HTC Unveils ‘Squeezable’ U11 Flagship Smartphone, Complete With Google Assistant And Alexa Compatibility

The new Android smartphone features a unique way to interact with it

HTC has taken the lid off its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC U11, which features a squeezable sensor in its chassis to introduce new means of user interaction. 

Dubbed Edge Sense, a suite of pressure sensitive sensors in the lower half of the U11’s frame react to a user’s squeeze with their thumbs and fingers to trigger actions such as taking a picture, launching an app, or triggering the built-in Google Assistant. 

Haptic feedback ensures users feel confident they have squeezed the right parts of the phone, while algorithms are used to detects and refute potential ‘false squeezes’ caused by carrying around the phone in a pocket or handbag. 

Aside from this rather original way to interact with the handset, the U11 not only comes with the Google Assistant, but also has compatibility for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant and will feature HTC’s own Sense Companion, the company’s take on a smart voice-controlled assistant. Whether this turns out to be virtual assistant overkill has yet to be seen. 

HTC U11 design

HTC U11 rearOutside this bevvy of alternative ways to interact with the device, the U11 appears to be a fairly standard smartphone. 

It sports a 5.5-inch Gorilla Glass coated display with a resolution of 2560×1440, housed in a glossy glass frame featuring HTC’s Liquid Surface design taken from the U Ultra handset. It comes in  Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, Solar Red and Amazing Silver colour options, complete with hyperbolic nomenclature. 

One the front of the handset sits a home button with an integrated fingerprint scanner, and a 16MP f/2 aperture camera using HTC’s UltraPixel technology for snapping selfies in low-light conditions. 

On the back, the U11 has a 12MP f/1.7 aperture camera with HTC’s new UltraSpeed autofocus technology and its beefed-up UltraPixel 3 sensor; in short the rear camera should snap some very nice photos with a suite of options such as Instant HDR to capture images with high dynamic range but at speed. 

Connections come courtesy of a USB Type-C port which also takes care of audio output duties, meaning the U11 has no 3.5mm headphone jack. However, HTC will bundle in an adapter with the handset, which features a built-in digital-to-analogue converter for improving audio playback. There is also a microSD slot for either expanding storage capacity or adding a second SIM card into the mix. 

On the bottom of the phone, you will find HTC BoomSound HiFi Edition speakers, designed to blow away audio playback of both previous BoomSound iterations and other phones. But for people not wanting to blast out their music loud and proud on the daily commute, HTC is offering its USonic headphones which sport active noise-cancelling and the claimed ability to fine-tune sound to a user’s specific ear canal. 

Clumsy people can also rejoice in the U11  IP67 water and dust resistance, which combined with the Gorilla Glass should make the handset fairly resistant to wear and tear. 

Under the hood 

HTC U11 UIBelow the chassis, the HTC U11 comes packing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Regardless of the specification selected, the innards will be more than enough to keep Android 7.1 Nougat ticking along nicely with the HTC Sense customisation on top. 

Battery pack capacity weighs in at 3,000mAh, yet despite the Qualcomm chip supporting it QuickChage 4.0 is absent, with the U11 only sporting the older QuickCharge 3.0 for rapid charging. 

The HTC U11 will set buyers back by the equivalent of £679 SIM free when it hits Taiwan on 18 May; UK release dates and network availability have yet to be firmed up. 

All-in-all the HTC U11 looks to be a solid flagship smartphone to offer an alternative to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, but time will tell if it can usher in a proper come back for HTC which, as of late, has failed to really captivate the smartphone market like it once did. 

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