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HTC unveils mid-range Desire phones

TAIPEI -- HTC Corp. unveiled two new smartphones in its mid-range Desire series at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Spain on Monday, along with an initiative that aims to create a super computer with mobile computing power.

The first edition of the new-look HTC Desire family, the Desire 816, comes with HTC's dual-frontal speakers, HTC BoomSound for high audio quality and HTC BlinkFeed, which keeps users up-to-date with the latest news and social updates, the company said in a statement.

The 5.5-inch Desire 816 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core 1.6GHz processor, features a 13-megapixel rear camera and offers a wide range of 4G LTE connectivity, including the 700 MHz frequency that will soon be introduced in Taiwan.

“The HTC Desire 816 marks the beginning of an exciting new era for the mid-tier,” said HTC CEO Peter Chou. “It is bringing genuine choice to the category by delivering stunning design and high-end performance at unbelievable value.”

The Taiwanese phone vendor also launched the lower-end Desire 610, a 4.7-inch smartphone equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core 1.2GHz processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera and full support of 4G LTE connectivity.

The Desire 816 will be available with the latest version of HTC's Sense software suite in China from March and in global markets from April, while the Desire 610 will be available across Europe from May, according to HTC. Pricing for the phones was not disclosed.

The 2013 models of the Desire series were priced at between NT$12,900 (US$426) and NT$4,990 in Taiwan.

Also at the MWC annual tech fair, HTC announced the “HTC Power To Give” initiative, a mobile-based volunteer computing project that aims to create a supercomputer by harnessing the collective processing power of Android smartphones.

Currently in beta, the project aims to galvanize smartphone owners to unlock their unused processing power in order to help answer some of society's biggest questions, including the fight against cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer's, HTC said. People can join the initiative through a few simple steps, HTC said.

After downloading the HTC Power To Give app from the Google Play store, smartphone owners can select the research program to which they will divert a portion of their phone's processing power, and the app will then run while the phone is charging and connected to a Wi-Fi network.

The beta version of the app will initially be compatible with the HTC One family, the HTC Butterfly and the HTC Butterfly S, and will be more widely available to owners of other HTC Android smartphones in the coming six months, according to the company.

HTC said that 1 million HTC One smartphones contributing to the HTC Power To Give project could provide the same processing power as that of one of the world's 30 supercomputers.

This could drastically shorten the research cycles for organizations that would otherwise have to spend years analyzing the same volume of data, potentially bringing forward important discoveries in vital areas by weeks, months or years, HTC explained.

“We've often used innovation to bring about change in the mobile industry, but this program takes our vision one step further,” said HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang.

“With HTC Power To Give, we want to make it possible for anyone to dedicate their unused smartphone processing power to contribute to projects that have the potential to change the world,” she said.

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This undated photo released by HTC shows models of its latest smartphone series, Desire 816. The Taiwan-based phone maker unveiled two new smartphones in its mid-range Desire series at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Spain on Monday. (CNA)

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