Quietly Brilliant, But HTC Sure Made Some Noise At MWC

Wow. We expected a lot of news out of Mobile World Congress but who knew HTC would have so. freaking. much.

I was having trouble keeping track of it myself, so for the good of the both of us, I thought it might be fitting to bundle all this news up into something a tad more easily digestible.

And off we go…

The first thing you should know is that HTC is changing up its current branding strategy. Most notably, we have the freshly announced One series which comprises three different phones: the One X, One S, and One V. (More on those later, of course.) HTC has already stated that it would be focusing on more hero devices, rather than pushing out experimental failures like the HTC Status.

While unifying offerings under a singular flagship brand — like Galaxy, Droid, etc. — is great for brand awareness, HTC ought to be careful with the phone-specific naming. Right now we’re seeing the X, S, and V, and Chris Velazco brought up a great point in noting that there’s really no way to logically figure which phone is the “best.” I, personally, have found crazy long names (like Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G… or whatever) incredibly annoying, but I’d rather have too much to remember than something vague that I can’t remember.

In other news, HTC has launched version 4.0 of its Sense overlay. While zero percent of the people I talk to actually enjoy vendor skins, these OEMs keep slapping them on their handsets like it’s all that matters. Luckily, Sense 4.0 doesn’t seem to bog down Android the way other skins do, and runs like a breeze on both the One X and One S (we weren’t able to see software running on the V).

The clock and weather widgets are great, as usual, but HTC really put in some extra effort on the camera front. Hardware aside, the Sense camera app can take shots at .2 seconds, meaning that in burst mode it’ll take five pictures in a second flat. There are also plenty of setting controls and fun stuff like that.

Now let’s get to the phones because I’m sure that’s the reason most of you are here.

The One X is officially HTC’s new flagship. Running Android 4.0 ICS along with Sense 4.0, this may be one of the most impressively spec’d phones we’ve seen to date. And even though the spec is apparently dead, HTC has all kinds of crazy numbers to throw at you with this guy.

To start, the One X is powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Tegra 3 processor and packs 1GB of RAM under the hood of its 9.7mm frame. You’ll also find a 4.7-inch 720p S-LCD screen up front, along with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of video capture in 1080p and a 1.3-megapixel front-facer for video chat.

I actually played around with the One X this morning, and have to say that it’s quite stunning. Take a look at our hands-on video straight from Barcelona here.

Following just behind, the One S is meant to be HTC’s mid-range device, but thus far I personally prefer it to the One X. The One S sports a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD screen, with Android 4.0 and Sense 4.0 in tow. It runs on one of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon S4 processors (1.5GHz dual-core, to be exact) and touts 1GB of RAM under the hood.

Its aluminum unibody design is just what we’ve been looking for in a sea of cheap-feeling plastic, and we’re pleased to see little to no difference in performance between the quad-core packing One X and the One S. (Man, I’m already tired of all this “One” business.)

The same camera specs hold true between both models, and you’ll find Beats Audio integration in both as well. Check out our hands-on video in Barcelona here.

Not to be overshadowed by any means, next up we have the little guy: the HTC One V. I actually kind of fell for this little hunk of aluminum at HTC’s media event in NYC (even without seeing any hardware). Don’t get me wrong, the sexy feel of the One S and the gorgeous screen of the One X are worth getting excited about, but the One V gave me this overwhelming sense of nostalgia and I’m actually very sure at this point that I’m just fine with smaller phones.

See, the One V is meant to be the lower-end model in the series, packing just a 3.7-inch 480×800 screen, a single-core 1GHz processor, and a 5-megapixel camera. Still, the little guy runs Android 4.0, Sense 4.0 and feels wonderful in the hand.

But just because these ICS-flavored Android phones are its MWC sweethearts, don’t think HTC has given up on Windows Phone. After sitting down with our own Ingrid Lunden to chat out future plans, chief marketing officer John Wang promised “we have not given up on Windows Phone.” Clearly the focus right now is on Android, but anyone who’s given WP a shot can tell you it’s ready for the main stage.

HTC has also signed a deal with Dropbox to better compete against iCloud. Now that Apple has its own cloud-syncing service (along with Motorola, and others), HTC saw fit to get a cloud service of its own. But rather than bake it up in the HTC labs, the Taiwanese company called on the Michael Jordan of cloud storage, Dropbox.

This means that anyone who buys a One series device will get 25GB of storage free for two years. To put that in perspective, it currently costs Dropbox users $9.99 a month for 50GB of storage and the only free offering from the service is 2GB.

So what do you think? In my book, HTC made quite the showing at MWC, but I guess we should wait until the show’s over before we start handing out awards.