Got yourself a HTC phone at the moment? If you have then there’s sadly not enough of you. Earlier in the year I took a look at the current HTC phones – namely the HTC U Play and HTC U Ultra. They’re properly gorgeous things. Polished, well designed but, unfortunately, not on shelves in many of the major stores.
Fortunes have changed quite significantly for HTC. Competitors have pushed ahead and previously little-known brands such as Huawei and Honor have now got their phones ranged by the major networks. Meanwhile HTC fans have had to resort to purchasing their handsets directly from the HTC website instead.
Here then, and please don’t ask me why it’s called this, is the HTC U11. As you’ll see from these shots, it’s another polished and glossy product. HTC call that finish “Liquid Surface”. Nice huh?
It is, without doubt, a flagship phone. The specs include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 64-bit octa-core CPU running up to 2.45GHz. There’s a chunky 64GB storage (plus a microSD slot for more) and 4GB of memory, a 5.5″ Quad HD (2560 x 1440) Super LCD screen with 3D Corning Gorilla Glass and it’s IP67 water and dust proof.
Weighing in at 169 grams and measuring 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm, it runs Android 7.1 with HTC Sense and comes with something called “HTC Edge Sense” to translate your gentle squeeze into actions on the phone. Easy Peasy HTC Squeezy.
Describing this feature, Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, tells us..
The handset’s most distinctive feature – a squeezable ‘scroll and select’ function – is a considered play for users who crave the full use of their screen.
The key here is to make sure the functionality of the Edge Sense is integral to the phone’s overall functionality, as well as can be leveraged by third-party apps, otherwise users could pretty quickly find it a tacked-on fad.
Here’s a look at it in action…
You edge at the lower half of the phone responds to pressure. You can adjust the level of pressure in the settings and there’s two gestures – a quick squeeze or a long squeeze. You can activate the camera, fire up voice activation or something else.
HTC Sense Companion, which pops up with suggestions based on the things you do, is also in there. The Amazon Alexa voice assistant, listening through four microphones, with wait for the “Alexa” keyword and will respond to your queries. You can though, if you wish, still use Google Assistant.
Camera-wise it’s a 12 megapixel HTC UltraPixel unit with “UltraSpeed Autofocus”, a BSI sensor and Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) plus an f/1.7 aperture and dual LED flash. There’s a stack of features including face detection, hyperlapse and slow-mo video. There’s also a professional mode with long exposure and RAW format support. Up front you get a 16 megapixel shooter with “Auto Selfie” and a live make-up feature. Both cameras have an “HDR Boost” option for making your pictures shine. This constantly calculates the correct light balance for your shots which means, guess what, no post-processing and wait-time after snapping a photo.
For your music, HTC have delivered Active Noise Cancellation in a system called “HTC USonic” and there’s a Hi-Fi sound. The earphones, according to the company, are the most advanced ever built for personal audio. As we’ve seen with HTC handsets before, you get to set up the audio balance with a step-through ultrasound guide before using them in anger. This ensures that they’re tuned for your ears.
Keep an eye on those supplied headphones, because there’s no 3.5mm audio port.
Thanks to that Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU you also get up to 1Gbps 4G speeds – something we chatted to EE CEO, Marc Allera, about during Mobile World Congress as they tested it with another 835-packing phone – the Sony Xperia XZ.
There’s everything else you’d expect to find in a top-end phone too. GPS, a fingerprint sensor up-front, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, USB C charging, NFC and a 3000mAh non-removable battery. That battery will charge quickly thanks to Quick Charge 3.0 and it gives a 24.5 hour talk time.
Other features include an extreme power saving mode, always-on voice commands, motion launch, a pocket mode and you can put it face down to mute.
OK, now for the even better news. This will be available in “Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black and Ice White” here in the UK from June. There’s also going to be a red one which will arrive later. Pricing is set at £649, and you can head to HTC.com/uk for more details or to pre-order one. It will also be available from launch at Carphone Warehouse, EE, O2, Amazon, Very.co.uk and Argos to name a few. Good to see EE and O2 picking it up, that’s for sure.
Head down for a picture gallery plus videos showing it in action. Full press release now available after the break..
