After most of its all-star design team went over to Google, it seemed like the end was near for HTC’s mobile business. But here we are almost half way into 2018, and HTC has introduced an intriguing device. While the company’s place in the market is still uncertain, HTC appears to be suffering few ill effects after its major shuffle.
On Wednesday, HTC unveiled a brand new flagship—you may have seen it leaked—known as the U12 Plus. The company claims its new device is “bigger, bolder, and edgier than ever,” with an expansive 6-inch Quad HD+ LCD display (2880 x 1440), Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 3,500mAh battery. These are the kind of specs you’d expect from a flagship phone in 2018.
Where the U12 Plus stands out is with its numerous features. Similar to the U11—and later implemented in the Pixel 2—HTC’s device comes with Edge Sense technology, which has been upgraded to support even more interactions. Consequently, expect Google to (hopefully) piggyback off the U12 Plus’ ideas later this fall.
With Edge Sense 2.0, the U12 Plus supports squeeze functionality, double tap, and hold, and it also recognizes which hand you’re using. Each new interaction can perform multiple actions; squeeze the device to launch Google Assistant, take a photo, or bring up HTC’s Edge Launcher. Double Tap can be used as a back button or to adjust the display for easier one-handed use.
Edge Sense can also use be customized to launch apps downloaded in Google Play. For example, users can squeeze their device to open Instagram or to call up Amazon’s Alexa. Edge Sense makes the U12 Plus infinitely more flexible compared to something like the Pixel 2, which supports squeeze functionality but only to interact with Google Assistant.
Another way the U12 Plus stands out is in its design. It doesn’t sport a display notch, unlike many of its competitors, and it features a beautiful “liquid surface” design, which showcases an all-glass build, dual-camera setup, rear-facing fingerprint sensor, and a screen that spans to the very edge of the device.
HTC is also introducing the device in a sophisticated translucent blue, which allows users to view some of the phone’s internal components. It will also come in a stealthy black and a stylish red, rounding out a trio of gorgeous options.
One thing we noticed during our short time with the U12 Plus is how nice the size feels compared to last year’s U11. HTC seems to have hit that sweet spot of size and comfortability, making the U12 Plus feel incredibly premium and fun to use.
On the camera front, HTC has equipped the U12 Plus with one 12MP wide-angle sensor with f/1.7 and a 16MP telephoto sensor with f/2.6. Both combine for what has been rated by DxOMark as the best dual-camera smartphone in the industry with a score of 103.
Some of the camera’s features include ultra speed autofocus, HDR boost, 2x optical zoom (10x digital), AR stickers, a myriad of pro settings, and portrait mode support, which offers HTC’s “most natural, artistic and captivating software background effect yet.” The HTC U11 had a fantastic camera, and we’re hopeful the U12 Plus’ is even better.
One staple of HTC phone is BoomSound, which now comes with a separate woofer and tweeter design to deliver the best possible audio quality. Users will also get USonic noise cancelling earbuds, along with Qualcomm aptX HD, which is designed to support 24-bit Bluetooth audio.
Further exploring the design, the U12 Plus features up to 128GB of expandable storage, face unlock, Android 8.0, IP68 water and dust resistance, and Quick Charge 3.0 support. Unfortunately, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack or wireless charging, and HTC has yet to reveal plans for carrier support.
The U12 Plus is available to preorder today from HTC and Amazon in the U.S. Consumers can find it in translucent blue for $799 (64GB) and $849 (128GB); the 64GB version in black will also be available for $799.