Smartphones have evolved to be controlled by touch. With its latest flagship device, HTC is taking this a step further by allowing the phone to be operated with a squeeze.
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The Taiwanese firm has launched the HTC U11 with a feature dubbed Edge Sense. It says by giving the 5.5-inch phone a “squeeze”, it’s possible to use the phone’s apps, camera, and more. The squeeze function, which works on the edges of the device, operates in two ways. Pressure sensors on the phone are located below the volume buttons on the sides of the device. A short squeeze can be configured to open an app, while a long squeeze can launch Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.
We’ve yet to see the squeeze function in action but HTC is promising a wide range of customisation from the new phone interaction. Its promotional materials, published around the phone’s launch, say it is possible to take photos with the 12MP rear camera and 16MP front camera; launch a text message with a squeeze, and use the phone’s voice recognition to send messages. “Before, it was a hassle to reach these features, but we simplified it into a single motion,” HTC says.
Setting aside this apparent time-saving gimmick, the HTC U11 is being launched in five colours and measures 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm, making it around 5mm shorter than the iPhone 7 Plus and 6mm shorter than the Samsung Galaxy 8 Plus. Four of the HTC’s colours – silver, blue, black and white – will be available in the UK when the phone launches in June and the red variation will come later this year. The HTC U11 will go on sale for £649 at launch from Carphone Warehouse, EE, O2, Amazon, Very.co.uk, Argos and the Taiwanese company itself.
Inside the smartphone is a 3000mAh battery, 64/128GB of storage, a Snapdragon 835 processor (up to 2.45 Ghz), and 4/6GB of RAM, depending on the specifications you select. There’s also the usual array of NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi support as well as a fingerprint sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, magnetic sensor, and gyroscope.
Four microphones built into the device are used for audio recording and a ‘liquid glass surface’ makes the silver HTC U11, at least from pictures, to be one of the shiniest, most reflective phones on the market.
At its launch, the device will run Android 7.1, the latest version of the Google-owned operating system. The version of Nougat has support for Google’s Daydream VR and circular Android icons.
HTC also claims the U11 is the first smartphone to be able to use a “hands-free wake word” to access Amazon’s AI assistant, Alexa. The ‘always-on’ voice commands allow the phone to be listening for the trigger word which then launches the digital assistant when called upon. Google and Apple both have similar features with their ‘Okay, Google’ and ‘Hey Siri’ commands.