HTC Steps Up NFC Phone Presence with Three High-End Handsets
New Orleans – Phone maker HTC is displaying three high-end NFC phones at the International CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans, including its Droid Incredible 4G LTE, destined for U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless.
Taiwan-based HTC is also shipping the Evo 4G LTE to U.S. carrier Sprint with NFC inside, due on the market within weeks, as well as its One X, which made its U.S. debut with AT&T Sunday after launching in Europe last month.
The One X and Evo 4G LTE sport embedded secure chips that can be used for payment. MasterCard Worldwide has already certified the One X and its embedded chip to carry the payment network's contactless application, PayPass. That chip likely will be used in Europe, since AT&T is expected to use SIM cards to support its planned Isis wallet.
UPDATE: MasterCard has added the Evo 4G LTE and Droid Incredible 4G LTE to its list of certified devices–the Evo with the embedded chip to support the Google Wallet and the Droid Incredible LTE for use with SIMs as secure elements. END UPDATE.
The Evo 4G, a close cousin of the One X, will support the Google Wallet, said Sprint, which remains Google’s sole telco partner for the wallet. It's unclear what secure element or elements the Droid Incredible 4G LTE will support, if any.
HTC is hoping the high-end phones will help it recover from its recent slump. The handset maker saw its smartphone market share plummet by more than 5 percentage points to 4.8% in the first quarter of 2012, according to research firm IDC. It remained the No. 5 smartphone maker worldwide behind Samsung Electronics, Apple, Nokia and Research In Motion, said the firm.
HTC has been slower than such Android-phone rivals as Samsung and LG Electronics to ship NFC phones, releasing only one model, the HTC Amaze 4G, last year for T-Mobile USA. That’s in addition to an HTC handset, called the Stunning in China, which Chinese payment network China UnionPay commissioned HTC to build with support for microSD-based payment.
“Our perspective about NFC is it’s an emerging technology,” an HTC spokesman told NFC Times at CTIA. “We’re putting it in part of our portfolio to be prepared.”
All three phones run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, called Ice Cream Sandwich. This supports Google’s enhanced peer-to-peer NFC communication feature, Android Beam.
Verizon touted the feature Monday in announcing its exclusive deal with HTC to sell the Droid Incredible 4G LTE, saying Android Beam would allow customers to “quickly share Web pages, apps, contacts and YouTube videos with friends by simply tapping two compatible phones together.”
Sprint was also promoting the feature for its Evo 4G LTE, along with Google Wallet functionality, in an announcement last month. The model is exclusive to Sprint.
The carrier recently put three other wallet phones on sale, the 4G LTE version of Google’s Galaxy Nexus, made by Samsung, along with the LG Optimus Elite and LG Viper 4G LTE. Until then, it had only offered one model supporting the wallet, the Nexus S 4G.
AT&T was not promoting the NFC capabilities of the HTC One X.