HTC now sells the U11 for only $599

HTC’s latest flagship U11 has a MSRP of $649, but now the Taiwanese company is offering it for $599. It is unlocked and compatible with three of the four major US carriers.

The unlocked U11 can be purchased in Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black or Solar Red. When added to the cart, just add the code AMAZINGU11, and then the price will automatically change. Standard delivery is free, and the price is final and tax-free.

The deal works for the unlocked version, which works on AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Sadly, Sprint customers will not have the ability to benefit, since their version is still out of stock.

The promo code will be available until July 1.

 

HTC U11 Review: A ‘Squeezable’ Smartphone Designed to Flaunt

 

Quick Question: What’s common between an orange, a forearm exerciser and HTC’s new primo product called U11?

Answer: You can squeeze all of them!

Yes, that’s what HTC claims to be the U11’s UPS, “the squeezable smartphone”.

PS: Sorry for the lame forearm exerciser joke!

https://giphy.com/embed/3o7TKPdUkkbCAVqWk0via GIPHY

Yes, the HTC U11 looks something out of HTC’s top drawer, but the company seems to be trying too hard to make up for the shortcoming of the HTC U Ultra and U Play.

Does the HTC U11 really make you squeeze that extra buck out of your pocket? Let’s take a look.

Snapshot

Click here to collapse

Pros:

  • Great display
  • Battery life is good
  • Camera clicks excellent pictures
  • Clean UI
  • Beautiful mirror finish
  • Edge Sense
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Attracts smudges & fingerprints
  • Slippery in the hand
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

What’s Good?

The fact that I could squeeze and play with the phone instantly made me like the HTC U11. The ‘squeeze’ feature acts like a shortcut gesture, something like what we have seen with Moto’s flick gesture or OnePlus’ Alert Slider. Although, I feel HTC’s gesture squeeze is the most intuitive.

The HTC U11’s Edge Sense feature allows you to squeeze the phone where the pressure sensors on the phone’s sides helps you interact with different applications of the phone.

You have options like “short squeeze” or “squeeze and hold”. The company has said that they will add more gestures in the future. The liquid glass surface design looks beautiful and I loved the way it reflects different colours in different lights.

(Photo: The Quint)

The 5.5-inch quad-HD display is fantastic! HTC didn’t stretch this one, unlike the S8 or the G6 display and stuck to the traditional thick bezel design. It offers great viewing angles and performs well even under direct sunlight.

The phone is running on the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 6GB of RAM. A standard in today’s flagships. Performance is great and really didn’t have any problems with the phone. HTC has kept the phone devoid of bloatware which gives some extra points to the U11 and also makes the Android Nougat experience much better.

HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat
HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat (Photo: The Quint)

The HTC U11 comes with IP67 water-resistance, which means that the phone can be completely submerged underwater.

Apart from the 64GB of on-board storage it comes with an option to expand and we always like that. The same woofer and tweeter combo gets carried forward from the HTC 10 but this time the audio via the speakers sounds much more refined and louder.

Also, despite the fact that the 3.5mm jack has been removed from the setup, audio via the USB type-C headphones was remarkable. The headphones also offer noise cancellation so that makes the deal more sweeter.

The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there.
The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there. (Photo: The Quint)

Camera quality is excellent. It’s rated to be the best camera according to the DxOMark ratings. Snaps in daylight look excellent via the 12-megapixel rear camera. The 16-megapixel front camera is also ‘wow’. Just to round it up, you won’t have any complaints with the camera on the U11.

3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day
3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day (Photo: The Quint)

Despite the fact that 3000mAh on paper might look underwhelming that HTC U11’s battery performed really well. After a complete days use there was still enough charge at the end of the day for your evening Youtube matinee.

What’s Bad?

This list is going to be very short because it was really tough finding anything wrong with the U11. To start with, the liquid surface design might look beautiful but it attracts a lot of smudges and fingerprints so always carry a cleaning cloth if you want to flaunt this phone.

