Apple still made major improvements along the way: The iPhone 5 improved upon the 4's unfortunately placed antennas, the iPhone 5S fixes its predecessor's penchant for scratched chamfers, and the iPhone 6 will surely provide a better Touch ID sensor. But the biggest lesson might be that a radical new design doesn't necessarily mean more sales, and it may bring more trouble than it's worth. The name, the branding is enough--people want a phone that looks good, works well, and feels familiar.
So if you think the iPhone's home button will go away just to make the screen bigger, take a look at the new HTC One's speaker grilles. They immediately set it apart from similarly sized handsets, and in a sea of 5-inch competitors, HTC was smart to retain that distinct look. Very few phones have instantly recognizable design elements--try to think of single one on a Samsung phone--and when the One goes through its first major overhaul, you can bet HTC will design around those speaker grilles.
HTC gets it. The new One might not be a radical change, but it brings enough to the table to entice new customers while giving its new features space to shine. It's a bold strategy in a landscape dominated by different, but it's one that makes as much sense for HTC's current flagship handset as it does for Apple's next iPhone.
And much like the new HTC One, you can bet everyone will love it.
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