After being so early to the dual-camera game that the company later had to abandon it, HTC plans to return to producing phones with dual-camera systems sometime next year. Engadget reports that HTC’s smartphone division president, Chialin Chang, says the company will “definitely be releasing a dual-camera phone next year, but we'll need to figure out how to make this feature stand out.”
The quote seems to perfectly encapsulate the perpetual problem that HTC faces. Though it continually makes some really solid offerings, they often struggle to stand out in a crowded marketplace dominated by Samsung, Apple, and LG.
It probably stings that HTC beat everyone to the dual camera game, only to pull out right before Apple began to popularize it. HTC shipped its first dual-camera phone in 2011 and used the second sensor to offer 3D effects. By 2014, HTC had figured out the depth effects that are now popular, but it instead pitched them as a way to refocus photos and offer, again, a limited 3D effect, instead of the portrait modes that are now popular. HTC’s last dual camera phone came in 2015, a year before Apple popularized dual cameras with the iPhone 7 Plus.
It sounds like even HTC isn’t sure what it can do to make a dual camera system seem special in 2018. In the past, they helped to distinguish HTC’s phones, even if the feature wasn’t all that widely loved. But now, dual cameras are becoming a standard feature on flagship devices. There’s clearly a lot of room to experiment with software effects here, but if HTC couldn’t make dual cameras stand out before they were popular, it’s probably going to have a tough time making them stand out when they’re an expected feature.