Some might say that HTC is slightly out of phase, launching the HTC U11 alongside a number of other flagship devices in 2017, but then launching the HTC U11+ late in 2017, so it arrives as other manufacturers are dropping prices and preparing 2018 launches.
We're not expecting the HTC U12 (as we're calling it) to appear any time soon, but there's already talk about what this handset might offer.
HTC U12: What will it be called?
There's very little evidence so far to suggest that it's going to be called the HTC U12 - aside from a DigiTimes report; HTC has moved from HTC One M9 to HTC 10 to HTC U11, so things are rather random and difficult to predict.
There are rumours of a codename however, and it might be HTC Imagine.
It's Imagine. What did I win? ;) https://t.co/S9nOzxRLoA— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 28, 2018
While not a go-to-market name, it's something to keep an eye on.
HTC U12: Design
HTC's most recent devices have used Liquid Surface, that unique glass to give a look that you won't find anywhere else. It's high quality and it looks great, shimmering and reflecting the light as you move the phone around.
We'd expect IP68 water protection as found on the HTC U11+, but we're also expecting HTC's focus to be on slimming down the bezels of its phone. That means it's likely to stick to the 18:9 display of the HTC U11+, looking to move closer to the edges.
The outline of HTC's new phone appeared in a reported leak, although there's very little to go on - essentially just a black oblong with slick 2.5D edges to the glass - not dissimilar to the Google Pixel 2 XL in fact.
While the outline above doesn't reveal much - and could be anything in reality - reports of an unreleased HTC device doing the rounds give us a little more to go on.
Spotted at an event in Taiwan, the device appears to have some tape concealing some of the design, while it's also encased in part, but to does appear slimmer than the HTC U11+, which was a little on the fat side. The even was for 5G, with this unannounced HTC device demonstrating 800Mbps speeds.
Sadly, there's little more to discover from this rare appearance of an unreleased phone.
HTC U12 display
The general consensus is that the original image above displays "very narrow bezels", but all it really shows is edge-to-edge glass, with no indication how the visible display space is then framed under the glass. Imposing an 18:9 image within that space gives us the result below and this looks pretty close to that real world leak from Taiwan.
We think that HTC will stick to 18:9 and we suspect it will be LCD, partly because of price, but also because HTC has a long history working with LCD - and the results aren't too bad (red ghosting in night mode is our biggest complaint).
There's been a rumour that HTC will be putting a 4K display into this phone, something that so far has only been approached by Sony in its Xperia Premium models. This rumour has appeared twice so far, although it would seem a strange move, when there doesn't seem a huge demand for a jump in resolution.
HTC U12 hardware and specs
There's been little or no discussion of what might power the HTC U12, but the safe bet is that the company will turn to the latest Qualcomm platform, the Snapdragon 845.
Otherwise it's difficult to call exactly where the specs will head: 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage with microSD card support wouldn't be a surprise.
USB Type-C will be there and we wouldn't expect to see a 3.5mm headphone socket - HTC has moved on. With that in mind, HTC's USonic headphones are likely, along with the self-tuning audio profile and noise cancellation.
BoomSound HiFi edition with stereo speakers is likely, using the ear speaker and a speaker on the bass to create this big sound.
HTC U12 camera
When it comes to the camera, it's difficult to know which direction HTC is heading in. The company has said that it is returning to dual cameras. This was something that HTC basically invented with the HTC One M8 back in the day.
HTC President Chialin Chang is quoted as saying that a dual camera devices is incoming in 2018, but then the company announced the HTC U11 Eyes - with dual front cameras. So is there another dual-camera device?
Outside of those snippets, there's very little to go on, but we suspect HTC will stick to a main 12-megapixel rear camera, given the better results it has been achieving with recent devices like the U11 and U11+.
HTC U12 release date
It looks like the release of new flagship phones in 2018 is a little more spaced out than some previous years. Although it looks like Samsung is gearing up to launch the S9, there's been plenty of discussion about companies like LG waiting a little longer.
For HTC, there's rumours of an event some time in March or April and the general feeling is that HTC never wanted to go head-to-head with Samsung at Mobile World Congress (a common launch venue for new phones).
Currently, there's no real concrete information on when this happens, only confirmation that it's not at Mobile World Congress.