The HTC One may not be as hotly anticipated this year as the Samsung Galaxy S4, thanks largely to Samsung's outsized marketing spending (which dwarfs even Coca-Cola's according to Horace Dediu). It's the Taiwanese manufacturer's last-ditch attempt at getting a hit smartphone on the market, however, and its North American carrier partners are offering bonus items -- up to $100 in trade-in credit -- to people who order an HTC One.
Here's a quick preview of the Galaxy S4's closest competitor, and what Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile are doing to try to lure you to buy one.
The HTC One itself
Spec-wise, the HTC One is almost identical to the Samsung Galaxy S4 under the hood, with the same 2 GB of RAM and a comparable quad-core processor. Its 4.7-inch screen is slightly smaller than the Galaxy S4's 5-inch display, but has the same 1080p resolution, making it a little bit sharper as well. Its marquee feature is BlinkFeed, which turns its Android home screen into a Windows Phone style display of animated, scrolling tiles that show news and weather and what your friends are up to. It also has a durable aluminum unibody chassis, plus an improved "UltraPixel" camera and "BoomSound" stereo speakers and amplifiers.
On Thursday at 1 p.m. Central time, AT&T will start taking preorders for the HTC One. If you sign up for a "2-year wireless agreement with voice & data plans or Mobile Share plan" when you preorder your HTC One, you also get an HTC Media Link HD HDMI adaptor. This is a box that plugs into your HDTV and lets you wirelessly stream media from an HTC smartphone, even allowing you to play movies from it on the big screen while you're doing other things with it. It normally costs $90, and also works with some earlier HTC smartphones like the EVO 4G.
AT&T is the only wireless carrier in the United States that will have the $299 64 GB HTC One at launch. Sprint and T-Mobile will only have the $199 32 GB model at first.
Sprint: $50 Google Play credit plus $10 off from Radio Shack
Sprint will begin taking preorders for the HTC One on Friday and will sell the phone itself in stores starting on April 19. (AT&T's preorder bonus ends on April 18, which suggests that it's following a similar timetable.) If you buy a Sprint HTC One from Radio Shack on a two-year plan, you'll get $50 worth of credit for apps and media from the Google Play store, plus $10 off the $199 price tag. (These bonuses apparently also apply to the AT&T version, according to Phandroid's Kevin Krause, but you probably won't be able to get the preorder bonus from AT&T at the same time.)
T-Mobile: $99 up-front pricing, $100 trade-in credit, free car kit
Pre-register (sign up for a mailing list) on T-Mobile's site by Thursday, and you'll be eligible for a $100 Visa gift card if you buy an HTC One on its network by April 26 and trade your old (working) smartphone in by May 31. You also get a dashboard car mount "while supplies last" if you order online, and when it comes out the HTC One will only cost $99 up front.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
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