HTC Unveils New Flagship Smartphone
Made for the Brilliant U: Meet the HTC U11
HTC U11 combines revolutionary new squeeze interaction with stunning liquid surface design, intelligent personal audio, amazing cameras, and multiple AI assistants for a smarter smartphone
TAIPEI – May 16, 2017 – Inspired by the power of touch and the Brilliant U, HTC today unveiled HTC U11, the world’s first smartphone with revolutionary new squeeze interaction. Made for “U” with design, materials, and experiences that reflect your inner drive, passion, creativity, and individuality, HTC U11 offers the most advanced features ever in a smartphone, including:
HTC Edge Sense, the next dimension in touch interaction with your phone.
Liquid Surface, a stunning, unique design that reflects you.
HTC USonic, our most advanced headset ever built for personal audio, now including Active Noise Cancellation.
Amazing cameras with the highest independent rating ever awarded to a smartphone camera1.
HTC Sense Companion, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa for a smarter, more helpful smartphone2.
All together, HTC U11 sets a new standard of what you can expect from a smartphone.
Few things are as natural and intuitive as the sense of touch. HTC Edge Sense transforms this fundamental sense into a completely new and revolutionary interaction with your phone. With a simple squeeze, HTC Edge Sense lets you easily engage with your phone in an unprecedented yet intuitive way, helping you more naturally enjoy the things you love like taking photos, opening Facebook, or launching any of your favorite apps.
For example, with HTC Edge Sense, launching your camera has never been easier. No more fumbling for buttons or awkward hand positions. No more worrying about dropping your phone while you pose. Just lift, squeeze, smile, and snap.
You can also send texts faster and easier than before. Texting can be impossible when you are on the move, but using HTC Edge Sense for Voice to Text, you can speak your text messages without having to slow down. Lightly squeeze, speak your message and send your texts on the go.
You can even customize the squeeze gesture: open email with just a squeeze. Or launch your favorite game (or any other app). Or pick any one of a host of options. Want even more touch control? HTC Edge Sense gives you the ability to activate advanced touch and use a “short squeeze” as well as a “squeeze and hold” for even more functionality at your fingertips.
And because Edge Sense is based on actual pressure applied to the side of the device, it can be used in nearly any condition – including while wearing gloves or in weather such as snow or rain that would normally be a challenge with capacitive buttons.
HTC U11’s liquid glass surface is crafted to impress using Optical Spectrum Hybrid Deposition. By layering highly-refractive precious minerals across the phone’s back cover, we’ve created vivid new colors that transforms light with every movement you make.
The new seamless, curved look of HTC U11 is achieved with 3D glass on both front and back. Heating and then bending the glass using extreme pressure results in unique, 3-axis symmetry for a phone that is slim no matter which way you hold it.
HTC U11 has a 5.5” Quad HD 3D glass screen designed for vivid, crisp images and text in any light – even direct sunlight. With our best display and true-to-life color reproduction, we provide you a purer full-framed viewing experience. Our display avoids the cropped pictures or distorted colors at the edge that are the results you can expect from a curved screen.
Plus, HTC U11 is water-resistant3, so no need to worry about splashes, spills, or dunks.
Tuned to U
HTC U11 introduces the latest version of HTC USonic, which now combines Active Noise Cancellation with the ability to tune audio to your unique hearing. By leveraging built-in microphones on the headset and USB-C data connectivity, USonic earbuds map your inner ear with an advanced sonar-like technology and then adapt the sound profile to your unique biology. This creates an incredibly personal and optimized listening experience with vibrant audio shaped specifically for you.
USonic now incorporates Active Noise Cancellation, which reduces disruptions and distractions around you, so you can stay focused on your music. Active Noise Cancellation continuously monitors environmental sound levels, and quickly adjusts to any new noises or disturbances. You’re free to stay focused on your music, videos, or games.
HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition speakers got an upgrade, too. We’ve improved the speaker design to deliver more loudness and better Dynamic Range Audio. On top, the tweeter now offers an acoustic chamber that allows the highs and mids to sound richer. While below, the woofer sports a new speaker and improved magnetic circuit design for louder, clearer and deeper bass tones. You really have to hear it to believe the power of BoomSound.
We didn’t forget to upgrade the microphones, either, using four optimally positioned omni-directional microphones together with our new Acoustic Focus technology, HTC brings you our best 3D audio recording quality yet. HTC U11’s microphones work together to record audio from all directions, and when shooting video with Acoustic Focus, you can visually zoom in to target your subject and amplify their specific sounds.
Out of the box, we will also ship an HTC USB-C to 3.5mm adapter with a built-in DAC that offers great audio performance and wide compatibility with all other devices and earphones.
