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HTC to launch plastic version of the One M8 phone on local market

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's HTC Corp. (宏達電) launched a cheaper plastic model of its One M8 flagship smartphone in Taiwan Monday in a bid to create new sales momentum in the second half of the year.

The HTC One (E8), a more colorful version of the metal-cased flagship model, costs about half as much at NT$14,900 (US$498), although both phones have similar specifications.

In Taiwan, the new model will go on sale at HTC stores on July 24 and via major local telecom operators on Aug. 1.

It is equipped with a 5-inch 1080p full-HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz quad-core processor, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front camera, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in memory and a 2,600 mAh battery.

The E8 also supports full-spectrum 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity in Taiwan, including the 700 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands.

HTC's introduction of the E8 is seen as geared primarily toward price-sensitive markets like China, but the company is also seeking to maintain sales in the last half of the year in markets where the life cycle of premium phones appears to be shrinking.

Concurrently, rumors suggested that HTC was prepping an Android wearable device of its own.

According to reports, the rumored smartwatch has a conventional square shape and the watchbands are presumably interchangeable, which allows users to attach whichever 22-millimeter material they like.

Foreign news wires earlier also reported that Asustek is developing Google-powered wristwear with a target price of between US$99 and US$149, or at least US$50 less than LG's relatively low-priced G Watch, saying that it would have an active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) screen like Samsung's Gear Live.

ASUS had also hinted that it could use gesture controls in a smartwatch on top of the usual taps and swipes. The device would show up in September, possibly around Europe's IFA tech expo, according to foreign wires reports.

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A showgirl holds an HTC One E8 smartphone at a product-launching event in Taipei, yesterday. The handset is priced at NT$14,900 off contract, and will commence sales later this week on Thursday. (CNA)

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