Although the HTC Sense squeeze feature is pretty innovative, it is prone to a lot of accidental activation. Sometimes you might accidentally trigger the application inadvertently by gripping the phone too hard (happened with me). Though not a deal breaker, it has to be used carefully.

On-board you have three virtual assistants like HTC’s Sense UI, Amazon’s Alexa and even Google Assistant. Okay, Alexa isn’t in India yet, but isn’t one assistant enough?

Also, photos in low light settings have overblown highlights. It is clear that the camera tries to overcompensate for the dark areas.

Worth Buying?

At Rs 51,990 the HTC U11 is the most aggressively priced flagship in India. It has the wherewithal to hold its own and compete shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the S8 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11
No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11 (Photo: The Quint)

The only thing working against HTC is that they are still under the spotlight because the HTC U Play and Ultra weren’t a huge hit and customers are now weary about the U11 the same way. Don’t worry people, the U11 is a much better gizmo and justifies its price tag appropriately.

 

HTC U11 review: A flagship device that’s well worth the money

Rating: *****

Price: Rs 51, 990

Specifications: 5.5-inch IPS LCD (2560 x 1440 pixels), Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage (expandable), hybrid dual SIM, 12MP primary camera with OIS, 16MP front camera, 4G with VoLTE, dual band WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, fingerprint scanner, dual speakers, IP67 certified, USB Type-C, Android 7.0, 3,000mAh battery, 169 grams.
HTC’s U series of smartphones (U Ultra and U Play), did not receive a favourable response, which we think was due to the steep pricing. Now it seems that someone at HTC has had a change of heart. This is probably why the recently launched HTC U11 — their latest flagship smartphone — is priced at an aggressive Rs 51,990.

With the U11, HTC continues with the ‘liquid glass’ surface design that we saw on the earlier U series devices. It has a mirror-like surface which gives the phone different hues depending on the ambient light. Obviously, this also makes it prone to fingerprints and smudges. You will need to use it with a case and helpfully, HTC provides a transparent soft case in the box. The rear has a slight curve which makes it comfortable to hold and at 169 grams, the U11 feels well balanced. The 3.5mm jack is gone (much to our chagrin) but HTC does provide a USB type C to 3.5mm adapter in the box.

One of the headlining features on this HTC flagship is ‘Edge Sense’. The phone has a pressure sensitive frame (the bottom half on both sides) that can be setup to perform a function when you ‘squeeze’ the phone. This works even if the phone is locked. You can change how hard you need to squeeze it for the action. Set it too light and it might trigger when you normally hold the phone. Too hard and you’ll need your full grip strength. Using this squeeze function, you can choose to launch the camera, take a screenshot, turn on the flashlight and so on. In advanced mode, you can set one function for a short squeeze and another for squeeze and hold. It sounds like a gimmick but it works really well once you identify the squeeze force level comfortable for you. Kudos to HTC for this perfect implementation of a new method of interaction with a smartphone.

Up front is a 5.5-inch 2k display (super LCD 5) with slim bezels, excellent brightness and vivid colours. As is usual with HTC devices, the screen is great for watching videos, browsing the web, reading text as well as playing games. Even though this is protected by Gorilla Glass 5, we recommend you get a screen protector from the start. Under the screen is the physical home button with integrated fingerprint scanner, flanked by the recent/back buttons. The fingerprint scanner is one of the best we have used — works from any angle and unlocked the phone 10 out of 10 times in our usage.

HTC U11 review: A flagship device that's well worth the money

The U11 is a powerhouse in specifications – you get the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. It runs HTC’s Sense UI based on the latest Android 7.1. As for benchmarks, it performs at par with the OnePlus 5’s 8GB variant — this is one of the fastest Android phones around. Needless to say, it will deliver seamless performance with real world usage. We faced no issues in playing any game, 4k video, running multiple apps (over 30 apps simultaneously) and switching between them. The battery back up from 3,000mAh battery was as expected too — a full day with normal use. With heavy usage, you might have to charge the phone by the evening. Thankfully it supports QuickCharge 3.0 and HTC bundled a QC 3.0 adapter in the box. With the supplied cable and charger, it goes from 10% to 75% in an hour.

