Rudderless HTC builds a “Metaverse” smartphone with NFTs


Rudderless HTC builds a "Metaverse" smartphone with NFTs

Enlarge / HTC’s Metaverse phone.


HTC somehow still makes smartphones. The company’s latest is the HTC Desire 22 Pro, a £399 (~$486) mid-range device that marks the company’s first smartphone of 2022.

HTC says this phone will somehow help you “enter the metaverse” as “the phone that carries you into the future”. The Metaverse is the latest tech buzzword that companies have been hyping. It is used roughly to mean “VR related”. The phone itself doesn’t appear to have any actual VR capabilities. HTC’s latest VR glasses, the Vive Flow, uses an Android phone as a controller and can display the phone screen in the VR environment. This phone comes with this Vive Flow Controller app, but you can install it on any Android phone that supports Miracast and get the same features.

The buzzword gimmicks are probably intended to distract from the fact that the HTC Desire 22 Pro is a generic mid-range phone. It features a Snapdragon 695, 6.6-inch, 120Hz, 2412×1080 LCD, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a 4520mAh battery. It features Android 12, a fingerprint reader, wireless charging, a microSD slot, and IP67 water resistance, which HTC only describes as “splashproof”. For cameras, you have a 65 MP main camera, a 13 MP ultrawide camera, a 5 MP depth sensor and a 32 MP front camera. Curiously, HTC’s spec sheet also lists “Face ID” as a feature, which is an Apple trademark. HTC probably means generic face recognition.

At least HTC's promotional artwork is nice.
Enlarge / At least HTC’s promotional artwork is nice.


HTC’s buzzword-driven product development

I call HTC’s rather incoherent strategy “Buzzword Product Development.” The company is resorting to the latest tech buzzword and vaguely touting it as a feature that will do so change everything, only to scrap the idea a year or two later. In 2014, the “Internet of Things” was the hottest news from the company, which interpreted it as a viewfinder-less camera and fitness band that never hit the market. In 2015, a renewed obsession with VR spawned HTC’s only successful new product line, the HTC Vive, although most of that success could be attributed to the involvement of PC gaming juggernaut Valve. (Valve dumped HTC for its second headset, and now HTC seems to have exited the PC VR market.) Next, the company was very excited about “5G,” so its next big product was a 5G hotspot, the whopping Cost $600, thanks mainly to being a full flagship Android device in a non-pluggable smart display form factor.

Lately, what’s left of HTC’s smartphone division has brought this rudderless buzzword product strategy to smartphones. In 2017, the company touted AI and machine learning as the future, promising the HTC U Ultra would lead to a total “transformation” of the company. 2019 brought the HTC Exodus, a “blockchain phone” capable of running a full Bitcoin node, a totally unsuitable use case for a battery-powered, slow, memory-limited mobile device. Now we have the Metaverse phone, and by the way, the company has already signaled that its next fling will be with augmented reality.

We keep asking the same questions about this smartphone buzzword gimmick: How does this make the phone better? Why would anyone want that? Why is this a selling point to your competitors? HTC never has satisfactory answers. As far as these phones actually do For anything to do with their marketing buzzwords, the integration is usually just part of the bundled software – an app that you could just as easily install on a better phone from a reputable manufacturer. Ditto for this Metaverse phone, which only comes preinstalled with the HTC Vive app available to everyone.

That "Vive wallet" you can check out all the NFT images you will definitely not regret buying.
Enlarge / With the “Vive Wallet” you can view all the NFT images that you will definitely not regret buying.


By the way, we have another catchphrase for you: NFTs, which of course this phone also has. HTC introduced the “Vive Arts NFT Store” a few months ago, and this phone has an app called Vive Wallet. Most views of “NFTs” involve a pyramid scheme where people buy URLs with bad artwork for absurd amounts of money. HTC describes its NFT store as “designed for the arts and culture,” and in this case it featured someone looking at a picture of a Cat Mona Lisa on their smartphone.

So far the only confirmed countries for availability seem to be the UK and Taiwan. In the UK, the HTC Desire 22 Pro is available for pre-order now and will ship on August 1st.

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