HTC U11 goes official with squeezable frame, Alexa, highest rated mobile camera ever

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Following plenty of leaks and rumors that have been circulating throughout the tech world for the past few months, HTC has finally taken the wraps off of its latest flagship smartphone for 2017 — the HTC U11. The U11 looks an awful lot like a smaller version of the U Ultra that HTC just released this past March, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a few big features that really make the phone stand out.

A phone that you can squeeze

The feature that HTC is marketing and push the most with the U11 is called “Edge Sense.” HTC is describing Edge Sense as, “a new age of phone interactions”, and it allows you to squeeze the sides of the U11 to perform various actions on the phone (e.g. open an app, take a photo, prompt the Google Assistant, etc.)

When you squeeze the U11, pressure sensors throughout the sides of the phone will recognize the force and then open up whatever app or service you’ve assigned. You can fully customize Edge Sense to do pretty much whatever you’d like, and while we have to give HTC credit for trying something new, this is likely going to be one of those features that is easy for salespeople to market when trying to sell the U11, but one you’re going to quickly forget about after owning the handset for a couple of weeks.



Google Assistant, meet Alexa

One feature that came as somewhat of a surprise was the announcement that the HTC U11 will come equipped with Amazon Alexa built natively into the phone. Alexa is the virtual assistant made famous by Amazon’s Echo lineup of smart speakers, and from what we’ve seen so far, it’ll be built right into the operating system of the U11 the way that Google Assistant is with most Android handsets.

For fans of Amazon’s rock-solid AI, this is actually pretty cool. The only other big Android smartphone that features some sort of tight-nit integration with Alexa is the Huawei Mate 9, and that’s a phone that most people will never touch. The U11 is going to be sold through both Sprint and Verizon, and that means that it’s going to get in front of a lot more people’s eyes than the Mate 9 ever will.

The ability to squeeze your phone and have it perform certain actions is cool and all, but for people that are invested into Amazon’s ecosystem and use their Echo on a daily basis, having Alexa built natively into the U11 could be an even bigger selling point. Virtual assistants need to be native and built directly into the OS in order to be truly functional (something we recently talked about on MCOJ Daily), and if Alexa is just as easy to prompt as the Google Assistant on the HTC U11, we could be looking at a phone that a lot of diehard Amazon customers will immediately flock to.

A smartphone camera that outshines the Pixel

Google talked a big game last year when the Pixel was acclaimed to be the highest rated smartphone camera ever by DxOMark. DxOMark gave both the Pixel and Pixel XL a score of 89, and while that was the highest number a smartphone camera had ever been given at the time, the U11 is now the king to beat with a new high score of 90.

The main camera sensor for the U11 is a 12MP one, but it’s also using HTC’s UltraPixel 3 technology with 1.4μm pixels. This is also backed up with optical image stabilization and an f/1.7 aperture, and what this should all essentially translate to is fantastic low-light performance.

Along with this, you’ve also got your standard affair of 4K video recording, slow motion video, the ability to shoot photos in HDR and RAW, and a lot more. The camera package on the U11 looks to be quite impressive, and we can’t wait to test out everything HTC is bringing to the table here when it comes time for our full review.

Pricing and availability

Unlike the U Ultra that HTC only sells directly through its website, the U11 will be much easier to get your hands on. In addition to selling an unlocked model for use on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s networks and Sprint will carry the handset as well.

Pricing is set at $649 with 64GB of built-in storage, and while that’s certainly not the cheapest handset around, it’s still a $100 less than the U Ultra. Factor everything we’ve already mentioned with a stunning glass and metal design, a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, and the latest and greatest mobile processor around (the Snapdragon 835), and HTC just might have the smartphone it needs to return to the glory it once bathed in.

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Press Release

TAIPEI – May 16, 2017 – You affectionately squeeze the hand of the one you love. A baby intuitively squeezes her mother’s finger. A child squeezes his teddy bear to feel safe at night. Nothing feels as close, connected and personal as the sensation of touch or the warmth of an embrace. And no device is as personal in our lives as our smartphone.

Inspired by the power of touch and the Brilliant U, HTC today unveiled HTC U11, the world’s first smartphone with revolutionary new squeeze interaction. Made for “U” with design, materials, and experiences that reflect your inner drive, passion, creativity, and individuality, HTC U11 offers the most advanced features ever in a smartphone, including:

• HTC Edge Sense, the next dimension in touch interaction with your phone.

• Liquid Surface, a stunning, unique design that reflects you.

• HTC USonic, our most advanced headset ever built for personal audio, now including Active Noise Cancellation.

• Amazing cameras with the highest independent rating ever awarded to a smartphone camera.

• HTC Sense Companion, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa for a smarter, more helpful smartphone.

