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HTC set to launch a 5G smartphone this year, the company’s new CEO reveals

Yves Maitre said a HTC-branded 5G phone is on the cards and is set to launch before the end of 2020

Despite HTC making statements, and moves, away from its smartphone business, the company’s new CEO has made a surprise announcement.

In an interview with the United News Network, Yves Maitre said an HTC-branded 5G phone is on the cards and is set to launch before the end of 2020.

 He didn’t reveal exactly when, what markets it would go on sale in, or many other details for that matter. The presence of 5G suggests the new phone could see HTC return to high-end specs, or at least specs towards the higher end of the market.

In recent years, HTC has carved a niche in the mid-range.  

The announcement was made as part of a wider conversation on 5G and, in particular, 5G’s potential in the virtual reality space given HTC’s family of VR-powered, Vive headsets. 

One of the reasons HTC fell out of favour was that its flagship, premium phones offered very little to entice people to move away from the likes of Samsung and Apple.

Speaking at last year’s TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Maitre admitted: “HTC has stopped innovating in the hardware of the smartphone, and people like Apple, like Samsung and, most recently, Huawei, have done an incredible job investing in their hardware. We didn’t, because we have been investing in innovation on virtual reality.” 

The former Orange executive joined HTC towards the end of 2019 when former CEO Cher Wang stepped down. In a similar way to how Satya Nadella has transformed Microsoft in recent years, analysts believe Maitre offers a fresh outlook and approach for HTC to come back fighting. 

Yet any 5G handset it releases will need to stand out in a market where brands like OnePlus can produce market-leading phones at affordable prices. It also needs to time the launch well. With Apple expected to similarly enter the 5G market this year as well, an HTC announcement could be overshadowed.

“When I was young, somebody told me, ‘to be right at the wrong time is to be wrong and to be wrong at the right time is right.’ I think we’ve been right at the wrong time and now we have to catch up,” continued Maitre at TechCrunch Disrupt. “We made a timing mistake. It is very difficult to anticipate the time. HTC made a mistake in terms of timing. It is a difficult mistake and we are paying for that, but we still have so many assets in terms of innovation, team and balance sheets that I feel we are recovering from the timing mistake.”

Elsewhere, earlier reports suggested HTC was on the verge of launching its own 5G network in Taiwan meaning the company could be planning a whole ecosystem launch in the coming months, and this would make it stand out. 

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