2017 is turning out to be a great year for smartphones, particularly for brands in the Android industry. Now it is Taiwan-based company HTC’s turn to release their entry, and by the looks of it, they aren’t one to be left behind by the competition.
The HTC U11 is the first of its kind. This 2017 flagship phone is HTC’s way of convincing consumers that it is worth the investment over the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, or the upcoming iPhone 8 for that matter.
So what cutting edge technology does the HTC U11 promise to deliver? For one thing, it is being marketed as the first squeezable Android phone. Though the device does not actually fold once squeezed, users can apply pressure to the sides of the device to open applications and control a variety of functions.
HTC U11: An In-Depth Review of the Newest Squeezable Android Phone Device to Hit the Market
Though the name might sound confusing, the HTC U11 is actually a continuation of a numerical series that began with the HTC One M7. It is a follow-up to the HTC 10 and bears the same design with the HTC U Ultra and U Play.
Before getting to the squeezing ability or as HTC puts it, the “Edge Sense User Interface”, check out the impressive design of the U11 below.
Eye-catching glass design
Veering away from HTC’s typical metal body, the U11 is mostly made of glass. The 3D surface is intentionally created by molding glass and sleek curves that mimic the surface tension of water.
The Gorilla Glass surface allows the phone to shimmer each time you tilt it. HTC calls this process an “optical spectrum hybrid deposition”. But users need to have a microfiber cloth ready as this shiny device could result to a lot of fingerprint marks.
HTC chose not to follow the minimizing edges in new Android devices in the market. Instead, the front of the U11 boasts a 5.5-inch frame and the company chose to keep it a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the 18:9 ratio seen on flagship phones this year. Completing its design is a capacitive sensor located on both sides as well as a selfie camera on top.
User interface and the Edge Sense
The 5.5 inch LCD screen of the U11 has a stunning 2560 x 1440 pixel display. It runs on an Android 7.1.1 operating system and contains HTC-exclusive features such as the BlinkFeed, which primary purpose is to deliver personalized news. Another feature that is set to make a return is HTC’s Sense Companion. Consumers may recall that this first made its debut with the U Ultra. It acts as a travel companion, giving recommendations on nearby restaurants, among other things.
Now for the star of the show: HTC U11’s highly anticipated Edge Sense. The Edge Sense has the same idea as the Convenience Key on the BlackBerry KeyOne. The main difference is that HTC experimented on the use of a buttonless design. This was achieved through the use of mechanical sensors located around the device’s frame. So when a user squeezes the phone, it triggers specific actions.
For example, a slight squeeze will open the camera and a longer one opens Google Assistance. Users can even customize this function by choosing which apps they want to open. It is definitely an interesting way to use your smartphone but be warned, even the lowest pressure levels still requires a fair amount of force to make sure that the Edge Sense function is activated.
Overall, the Edge Sense is not just a clever gimmick, it is genuinely useful and can only be appreciated once you start using the device. There is a wide variety of actions that can be triggered with it. The camera, for example, requires just a slight squeeze to capture a photo eliminating the effort to press other buttons.
Amazon Alexa to be Introduced in Future Versions
Alexa, Amazon’s popular voice assistant, will be integrated into the HTC U11 sometime in July. Google Assistant will still be on board though, leading many to believe that Alexa will act as the superior voice assistant.
Like other Amazon devices, Alexa was constructed to function upon hearing a certain command. Thanks to the four microphones found in the phone, the U11 may hear you even from a certain distance. Once released, HTC announced that Alexa will be exclusive for the USA, United Kingdom, and Germany only.
Camera and Audio
Though the HTC U11 12mp camera does not feature any significant changes, there are a few tweaks that are worth noting. An example is the upgraded low light performance which is attributed to its new f/1.7 aperture. Now users can take bright and clear photos in gloomy or dim environments.
HTC has always been known for its optimum camera performance and now that it boasts a .3 second autofocus and improved HDR capabilities, you are bound to get some great snaps with your device.
In an interesting twist, the U11’s front-facing camera actually packs in more pixels, running up to a 16MP sensor. Users can also enjoy a panorama feature, allowing a 150-degree image capture to show everybody your entire backdrop.
As for audio, the U11 comes with a high-quality pair of headphones called the U Sonic. It has been continuously upgraded from former models to include active noise cancellation for more quality sounds. However, you cannot count on a headphone jack as the U11 sports a USB Type-C connector located at the bottom of the device.
If you aren’t into headphones, you can still count on the U11 for great speaker quality. Sound is quickly pumped up from behind the screen, allowing a more pleasurable experience in YouTube and Netflix viewing.
The HTC U11 has an average 3000mAh battery life which is similar to that of previous models such as the U Ultra. Like other smartphones, it has features such as the Quick Charge and other power saving features when browsing or watching videos.
Summary of features
- Liquid Surface’ design to redefine the look and feel of its phones
- 5.5-inch (2560 x 1440, 534 ppi) Quad HD display with a 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5 on top
- Snapdragon 835 64-bit octa-core processor
- Android 7.1 Nougat
- new glass and metal design
- Edge Sense – letting you squeeze the sides of the device to perform different functions
- – left- and right-hand sides of the phone are pressure-sensitive
- – uses eight pressure gauges, four on each side of the phone
- 4GB of RAM
- 64GB of storage with support for microSD cards
- 12-megapixel camera with optical stabilization and dual-pixel autofocus, f/1.7 aperture, HDR Boost, BSI sensor, UltraPixel 3, 1.4um pixel size
- 3,000mAh battery (not removable)
- Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging
- comes with three different intelligent assistants. In addition to the Google Assistant that comes with Android, it also has:
- – HTC’s Sense Companion
- – support for Amazon’s Alexa assistant
- 16-megapixel snapper (f/2.0 aperture, 120-degree wide-angle lens) front camera
- fingerprint scanner
- IP67 certification for water and dust resistance
- Available in Silver, Brilliant Black, Ice White, Sapphire Blue and Solar Red colors
Pricing, Availability, and Overall Verdict
HTC is poised to start shipping the U11 by June 2017. The company is currently accepting pre-orders on its unlocked version on the company website as well as Amazon for $650. The model will also be compatible with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile networks.
With a waterproof phone that looks great and offers optimum performance, it is safe to say that the HTC U11 will cater to the needs of smartphone enthusiasts and casual users alike. Unique features such as the Edge Sense and its exterior Liquid Surface design are good enough reasons to consider giving your phone an upgrade this year.