Camera test specialists DxOMark have given the HTC U11’s camera a score of 90 — the highest awarded to any smartphone till date. The U11 has a 12MP rear camera with OIS, f1.7, phase and laser autofocus — all of these combined deliver stellar results. Daylight, indoors or lowlight: it does not matter with the U11. It consistently delivers crisp photos with good details and rich colour. On the software front, there is a pro mode (with RAW format support), panorama mode and auto mode for photos while for videos you get normal, hyperlapse and slow motion.

Video recording quality is also best in class along with 3D audio recording, courtesy the 4 microphones. With the ‘acoustic focus’ audio feature, you can zoom in on a particular audio source while recording video (to record audio from only that source instead of 360-degree sound). In our opinion, the HTC U11’s camera stands neck and neck with our current favorites: SamsungS8/S8+, iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel. The front wide angle 16MP camera is no slouch either — the image quality is fantastic with minimal noise.

There are several other features on the HTC U11 that deserve mention. The loud dual loudspeaker output, IP67 certification for water and dust resistance, support for Google Assistant, HTC Sense Companion, bundled USonic headphones with active noise cancellation and up to 2TB storage expansion support. These features make the U11 stand out from the current crop. It doesn’t have an IR emitter though — would have been a welcome addition.

The aggressive pricing is a sensible move from HTC. At Rs 51,990, this is a flagship well worth the money. Yes, the OnePlus 5 does offer better specifications (you can get 8GB RAM for `37,999), but the HTC U11 has a number of advantages. With the Samsung Galaxy S8 still priced at Rs 57,900 (4GB RAM, 64GB storage), the HTC U11 has no other competition. We highly recommend it to anyone looking for a flagship device.

HTC U11

 

HTC U11 smartphone was launched in May 2017. The phone comes with a 5.50-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1440 pixels by 2560 pixels.

The HTC U11 is powered by 2.45GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and it comes with 4GB of RAM. The phone packs 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 2000GB via a microSD card. As far as the cameras are concerned, the HTC U11 packs a 12-Ultrapixel primary camera on the rear and a 16-megapixel front shooter for selfies.

The HTC U11 runs Android 7.1 and is powered by a 3000mAh non removable battery. It measures 153.90 x 75.90 x 7.90 (height x width x thickness) and weigh 169.00 grams.U11

The HTC U11 is a dual SIM (GSM and GSM) smartphone that accepts Nano-SIM and Nano-SIM. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, USB OTG, 3G and 4G (with support for Band 40 used by some LTE networks in India). Sensors on the phone include Compass Magnetometer, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor and Gyroscope.

About HTC

Founded in 1997 as a laptop manufacturer, Taiwan-based HTC soon began making smartphones based on Windows Mobile and Brew. It released the first commercial Android smartphone, the HTC Dream, in 2008, and is today a manufacturer of both Android and Windows based smartphones. HTC re-entered the tablet market with the Google Nexus 9 in 2014.

7 things we love about the HTC U11… and 6 things we hate about it

 

It might have been one of the last heavy hitters to make an appearance this year, but HTC didn’t disappoint with the U11: it’s a fantastic phone that is just begging to be slipped into your pocket.

With some of the most distinctive colour schemes we’ve seen on a phone since the crazy days of Nokia, and high-end hardware to match, there’s lots here to like.

Don’t think it’s all positive, though – because the U11 isn’t perfect. Here are some of the things that grind our gears about HTC’s latest, as well as the good stuff that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

7 THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT THE HTC U11

1) THOSE EYE-CATCHING COLOURS

There’s no getting away from it – the U11 has some truly terrific colour choices. HTC’s Liquid Surface glass adds different hues and shades to give the impression of a water droplet, one that shimmers and shifts colour when you hold it at different angles. Compared to a flat black Galaxy S8, or Space Grey iPhone 7, the HTC wins every time.

