HTC has introduced the HTC Advantage plan, which offers owners of an HTC One device a few cool features. First, cracked screens can be replaced one time, free of charge. HTC is also committing to “future software innovation”, as well as “content solutions”. What do those all mean? We’ll tell you!
The cracked screen replacement (originally teased via Twitter) is easily the more attractive feature here, but there is a big catch. The replacement has to occur within the first six months of ownership, which is a drawback. If you want to have it done for free, HTC will send you a box which you can use to send your device in. It takes about 8-10 days for shipping, according to HTC, but that’s not a hard and fast rule.
If you want your device faster, there is an option for expedited shipping and a refurbished device. For $29, HTC will send you a refurbished device, which leaves you with the box to return it to them in. The $29 gets you overnight shipping, too, which is great for those of us without multiple devices to switch between. HTC tells us this only covers screen damage, so if you think you’ll sneak some water damage past them — think again. They’ll be looking for other damage, which means you could incur other charges.
Android updates are important to most of us, and HTC has made a two-year commitment to updates. For 48 months after launch of a One device, HTC says they will support it with “major Android OS upgrades”. Sounds good, but it asks quite a few questions, too.
As we noted during the HTC AMA last week, there is no definition of ‘major’ here. They’ve also committed to updates for two years, but that doesn’t give a structured timeframe for updates. It also doesn’t mean we’ll get every ‘major’ update. Let’s say the last KitKat update happens six months ahead of whatever is next (Lemon Meringue?). Can you expect both, or will they skip the last KitKat update? HTC isn’t saying. Though they’ve been pretty transparent about the process, that doesn’t offer much in the way of updates.
Lastly, HTC is offering up “25GB - 50GB” of Google Drive storage for One handset owners. The amount of storage varies with which device you have, to which HTC hasn’t been totally forthright in explaining — likely because they don’t rightly know. The offer will last two years, and doesn’t sound as though it has to be redeemed at the time of purchase.
Cool new features, but are they enough to swing you back towards HTC? There are a lot of negative feelings about the former Android kingpin. Cracked screen replacement is one of the coolest new features here, and we’d much rather pay $29 for overnight service than a monthly insurance fee. The Drive storage is also cool, but everyone seems to be doling out Drive storage these days.
Software updates; that will be HTC’s litmus test. We understand their noncommittal language to us, so actions will have to speak louder than words here. We’l give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll keep their word and update devices to our liking. If they don't, there is much more at stake for them than us.