HTC U11 Flagship is World’s First ‘Squeezable’ Phone

Thomas Wellburn
May 16, 2017

The HTC U11 includes an updated reflective glass design, BoomSound and three personal assistants but sadly, no headphone jack.

The HTC U11 ships with a completely new design. Metal has been replaced with a 3D glass body, though the side trimmings are still metal. There’s more than a hint of the Galaxy S series in its design, however it also feels a lot like the HTC 10 which preceded it. Remove the glass and aesthetically, it’s still paying serious homage to its predecessor.

The lack of a headphone jack is, in our opinion, a cardinal sin. BoomSound is included on the HTC U11 but this time around, it only contributes to the stereo speakers. Built into the handset itself, they use the case as a surface with which to project sound. A 3.5mm connector with included DAC has been supplied to provide analogue audio via the USB-C port but this implementation still feels incredibly clunky. If you lose the connector, you’ve lost everything. HTC will be supplying a pair of U Sonic earphones in the box, which connect directly via USB-C.

The screen is a 5.5-inch IPS  Super LCD5 QHD screen, which on paper is the same panel used on the HTC 10. A new feature dubbed ‘edge sense’ a software has been included on the HTC U11, allowing users to squeeze the bottom half of the device to launch apps. This can be used to take pictures or bring up Google Assistant. It’s a strange implementation that feels somewhat unnatural initially but after a while, it becomes second nature.

On the topic of virtual assistants, an area that confuses us about the HTC U11 is artificial intelligence. The handset features no less than three assistants, which could be regarded as overkill. You’ll be getting Amazon Alexa, HTC Sense Companion and Google Assistant. Quite why you need all these we have no idea, but HTC seems to think there’s a reason. According to the company, Google Assistant is better for outdoor use while Amazon Alexa excels indoors. As for Sense… we guess they just threw that in because HTC.

The handset is powered by a Snapdragon 835, the current flagship from Qualcomm. Accompanying this is 4GB of RAM with 64GB internal memory, or 6GB of RAM with the 128GB model. Both versions offer expandable memory via microSD, up to a total of 2TB. These are solid hardware specs that should ensure it keeps up with the other flagships. Currently, the only other handsets out there which use a Snapdragon 835 are the American Samsung Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi Mi6.

The 12 megapixel main camera found on the HTC U11 is completely new, offering optical image stabilisation (OIS), smaller 1.4μm pixels but a higher f/1.7 aperture. The front-facing snapper has a huge 16 megapixel sensor, though OIS is no longer a feature this time around. Both snappers can be controlled via voice to take photos. Audio recording is supplied by four microphones surrounding the device, in what HTC calls ‘3D audio’.

Other features include IP67 water-resistance, a monster CAT 16 rating supporting speeds of 1Gbps and a 3,000mAh battery. The latter is a little disappointing considering that most other manufacturers are bumping capacity. The handset is larger than last years offering so we expected some of that space to be used for a larger battery.

The U11 will ship in four colours, all of which have that reflective chrome finish: amazing silver, sapphire blue, ice black and solar red. Solar red will be released a week after launch. Retail price is £649.99, putting it on a par with the LG G6 and £39 cheaper than the Galaxy S8. It will be available in the UK from June.

Via Mobile News

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