HTC U11 First Impressions Review: Squeezes Itself in the Samsung Galaxy S8 Space
HTC U11 brings a refreshing take to the flagship smartphone game.
HTC had kept it under wraps for some time and they have finally unveiled their flagship for device for 2017, the HTC U11. The flagship phone for 2017 was also code named Oceans 11, because of their liquid surface design philosophy that's used on this device. The HTC 11 carries forward that design philosophy from its predecessor.
So what's the squeeze? Well, the device uses a 3D glass finish both at the front as well as at the back.
And if you squeeze the device with one hand, incredible things happen. This is taking pressure and gesture sense to the next level. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S8 that comes with an edge-to-edge display that's not much of use apart from having an additional app drawer, the HTC U11 asks you to squeeze it. Edge Sense as they call it is quite useful to click photos or open apps and even can enable the Google or Amazon Alexa assistant.
WATCH VIDEO: HTC U11 First Look
The edges of the display screen can sense that the user is squeezing the edges and you can just squeeze the edge to do tasks like click a selfie as well. You can customise the squeeze on the phone for virtually anything.
HTC does not tell how they have done this and it's kind of crazy as there are no physical buttons or sensor that are visible. It's even great for single hand usage as if you say for instance have a keyboard on your display and then you squeeze the phone it diverts the keyboard to the dictation mode.
The squeeze can also be used for Google assistant. It's not a capacitive feature so it even works with a wet phone. This is HTC's first IP67 dust and water resistant phone as well. Moreover, the squeeze can also be used to pick up a call even if you have a glove on your hand.
Edge sense on the HTC U11 also works with bumper cases and soft cases and gloves but not so great with hard cases.
Later this year HTC also plans to come out with a tool through which you can even teach this phone what all you want to use the squeeze function for. It will also work for tap and double-tap. Beta version should be available from July 2017 and the software will be called Edge Sense companion.
The U11 also comes with four microphones on board and the device is on an always listening mode. This makes your device theoretically like a Google Home or an Amazon Alexa.
HTC U11 is also a phone that comes with a decent camera. Our first impressions of the primary camera on the U11 were that this one has the potential to be one of the best in the business. Interestingly the camera does not have a laser autofocus but an altogether new technology for HTC. It's called Ultra Speed Auto Focus and works similar to the dual-Pixel technology. There are also bigger pixels on
It's called Ultra Speed Auto Focus and works similar to the dual-Pixel technology. There are also bigger pixels on play with the primary camera of the HTC U11 and the images that we clicked and saw were quite impressive.
The camera app also has a HDR Boost mode. This is an always on HDR mode on the camera. This basically gives you a brighter image with less noise and better colour when you are clicking low light images.
For video the four mics on the phone work for sound production as the phone also uses something called acoustic focus. So, when you zoom into the video the mic focus on the protagonist that you were about to shoot. It works more like a directional mic.
The rear camera of the HTC 11 has a 12 million Ultrapixel camera and a large pixel size of 1.4Qm and f 1.7 aperture, an Ultra speed AF sensor, OIS and EIS. This device has 6-lens system on it.
There is also a high-resolution front camera. It has a 16MP, Ultra pixel low light performance camera that's also capable of clicking 150-degree wide angle selfies. It's also has a fixed focus on it. F2.0.
The device comes with U-sonic headphones that we had seen on the HTC U Ultra. There is no 3.5mm audio jack on the device and you connect the headphones with USB type-C.
The HTC USonic headphones on HTC U11 comes with a Quick one touch calibration for hearing that's a sonar based Audio calibration.
The headphones come with active noise cancelling as standard with this phone. But if you don't want to use them they also give you a USB type-C to 3.5mm audio adapter with the HTC U11.
Where's HTC BoomSound?
Don't worry the HTC U11 comes with a front facing boomsound that HTC flagships are known for. There are now just two new modes a music mode and a theatre mode.
What do we think?
Liquid surface design where HTC mimics waters reflection is an interesting take on where the new normal boundaries for smartphones start. The HTC U11 uses Optical spectrum hybrid deposition process for getting that colour on the device. The reason that all the colours that this phone comes in are way more unique than what any competition has to offer.
It's a powerful device with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor a 6GB RAM version that will be coming to India and 128GB of storage. And yes you do get the latest Android 7.1.1 operating system.
And the squeeze function is just the cherry on top that both practical and usable. HTC U11 makes its own space by squeezing between its competitors like Samsung Galaxy S8 and even the iPhone 7Plus.
We really like what we have seen here with this phone, the real question still is how will this be priced in India. We expect it to be priced nothing below Rs 50,000. Yes, it will be an expensive phone and you'll have to squeeze your pockets to get this one.
Watch this space for the full review of HTC U11.
(Disclaimer: The author was at the event in Taiwan on the invite of HTC)
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