At launch, Amazing Silver is the star of the show, thanks to a mix of blues, purples and silver, polished up to a mirror finish, but wait a month or two and the luxurious Solar Red should arrive. It’s curiously crimson from the front, but switches to glorious gold at the edges. It’s a real stunner.Image result for 7 things we love about the HTC U11... and 6 things we hate about it

2) IT TAKES FANTASTIC PHOTOS

A 12MP sensor doesn’t sound all that impressive, but with dual-pixel autofocus and the world’s first 5-axis optical image stabilisation in a smartphone, the U11 punches well above its weight when it comes to the camera. The detail packed into each snap is fantastic, either matching or beating major rivals such as the iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8.

It’s a dab hand when it comes to low light, too, thanks to an f/1.7 aperture that lets as much light hit the sensor as possible. HTC’s image processing algorithms are delicate, too, so detail isn’t stripped away just to hide noise.

3) WE’LL NEVER GET TIRED OF SQUEEZY SIDES

No, they don’t do very much right now, but the U11’s Edge Sense panels soon will. As a feature it’s bags of fun, and a totally different way to get things done on your phone. You can use those squeezable sides to do all manner of things: turning on your flashlight, for instance, or take a selfie, or summon Google Assistant (without having to shout “OK Google” first).

And that’s just the start. Once other apps support it properly, the possibilities will be huge.

4) IT’S A PERFORMANCE POWERHOUSE

Any discerning 2017 flagship phone has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 inside, and the U11 is no exception. That instantly gives it an edge over the likes of LG’s G6 and the Google Pixel, which make do with last year’s silicon. It’s quick enough to run just about anything you can throw at it from the Google Play Store, and has no trouble keeping Android 7 Nougat ticking over without any stutter or slowdown.

It’s not a battery hog, either. The U11 has a 3000mAh battery, but can easily last an entire day away from the mains – even if you’re feeding a serious Clash of Clans habit.

5) SPEAKERS THAT REALLY SING

Boomsound was easily one of the best things about HTC’s last-gen phones, and now we’ve got an even better version. They might not face forward any more, but the U11’s stereo speakers are so powerful that you won’t need a Bluetooth speaker to get the party started: just crank up the volume and let the phone do all the work.

Turning the inside of the handset into an acoustic chamber doesn’t exactly create a cacophony of bass, but it sounds much, much louder than any other flagship phone. Don’t think it’ll be nothing but distortion, either – sound quality really is very good for such a small set of speakers.

6) AMAZON’S ALEXA WILL SOON BE ON BOARD

The U11 will be the first phone to properly get Amazon’s Alexa, complete with wake word that’ll bring the handset out of standby and straight into the Alexa interface. Other phones have tried, but this is the first time we’ve seen it go completely hands-free.

That’s great, but one AI assistant just isn’t enough these days, and the U11 duly has room for two: Google Assistant is also onboard. While Alexa bests Assistant in areas such as smart home control, and will of course let you buy things on Amazon, Google’s helpful AI can still help out with Chromecast streaming and Google searches. The more the merrier, eh?

7) THE NOISE-CANCELLING CANS

Previous versions of HTC’s USonic ear buds already adjusted themselves to suit your own ear drums, using sonic pulses and built-in microphones to tweak the music EQ accordingly, but now they’ve got built-in noise cancelling too. And it really works!

OK, so it’s not quite as silence-inducing as a pair of noise-cancelling ‘phones from Bose or Sony, but they get the job done on public transport, and keep your office buddies from disturbing you when you’re trying to get some work done too. Not bad at all, seeing how they’re free and all.

AND 6 THINGS WE HATE ABOUT THE HTC U11

1) WHERE’S THE HEADPHONE JACK?

