HTC, the once-impressive Android smartphone manufacturer, has a surprise tablet to accompany its bizarre metaverse-focused Desire 22 Pro. The new A101 is an Android tablet with a 10.1-inch display, entry-level specs, and a design that’s straight out of the middle of the last decade. The device, which we spotted via AndroidPolice, appears to have been quietly announced last month — according to the Wayback Machine — and is aimed at the African market. It follows the A100 tablet, which was released in Russia last year to a similar non-reaction.
Given that the tablet appears to be marketed solely at emerging markets, I don’t want to be too snarky about its specs or design. But it’s still just plain weird to see HTC — makers of literally the first-ever Android phone and a company that Google once entrusted to build a Nexus-branded tablet (the Nexus 9) — producing forgettable devices like this. The A101 even runs 2020’s Android 11 out of the box, rather than Android 12 or the big-screen focused Android 12L.
Internally, HTC’s tablet is powered by a Unisoc T618 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, expandable via microSD. It’s got a pair of cameras on its rear, a main 16-megapixel camera with a 2-megapixel ultrawide. There’s a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a 3.5mm headphone jack, 7,000mAh battery, and support for face unlock on both models.
All in all, a very weird release from HTC. This is a company that was once going toe to toe with the likes of Samsung in the flagship Android market. But now, in 2022, it can quietly reveal a thoroughly unimpressive tablet on its website and have most of the world not notice until days later.
Meanwhile, the smartphone design talent that HTC sold off to Google in early 2018 has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. While the Pixel 4 is now regarded as a misstep, the Pixel 5 was a very capable midrange handset, and the Pixel 6 was a competitive flagship (albeit one with seemingly more than its fair share of software bugs). In contrast, it’s getting harder and harder to tell what HTC’s remaining smartphone division is working towards beyond vague buzzwords like the “metaverse.”
Update July 5th, 11:35AM ET: Updated to note that the A101 tablet is new, but that the A100 tablet launched last year in Russia.