feature on its hands. HTC realized it too and in addition to including it on the HTC One M8, the company revealed that it planned to turn Zoe into a social network that’d be available on Android smartphones and iPhones alike. This week HTC shared a bit more about its plans for Zoe. Zoe 1.0 will allow iPhone and Android users to create highlights automatically in three different lengths out of any video they’ve recorded or any photos they’ve taken. Syncing will happen automatically. Zoe 1.0 is now free on Android devices and HTC is promising to release Zoe for iPhone later this year.
Backing up Zoe is HTC Eye. HTC Eye will let users record video from their front and rear-facing cameras at the same time. It’ll also track users head, ensuring that when they’re in a video conference the focus is on them and not what’s happening behind them. HTC Eye will listen for users to “say cheese” then instantly capture a selfie. An “Action” command actually starts video recording.
HTC is promising this that the HTC One M7, HTC One M8, HTC One E8, HTC One Mini, HTC One Mini 2, HTC One Remix, HTC One Max, HTC Desire 612 and HTC Desire 816 will get this HTC Eye technology at some point in the coming months. This technology will be exclusive to HTC’s devices.
All told, all of these things add-up to a newly aggressive HTC. Whether they’ll be enough to turn around the company’s fortunes in the mobile space remains unclear, but at the very least the HTC RE camera and HTC Eye software are innovative. The HTC Desire Eye is perfectly equipped to ride the self-portrait craze to success too.