Pictures that move U
HTC U11 has achieved the highest ever rating for a smartphone camera for both photo and video by independent metric DxOMark4. Our multi-axis optical stabilization system and super-fast autofocus in all lighting conditions make the camera quick, your pictures sharp, and videos smooth. We improved our camera and video for a more dynamic exposure range with HDR Boost without the lag, new white balance enhancement, a major reduction in noise, and excellent detail preservation.
HTC U11 introduces Auto HDR Boost to give you all the benefits of HDR without the lag. HDR Boost offers clearer, more balanced pictures by taking multiple shots that measure the darkest shadows and brightest highlights without any slowdown. HTC U11 enhances textures and colors, increases visible detail and brings out the best in every shot. When shooting video, Temporal Noise Reduction automatically uses information from the previous and next frames to remove unwanted noise and deliver the clearest video.
Great news for serious photographers: HTC U11 incorporates the new UltraSpeed AutoFocus with same full sensor auto-focus technology that’s found in top DSLR cameras, so you can enjoy significantly faster focus speeds, with snappy and delightful performance. In addition, HTC U11’s exceptional optical and electronic stabilization system will keep your photos and video steady and crisp even when your hand is shaking.
The new front camera now combines high-resolution 16MP detail and our UltraPixel light sensitivity for brilliant selfies day or night. It also utilizes the same powerful HDR Boost and noise reduction as the main camera.
The smarter digital companion for U
Three brains are better than one, so inside HTC U11 you can find three intelligent companions devoted to you: HTC Sense Companion, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa2. In mainland China, HTC U11 also offers Baidu DuerOS.
We’ve made HTC Sense Companion smarter than ever: it will get to know you and your daily patterns over time in order to offer you more convenience every day. For example, HTC Sense Companion is smart enough to notice if you have any late appointments that day and will remind you to recharge while you have time or bring a power bank. It will make sure your phone is running at its optimum speed by suggesting to clear junk files and unused apps for more free space. It will let you know if you need to dress for inclement weather conditions, track your fitness progress relative to your goals, recommend great nearby restaurants at mealtime, and much more5.
HTC U11 runs the latest version of Android, so it also includes Google Assistant, the helpful personal assistant powered by Google se arch and services for finding directions, getting answers, managing your tasks, planning your day, and entertainment.
HTC U11 is also the first smartphone on the market to feature hands-free wake word access to Amazon Alexa. By simply asking questions such as “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” or saying things like, “Alexa, turn on my living room lights,” Alexa will respond to your needs anywhere you go, making it easy to control smart home products, ask for news, weather, music, and the 12,000-plus skills in the Alexa skills store. The Alexa voice service is currently available to customers in the United States, U.K., and Germany.
And in mainland China, HTC and Baidu DuerOS have built a strategic partnership to create a voice-based virtual assistant with speech recognition and voice interaction to satisfy Chinese users’ needs, which can better understand Chinese people and help them find what they want.
HTC U11 is the first smartphone to be commercially released worldwide that is exclusively powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform. So no matter what region of the world you live in, you get an octa-core processor with breakthrough speeds, jaw-dropping graphics, impressively smooth performance and outstanding battery life. Every HTC U11 also includes UFS 2.1 for an extremely fast processor paired with the fastest memory performance. Experience Gigabit Class LTE (up to 1Gbps) with the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which is designed to deliver fiber optic speeds on the go for lightning-fast music and video downloads and to get almost instant access to the web, social media sites or your content in the cloud. You get 25% faster graphics than the HTC 10, with 35% or 3 hours more video playback, 30% or 8 hours more music playback and 43% or 3.5 hours longer web browsing time via a LTE network6.
A blazing fast processor with amazing camera and incredible HTC USonic sound means you’ll want a lot of storage for apps, games, photos, music, and entertainment: HTC U11 offers 4GB RAM/64GB storage and 6GB RAM/128GB storage options, so fun on your phone is always available.
HTC U11 also offers a fingerprint reader for enhanced privacy and security. Requiring just a few minutes to set up, the fingerprint reader will unlock your phone with the press of your finger – making it faster and easier to jot the note, capture the photo, or do anything you want with your phone on a moment’s notice.
The HTC U11, available in Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, and Solar Red, and will be available worldwide from May 2017 onward. Please see htc.com for detailed specifications and more information.