HTC One back close-up

What the Desire 310 tells us about HTC’s revival

Yesterday Android Wafer examined the HTC Desire 310 and its use of on-screen buttons. The forthcoming smartphone was recently outed accidentally on HTC’s European website, and whilst it may look like just another budget Android device, the HTC Desire 310 actually represents the implementation of an entirely new strategy for the Taiwanese company.

There appears to be little to choose between the current HTC Desire 300 and the anticipated specs of the HTC Desire 310. But it is actually the lack of difference that makes HTC’s new handset interesting.

The HTC Desire 300 has a 4.3-inch 480 x 800 pixel display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1 GHz dual-core processor, 512 MB RAM, 4 GB internal storage and a 5 megapixel camera. By contrast, the HTC Desire 310 is expected to offer a 4.5-inch 480 x 854 pixel display, a MediaTek MT6582M quad-core 1.3 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, 4 GB internal storage and a 5 megapixel camera.

Whilst the HTC Desire 310 is expected to have a slightly larger display than its predecessor, some of the screen will be taken up by on-screen buttons. So the only real differences for the new handset will be more RAM and a slightly faster processor.

Typically manufacturers struggle to make budget Android phones stand out against those offered by rivals. So why release a phone that HTC will struggle to even differentiate from one of its own existing handsets?

The answer lies in HTC’s battle to return to profitability. Last year the company posted its first ever loss, and only recorded a profit in the following quarter after selling its stake in headphone manufacturer Beats Electronics for 265 million New Taiwanese Dollars (€15.2 m/£12.6 m).

Unlike rivals such as Apple, HTC has prided itself in manufacturing its own devices. The Taiwanese company has also been highly selective over the components it has used, relying on suppliers with well-established reputations for quality.

It is therefore easy to see how HTC’s manufacturing process has become more costly and difficult to control than those established by competitors. But with the HTC Desire 310, production will be outsourced to original device manufacturer Compal Comm, and a cheaper processor will be used, supplied by MediaTek

So the HTC Desire 310 may not go on to be a best-seller for the company, but those units that do leave the shelves should generate more profit than budget HTC smartphones have in the past. It is a strategy that won’t apply exclusively to low-end products, though, as HTC fights to increase profits right across its portfolio of devices.