Should I roll the dice on HTC?
January 14, 2014 10:36 AM   Subscribe

What are the risks of buying an HTC One?

I'm eligible for a new phone in a couple months, and I keep coming back to the HTC One as one of the stronger candidates I've seen - it's priced right (right now, I can't afford an unlocked/prepaid phone, so at this point I'm tied to Verizon's contract-bound phones), it's pretty powerful, and it's got a CM build so I can run that. However, I keep reading that HTC is in the first stages of a death spiral as a company; they're seemingly falling apart faster every day from what I'm reading.

So really, I guess my question is: does that matter? I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus right now and I never interact with either Samsung or Verizon about my phone at all, so maybe it's not an issue. If I buy an HTC One and the company goes away/gets bought and sold for parts, as an owner of an HTC phone, what would be the impact to me? What am I not taking into account?
posted by pdb to Technology (13 answers total)
Eh, I don't see a ton of risk to you personally. If you're eligible for a new phone, that means you have a contract with a telecom provider (as opposed to a prepaid plan), no? I used to do mobile device support for my company and warrantied hundreds of phones, and the telecom provider themselves ALWAYS handled that, not the device manufacturer. Also, the bigger telecom providers keep a startling array of old devices on-hand for warranty replacements... I'd sometimes call when a person right near the end of their two-year contract dropped their old phone in the toilet, and somehow, Verizon/AT&T always managed to send them a same-model replacement rather than just saying, "Oh, eff it, here's a newer model."

Several other wee-tiny concerns: 1. There may not be any more firmware updates for your device if/when HTC goes under, if that matters to you, aaaand, 2. There may be fewer third-party accessories, if that matters to you.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:41 AM on January 14, 2014

The effective risk is zero. Especially if you are planning on using Cyanogen. They won't stop dev just because a company disappears.

I do not have a One, a few friends do however and they are pretty darn happy.
posted by Cosine at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2014

Announced today: the One X isn't going to get any more updates from HTC. That said, the active support for most non-Nexus Android phones seems to be about a year regardless, and if you're comfortable with Cyanogen, then it won't be an issue.

I'd be wary of buying a year-old Android phone on a two-year contract, but as mentioned upthread, your point of contact for support will be the carrier.
posted by holgate at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2014

If you are willing to use Cyanogen, I think it's an excellent purchase. If not, the phone may get a bit old and creaky in two years.

I have an HTC One and love it.
posted by katrielalex at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2014

I've never had a CM build work flawlessly on any Android handset I've owned. Usually it's things like the camera, wifi or Bluetooth that either don't work or have annoyances.

You may have to trawl 500+ posts in a thread of contradictory advice to solve these issues. They may not work or something else may break.

You'll wonder why the same people with the same handsets have different issues. You'll be happy that your web browser doesn't crash on startup but, in return, no-one else seems to have the issue that you have.

On the other hand, everything may work wonderfully.

My advice would be to look at what the handset offers today and consider CM a last resort to get some extra life out of the thing. If you give it any more weight than that in your purchasing decisions then you may be disappointed.

(no good deal available on the Motorola Moto G?)
posted by mr_silver at 11:20 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have an HTC One and it's been great. Only issue has been less than stellar battery life BUT it's not horrible. Otherwise it's nice and fast, and I don't feel much phone envy yet a year after I switched over.
posted by Carillon at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2014

(I have an HTC One)

Much of the above is assuming you're willing/able to root/unlock.

If you are willing to root/unlock: Most of the above advice applies. I wouldn't necessarily recommend a CyanogenMod build for now, as I've had much better luck with Sense and Google -based builds. The CM builds have a few niggling issues that seem to manifest for some but not all users. Once official releases for Sense and GPE dry up, the time may come when CM is your only option to move beyond 4.4 (or wherever it is at that time.) Hopefully these will be resolved by then.

If you are not willing to root/unlock: I would be very surprised if the Verizon HTC One is updated beyond 4.4, but stranger things have happened. It's got great adoption. As long as you can live with the last major software update coming around the middle of this year, you'll likely be very happy with it, but functionality may come with post-4.4 versions of Android that you won't be able to take advantage of.

Either way: No great links, but be aware that many HTC Ones show a purple/red "haze" in low light and have trouble focusing. Some are like this over time, some will develop it, but in general, you can get it replaced at no cost, even if you've unlocked on That may change.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:06 PM on January 14, 2014

Urgh, I mistook the One X for the One. Damn you, HTC for your naming schemes.
posted by holgate at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have an HTC One and love it. It's the best smart phone I've ever owned, and I've owned plenty from various platforms.
posted by OuttaHere at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2014

I switched from a Nexus to HTC One last year. I haven't rooted it or installed any mods.

I love the phone, particularly the case and size. However, mine failed on me after about 5 months. It just wouldn't charge unless it was completely discharged, which is far from convenient. I got a replacement from HTC a few weeks ago (all arranged by my carrier), and it's going fine so far.

I'm not in the US, so things may be different there, but since I'm on a contract with my carrier,as I understand it if HTC went under, and my phone failed, I'd be able to get an equivalent phone swapped in from Samsung or whoever.
posted by Diag at 1:40 PM on January 14, 2014

I have the HTC One and think it is an amazing phone.
The only caveat I have is their choice of a lower rez camera, but the things you can do with the Zoes (little six second vine-like clips) and the fact that it automagically creates a facebook ready video composition really make the phone stand-out.

A very crude example here
Of course, if you overwrite the OS with CyanogenMod or the Google Phone edition you lose that.

This is the first phone that I didn't put Cyanogenmod on. There's no need for it. It's better out of the box than with it. (IMHO)
You can hide the bloatware apps from view, and at that point, who cares if they're on the phone?
posted by exparrot at 1:50 PM on January 14, 2014

I'm pretty sure my carrier will console me if my HTC One fails. It'll be a tough job, though. I don't understand how such an imperfect company could have made such a perfect thing. It's beautiful, inside and out.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:20 PM on January 14, 2014

I have a one X and am very happy wih it, for all that its a budget phone. I say go for it.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:44 PM on January 14, 2014

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