Come on, HTC – haven’t you learned by now? No-one wants to have to jam a dongle into their phone just to listen to music. The bundled USonic in-ears might be decent, and plenty of people have Bluetooth buds now, but that’s still no excuse.

If the mighty Apple can do it and still incur the wrath of its customers, there’s no way you can do the same and think you’ll get away with it. The bundled headphones don’t work in any other USB-C phone or laptop, either. Bring back the 3.5mm port!

2) THE BEZELS LOOK BEEFY NEXT TO THE COMPETITION

Samsung and LG did something a little different for 2017 – ditching the display bezels and finding room for 18:9 aspect ratio screens that stretch almost across the entire front of each phone. Samsung even added curved sides into the equation.

Sit either one of them next to the U11 and its thick top and bottom bezels make it look positively antiquated. The fingerprint sensor might be easier to reach on the HTC, but from the front you’d struggle to tell it was a 2017 phone. Its rivals are positively futuristic by comparison.

3) AN HDR SCREEN WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE, TOO

Both the G6 and Galaxy S8 also have HDR-ready displays, which let you watch Netflix or Amazon videos with more vibrant colours and greater contrast than you’ll find on a standard smartphone. HTC could have done something similar, but it decided not to bother.

OK, so we doubt many people are ready to stream HDR videos to their phone right now, but expect the tech to take off in the next year or so – and leave the U11 looking decidedly old hat.

4) SNAPS CAN FEEL A LITTLE SLUGGISH

As much as the U11 takes fantastic photos, it’s not quite as snap-happy as some of its big rivals. There’s a small delay between tapping the shutter button and the photo being saved. It’s not long enough to miss something crucial, but it’s still annoying – especially when the U11 is lightning-fast in just about every other area.

The Edge Sense shutter is even slower, but that’s because it needs to wait until your hand stops shaking after you’ve given the phone a squeeze. We don’t mind it so much here.

5) ALEXA AIN’T HERE JUST YET

Sure, we’re excited at having Amazon’s AI assistant built into our phones, and having Alexa accessible with a shout instead of a button press is a whole lot slicker than the setup you’ll find on other phones, but Alexa on the U11 isn’t ready just yet. We’ve got to wait till Amazon decides to give the green signal for Alexa to arrive in India.

Seeing how this is one of the things that helps the U11 stand out from the competition, we’re hoping HTC can get everything in place before its rivals do something similar.

6) EDGE SENSE DOESN’T SEE SENSE… RIGHT NOW

Those squeeze-able sides are a fun little extra right now – one that HTC says will be a lot more useful once its customisation app arrives in July. Until it does, though, Edge Sense is just another way of opening the camera app, or summoning Google Assistant.

You aren’t going to buy a phone on potential alone, so we’ll just have to wait until the app turns up to see if Edge Sense is truly as revolutionary as HTC says it will be.

We’ll get you the full review when HTC give us the go signal for the Indian launch dates.

 

HTC announces Link VR headset for its U11 smartphone

 

HTC has announced LinkVR, a new VR headset designed to work with company’s new U11 flagship smartphone. The LinkVR is company’s first mobile VR headset that will compete with Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View. It is also the first to offer six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) tracking.

HTC LinkVR appears to use an external camera to track motion and UploadVR reports that both the camera and controllers are bundled in the box. Interestingly, HTC Link does not carry any Vive branding and will only be available in Japan.HTC announces Link VR headset for its U11 smartphone

While HTC Link is designed primarily for the HTC U11, users need not fix the mobile device within the headset. Rather, they simply need to connect it via the included USB-C cable. The headset sports two 3.6-inch LCD displays with a resolution of 1080 x 1200 pixels and a refresh rate of 90Hz. The display offers an 110-degree field of view and houses a 2800mAh battery. The VR headset weighs around 554 grams and has 3.5mm audio jack. HTC Link is expected to go on sale in late July, and there is no word yet on pricing.

