HTC makes PH return, launches 4 phones

MANILA, Philippines – Taiwanese brand HTC officially marked its return to the Philippines with an event at the Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Wednesday, August 2.

HTC struggled to compete in the Philippines in its latter years – around 2012 and 2013 – despite having made a few memorable phones such as 2012's HTC One X. The One X had been critically acclaimed for its design and performance but global sales couldn't quite buoy the brand.

HTC continued to make phones and sell them in other markets, but in recent years, has made more headlines with its competitive VR set, the Vive.

For the time being, that will likely not be the case for HTC in the Philippines as it returns with a slew of new phones led by the flagship U11 (P36,990), near-flagship Ultra (P26,990), midrange Play (18,990), and low midrange Desire 10 Pro (13,990).

DESIRE 10 PRO. The cheapest at P13,990, the phone has a 20MP main camera and 13MP selfie camera. Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

DESIRE 10 PRO. The cheapest at P13,990, the phone has a 20MP main camera and 13MP selfie camera.

Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

For now, the phones will be available exclusively on Lazada, but could hit store shelves if the brand regains its footing over the next months. 

Among other reasons, the success of the flagship U11 in other regions in the world is seen as a key driver for HTC's return to the Philippines, according to sales account manager Karthik Arasu. 

"We wanted to launch the right products at the right price and the right time. The time is right now because of the flagship phone, which is successful, and then we have the rest of the products, which will help us capture the market in a bigger way," said Arasu. 

Some of the phones within the U11's price-at-launch range are the Samsung Galaxy S8 (P39,990), the LG G6 (P37,990), and the Sony Xperia XZs (P39,990). The U11 sports the more advanced Snapdragon 835 system-on-a-chip over the XZs (Snapdragon 820) and the G6 (Snapdragon 821). The S8 has an equivalent Samsung Exynos 8895 and the 835 in other markets. The U11 sports the highest RAM among the 3 with 6GB. 

In spite of these specs advantage, Arasu said that, marketing-wise, they are focusing on the U11's other unique selling points, chief of which is "Edge Sense." The U11 has sensors on the side of the body, which allow users to squeeze the body to do things like activate the camera and take a quick photo or program it to launch apps.

Wayne Tang, associate director for global product marketing, said they're confident that the price points of their U11 and their lower-priced devices are competitive.

WAYNE TANG. HTC's associate director for global product marketing says the biggest change in the PH market since their departure around 2013 is the influx of Chinese phone makers. Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

WAYNE TANG. HTC's associate director for global product marketing says the biggest change in the PH market since their departure around 2013 is the influx of Chinese phone makers.

Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

Tang also said the biggest difference in the market now and before they left is the emergence of Chinese brands. "They brought in high-spec phones with low prices," he said.

It's a reason why HTC doesn't want to get into a "specs war" and would rather focus on the actual user experience with the audio, camera, and the extra features. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.

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