HTC is still standing. It’s normal to have ups and downs in the mobile industry, but there’s probably no company that has experienced them more than HTC. The Taiwanese company has seen it all. We’ve witnessed HTC release the world’s first Android phone, make aluminum designs standard for flagships, and bleed money amid challenging times. Although the brand isn’t as highly regarded as it was a few years ago, HTC’s history is rich with meaningful devices.
Check out our list of the best HTC phones of all-time.
#5: Google Nexus One — 2010
Google waited quite a bit to get into hardware. Up until the Nexus One, Android’s growth relied solely on the success of its partners. The Nexus program started in 2010 when HTC signed on to develop a Google-branded phone. Apple’s iPhone 3GS was aging, and the groundbreaking iPhone 4 was on the horizon. So it was paramount for Google to get a really strong representation of Android on the market. HTC answered the call and delivered.
The Nexus One wasn’t heavily praised for its specifications, but the design and its availability attracted attention. HTC included a spacious display as well as an illuminated trackball that could change colors based on different notifications. Those qualities were put ahead of the iPhone at the time.
It featured a 3.7-inch (800×480) AMOLED display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S1 with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, a 5MP rear camera, a 1400mAh battery, and Android 2.1 Eclair upgradeable to Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread.
Google, too, helped the Nexus One be a win for Android by offering the phone unlocked. In the United States, the Nexus One was available exclusively through Google but worked with both of the nation’s most popular GSM networks. Who knew that over seven years later all of the major brands would also be selling their phones direct rather than through carriers only.
The phone served as a launching pad for Google’s future. Nearly a dozen Nexus devices followed in the years after. And, while the Nexus program is no more, Google does still release its own products. The Pixel family includes phones and a tablet, and Google Home has expanded into a trio of Google Assistant-powered speakers.
#4: HTC One (M7) — 2013
Flagships weren’t always made of metal and glass. For a long time, even high-end phones were comprised of plastic and rubber. They felt cheap, frankly. But it’s all we had. Apple changed the game with the iPhone 4, which include both metal and glass. HTC then upped that by going all-in on aluminum. The One (M7), which debuted in mid-2013, boasted an all-metal unibody.
HTC gained a lead on Apple in design because the iPhone 4 was prone to fingerprints, scratches, and cracks. The One (M7), however, was insanely durable. Metal can scratch and chip, but it’ll reject fingerprints and remain in one piece.
It featured a 4.7-inch Full HD (1920×1080) Super LCD3 display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 with 2GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, a 4MP rear camera, a 2.1MP front camera, a 2300mAh battery, and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean upgradeable to Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Though it wasn’t stunning, the One (M7) was a lot more attractive than any other Android phone. Samsung was using plastic while Motorola was deep in love with kevlar for Verizon’s DROID exclusives; therefore, we have to recognize that HTC was first to make metal a necessity for flagships. Also, the One (M7) set HTC on a path to create some of the most beautiful phones ever.
#3: HTC Dream (G1) — 2008/2009
Google didn’t kickstart Android almost ten years ago with its own phone. The Dream, known as the G1 in select markets, was made by HTC. A hardware manufacturer was needed in order to prove what Android could be like on mobile devices, so the Taiwanese company stepped forward. It produced the Dream as the world’s first consumer-ready phone with Android at the core.
It featured a 3.2-inch (480×320, TFT display, Qualcomm’s MSM7201A with 192MB of RAM, 215MB of internal storage, a 3.15MP rear camera, a 1150mAh battery, and Android 1.6 Donut.
Neither HTC nor Google could have imagined where Android would go from in 2008 and 2009. Smartphones were still something everyone was trying to figure out. Apple proved a phone could do much more than make calls and send messages, and Google wanted to prove mobile devices could be flexible for individual needs. Android on the Dream could install apps from the Android Market, show a running list of notifications, and receive over-the-air software updates. These became standard capabilities for phones upon Android introducing them.
Today there are over than 2 billion Android device active on a daily basis, and it all started with HTC’s Dream.
#2: Google Pixel — 2016
The Pixel brand replaced the Nexus brand in 2016. Why? The latter was associated with developers and tech nerds. Google wanted to bring a phone to the market that could appeal to the masses. Well, it succeeded. Pixel became a household name due to the HTC-made Pixel and Pixel XL.
It featured a 5-inch Full HD (1920×1080) AMOLED display or a 5.5-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) AMOLED display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 with 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 128GB of internal storage, a 12.3MP rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a fingerprint scanner, and Android 7.1 upgradable to Android 8.1 Oreo.
If you wanted a flawless Android phone, the Pixel was it. You’d never have bugs or outdated versions of Android as Google manages software updates on its own. The company also implemented a custom algorithm for the camera. The Pixel is one of few phones that can master shots in any environment and no matter the amount of light. Between the fast, smooth performance and ridiculously-good camera, you can’t go wrong. The Pixel was a perfect phone at the time of its release.
HTC definitely deserves praise for the Pixel. Some knock the phone’s design for being bland, but it’s held up well. The Pixel is made mostly of aluminum with just a hint of glass on the front and the back. Google didn’t push HTC to do anything crazy, which worked out fine. The phone ended up being comfortable to hold, durable for knocks and drops, and identifiable to onlookers. HTC made a flagship for Google could be recognizable.
The team behind the Pixel was sold to Google in 2017. HTC knows its mobile division isn’t as strong as before, and the added assets will allow Google to become the hardware manufacturer it’s long desired to be. The masterminds in Mountain View didn’t buy any team. They bought an award-winning team. In 2018 and beyond, we’ll see what those HTC employees have always wanted to do but couldn’t due to financial constraints.
#1: HTC One (M8) — 2014
The One (M8) is, and may always be, HTC’s very best phone. They didn’t need to reinvent the wheel after the One (M7), but HTC’s hardware engineers one-upped themselves. In 2014, HTC introduced the One (M8) with a metal unibody that showcased a stunning brushed finish and two front-facing stereo speakers. No phone ever looked (or sounded) so good. The company, though, didn’t stop there.
It featured a 5-inch Full HD (1920×01080) Super LCD3 display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 with 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, two 4MP rear cameras, a 5MP front camera, and Android 4.4.2 KitKat upgradeable to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
HTC surprised everyone by placing two cameras on the back. A two-camera setup is now common, but back then it was seen as a risk. Yet the One (M8) pulled it off. The cameras on the One (M8) could execute selective focus after pictures were taken. Whatever special sensors HTC incorporated were able to analyze where objects were relative to you in order to recognize different depths. The 4MP rear camera was inferior on paper, but its shots did nothing less than impress.
Performance was no slouch on this phone, either. The One (M8) was super-fast largely because HTC didn’t include an absurd amount of bloatware and pre-installed apps. HTC’s Sense remains one of the best software overlays in the business. That’s because HTC, while adding its own coat of paint on top, doesn’t drastically change the way Android looks and behaves.
HTC’s U11 picks up where the One (M8) left off. The One M9 was too bland, and the 10 couldn’t gain any ground due to its predecessor’s overheating processor. With the U11, HTC goes back to the basics. It’s a gorgeous phone that doesn’t resemble anything else, and the camera pulls off remarkable shots. The One (M8) was the same. Into the future, let’s hope HTC can continue building on a successful formula and rebuild its brand.