 

HTC sets mid-June for its U11 India lift-off

Premium smartphone maker HTC is readying plans to launch its water and dust proof flagship 4G handset U11 by mid-June in India, which was unveiled today at around 750 euros for the European market.

“HTC U11 will be launched in India by mid-June. Global launch is in the first week of June. We are still negotiating the price at which we can sell HTC U11 in India. There will be differences between India and the European market. It will be competitive on global pricing,” Faisal Siddiqui, HTC President for South Asia, told reporters.

HTC has introduced a device operation technology in U11 with HTC Edge Sense that will allow users to control its function by applying different pressures of their grip on the edge of the phone. The sense-based control can be customised by the users.

U11 will start selling in some regions from the next week and the rest of the market, starting June. In Europe, it will sell for around 750 euros, that is about Rs. 53,000 a unit, from the first week of June, a company official said.

The pricing of the phone will vary across countries due to tax structures and operational cost, Siddiqui said.

“HTC will focus on only the high-end segment because it is difficult to sell innovation at a low price. In India, we are looking at the best ways to ease buying of HTC phones. For HTC U11, we plan to provide sales through easy monthly installments in partnership with companies like Bajaj Finance, Home Credit and banks,” Siddiqui added.

The company has launched variants of U11 with different storage capacities and colours that have a reflection feature similar to that of liquid surface.

It plans to sell a high-end variant in India with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage expandable up to 2 TB or above with the help of an external memory card.

The phone comes with 12 megapixel main camera along with HDR boost technology.

Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile chipset, HTC U11 has 3000 mAh battery that the company claims can be completely charged in 90 minutes and can support up to 24.5 hours of voice calls.

HTC, Siddiqui said, will focus on the mid and premium-range segment.

“In India, we are planning to launch various models of 4G VoLTE-enabled Desire series smartphones that will be priced between Rs. 10,000-30,000 a unit. We don’t plan to sell smartphones below Rs. 10,000,” Siddiqui clarified.

HTC has a retail reach across 400 cities in India. But the company plans to focus on the top 200 cities and branding in the top 100.

The company makes Desire series phones in India, but is still to start manufacturing its high-end segment.

The HTC U11 is a good phone with a dumb gimmick

Squeezable sides are a very bad reason to buy a phone. Especially now, when the U11’s Edge Sense doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot. Who knows, perhaps one day it will do much more than simply launching favorite apps. But even then, squeezable sides will be a very bad reason to buy a phone.

HTC has done itself a disservice banking on a goofy gimmick with its new flagship. The Edge Sense’s “new age of phone interactions” really buries the lede, as we say in the business.The U11 is a good and capable phone. A fact that embedded sensors in the phone’s frame have very little to do with.

Here is a list of things to like about it: lovely and unique design, the latest Snapdragon processor (835), a water-resistant body, a good camera and solid sound for a smartphone. It’s understandable that a company struggling the way HTC has of late might scramble to stand out from the crowd, but Edge Sense isn’t what’s going to do it.

Water under the bridge

By the time I met with HTC to discuss the U11 ahead of launch, the company had switch tacks slightly. Most of the ad material around the new phone still centers around Edge Sense, but when time comes for the company to actually talk about the phone itself, it smartly highlights the design. Granted, as my parents have unhelpfully told me time and again, looks aren’t everything. But they’re a driving force in many people’s phone buying designs.

And the U11 is a legit looker. I got compliments from jaded coworkers, which are better than just regular compliments, because they’re coming from angry people whose job it is to look at phones all day. HTC calls the design “Liquid Surface,” because, no joke, it looks like it was dipped in liquid. The company introduced the design on the U Ultra back in January — a handset the U11 more or less effectively renders redundant less than half a year after its release.

HTC achieved the standout look by covering both sides in glass — which comes with its own drawbacks. First are the fingerprints, which are sure to awaken any slumbering bit of OCD in your soul. They’re there and they’re not going away. Sorry. Second, and more importantly, it’s just not as strong as metal. Even Gorilla Glass (5 on the front and 3 on the back, owing to the scratch vs. shatter tradeoffs of each) isn’t insurance against a fall. For the clumsiest among us, the new look probably isn’t worth the potential tradeoff.

