HTC has finally pulled the curtain on its brand’s new high-power flagship phone for 2017, the HTC U11, and it’s both familiar and completely new. The company’s newest Android handset borrows the style of earlier 2017 models, U Play and U Ultra, but houses improved specs alongside some very interesting innovation to the mix. Here’s what you need to know about the HTC 10’s successor.
HTC U11: WHAT’S NEW?
First things first, HTC U11’s center stage isn’t in the form of bezel reduction like what Samsung Galaxy S8 offers nor an HDR-ready display like the one found in LG G6. The Taiwan-based company has gone in a completely different direction— a gimmicky one for that matter.
Initially leaked under the codename “Ocean,” the key innovation here is a touch-sensitive frame that makes the HTC U11 the world’s first “squeezable” smartphone. Called the Edge Sense, the handset features an array of pressure sensors to allow a new method of interaction like squeezing the body of the phone, rather than pressing the physical buttons and display.
This can be configured to do a variety of tasks with either short or long squeezes. For instance, a short squeeze opens the camera while a long one launches the Google voice assistant or toggle the flashlight on and off.
Another of the U11’s biggest features is Amazon Alexa. Yes, the handset supports Google and Amazon’s virtual assistants so you can use whichever you like. Unfortunately for those eyeing Alexa, it will only be available 30 days after the phone’s release via Play Store update and even so, it will only be available in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.
HTC is integrating personal assistant Baidu Duer in the HTC U11 units sold in China in partnership with the Chinese search company Baidu.
HTC U11 DESIGN & BUILD
Looking beyond Edge Sense & Amazon Alexa, HTC U11 has actually a lot in common with HTC’s style-focused U range than the all-metal HTC 10. Instead of aluminum, the flagship is built in glass, front and back, save for its metal core.
The glass rear is what HTC calls the “liquid surface” as it resembles liquid which changes in the light thanks to the depth of the glass and the metal elements’ reflective properties. Depending on the angle, the colors shimmer and change giving it a totally unique look although it also attracts fingerprints.
— HTC Bro (@htcbro) May 16, 2017
Size-wise, HTC has stuck to a conventional 16:9 display, so this is a bit smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6 devices. It also has dust and waterproofing with an IP67 rating and a front fingerprint scanner which sits in the same location as the HTC 10.
HTC U11 HARDWARE & SPECS
People who are going to buy the device can expect the latest and greatest in smartphone specs. This includes the following:
- Snapdragon 835
- 4GB of memory and 64GB storage or 6GB RAM and 128GB storage (not available in the UK)
- 12-megapixel camera with Dual Pixel autofocus
- 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 Super LCD screen with Gorilla Glass 5
- 3,000mAh battery with Quickcharge 3.0 support
- Android Nougat
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 4G LTE
— HTC (@htc) May 16, 2017
The thing, though, is that the device has no headphone jack but it’s all for a reason: audio quality. Such has been one of HTC’s strengths for years, and to continue this, it’s bundling its own USonic in-ear buds that feature active noise-cancelling with HTC U11. There’s also a 3.5mm dongle with a built-in DAC that the phone maker claims should improve the sonics even when users are using other brands’ headphones.
HTCU 11 PRICE & RELEASE
Worldwide, the HTC U11 will be available starting this month in these colors:
- Amazing Silver
- Sapphire Blue
- Brilliant Black
- Ice White
- Solar Red.
Pricing will be revealed on a per market basis.
United States – The HTC U11 (in blue and black) will be carried by Sprint where it will go on pre-order starting today. Launching on June 9, it will cost $29/month on a two-year contract or $696 in total. Those who choose to pre-order will receive two free Amazon Dots, valued at $100.
Canada – The new handset will only be available unlocked directly from HTC’s e-commerce site, for $899 CAD. Shipping starts in early June.
United Kingdom – The flagship is coming to the UK in the first week of June at £649/$649 RRP (expected around AU$900). It will be available on Carphone Warehouse, Amazon, Very.co.uk, EE, O2, Argos and other online retailers.