We may have a game changer on our hands as HTC introduce the U11 and it's new Edge sense techology.
The changes in smartphone technology over the last few years have been small, incremental changes that always improve the phone but aren’t a radical departure from the normal parameters. Until now, HTC’s new Edge sense technology may well be a breakthrough in the way we use the phone or as some are saying simply a gimmick.
So what is Edge sense? Edge sense makes the sides of the phone pressure sensitive which allows you to physically squeeze the phone to activate a specific function or open an app like the camera or web browser. The phone is equipped with pressure sensors embedded in the lower half of its frame and let you launch apps from the lockscreen with a short or long squeeze and perform actions within those apps, again with a short or long squeeze. Having to squeeze your phone to make it do something does sound weird because it is something we’ve never had to do before, but it won’t take you long to fall in love with the technology. It certainly speeds up some processes. Will others follow in their wake? I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting innovation and one worth pursuing. Like all new ideas, there will always be people who dismiss it, but I can see the technology developing over time to make our smartphones more responsive.
Putting this innovation to one side let’s look at the rest of the phone. Looks wise it’s fantastic. The 2 tone liquid glass surface with its mirror like finish is amazing, but that’s before you put your hands on it. Fingerprint marks certainly detract from the look and as you have to squeeze the phone to carry out some functions it’s pretty hard to avoid them. That said, it’s still a nice looking design and HTC do include a clear gel case in the box when purchasing it.
It has a 5.5” display which is easier and more comfortable to hold. The phone has moved to a USE type C port following its rivals but unlike them they helpfully include a 3.5mm jack to USB-C adapter in the box, a nice touch.
I love my music and the HTC U11 certainly delivers. The sound quality is excellent and they helpfully include USonic earbuds with noise cancellation in the box. Again, a really nice touch and a vast improvement of their rivals after thought for the listening experience.
It has a 3,000 mAh unit which isn’t the biggest battery we’ve seen on a smartphone, but it has comfortably lasted an entire day with a consistent screen-on time of five hours.
The camera quality has been really pushed in the marketing with the U11 receiving the highest DxOMark score ever for a smartphone. Whilst I’m not sure how accurate the scoring is, it certainly is an excellent camera. Photos are packed with detail, colour reproduction is excellent, and as everything is taken in HDR automatically, it certainly produces some stunning photos.
The coolest camera feature is the new acoustic focus feature which leverages the four microphones on the U11 to record 360-degree or 3D audio. When you zoom in on a subject, the audio will get louder or more amplified. It’s a very neat effect and simulates the act of you physically getting closer to a concert stage, a person playing an instrument, or whatever else the audio source may be.
To top it all off the U11 is rated to IP67 and has a octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, making it one of the fastest phones around when moving from function to function.
Overall, this is an excellent phone. Price wise it’s very similar to the Samsung S8 which may be its downfall, as the marketing budget of Samsung dwarfs HTC’s and therefore you can’t just differentiate on quality and hope that brings you market share. You have to be better and reasonably cheaper in the flagship market to get past the noise of Apple or Samsung.
That said with a superb camera, decent battery life, great looks, wonderful performance, excellent sound, good storage and the new edge sense technology this is a great phone and definitely should be considered if looking for your next android phone.