The HTC U11 offers a premium processor alongside a unique phone “squeeze” feature.
When does the HTC U11 come out? Available in Australia on 5 June 2017.
What’s new about the HTC U11? Squeezable sides, Snapdragon 835 processor, Ultrafast focus camera
How much will the HTC U11 cost? Priced at $999 in Australia
What is the HTC U11?
HTC was first out the gate with a premium handset in early 2017 with the HTC U Ultra, the first of its U series phones with a premium skew, alongside the HTC U Play phone. The HTC U11 is the effective successor to that handset, as well as the rather more obvious descendant of HTC’s previous numerical-suffixed phones such as the HTC10 and HTC One M9.
Sitting in the U family of phones, the HTC U11 shares the same “liquid design” visual style as previous handsets in the family, with a range of colour designs. It’s not clear if we’ll see the new red and silver finishes in Australian HTC U11 handsets, but they’re certainly quite striking.
Equally striking is the HTC U11’s standout feature, which is that the lower sides of the phone are capable of being squeezed, a feature HTC calls Edge Sense. This isn’t just a matter of durability, however. Sensors in the sides read the intensity of the squeeze action, and depending on press duration, different actions can be launched. As an example, you could set a short squeeze to quickly launch the camera, while a long squeeze might invoke the inbuilt Google Assistant. At launch HTC is keeping the range of actions relatively small, but it states that it will open up an SDK for developers to work out new squeeze actions later in the year.
Is the HTC U11 powerful?
The HTC U11 utilises Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM and, for the local models, 64GB of onboard storage, upgradeable via microSD. That’s a potent enough combination, albeit one that we’re yet to officially see in any phone in Australia at the time of writing. Samsung has produced its Samsung Galaxy S8 with the Snapdragon 835, but here in Australia we saw the Exynos 8995 variant instead. It’ll be interesting to see how the two flagships compare once we’ve had the ability to properly compare them head to head in real world tests, but there’s little doubt that the HTC U11 will be a powerful phone.
Does the HTC U11 have a good camera?
HTC has some very solid form in the camera space in recent years, generally producing premium phones with cameras that have either been good, such as the HTC10 or great, such as the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.
Expectations are thus high for the HTC U11’s camera array. On the rear sits a single lens, 12MP, 1.4um, f/1.7 camera that HTC states is particularly good for rapid focus shots. For fans of selfies, the HTC U11 features a 16MP sensor with a 150 degree field of vision for ultra-wide selfie shots, as well as a lower resolution “ultrapixel” mode that swaps resolution for low-light accuracy.
How do I charge the HTC U11?
Like the majority of premium phones released this year, HTC has opted for the newer USB C standard for charging. USB C uses a plug that is shaped identically on both sides, so there’s no “wrong” way to plug it in, although it does mean you won’t be able to use older microUSB chargers without an adaptor onboard.
The HTC U11 will come with a 3,000mAh battery, which is about average for a phone of its size. We’ll have to wait until we can fully test the HTC U11’s performance to see how well that battery stands up to heavy usage.
Like the HTC U Ultra, there’s no 3.5mm audio jack on the HTC U11, which means that the USB C port also does double duty as the audio output source. HTC will provide both a 3.5mm to USB C audio cable with inbuilt DAC for regular headphones and a pair of active noise cancelling headphones in the HTC U11’s box.
Is the HTC U11 water resistant?
The HTC U11 is water resistant with an IP67 rating, which means it should be fine for immersion in water up to 1 metre for up to 30 minutes. That is, as always, a fresh water test rather than one in sea or chlorinated pool water, but there’s certainly some scope for underwater photography with the HTC U11 given that squeeze-to-shoot functionality.
When will the HTC U11 be available in Australia?
HTC hasn’t officially announced availability for the HTC U11 in Australia, but given the current rush to market of high-end premium phones, we’d be very surprised if it hasn’t launched here before the end of June 2017.
How much does the HTC U11 cost?
HTC has opted for a very aggressive pricing strategy for the HTC U11, at least in outright terms. When it goes on sale in Australia, it will be priced at $999 outright, meaning that it's undercutting its premium competition by quite a significant margin.
HTC U11: Review
HTC's U11 offered an interesting mix of features and performance when we took it through our review process:
"HTC's U11 is an exceptional phone, and a very serious challenger for best phone of 2017."
HTC U11 Specifications
153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm