The HTC U11 is HTC flagship for 2017, taking the U name of it's liquid surface playmates launched earlier in 2017 and clicking up incrementally over the 2016 HTC 10.
Here's everything you need to know about HTC's new squeezy phone.
- HTC U Ultra review: Premium phablet packed with power
- HTC U Play preview: Mid-range specs, but plenty bling
HTC U11: Edge navigation and a new UI
- Pressure sensitive frame
- Edge Sense
The HTC U11 first leaked under the codename "Ocean" and the thing that made it different was a new method of interaction that let you use the body of the phone, rather than just the buttons and display. That's now evolved into a reality, with the HTC U11 offering Edge Sense.
Edge Sense relies on the body of the phone being sensitive to pressure, meaning you can squeeze the phone to elicit a response. You'll be able to squeeze the phone to launch the camera or take a photo, as well as being able to instantly access Google Assistant without needing to use the hotword.
HTC will support a full range of native apps and services at launch, with full customisation options for the long or short presses offered. From July, HTC will release an app that will let you use Edge Sense with any app on your phone.
You can customise the pressure of a squeeze so that you don't trigger it through normal gripping. HTC says that squeezing is a natural interaction, meaning there's nothing to learn when you want to use this new method of interaction.
HTC U11: Design
- IP67 waterproofing
- Unique Liquid surface finish
- 16:9 aspect display
- Front fingerprint scanner
The HTC U11 makes a shift in design for HTC flagships. We've seen a run of unibody metal phones from the HTC One M7 through four generations. The HTC U11 is glass front and back with a metal core.
The glass rear is what HTC is calling "liquid surface" where it looks like liquid, changing in the light thanks to the depth of the glass and the reflective properties of the metal elements used in forming the glass. The colours shimmer and change, looking different from every angle, for a totally unique look. Yes, it will attract fingerprints, but there's nothing like it.
The metal core runs through to make up the edges of the phone, fusing the glass front and back together. HTC has stuck to a conventional 16:9 display, so this is a "normal" shaped phone, unlike the taller Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6 handsets.
Making a timely introduction is waterproofing, with an IP67 rating for this handset. As this handset supports squeezing too, HTC has said that this is a great thing for when the phone is wet, because touchscreens don't work so well when wet.
There's also a front fingerprint scanner, sitting in the same location as the HTC 10.
HTC U11: Hardware and specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
- 64GB storage + microSD
- USB Type-C and no 3.5mm headphone socket
- 3000mAh battery
The HTC U11 launches a little later in the year than the HTC 10, because the company wanted to wait for the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. So equipped, it comes with either 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, or 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. It's not clear which territories will have the option to buy which model, or if everyone will have the choice.
There's support for microSD expansion of the storage, with the option for dual SIM if you use a separate SIM rather than microSD.
There's no 3.5mm headphone socket on the HTC U11, using the USB Type-C instead. There is an adapter bundled in the box, however, and the adapter has a DAC, meaning that your old 3.5mm headphones will sound better. HTC also bundled its high-res USonic headphones, which offer active noise cancellation and will automatically tune themselves to your ears and the world around you.
The USB Type-C support Quick Charge 3.0 to power up the 3000mAh battery.
HTC U11: Display
- 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 pixels
- Gorilla Glass 5
- Super LCD 5
HTC opted for a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution on the HTC 10, but now steps up to larger size, sitting at 5.5-inches, with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution, for 534ppi.
HTC is sticking to using its favoured Super LCD 5 panel, rather than OLED. This panel performed well in the HTC 10, but doesn't have the vibrancy and punch of the AMOLED displays you'll find elsewhere. There's also no mention of HDR, something that been targeted by rivals. Not so with HTC.
The display is finished with 2.5D curves to the edge and is Gorilla Glass 5 for protection.
HTC U11: Software
- Android Nougat with HTC Sense
- Google Assistant
- Amazon Alexa
- HTC Sense Companion
- Edge Sense
We've already mentioned that HTC will be supporting the U11 with the new Edge Sense features. This is one of the more noticeable changes from the existing version of the software you'll find running on the updated HTC 10.
HTC Sense sits over Android Nougat on the U11, but doesn't bring a huge number of changes. There's tweaks throughout, but HTC isn't duplicating and bundling in extra apps, so it's fairly clean. BlinkFeed, HTC Connect, USonic and BoomSound are all in place to keep you connected and entertained.
HTC is also offering Google Assistant on the HTC U11, in addition to Amazon Alexa. This will give you a choice of hotwords to launch the assistant you want. Google Assistant will be available from launch, but Alexa will be coming in an update in July. The advantage that Alexa offers, is that if you're already setup with an Echo, then Alexa already knows the sort of things you might want to do, like turn off the lights.
- What is Google Assistant, how does it work, and when can you use it?
HTC is also pushing Sense Companion as an assistant to help manage your phone. There will be additions for smart alarms and more detail on your phone usage coming in June.
HTC U11: Cameras
- 12-megapixel rear camera, 1.4µm pixels, f/1.7, OIS
- 16-megapixel front camera, f/2.0, 150-degree wide angle
- HDR Boost
The HTC 10 camera was pretty good, but HTC has changed gear on the front camera, packing in a 16-megapixel sensor for your selfies. That was the same as the HTC U Ultra, here offering a 150-degree wide angle, so you can get all your friends in too.
The rear cameras remains at 12-megapixels. There's no dual lens or anything else, with HTC keeping it simple and to the point. The point here is that you're getting a f/1.7 aperture sensor with 1.4µm pixels and optical image stabilisation.
HTC's really talking up the speed of autofocus and the HDR Boost function, meaning you get the benefit of zero-lag HDR, so you should get great photos instantly with no messing around. HTC has also boasted a DxO score of 90, the highest for any smartphone ever.
HTC U11: Release date and price
The HTC U11 was announced officially on 16 May 2017 and will be on sale from 18 May in some regions, although we're awaiting details of the exact availability in the UK, it's likely to be in early June.
The HTC U11 is expected to cost £649 in the UK for the 64GB version.