U touch

• Few things are as natural and intuitive as the sense of touch. HTC Edge Sense transforms this fundamental sense into a completely new and revolutionary interaction with your phone. With a simple squeeze, HTC Edge Sense lets you easily engage with your phone in an unprecedented yet intuitive way, helping you more naturally enjoy the things you love like taking photos, opening Facebook, or launching any of your favorite apps.

• For example, with HTC Edge Sense, launching your camera has never been easier. No more fumbling for buttons or awkward hand positions. No more worrying about dropping your phone while you pose. Just lift, squeeze, smile, and snap. • You can also send texts faster and easier than before. Texting can be impossible when you are on the move, but using HTC Edge Sense for Voice to Text, you can speak your text messages without having to slow down. Lightly squeeze, speak your message and send your texts on the go.

• You can even customize the squeeze gesture: open email with just a squeeze. Or launch your favorite game (or any other app). Or pick any one of a host of options. Want even more touch control? HTC Edge Sense gives you the ability to activate advanced touch and use a “short squeeze” as well as a “squeeze and hold” for even more functionality at your fingertips.

• And because Edge Sense is based on actual pressure applied to the side of the device, it can be used in nearly any condition – including while wearing gloves or in weather such as snow or rain that would normally be a challenge with capacitive buttons.

Reflects U

• HTC U11’s liquid glass surface is crafted to impress using Optical Spectrum Hybrid Deposition. By layering highly-refractive precious minerals across the phone’s back cover, we’ve created vivid new colors that transforms light with every movement you make.

• The new seamless, curved look of HTC U11 is achieved with 3D glass on both front and back. Heating and then bending the glass using extreme pressure results in unique, 3-axis symmetry for a phone that is slim no matter which way you hold it.

• HTC U11 has a 5.5” Quad HD 3D glass screen designed for vivid, crisp images and text in any light – even direct sunlight. With our best display and true-to-life color reproduction, we provide you a purer full-framed viewing experience. Our display avoids the cropped pictures or distorted colors at the edge that are the results you can expect from a curved screen.

• Plus, HTC U11 is water-resistant3, so no need to worry about splashes, spills, or dunks.

Tuned to U

• HTC U11 introduces the latest version of HTC USonic, which now combines Active Noise Cancellation with the ability to tune audio to your unique hearing. By leveraging built-in microphones on the headset and USB-C data connectivity, USonic earbuds map your inner ear with an advanced sonar-like technology and then adapt the sound profile to your unique biology. This creates an incredibly personal and optimized listening experience with vibrant audio shaped specifically for you.

• USonic now incorporates Active Noise Cancellation, which reduces disruptions and distractions around you, so you can stay focused on your music. Active Noise Cancellation continuously monitors environmental sound levels, and quickly adjusts to any new noises or disturbances. You’re free to stay focused on your music, videos, or games.

• HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition speakers got an upgrade, too. We’ve improved the speaker design to deliver more loudness and better Dynamic Range Audio. On top, the tweeter now offers an acoustic chamber that allows the highs and mids to sound richer. While below, the woofer sports a new speaker and improved magnetic circuit design for louder, clearer and deeper bass tones. You really have to hear it to believe the power of BoomSound.

• We didn’t forget to upgrade the microphones, either, using four optimally positioned omnidirectional microphones together with our new Acoustic Focus technology, HTC brings you our best 3D audio recording quality yet. HTC U11’s microphones work together to record audio from all directions, and when shooting video with Acoustic Focus, you can visually zoom in to target your subject and amplify their specific sounds.

• Out of the box, we will also ship an HTC USB-C to 3.5mm adapter with a built-in DAC that offers great audio performance and wide compatibility with all other devices and earphones.

Pictures that move U

• HTC U11 has achieved the highest ever rating for a smartphone camera for both photo and video by independent metric DxOMark4. Our multi-axis optical stabilization system and super-fast autofocus in all lighting conditions make the camera quick, your pictures sharp, and videos smooth. We improved our camera and video for a more dynamic exposure range with HDR Boost without the lag, new white balance enhancement, a major reduction in noise, and excellent detail preservation.

• HTC U11 introduces Auto HDR Boost to give you all the benefits of HDR without the lag. HDR Boost offers clearer, more balanced pictures by taking multiple shots that measure the darkest shadows and brightest highlights without any slowdown. HTC U11 enhances textures and colors, increases visible detail and brings out the best in every shot. When shooting video, Temporal Noise Reduction automatically uses information from the previous and next frames to remove unwanted noise and deliver the clearest video.

• Great news for serious photographers: HTC U11 incorporates the new UltraSpeed AutoFocus with same full sensor auto-focus technology that’s found in top DSLR cameras, so you can enjoy significantly faster focus speeds, with snappy and delightful performance. In addition, HTC U11’s exceptional optical and electronic stabilization system will keep your photos and video steady and crisp even when your hand is shaking.

• The new front camera now combines high-resolution 16MP detail and our UltraPixel light sensitivity for brilliant selfies day or night. It also utilizes the same powerful HDR Boost and noise reduction as the main camera.

The smarter digital companion for U

• Three brains are better than one, so inside HTC U11 you can find three intelligent companions devoted to you: HTC Sense Companion, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.

• We’ve made HTC Sense Companion smarter than ever: it will get to know you and your daily patterns over time in order to offer you more convenience every day. For example, HTC Sense Companion is smart enough to notice if you have any late appointments that day and will remind you to recharge while you have time or bring a power bank. It will make sure your phone is running at its optimum speed by suggesting to clear junk files and unused apps for more free space. It will let you know if you need to dress for inclement weather conditions, track your fitness progress relative to your goals, recommend great nearby restaurants at mealtime, and much more.

• HTC U11 runs the latest version of Android, so it also includes Google Assistant, the helpful personal assistant powered by Google search and services for finding directions, getting answers, managing your tasks, planning your day, and entertainment.

• HTC U11 is also the first smartphone on the market to feature hands-free wake word access to Amazon Alexa. By simply asking questions such as “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” or saying things like, “Alexa, turn on my living room lights,” Alexa will respond to your needs anywhere you go, making it easy to control smart home products, ask for news, weather, music, and the 12,000-plus skills in the Alexa skills store. The Alexa voice service is currently available to customers in the United States, U.K., and Germany.

Powerful U

• HTC U11 is the first smartphone to be commercially released worldwide that is exclusively powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform. So no matter what region of the world you live in, you get an octa-core processor with breakthrough speeds, jaw-dropping graphics, impressively smooth performance and outstanding battery life. Every HTC U11 also includes UFS 2.1 for an extremely fast processor paired with the fastest memory performance. Experience Gigabit Class LTE (up to 1Gbps) with the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which is designed to deliver fiber optic speeds on the go for lightning-fast music and video downloads and to get almost instant access to the web, social media sites or your content in the cloud. You get 25% faster graphics than the HTC 10, with 35% or 3 hours more video playback, 30% or 8 hours more music playback and 43% or 3.5 hours longer web browsing time via a LTE network.

• Sprint is the exclusive carrier launch partner for HTC U11. Enjoy this powerful smartphone without limitations or worry about data overages with Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom7 for the best price for Unlimited among national U.S. carriers. Unlimited Freedom customers enjoy Unlimited Data, Talk and Text for $50/month for the first line, two lines for $40 month/line, four lines for $30 month/line and the fifth line is free. This includes HD streaming for video, music and gaming, and 10GB/month per line of mobile hotspot data, providing convenience and extra value. For more information, visit www.sprint.com/unlimited.

• HTC U11 is an HPUE-enabled (High Performance User Equipment) smartphone. HPUE makes the Sprint network experience even better with increased coverage, more capacity and faster speeds on capable devices. HPUE-enabled smartphones are designed to give customers a better overall experience for watching streaming videos and enjoying mobile gaming and other online apps and services. HPUE can extend Sprint’s existing 2.5GHz coverage by up to 30 percent to nearly match its mid-band 1.9GHz spectrum performance, including indoors where the majority of wireless traffic is generated. Sprint has more spectrum than any other carrier across the United States, allowing Sprint to keep adding the capacity and speed needed to serve customers’ increasing demand for unlimited data.

• A blazing fast processor with amazing camera and incredible HTC USonic sound means you’ll want a lot of storage for apps, games, photos, music, and entertainment: HTC U11 offers 4GB RAM/64GB storage and 6GB RAM/128GB storage options, so fun on your phone is always available.

• HTC U11 also offers a fingerprint reader for enhanced privacy and security. Requiring just a few minutes to set up, the fingerprint reader will unlock your phone with the press of your finger – making it faster and easier to jot the note, capture the photo, or do anything you want with your phone on a moment’s notice.

The HTC U11 in Sapphire Blue and Brilliant Black will be available for presale beginning today at sprint.com, 1-800-SPRINT1 and in Sprint retail stores beginning on June 9 for $0 down and $29.00 US per month for 24 months (SRP: $696)8. And for a limited time, pre-order HTC U11 from Sprint and get two Amazon Echo Dots on us (SRP: $99.98).

Additionally, an unlocked version in Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, and Amazing Silver will be available for presale beginning today at htc.com and amazon.com, shipping in June. Please see sprint.com, htc.com, or amazon.com for detailed specifications and more information.