HTC confirmed plans to offer a version of its One smartphone with a “Nexus user experience” through the Google Play store, stripping its flagship device of the manufacturer’s Sense user interface customisation.
At the time One was launched, much was made of HTC’s customisation, including the BlinkFeed feature which pushes content from various sources to the home screen. While this has provided the vendor with a differentiating feature, it has diverged from the basic Android user experience.
In the initial reviews of HTC’s new flagship, the device’s form factor has been widely praised, at a time when Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has been criticised for lacking a “premium” feel.
If nothing else, it will provide HTC with another One variant for relatively little effort, enabling it to improve its shipment volumes and benefit through economies of scale through the hardware commonalities.
With the troubled vendor’s First smartphone – its other recent high profile release – having fallen by the wayside, the ability to make the most of the well-regarded One will be crucial for its recovery.
Of course, this is not the first time that HTC has offered a “Nexus” device, being the manufacturer behind Google’s initial foray into the unlocked smartphone space. While this was not deemed a massive success at the time, Google has continued with its efforts, also working with vendors Samsung and LG Electronics in the smartphone space.
Earlier in May, Samsung announced a version of Galaxy S4 which includes “the user experience that ships with our popular Nexus devices” – thereby removing any vendor customisation.
According to reports earlier this week, LG Electronics, the manufacturer of the current Nexus 4 smartphone, has said it is not in the frame to deliver the next generation of the smartphone. It has not said that it plans to offer a Nexus-ised version of any of its current smartphones.
Perhaps the biggest question now is the motivation for Google to continue its own Nexus activities, now that two of the most high-profile smartphones of the day are available in Google form.
The company does traditionally introduce a new Nexus device with new Android platform releases, and may choose to stick with this practice, although part of the core Nexus premise is that upgrades are available for existing hardware shortly after.
So far, the Nexus-esque versions of the HTC and Samsung devices are only available in unlocked form in the US via Google Play, priced at $599 and $649 respectively.