HTC has formally announced its latest smartphone, the HTC U12+. Wait a second - what happened to the HTC U12? Well, there isn't one. HTC is launching the U12+ with that name, so that you know it's big, it's new and it's a competitor to other "+" devices on the market, namely, the one from Samsung.

As such, HTC is saying that this is the flagship moment: you don't have to wait for another phone to appear as soon as this one has launched, you can rest assured that this is the 2018 flagship. 

Here's everything you need to know about HTC's latest and greatest phone.

HTC U12+ release date and price

  • Announced on 23 May 2018
  • £699 price in the UK for 64GB version

Formally announced on 23 May, HTC has confirmed that its new flagship phone will cost £699 in 64GB guise.

We'll be rounding up all the pre-order details and the best deals on this new phone as soon as we have all the details from the networks, but HTC has yet to confirm a date that it will be available.

HTC U12+ design

  • IP68 water and dust protection
  • Liquid Surface glass rear
  • Ceramic Black, Flame Red or Translucent Blue colours
  • 156.6 x 73.9 x 8.7-9.7mm, 188g
  • Squeezable sides

The HTC U12+ is an evolution of the HTC U11+ design, with a Liquid Surface glass back, this time offered in three colours at launch. Those colours are Ceramic Black, Flame Red and Translucent Blue. 

The Translucent model lets you see a little of the internal components through the rear, but there's a sci-fi blue hue to things. It's nice and geeky and we love it. Meanwhile the Flame Red is the most striking of the models, changing from red to gold as you move it around. THat's all thanks to the layers of colouring in the glass back of this phone. 

HTC has avoided a notch display design, so this 6-inch phone is a little larger than some recent rivals, preserving something of a chin and forehead above and below the display. At the top there's both front cameras and the speaker, so it's not wasted space. The side bezels have been trimmed, however, with HTC using a new forming technique to bring the edge of the display closer to the edge of the handset. 

While the glass front and rear meet the metal core, it's actually the sides of the phone that offer the innovation. The buttons are no longer mechanical, instead they are pressure-sensitive with haptic feedback, which we've not seen before. They are lovely to use.

This plays to the HTC U12+'s unique element which is Edge Sense, letting you squeeze the phone in a number of different ways to get responses - more on that later.

The whole thing offers IP68 protection and no, there's no 3.5mm headphone socket. 

HTC U12+ display

  • 6-inch LCD display
  • 18:9 aspect, 2880 x 1440 pixels, 537ppi
  • HDR 10 support

The HTC U12+ has a 6-inch Quad HD+ LCD display. It has an 18:9 design, offering a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels, for 537ppi, making it one of the higher resolution flagships out there. It's only really the LG G7 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+ that offer these resolutions, with many choosing FHD+ instead.

HTC has stuck with LCD and it appears to be great quality. While it might not have those wow-factor colours that AMOLED is pushing, it does look very natural and HTC's flagships over the past years have been good at offering a fuss-free display with few compromises. This display is also HDR compatible, so it will potentially support the likes of Netflix or YouTube in HDR.

HTC has chosen not to use a notch design which has been widely adopted in smartphones following the launch of the iPhone X in 2017, which gives it a mite more conventionality.

HTC U12+ hardware specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • 6GB RAM and up to 256GB storage + microSD
  • 3,500mAh battery with fast charging
  • Rear fingerprint scanner

 It's no surprise - and very welcome - to find the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 at the heart of the U12+. We've been really impressed with the 845 devices we've encountered so far in 2018 and it looks like the HTC U12+ will join their ranks in offering plenty of power. It's backed by 6GB RAM and will start at 64GB storage, but also offering microSD allowing easy and cheap expansion. 

The battery capacity is 3500mAh and it supports Quick Charge 3.0. This isn't the largest capacity around - you'll find the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro offering 4000mAh and it's still often the case that the bigger the battery the better. 

We mentioned that there's no 3.5mm headphone socket, instead you'll have to use the USB Type-C on the base for music and changing, with HTC's USonic headphones in the box. These will tune to your individual ears while also offering active noise cancellation. 

BoomSound Hi-Fi edition ensures that the speakers on this phone will sound great, there's Hi-Res support as well the aptHD and LDAC support for higher quality wireless audio. 

HTC U12+ software

  • Android 8 Oreo with HTC Sense
  • Edge Sense 2
  • Amazon Alexa, HTC Sense Companion, Google Assistant
  • Upgradable to Android P

In recent years HTC has been stripping back Sense, reducing bulk and duplication and returning closer to Android. That was evident in the HTC 10 and more recent devices and the HTC U12+ very much follows suit. In fact, it's close to the U11 devices, only getting a few additional apps, like UA Record. 

There's still a lot going on however. HTC provides access to Alexa, including voice activation so you can use Amazon's AI rather than Google's. Of course, Google Assistant is also available, but few devices offer an Alexa experience that's baked so deep as HTC. If you're an Alexa fan, it makes sense.

What HTC isn't saying so much about this time around is HTC Sense Companion. When the U11 was launched there was a sense that HTC was about to invent its own AI wheel. At our introduction to the HTC U12+ it wasn't even mentioned, although it's still in the device. When we get to full review stage, we'll be sure to see whether it has a role to play. 

What's more interesting is that HTC is already talking about Android P. The update of recent devices has actually been pretty good - especially as the portfolio slims - and we're hoping there's a fast move to support the latest version of Android later in the year.

But the most exciting thing is Edge Sense 2.0. This takes the idea of squeezable sides and boosts - there are more zones to squeeze as well more types of interaction. Where the previous iteration felt a little gimmicky, you can now do a lot more, so it's more enticing. It's also unique to this device, not something that older HTC devices will get.

HTC U12+ camera action

  • 12-megapixel, 1.4µm UltraPixel 4, f/1.75 main camera; 16-megapixel, 1.0µm, f/2.6 50mm zoom camera
  • Dual 8-megapixel, 1.12µm, f/2.0 front cameras

The HTC U12+ sees the return to dual cameras, following the company's instigation of this trend in 2014 with the HTC One M8. It's been a long time coming, but HTC is finally jumping back in to offer more cameras and compete with everyone else out there. 

The main camera is similar to the HTC U11, which was actually very good, so we've got high hopes for the 12-megapixel camera on the back. It's equipped with 1.4µm pixels which are nice and large to boost low light capture and are behind the UltraPixel 4 naming. That naming was something that HTC start on the HTC One M7, and really all it signifies is that this camera has larger pixel cites for better low light capture. The big f/1.75 aperture should help that.

Now the second camera is a 16-megapixel sensor with a 50mm lens, which equates to about 2x lossless zoom. You'll note that this has smaller pixels and a smaller aperture, so it's not going to be effective in lower light - but we're yet to see exactly how it will be managed (Samsung switches to digital zoom in low light on the Galaxy S9+ for example, to avoid producing poor quality low light zoom shots).

Together these camera will be able to give you depth mapping, so you will be able to take all of those bokeh portraits that have become popular, with a range of selective focus modes.

Flip to the front camera and you're again graced with two cameras. This pairing of 8MP cameras means more data for front portraits so you can take the ultimate selfie - as well as playing a part in the Face Unlock system that the U12+ offers.