Even so, Liquid is going to be a sort of unified design language for the company moving forward. It’s curvy, it’s shiny and it’s a smart move, getting away from the busyness older phones like the One, while still retaining the familiar HTC shape. It’s like what Samsung and Apple do with their phones — creating a unified look that makes a brand instantly recognizable, regardless of model number. It’s a smart move and it’s a good look for HTC: minimalist, yet still recognizable.

Outsourced assistants

If I told you that Sense Companion is still kicking, you might rightfully respond, “great! Also, what is Sense Companion?” To which I would helpfully answer, “it’s basically HTC’s version of Bixby.” Which is to say, it’s an attempt at an in-house assistant that doesn’t actually assist that much.

Really, it’s more akin to an information hub that uses some contextual clues to serve content. Perhaps HTC never had grand plans for the assistant. Or maybe it’s just accepted the fact that few of its users are going to opt-in for Sense Companion over better made/more well-known alternatives. The company’s VP of product design told me recently, “We’ve never envisioned Companion as a wake word-type assistant,” which seems to imply that HTC knew its limitations from the outset. Whatever the case, its offering now exists more to augment what is an embarrassment of smart assistant riches.

In fact, HTC built the on-board mic system with other smart assistants in mind — namely Google Assistant and Alexa. There are four mics on-board here both for better audio recording and so it can reserve a mic apiece to always-on listening for those two assistants. Privacy concerns about that functionality aside (though there are plenty), points to HTC for knowing the limitations of its own assistant (take note, Samsung) and for giving users the option of two of the most popular assistants baked into the device (though Alexa functionality is still forthcoming).

If this means we won’t be getting a Sense Companion version of the Echo/Home/HomePod any time soon, well, that’s just a sacrifice we’ll have to make.

Sounding board

As ever, HTC gets points for seemingly being the only phone maker that cares about on-board audio. The U11 sounds a lot better than most of the phones out there, though part of the company’s drive toward Liquid minimalism means the front-facing speaker grilles are gone. Instead, music playback is reserved for the phone speaker and a small port on the bottom. It’s a step back in favor of aesthetics, but it’s still leagues ahead of the competition — though anything longer than a quick YouTube video is better left to a Bluetooth speaker.

On a related note, the company dropped the headphone jack on the Ultra earlier this year, and that’s still the case here. As a rep matter-of-factly told me earlier, “The headphone jack is going away. Let’s just get on with it.” Not the best justification for removing a once universal truth, but still probably accurate. You can’t stop the tides of change, you can only hope to upgrade all of your headphones.

What’s left adds up to a solid , if unexceptional flagship. At 5.5 inches, the display is on the larger side for HTC, with a bright and colorful quad HD resolution. The camera’s also quite good, in fact, it edged out the Google Pixel’s terrific 89 DXOMark score by a point. And HTC’s done a lot to bolster the experience like super fast autofocus and a combo electronic/optical stabilization system. And since it’s 2017, the front-facing camera also gets a healthy bump, boosting HDR speed and reducing image noise.

Feeling the squeeze

You can’t really blame HTC for leading with a gimmick. Like LG, the company’s been having a rough go of things lately, and it’s spent much of the last couple of years fumbling in the dark. A glut of cheap handsets have eaten into the company’s market share on the low-end, and things don’t seem much better on the flagship side where a handful of big players like Apple and Samsung have a tight lock on things.

Odds aren’t great that the U11 will do much to reverse those fortunes. You can build a solid handset, but when your standout feature doesn’t stand out, best of luck to you. It becomes all the more complicated when you lock yourself into US carrier exclusivity with the country’s fourth largest carrier (a lesson Essential is about to learn the hard way).

