HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition

Earlier this year, HTC said “out with the old, in with the new,” as the company stepped away from some of its established smartphone branding, and introduced the new U series with the U Play and U Ultra. Sleek and shiny, the glass-enclosed handsets resembled little of the metallic unibody look of One-series phones. While this new direction for HTC’s lineup was interesting, it also felt a bit lacking: in the U Play we had a new mid-ranger, and the U Ultra served to satisfy that phablet itch, but neither felt like a traditional flagship; would we ever get a proper follow-up to the HTC 10? Well, a little patience was all we needed, and now a few months down the line it’s finally time to meet the king of the new HTC U clan, as the manufacturer introduces the high-end HTC 11.



HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition
HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition
HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition
HTC U 11 hands-on: putting the squeeze on its competition

Just like the U Play and U Ultra, the look of the U 11 is done with utilitarian metal design and instead embraces a look that’s flowing, colorful, and almost natural-looking. The dominant design element here is the phone’s rear panel, whose expansive glass construction brings smooth lines and subtle hues to the U 11.

HTC plans to sell the phone in five main colors: ice white, brilliant black, solar red, sapphire blue, and amazing silver – which we wouldn’t blame you for identifying as “light blue.” In fact, the way that hints of blue peek through the silver there may be most prominent with that color option, but this way of blending colors and having them play off each other is present in all those other looks as well: the white shows hints of red at just the right angle, the black hides flashes of green, the red shines with golden yellow, and you’ll even catch a little purple mixed in with the blue.

The blue, black and silver will all be available when the U 11 hits the US, while the white and red are going to remain international-only for the time being (which is a shame, because the white is one of the more impressive of the phone’s color options).

As for the overall build, the U 11 features components of some exacting tolerances, fitting together, if not quite seamlessly, then with seams that nearly blend away under your fingertips. Those tight fits help the U 11 deliver IP 67 dust and water resistance.


Apple Dominates Tablet Sales amid Market Decline


Apple’s iPad series of tablets has been tumbling in terms of sales over multiple quarters and it is increasingly looking like the product is dying. However, the iPads decline is mostly mirroring an overall slip in the tablet market at a whole, and this is evidenced by the fact that the iPad remains the best-selling slate.


There is also the small matter of the iPad Pro line and enterprise continuing the iPad legacy far beyond the consumer space, but in terms of bottom line the range is declining at a worrying (PC like) pace. The tablet sector as a whole is following suit, according to IDC. Overall shipments for tablets through the first quarter stood at 39.6 million units overall, or which Apple?s iPad range accounted for 10.2 million units. The market as a whole saw a 14.7% decline from 46.4 million unit sales through Q1 in 2014, showing the sector is really starting to slow down. While Apple lost some market share, it was not enough to suggest the company is declining any more quickly that other companies. The company had a market share of 25.9% through Q1, compared to 27.2% during the same period in 2015, which mostly sticks close to rival companies. Indeed, Apple’s big rival Samsung saw an even bigger decline, shipping 6 million, and a sizeable 28.1% slip that left it with a 15.2% market share.

Next on the list is Amazon with 5.7%, followed by Lenovo with 5.5%, and Huawei with 2.4%. Indeed Huawei was the big winner with an 82.2% increase in sales. Speaking of winners, Microsoft’s Surface range has been a slow burner for the company, but consumers are finally warming to the range and the detachable tablet/laptop hybrid market as a whole. While Microsoft has seen Surface sales finally take off, the company still missed out to Apple as the top company in the detachable market. Of course, Cupertino entered the market late with last year’s iPad Pro, but already it has become the number one selling tablet with a detachable QWERTY keyboard.
“Microsoft arguably created the market for detachable tablets with the launch of their Surface line of products. With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachable. Apple’s recent foray into this segment has garnered them an impressive lead in the short term, although continued long-term success may prove challenging as a higher entry price point staves off consumers and iOS has yet to prove its enterprise-readiness, leaving plenty of room for Microsoft and their hardware partners to reestablish themselves.”-Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst, IDC

Benchmarks show the HTC U 11 has performance to be proud of


The HTC U 11 is the next flagship phone we’ve got our eyes on, and going by some freshly posted benchmarks on Geekbench, this is going to be a handset to be reckoned with when it finally gets unveiled to the wider world on May 16.

A device going by the name HTC CBP has logged scores of 1912 for single-core performance and 6137 for multi-core – that puts it on a more-or-less-equal footing with the flagship S8 and S8 Plus launched by Samsung this year.

The benchmark details also point to a Snapdragon 835 CPU from Qualcomm, 4GB of RAM, and Android Nougat 7.1.1, which all lines up pretty neatly with what we’ve been hearing so far about the upcoming handset. It certainly shouldn’t let you down with even the most demanding of mobile tasks.

Squeeze control

As teased by HTC itself, the HTC U 11 will come with some kind of “squeeze” control, where you grip the sides of the device to make selections or scroll through menus. We’re also expecting some significant audio hardware to be built in.

Other rumors doing the rounds point to a 5.5-inch screen and maybe even a secondary display (as seen on the HTC U Ultra from earlier this year), though these details aren’t logged in the Geekbench  scores.

What’s certain is that HTC is going to have to pull something pretty spectacular out of the bag to keep up with the Apples and the Samsungs of this world. All will be revealed at 7am UK time (2am East Coast for the US) on May 16, and we’ll bring you full details.