The HTC U11 is the company's new flagship, and you can squeeze it!


Early 2017's HTC U Ultra and U Play were a pair of devices designed to usher the Taiwanese giant into a new era of smartphones. For a number of reasons, however, consumers weren't really happy with this new direction, so up until now HTC was in need of a new hit. Enter the HTC U11 – a solid flagship with a number of unique features, it might just prove to be exactly what HTC needs right now.

At a cursory glance, the U11 looks to be an amalgamation of its predecessor, the HTC 10, and its siblings in the U line, a theory proven right by its peculiar name, seemingly specifically chosen to underscore the device's origins. But look under the surface, and you'll find an entirely new type of user interaction, called Edge Sense, which lets you squeeze the device to perform context-sensitive actions.

But more on that in a bit; first, let's take a look at the HTC U11's specs:

PlatformAndroid 7.1 Nougat
Dimensions, Weight 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm, 169 g
Display5.5 inch, Quad HD Super LCD 5 (2560 x 1440)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM4 GB (6 GB in some Asian countries)
CamerasRear: Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7)
Front: 16MP (F1.7)
Storage64 GB (128 GB in some Asian countries)
Battery3,000 mAh
Special featuresIP67-certified, Edge Sense

Design


As mentioned, the U11 is something of a mix of old and new: look from the front, and you'll no doubt be reminded of the HTC 10: the screen-to-body ratio is about the same, and so is the off-center button placement below the display. We've also got the front-facing camera and the earpiece, both of which are slightly smaller. What is new, however, is the curved, Gorilla Glass 5 panel, which gives off a much softer impression than its predecessor. The screen itself is a 5.5-inch, Quad-HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) LCD panel, which is an upgrade in terms of size when compared with the HTC 10, while the bezels surrounding it now also come in just one color: black.

Turn the phone around, however, and you'll see a look strikingly similar to the U Play, but in a slightly bigger package. There's the regular camera sensor and flash module, but the centerpiece is the device's outer shell itself: the U11 comes in a number striking colors with an extra glossy finish, which, just like on the U Ultra and U Play, makes the phone amazingly shiny and impossible to miss. The back of the phone also comes in one of five different colors: black, red, blue, silver, and white, though availability will vary by region.

The metal frame surrounding the device blends seamlessly with the front and back glass panels, giving off a nice impression and making it comfortable to hold as well. On the bottom lies a single speaker, along with a USB-C connector, though, as expected, no 3.5 mm audio jack is present. The right side of the phone houses your regular volume and power buttons, as well as the sensors used by Edge Sense.

Under the hood



With the U11, HTC seems to be going all-out in terms of specs. This is a definite flagship: running inside is the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, coupled with 4 GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage (though a 6 GB/128 GB version will also be available in some Asian markets). In terms of battery, the U11 doesn't really impress that much – 3,000 mAh is okay, but only real-life testing can prove whether it's enough.

The HTC U11 is IP67-certified, which, despite being the same protection as the iPhone 7's, is still less than a few of its flagship competitors. What that means is that the phone is dust- and splash-proof, but submerging it in water may damage it.

HTC also hasn't given up on a thing it was once famous for: audio. While there are no front-facing speakers to be found on its latest flagship, there are still a number of tricks hidden up its sleeve. Firstly, there's a Hi-Res custom DAC, just like on the HTC 10, which is coupled with the company's own BoomSound Hi-Fi edition post-processing technology. Secondly, the phone itself is equipped with four separate microphones which allow for what HTC calls "3D Audio recording".

Just like the U Ultra, the U11 supports the company's own USonic earphones, which automatically adapt to each user's preference. This time around, however, they're also equipped with active noise cancellation, though the USB-C connector remains the same, for obvious reasons. Those who would like to use their own pair will be pleased to learn that HTC is bundling the U11 with a USB-to 3.5 mm adapter in the box.

Cameras



The rear shooter of the HTC U11 doesn't pack a trendy dual-camera module, but is an evolution on the company's previous offerings instead. It's a third-generation UltraPixel, 12 MP shooter, which in real-life terms means that HTC dropped the laser-assisted autofocus and replaced it with Dual Pixel technology, which should make focusing faster than before. The aperture, at F/1.7, is wider than the HTC 10, but the sensor itself is smaller.

The front camera actually packs more megapixels per photo with its 16 MP sensor. Or in other words, the device's cameras are in a similar configuration to that of the HTC U Ultra, which should be good news for smartphone camera enthusiasts.

The camera software itself packs all the bells and whistles one would expect form a flagship: there's a Pro mode with RAW format support, HDR, a panorama mode, Hyperlapse, slo-mo video (120 fps @ 1080p), and 4K video recording with the aforementioned 3D Audio, as well as a feature HTC calls "Acoustic focus".

Edge Sense



But the standout feature for the phone is indisputably what HTC calls Edge Sense, which is prominent in most, if not all of the U11's marketing, and which presents an entirely new way to interact with your phone. In simple terms, it's essentially a set of pressure sensors along the edges of the device, which trigger certain actions when the user squeezes it.

