If you don't care much for the wall of text below, here are the basic details so far:
Name : HTC's next flagship not be named HTC One M10; latest rumored codename is HTC Perfume
Design : there are no leaked official renders or concepts, but plenty of fan-made ones
Hardware : will probably have Snapdragon 820 SoC
Software : There have been rumors of a Sense 8, built on top of Android 6.1
Price, release date : probably in April, 2016 if not later
Back in August of 2015, we started hearing rumors that HTC may choose a new name for its next flagship smartphone – and that would be HTC O2, instead of the expected HTC One M10. Furthermore, the O2 wasrumored be a Snapdragon 820 -toting smartphone, so that immediately made it a “2016 smartphone” in our minds. Later in the year, whispers suggested that the HTC O2 project has been scrapped and replaced with a new one, dubbed HTC Perfume. Whether that's a codename or not, we can't be sure, but let's just wager that it is. We've also seen a leaked poster of an HTC One X9 – a high-powered smartphone, toting a Snapdragon 820, 4 GB of RAM, and a QHD (1440 x 2560 pixels) display. So what is going on there? It seems that HTC is either going to replace the “One M-number” moniker for its flagships, or it's working on a phablet variant of the One M10 to release alongside it – a sort of a One M10 Plus, if you will. These are the two variants we could come up with and, thus far, we've no concrete evidence to support any of them, so it's still up in the air.
Seeing as the HTC One M9 caught some serous flak for not making attempts at advancing the line's design philosophy, we'd wager that HTC will make a serious attempt at introducing a fresh-looking new device. Unfortunately, there haven't been any rumors, renders, or even official concepts leaked. Either the One M10 is about to be delayed further than we expect, or HTC is doing a great job at keeping mum about what its design teams are doing. What we feel comfortable in assuming, however, is that the One M10's body will be almost entirely made out of metal. The company was among the first Android manufacturers to build its top-tier smartphones out of the cool material, and was very proud of that. While it is possible that HTC may go for a glass back, like on the Sony Xperia Z5 or Samsung Galaxy S6, we just can't see that one happening right now.
Now that HTC has finally introduced a biometric scanner of its own with the One A9, it only seems appropriate to expect the One M10 (or Perfume) to have one of its own. Whether the company will choose to place it on the front, as the capacitive home button we saw on the A9, or move it to a different location remains to be seen. We'd wager on the latter if HTC opts to put front-firing stereo speakers on its flagship once again. Which brings us to our next point...
HTC has equipped its phones with and proudly flaunted the front-firing BoomSound stereo speakers for years now and we see not reason for the company to stop doing that. Especially since the sound was refined and improved with the One M9. Yes, the One A9 has a single speaker and only utilizes the proprietary BoomSound tech when headphones are plugged in the device, but we wouldn't go as far as to assume HTC is ready to leave the dual speakers concept behind. So, we may not have actual images of how it's going to look, but fans are allowed to dream, and until we get any official snaps of HTC's next flagship. Here are some fan-made concept renders to tie you over until we manage to get some snaps of what the actual device will look like!
Depending on rumor accuracy, we see this going one of two ways. Either HTC inflates the size of its flagship, and releases an HTC Perfume with a 6-inch display, or the HTC Perfume turns out to be a “plus” variant of the One M10. In the latter case, the “standard” flagship would probably have a 5-inch display, much like the One M9 and One M8 before it. There have been no reports on HTC looking into AMOLED, so we have no reason to assume the company would move away from the LCD technology it has been using so far. As far as resolution goes – the HTC Perfume rumors talked of a QHD (1440 x 2560) resolution. HTC was one of the few manufacturers that refused to jump on the QHD bandwagon when most everyone else was doing it – even the 2015 One M9 still rocked a 1080 x 1920 resolution. So, if the Perfume is HTC's actual next flagship, we could see the company going for the super-crisp QHD resolution on its 6-inch screen. Alternatively, if there are two models in production, the “standard”, 5-inch one may still rock the perfectly good 1080p, while the phablet gets the 1440 x 2560. Much like how Sony did with the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Premium – the former has a FHD 1080 x 1920 screen, while the latter has the 4K 2160 x 3840 monster.
For the past years, HTC has worked exclusively with Qualcomm chips when it comes to its flagship line of smartphones, and we expect the One M10 to have a Snapdragon heart beating under its hood as well. Of course, this would most probably be the highly-anticipated Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. What makes the 820 so special? For one, there is an increasing number of reports, showing it performing extremely well, all the while remaining cool when working. As you might know, the 2015 Snapdragon 810's reputation was plagued by numerous reports and complaints about overheating and throttling issues compromising the top-tier smartphones' overall performance. The ordeal caused Qualcomm to re-issue a “v2.1 edition” of the processor, but its success at dealing with previous problems is questionable, as problem reports didn't stop. Back to the 820, however, preliminary benchmark tests of Qualcomm's next flagship system on chip look quite promising. The processor is built on a 14 nm LPP (Low Power Plus or Performance ) process, which basically means that it should offer great productivity at a lower power cost – so, better performance, without reducing battery life. In fact, rumors say that even Samsung may build the Galaxy S7 (or a Galaxy S7 variant) with the Snapdragon 820 inside it. Seeing as Sammy is the first one that bailed from its partnership with Qualcomm last year, and decided to only use its home-brewed Exynos 7420 processor for its Galaxy S6 devices, we'd say that if Samsung has faith in the new Snapdragon – we are optimistic as well.
HTC has been laying its custom Sense skin atop Android since 2009's Hero and we don't expect the company to back away from that tradition any time soon. Rumors said that the Perfume would run on Android 6.1 with Sense 8 on top of it, but we've heard no official word on an Android 6.1 update from any other sources. So, while we do expect the next iteration of Sense to be numbered 8, we can't be sure whether a 6.1 patch for Android would be out by the time HTC's next flagship hits the shelves. We can be sure, however, that no matter the version number, the phone will definitely rock Android Marshmallow.
HTC has shown that it is ready to retire the UltraPixel sensor from the main camera of its flagships and instead move it to the front-facing cam. With theHTC One M9, we got a 20 MP sensor for the back snapper, which did provide better detail, but was a really poor performer once the scenery's lighting became less than favorable. With the HTC One A9, which is somewhat of a middle-of-the-way flagship for HTC, the manufacturer switched cameras once again, this time landing on a 13 MP sensor, which produced better results than the one in the M9. If the manufacturer took notice of the positive feedback that the camera received, it may just choose to go the 13 MP route with the One M10 / Perfume, just maybe enhance its performance a bit. But that's pure speculation at this point.
Price, release date, availability
We've heard no word on when HTC might be unveiling its next flagship. We have, however, gotten wind of a rumor, which claims that, thanks to the partnership between Samsung and Qualcomm for the development of Snapdragon 820, Sammy will have exclusive rights over the chip up until April of 2016. What this means is that if HTC plans to have its flagship rock the latest-and-greatest silicone from Qualcomm, it is quite probable that the One M10 a.k.a. Perfume will be delayed post the annual refresh date (1st of March) and well into the second quarter of 2016.