The U11 isn’t doomed to failure. There’s a lot to like here, from the unique design language, to the embrace of multiple smart assistants, to a quality camera experience. What it doesn’t add up to, however, is a stand-out device that presents a solid reason to buy this flagship over any other.

HTC’s struggling smartphone wing has dug itself a hole too deep to escape with just a good phone. It needs a big win to reverse its fortunes in the smartphone arena, and more than likely the U11 isn’t it — squeezable sides or no.

Weekly poll: HTC U11, hot or not?

HTC likes to try new things – like a little thing called Android. And while it’s no longer in the lead of that market, it still managed to put out one of the most interesting devices of 2017. Yes, we’re talking about the HTC U11.

The design is an HTC classic that harkens back to the original One. The unique “liquid glass” used for the back creates a constantly shifting spectrum of colors that changes as you move the phone. We also appreciate that the body is IP67 waterproof, it makes it an honorary Butterfly.

Like the Butterfly, the HTC U11 offers a sharp screen (5.5” QHD) and a powerful chipset (Snapdragon 835). Unlike the Butterfly, the U11 is widely available and does not have a dual camera – that didn’t stop HTC from offering one of the best cameras we’ve seen this year.Image result for Weekly poll: HTC U11, hot or not?

The image quality and the speed of the autofocus of the 16MP camera easily stood up to the Galaxy S8.

Edge Sense enables a unique interaction – squeeze the phone to launch the camera or perhaps your digital assistant of choice. The U11 is the first phone to offer Amazon’s Alexa in addition to the Google Assistant.

Much praise and no criticism. Has HTC done it, has it made a certain winner? Well, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack ruffled some feathers. However, HTC is selling the U11 at sub-S8 prices (in the US at least, in Europe it is closer to the S8+).

With that in mind, are you buying what HTC is selling?

 

HTC U11 gets listed on company’s India e-store, likely to launch soon

 

HTC U11 comes with a new way of interacting with a smartphone: squeezing

HTC U11, the Taiwanese company’s answer to the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 Plus, is all set to launch in India. So while HTC remains mum about the launch, the flagship phone has been found listed on the company’s e-store in India. The listing doesn’t indicate its price or release date, it seems apparent that the phone will be launched in India shortly.

Interestingly, the company’s site lists the smartphone will be come in two variants; one of the models will feature 4GB RAM and 64GB storage and the other variant will come with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. At the same time, LlabTooFer, noted HTC ROM developer and tipster, has claimed that HTC U11 will going on sale in nine more countries including India, China, Taiwan, Malaysia
Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Philippines. Additionally, the tipster reveals all these territories will be getting the 128GB variant with 6GB RAM.HTC, HTC U 11, HTC U 11 launch in India, HTC U 11 price in India

Last month, HTC launched one of the most distinguished smartphones in the premium segment which is heavily dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung.  The U11 comes with a new way of interacting with a smartphone: squeezing. The device has a number of sensors embedded into the lower half of the metal frame. By applying pressure on the metal frame, you can accomplish a number of tasks, including opening an app, taking a picture and recording an audio. The company calls the feature Edge Sense

The phone comes in a range of two-tone colours and can be purchased in five options: Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Amazing Silver and Ice White – while Solar Red is coming sometime later this year. It features a 5.5-inch Super LCD WQHD display with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixel. The phone is powered by a 2.45GHz octa-core Snapdragon 835 processor. The internal storage is expandable up to 2TB via a microSD card. The phone gets a 3,000mAh battery, and supports Quick Charge 3.0.

It also features Android 7.1 Nougat, 12-megapixel rear shooter and a 16-megapixel front camera, and front-facing BoomSound Hi-Fi speakers. HTC U11 is IP67 rated, which makes it dust and water resistant.

HTC has clearly struggled to strengthen its position in the smartphone market. Its last few flagship phones including the U Ultra have failed to live up on consumer expectations. HTC might be looking to turn around its fortunes with the release of the U11.