In reality, it functions like a customizable hardware button: a squeeze performs a user-definable action, like, say, opening an app. Different squeezes may result in a different action, with control being limited to a short or a long squeeze. Users can also adjust how much force is required for a squeeze to register.

Unfortunately, however, squeezing in different spots doesn't yield different results, meaning a top squeeze and a bottom squeeze are equal. However, the functionality is still context-sensitive to an extent, as certain apps can bind it to specific actions when the app is in use. For example, squeezing the frame while inside Camera results in a photo being taken, which can be pretty convenient in certain situations.

Expectations, price and release date


The HTC U11 is the 2017 flagship from the company, following the U Ultra's failure on the market. It does a lot of things right, and it might just be what needed to be done for HTC to become a serious contender in the smartphone race again. Still, it's now up to the company to market it well, as a solid, simple device that both channels the past and looks to the future.

However, the U11 costs $650, which is considerably less than the U Ultra's high asking launch price. Or in other words, the HTC U11 might have just overcome its biggest hurdle already, given that it also costs less than both the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, which are its main competitors. As for availability, HTC said in its press conference that the U11 will be released as early as next week in select regions, while the rest of the world will get it in June.



FEATURED VIDEO

22 Comments

1. w1000i

Posts: 247; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

Above expectation

7. Phonehex

Posts: 763; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

Nope. 2017 ...just processor bump means nothing. Dated design in comparison to G6 and S8 .In reality 99.999% of the people don't care about squeezing and hi fi mics and blah. Definitely wont be successful .Maybe next time HTC.

2. ijuanp03

Posts: 594; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

All THE best specs you want on a smartphone is in the HTC U11. The question here is not whether the phone will live up to your expectation but if HTC WILL finally spend more on marketing the phone properly. How would normal consumers buy this awesome phone if they don't even know it exists? :(

3. arsaliqbal

Posts: 5; Member since: May 16, 2017

To be very honest i was expecting less because htc always screw things up ... but it is turn out to be pretty impressive device

9. AmashAziz

Posts: 2923; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Masla price ke saath hai.

13. nh1402

Posts: 138; Member since: Oct 30, 2013

translation: The problem is with the price. literal translation: problem price is with the.

14. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

It means, it comes with a price.

15. AmashAziz

Posts: 2923; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

HAHAHAHAHAHAH

4. IronTech

Posts: 153; Member since: May 27, 2016

I love squeezing! :D

5. fyah_king unregistered

That battery life is gonna need some squeezing.

6. Mr.Torture

Posts: 25; Member since: Apr 15, 2014

And another brand goes bland iPhone-ish roundy design route. Amazing. Now we have 38 iPhone-looking phones on market, all claiming to have groundbreaking design. Being product designer must feel awesome these days, just sitting in your chair, copying, stealing, recycling the same UNORIGINAL design over and over again.

10. AmashAziz

Posts: 2923; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

The iPhone has an original design

18. Guaire

Posts: 886; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Nobody can say that design is original, but it doesn't look like an iPhone either.

8. AmashAziz

Posts: 2923; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

No kaloyan, submerging it in water won't damage it like the way you said it. Atleast do some research before posting wrong stuff. IP67 cert. Means it can be submerged in upto 3.3 feet of water for 30 mins. Please remember to google such stuff before posting the wrong info and confusing others. You're a journalist, remember that.

17. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

Whether it's the S8, G6, iP7, or this device there is always a risk that submerging a phone may damage it. That's the reason they're not called waterproof.

19. AmashAziz

Posts: 2923; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

No phone is water proof. The reason you stated for phones not being called waterproof is totally wrong. The correct answer is; they aren't called waterrpoof because water can seep inside of them at a higher pressure level. They are called water resistant for this reason. Nothing in the world is waterproof until water cannot get inside of it at any pressure.

20. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

I'm well aware that the pressure is the key in the ease of egress into advice. I was under the impression that speaking generally would have been clear enough, but I suppose I'll be more specific next time.

21. AmashAziz

Posts: 2923; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Yeah I understand that. It's obvious submerging any phone risks it being damaged by water if the sealing isn't proper. However, in proper sealing, things should go as marketed by the designer. And, are you TerryTerius, the one and only? I was sceptical while writing my previous comment fearing I am going against Terry, but did not have confirmation.............

22. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

Yeah, I had to make another account because my other one was banned for some reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ oh well. True, they should operate as advertised. But I have imagine using the term "resistant" also gives them some legal protection in case their devices fail under conditions they are rated for. If they have not claimed that is impossible for water to seep in, they can't face any kind of legal backlash in case it does.

11. AgentZero

Posts: 314; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

no headphone jack .. no buy ... its like removing the USB C port because of wireless charging and moving files over wifi ... -_-

12. monoke

Posts: 1161; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

You know this phone is already azz backwards with a higher mp count front than back. This is something mid range or feature phones do. Wth is the logic?

16. gehrig

Posts: 423; Member since: Apr 17, 2014

It's beautiful.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.