Dubai: The race for the best Android smartphone is heating up with the launch of Samsung S5 and HTC One (M8) in Dubai on Wednesday.
HTC’s previous model was rated as the best smartphone of 2013 and the Taiwanese player is hoping to build on the well-received HTC One with the same design as dual front-facing speakers and infra-red blaster.
Samsung is adding new features like fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor, water- and dust-resistant. The case is still made of plastic but with a matte finish and perforated pattern.
“We have improved the hardware and software features. Samsung has improved the battery capacity from 2,600mAh in S4 to 2,800mAh in S5. Even with 10 per cent battery life, the device will give you 22 hours of use with new ultra power saving mode while the screen turns to black and white,” Hayssam Yassine, head of telecommunications at Samsung Gulf Electronics, told Gulf News.
According to Hamza Saleem, senior telecom analyst at research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), the S5 has not seen a big improvement from S4, apart from some cosmetic changes.
“No one is going to check the heart rate monitor with the five-inch device when jogging. Galaxy S4 was a good device and major improvements compared to S3. The S5 will be a bit premature in the market as many people have still not got used to the S4,” he said.
He said the S5 may not reach the million mark quicker than what S4 achieved. If HTC can market the product properly, it can do “much better sales” than Samsung.
“HTC has tweaked the hardware a bit but the only issue is with the camera. It is still using the 4MP ultrapixel technology when others have gone to 16MP and 21MP. The camera is still not up to the market level and will let them down,” he said.
Meanwhile, the HTC One M8 features a full metal body and number of innovations including dual rear facing camera for capturing the depth of the image and a 5MP front-facing camera as well as introducing a new version of its Android UI, Sense 6.
The M8 will be the first phone to support 128GB SD card. The current phones in the market support cards of up to 64GB.
Despite being the best smartphone, Daniel Gleeson, mobile analyst at research firm IHS, said that HTC’s shipments fell 28 per cent to 22 million last year despite smartphone sales surging to more than one billion. HTC phone sales hit a peak of 45 million in 2011 and right now its market share is less than 5 per cent.
Philip Blair, president of HTC Europe, Middle East and Africa, said that the consumers will definitely see a significant change in 2014. This year won’t be the same as last year.
“We haven’t been ready to make a significant marketing spend in the region last year because we need the infrastructure and the partners in place. We will this year make a significant jump in our marketing spend compared to last year in all of the key regions,” he said.
HTC’s target for this year is to attain 10 per cent market share in this region, he said.
“We have the partners and the marketing team to attain this. He said HTC will be launching wearable devices in the second half of this year.
Analysts blame lack of marketing push for HTC’s woes.
“HTC’s problem does not lie in its product and the main issues revolve around marketing, brand awareness and missing the boat on many new industry trends,” Gleeson said in an emailed statement.
HTC does not have the “marketing budget” of Samsung and even if the Samsung’s product is under par, the South Korean giant has the budget to shore the product up, Saleem said.
Yassine said that wearable devices are the next growth area for everyone and vendors are looking for new growth areas.
The 1.84-inch water resistant Gear Fit with first curved Super AMOLED wearable device lets users to see the notifications from Galaxy smartphones such as incoming calls, emails, SMS, alarm, S-planner, fitness tolls.
The 1.63-inch Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo offer consumers enhanced connectivity and a completely integrated approach.
“The Gear 2 has a built-in camera and the first wearables powered by the Tizen based operating system.
Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are compatible with 17 models of Galaxy smartphones and tablets,” Yassine said.
The Gear Fit will retail for Dh799 while the Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo for Dh1,199 respectively.