HTC recently announced that they will offer an app that will allow the purchase and rental of TV and film right from their new Sensation 4G superphone. They recently invested in OnLive, a video game streaming service (Feb 2011) and made a strategic investment in Saffron Digital who are a digital multimedia delivery service (some say outright purchase for around $47M). Between the two it looks like HTC is ready to boost user experience to the next level. In the US that phone will only be available through T-Mobile, which we all now know will unfortunately be part of AT&T-mobile now. Maybe the combination of those two will actually improve the network quality, or if we’re lucky, it will crumble under its own weight and leave a vacuum for other, better carriers who have more consumer-friendly policies.This summer, when the HTC Sensation 4G launches, it will feature a 1.2Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and a 4.3-inch display. That’s a whole lot of multimedia power in your pocket bub! Check this mega-feature rich list (I’ll wipe up some drool that’s escaped my mouth).

HTC Sensation 4G Tech Specs

  • 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM 8260 processor
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 3.0
  • 1 GB internal memory with 768 MBs of RAM
  • 126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm (4.96 x 2.57 x 0.44 inches)
  • 148 grams (5.22 ounces)
  • 4.3-inch (540 x 960) qHD display
  • 8 megapixel camera with autofocus and dual LED flash
  • 1080p video recording
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • Internal GPS
  • Gyro sensor, G-sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
  • 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • DLNA
  • Micro-USB
  • 1520 mAh battery

Why the Investments?

I guess HTC saw the future of mobile and realized that in order to further separate them from the competition they needed to have their own media delivery service. When you think about some of the competition like the Xperia Play and the Samsung Galaxy which have device specific media and games delivery, it seems that this is the way of the future.

By teaming with OnLive, they can better tie the streaming game service into their phones and make sure it is one of the best mobile gaming experiences.

The Saffron Digital investment is certainly the foundation for HTC Watch.

Watch it on your HTC

The HTC Sensation 4G is also the first smartphone to feature HTC Watch – an application and service that puts an entire library of the latest, premium movies and TV shows right at your fingertips, letting people discover the latest video content in an easy and visually engaging way.

HTC Watch uses progressive download and not actual streaming. That means you could download the file and watch it later when you’re in a less stable data network area like say the underground or train as you commute. HTC Watch offers the choice of renting or buying videos, and if purchased, lets you watch them on up to five different HTC devices.

I like HTC and I like their devices. They have a certain minimalist aesthetic which I find pleasing yet still pack their phones full of more power and add-ons than others do at a similar price point.

Speaking of price, they didn’t mention one for the Sensation 4G, probably because AT&T-Mobile will lay down the law on that one locking you into a minimum 2-year contract of probably $60 or more per month, especially since they know you’ll be gobbling up bandwidth downloading video to your superphone.

Counter-Intuitive Partners: AT&T-mobile and HTC

OK so they both have letters in their names, but that really seems to be only place these to intersect. AT&T is anti-consumer and has already capped bandwidth for their DSL and U-Verse customers. Then they bought T-Mobile. So I have to believe that they are aiming to start locking down bandwidth caps on all data users in an effort to squeeze more cash out of our pockets.

So why would HTC then decide to launch their first HTC Watch phone with them? Well, the deal was probably struck prior to AT&T swooping and scooping T-Mobile. But honestly, talk about a match made in hell for mobile users. A superphone made to suck bandwidth through video and a stingy mobile carrier greedy to swim through piles of cash. I bet just having one in my hand would make me instantly go to the HTC Watch app and start perusing content.

But every time I looked at a price, I would mentally see it double because of the bandwidth I would consume.

That’s another thing I’m curious about. How will HTC price the content? If you can only purchase/rent from the phone and then have to download on a mobile data network, that’s effectively doubling the cost of whatever you get. Would you pay $3 for a 4.3-inch film which then cost you another $3 to download? I certainly wouldn’t.

It’s OK, it just means that HTC will have to continue to branch out to other carriers (Virgin Mobile please, HTC!) who have more consumer-friendly data plans, prices and policies. Tying their horse to the leaden cart that is AT&T-mobile just seems like a recipe for failure.

The Future is here

Remember, I’ve been touting these superphones for some time now and really do see them as being a major driving force for more and more mobile media consumption. Well it seems that the future will arrive just as I predicted. Good news for everyone who wants to push video through data pipes out to all manner of connected devices, big and small.

The Sensation 4G is just