We can now add another phone to the list of 2017 flagships: the newly launched HTC U11, offering some top-of-the-line specs and a new Edge Sense technology that lets you interact with the phone by squeezing the sides of the chassis.
HTC showed off its latest creation at a special media event streamed live over the web, in which it was keen to talk up the new input method, dubbed Edge Sense. Give the edges of the phone a little squeeze, and you can perform actions like launching the camera, taking a photo, or opening Google Assistant (or Alexa, which is also on board).
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According to HTC, Edge Sense is a more intuitive way of snapping pictures on the go, saving you from fishing around for an on-screen shutter button, or readjusting your hands to reach the physical volume button.
You can make use of Edge Sense when the phone is wet or when you're wearing gloves, and the pressure shortcuts can be assigned to any app you like. It's an interesting idea, but we'll have to wait to get our hands on an HTC U11 to see how well it works in practice.
The phone has a 5.5-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 pixel display, which works out at a 534 PPI resolution. HTC also flagged up 3D sound recording for more immersive videos, and a 12-MP UltraPixel camera that's apparently the new number one smartphone camera in the independent rankings produced by DxOMark – again, we'll reserve judgement until we can test it out for ourselves.
Inside there's a Snapdragon 835 processor, the same chip inside the Samsung S8, so you can expect nippy performance all round. Design-wise, the phone follows the all-glass "liquid surface" approach of the mid-range handsets HTC unveiled earlier in the year, so very attractive and glossy to look at, but perhaps not the best for fingerprint smudges.
Like Apple, HTC has now ditched the 3.5 mm headphone jack for USB-C, which it says is going to lead to higher fidelity audio (it's throwing in a 3.5 mm-to-USB-C adapter in the box so you can still use your current headphones). The bundled HTC USonic earbuds bundled with the phone offer personalized active noise cancellation, and HTC is promising unrivalled stereo sound without headphones thanks to an upgraded BoomSound system.
The phone is waterproof and dustproof to an IP67 rating, enough to stay working after immersion in water up to 1 meter (3.3 ft) deep for 30 minutes (like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus). You can get the phone in five colors: amazing silver, solar red, sapphire blue, ice white, and brilliant black.
The HTC U11 is rolling out across the world from next week, with pricing to be confirmed.
Product page: HTC