HTC really wants you to buy an HTC One, and it’s making sure that you have every opportunity to do so. First, it opened up pre-orders for the HTC One Developer Edition, a carrier-unlocked 64GB version of the phone with an unlocked bootloader for custom ROMs. Now, it’s also offering a network-unlocked 32GB version of the handset (via Engadget), which doesn’t have the unlocked bootloader, but which is less expensive at $574.99.
Most people definitely won’t miss the unlocked bootloader from the developer version, unless you’re really into tinkering with the core aspects of your device. And the 32GB unlocked HTC One is almost $200 cheaper than the iPhone 5 with equivalent storage unlocked and contract free. Plus, reviews have been very favourable so far for HTC’s latest flagship device, making it arguably the best Android smartphone currently available.
HTC’s sales strategy this time around with the One is a full-court press, with traditional sales via carriers supplemented out of the starting gate with off-contract sales from its own web-based retail presence. By contrast, Apple usually holds its own unlocked device sales until later on, and Samsung usually sticks to carrier routes for selling its own hardware, especially in the U.S.
Why the abundance of buying options for HTC? Simply put, it doesn’t have the luxury of trying to guide buyers to certain channels. Apple and Samsung incur enough demand that it doesn’t matter if there’s necessarily an unlocked option out of the starting gate; people will get a device any way they can, even if it means tying service to a specific carrier. With HTC, however, the onus is on the company to give buyers a reason to part with their money, and making it possible for those shoppers to do so on their own terms is a key part of boosting the HTC One’s appeal.
The HTC One is going to be a strong contender for best smartphone for a while to come, so if you’ve been holding out for a way to pick one up relatively cheaply and without network commitment, this is the way to get it.