The HTC Desire 310 might be more significant than you think
The HTC Desire 310 launched recently as an entry-level device. It's fairly easy to overlook it as incremental update as it arrives with specs that aren't hugely inspiring.
But with it arriving just a few days after the furore of Mobile World Congress - the perfect opportunity to show off a new device - we have to wonder why HTC chose not to feature it at the show. Is it because it signals a change of direction?
It's the change in software that's interesting. The Desire 310 launches on Android 4.2 with HTC BlinkFeed. You'll note that it doesn't come with HTC Sense, and looking at the Desire 310 and the 300 side-by-side, you'll see the difference.
Yes, those are stock Android icons on the Desire 310 on the left, rather than Sense's tweaked versions. In this new device, BlinkFeed and video highlights have become software additions for the first time, orphaned from HTC Sense.
The history of non-Sense Android devices for HTC is rather sparse. There's the Nexus One, the HTC First Facebook phone, T-Mobile G2, the Google Play edition of the HTC One and that's about it, because the Sense user experience has been what HTC devices have been about.
It appears that HTC now sees it as more important to have this handset on the market, than to give it the full Sense treatment. It returns to stock Android with distilled highlights.
"There will always be a core HTC Sense experience but our pace of innovation is so fast that we wanted to find a way for more of our customers to enjoy some of the latest HTC Sense experiences," said HTC in a statement.
"Given the realities of optimising the full HTC Sense platform for new phones with different hardware specs, we decided that it was more important to bring some of the key features to these devices."
HTC mentions "these devices", indicating that this is the start of a new trend. Presumably this is where we'll see the MediaTek hardware devices, designed to be more aggressive on pricing and now it appears, also less dependent on HTC Sense.
"The latest addition to our renowned HTC Desire range combines super-fast processing and premium features at a lower price, offering users the best possible experience in this category," said Peter Chou, HTC CEO, at the launch of the device. That "best possible experience" is one that has moved closer to Android and away from HTC Sense, it seems.
HTC is yet to reveal the price for the HTC Desire 310 in the UK, but with the higher-spec Motorola Moto G available for £130 SIM free, or free on an £11 a month contract, there isn't much space to move.
READ: Motorola Moto G review
The Desire 310 will cost €169 (£140) when it launches and although this price is unconfirmed for the UK, it still sounds too high given that Motorola's device has an HD display, a quad-core CPU and is already on the latest Android version.
The HTC Desire 310 will be available in April from O2, Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone in the UK, when we'll be able to see where HTC is heading with its entry-level Sense-less devices.