Technology

HTC’s President Of Smartphone Business Resigns Ahead Of U12 Launch

HTC U12 Launch
Image Source: Sogi.com / YouTube video (screenshot)

HTC has been losing money and market share in the smartphone business for more than two years now. The company was hoping to revive its fortunes with the HTC U12 launch later this year. However, things seem to be getting worse for the Taiwanese company. HTC announced Wednesday that its president of smartphone and connected devices business Chialin Chang has resigned ahead of the U12 launch.

Chialin Chang joined HTC back in 2012 as its Chief Financial Officer, and served as the head of global sales between 2013 and 2017. He was one of the last remaining senior executives not to have left HTC as it continued to bleed money. The company said Chang redesigned due to his “personal career plan.” HTC didn’t reveal who was going to replace Chang. Local media reports claim that Chialin Chang left HTC to launch his own AI startup.

HTC’s sales in January 2018 plunged 15% compared to December 2017. The year-on-year sales were down 27% in January. The company has been incurring losses for the last ten quarters. HTC’s flagship smartphones have been praised by critics, but they have failed to snatch buyers away from Samsung and Chinese vendors. The HTC U11 and U11 Plus are proof that the company is still capable of making great smartphones. With the imminent U12 launch, it has to find a way to sell its devices.

Last year, Google acquired part of HTC’s smartphone business for $1.1 billion. The deal gave Google access to most of HTC’s smartphone design and engineering team. The search engine giant will also get access to some of HTC’s patents. However, the Taiwanese firm hasn’t given up on smartphones. It will continue to make HTC-branded smartphones for as long as it can.

Recently, Twitter user Ricciolo said the U12 launch would take place in the spring rather than at the MWC event in Barcelona. Ricciolo has a decent track record when it comes to smartphone industry leaks. HTC traditionally refreshes the U series in May every year. Last year’s U11 was also announced in May.

Sources familiar with the company’s plans told DigiTimes in December that HTC would focus its R&D resources on launching a small number of mid-range and premium devices to turn profitable. It means the company is going to launch fewer phones in 2018. DigiTimes added that HTC would maintain a strong presence in the mid-range segment.

Though HTC U12 launch is still some time away, the company recently previewed the device at a 5G event in Taiwan. The phone previewed at the event had a giant bezel-less display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The curves on the sides are more pronounced than they were on the U11 Plus. The phone was able to reach a peak download speed of 810Mbps, which is close to Gigabit speed. It will likely be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset.

The HTC U12 is expected to feature a 6-inch OLED display with 2880 x 1440p resolution, 6GB RAM, an IP68 rating for water- and dust-resistance, and a microSD card slot. It is rumored to have a metal and glass design, and the fingerprint sensor is expected to remain on the back panel.

The company executives have indicated that HTC would launch phones with a dual camera system this year, though it will have to “figure out how to make this feature stand out.” The U12 is said to get a dual camera, which has become a standard for premium smartphones. It would have an 8MP shooter on the front for selfies.

The HTC U12 will likely run Android Oreo out of the box with HTC’s Sense UI on top. Supply chain sources told GizmoChina that HTC could ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack from the upcoming flagship. The device is expected to have stereo speakers and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology for fast charging. It would also have HTC’s trademark Edge Sense technology that allows users to launch different apps by squeezing the sides of the phone.

Recent reports suggest that the U12 would come with an iris scanner for authentication and security. Face detection technologies have become a trend for premium smartphones. Apple offers Face ID 3D facial recognition on the iPhone X. Samsung is said to introduce a new Intelligent Scan with the upcoming Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus.