HTC’s new gimmick is a phone you can squeeze

by Haadi Bakar
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HTC isn’t afraid to take risks. A lot of its ideas, such as all-metal design, dual-lens cameras and front-facing speakers, are used in most high-end smartphones these days.

Now its new flagship, the HTC U11, has a whole new gimmick ready for other phone makers to copy: you can control the phone by squeezing it.

For this trick, HTC puts pressure sensors on the sides of the smartphone, providing two extra functions for the user. Depending on the pressure, you can trigger two types of actions which are programmable.

For instance, you can squeeze the phone lightly to launch apps, or squeeze harder to take pictures.

HTC’s calling this Edge Sense. Is it a novel idea? We’ll have to wait and see, but judging from the demos, this feature could prove useful for plus-sized phones.

It’s another way of getting around the HTC U11’s large 5.5-inch screen with one hand.

Large phones aren’t going away just yet, even though Samsung is pushing for bezel-less screens to help shed the size of its phones, so HTC’s Edge Sense could be a runaway success where Reachability on the iPhone has failed.

The U11 is HTC’s flagship for 2017, replacing last year’s HTC 10. It ditched all-metal for a ‘Liquid Surface’ design. Essentially it’s Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back, while the edges are rimmed with metal.

HTC also ditched the headphone jack on the U11, though ironically the phone is Hi-Res Audio certified, and the bundled headphone adapter doubles as a DAC. The bundled Sonic U headphones (which connects via USB-C) has active noise-cancelling too.

The U11 comes in an assortment of colours: Solar Red, Amazing Silver, Brilliant Black, Ice White and Sapphire Blue.

Here are the U11’s specs rundown:

  • QHD 5.5-inch LCD 5 display, 18:9 aspect ratio
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of Storage
  • Expandable via MicroSD
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • 12 UltraPixel 3 rear camera
  • 16 megapixel front facing camera
  • IP67 Water and Dust Resistant
  • Quick Charge 3.0

Personally I think HTC made really good phones during its better days. The award-winning HTC One was one of the best phones I’ve used.

The Taiwanese phone maker just didn’t have Samsung’s massive marketing budget, and in later years cheaper Chinese brands have put a squeeze on the company long before it introduced the ‘squeeze’ gimmick on the U11.

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