For all the evidence to the contrary, HTC hasn’t forgotten about smartphones. In an interview with the United News Network, CEO Yves Maitre said that an HTC-branded 5G smartphone would arrive at some point this year.

Maitre didn’t say much about the phone other than that it’s coming in 2020, so it’s not clear whether this will be a return to high-end specs or not. True, even the mention of 5G might suggest that this is going to be rivalling the fastest phones around, but both Qualcomm and MediaTek have 5G-capable processors aimed at smaller budgets, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Maitre’s interest in 5G isn’t necessarily on the phone itself, as he was talking about it in relation to 5G applications, including virtual reality – where the company has a very clear interest thanks to the Vive family of VR headsets. While 5G may currently feel like overkill for day-to-day mobile browsing, its low latency is a huge boon for VR where smoothness is essential for avoiding nausea.

Perhaps a more pertinent question isn’t whether HTC had forgotten smartphones, but if the general public has forgotten HTC exists in the phone space. It certainly has a fine legacy as the proud creator of the first ever Android phone, but legacy didn’t do much to prevent BlackBerry’s revival from being a damp squib

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The glory days of the HTC One are long forgotten, and the company hasn’t pushed out a top-end handset since the U12+ – a phone that got a pretty mediocre three-star review from us back in 2018. Since then, the company has been focused on budget devices and gimmicky phones like the Exodus 1 with its Bitcoin backbone. 

We’ll just have to see what HTC has in mind for its 5G smartphone later this year. But with plenty of other manufacturers boasting of 5G-readiness in 2020, it’ll have to be something special to stand out and signal a return to the glory days.

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