HTC HAS had many firsts in its 20-year history. It made the first Android phone, the first 4G-enabled phone in the US, a slew of the first Windows Phone handsets and so on.
Its latest model is called the HTC U11.
It’s certainly innovative. First of all, it’s squeezable. Pressure sensors on the long edges of the phone, bottom half only, respond when you squeeze the handset. HTC claims that this will work even if the phone is clad in the transparent protective case which comes supplied.
The squeeze effect also works if you have gloves on or if the phone is underwater. The phone has water resistance to IP67 rating.
So, why squeeze? Well, there are a lot of different functions, such as launching apps or triggering the shutter for a selfie. A quick squeeze will switch from front to rear camera while a longer squeeze takes repeated photos.
It also works to turn on the flashlight or launch Google Assistant. If you’re texting, a squeeze launches the microphone so you can dictate your words.
There are other functions, with more coming in July when HTC releases an app called Edge Sense which will let users configure apps as they wish. So, for instance, when you’ve launched Google Maps and you can’t quite see what you want to, a squeeze will zoom right in.
Other features include Amazon’s Alexa app built in and multiple microphones designed to make audio recording more immersive when shooting video. The front camera is wide-angle and 16-megapixel resolution.
The phone is also the first to come with noise-cancelling headphones in the box. Like the iPhone 7, there’s no headphone socket on the HTC so these connect through the USB-C socket. But HTC has also included an adaptor with built-in DAC so you can still plug in regular headphones.
It comes in five colours including Sapphire Blue, Amazing Silver, Brilliant Black and Ice White. Later in the year there will be a Solar Red version.
The phone has a large 5.5-inch screen, the same size as on the iPhone 7 Plus. HTC is promising strong battery life and quick charge – a day’s life from a half-hour charge.
The phone goes on sale next month for £649 (€761)