HTC confirms that a flagship Snapdragon 835 phone is coming this year

The U Ultra hasn't even launched yet, but HTC is already looking to its next premium phone.

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Fresh off reports that Samsung's Galaxy S8 would be the first phone to launch with the highly anticipated Snapdragon 835, HTC wants everyone to know it won’t be left behind. Despite the upcoming release of a brand new flagship built on the older 821 architecture, HTC is vowing to deliver an 835 phone as well this year, possibly just months after the U Ultra’s launch.

When HTC unveiled its dual-screen, all-glass handset earlier this month, there were some questions as to why the company was opting to introduce its premium handset now rather than wait until the newer chips were readily available. In an interview with Tbreak, Chialin Chang, president of smartphones and connected devices at HTC, dismissed those concerns and said the release is part of a very specific strategy.

“When we will look back, it will be clear why HTC introduced (the U Ultra),” he said in a brief but wide-ranging interview. “We want to have a couple of months of leadership before the next flagship CPU comes. But that will be in another period of time—not at MWC. Not for us or any other player. I can tell you that for sure.”

Earlier this week, it was reported that Qualcomm’s latest processor would be making its debut in the Galaxy S8, and Chang’s comments seem to jibe with that. However, while HTC might not be at the front of the line to get its hands on the new 10nm chip, it will be sure to take advantage of it once it arrives.

“Every time there is a brand new CPU with power that we can leverage, we’re always at the forefront doing that,” Chang told the site. “When the next flagship CPU comes, HTC will be one of the very first tier doing that. … When the new CPU comes, HTC will have another flagship.”

A second top-tier phone would be a break from HTC’s usual release schedule, and Chang’s comments could serve to blunt the impact of the U Ultra, as would-be buyers wait to see what the Snadragon 835 phone brings to the table. But Chang is confident in the company’s strategy. “Some people are talking about the timing, but timing was determined 9 months ago. This is the best CPU out there.”

Additionally, the mobile chief briefly discussed Android Wear (there won’t be an HTC watch anytime soon), the Pixel (just “one aspect” of HTC’s relationship with Google), and Google Assistant (it will come when its ready). Chang also addressed concerns about the U Ultra’s relatively small 3,000 mAh battery, assuring customers that it “will get you one day” while discussing the fine line between form and functionality.

“We wanted to get a symmetric design and the trimming on the sides impacts the battery,” he said. “I admit, the bigger the battery, the better, but there’s always a trade-off with the design.”

Why this matters: ‘Tis the season for Android smartphone rumors, but it’s rare to get one straight from the company’s mouth. And while it’s great news to hear that HTC will be getting on board with the newest chips as soon as they’re available, we can’t help but look at the U Ultra in a less flattering light now. HTC was already facing hurdles with the U Ultra’s lackluster battery and lack of headphone jack, but now there’s even less reason for people to plunk down $750 to buy a phone that might very well be obsolete before the end of the summer.

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