HTC is shaking up how you interact with your smartphone with the launch of its new squeezable HTC U11 flagship on Tuesday.
The glass-cased device comes with a new feature called Edge Sense, which allows users to apply pressure to the sides of the phone to quickly launch various applications like the talk-to-text, email, camera, or virtual assistant functions. HTC said the feature is customizable – both in terms of what function is launched and how much pressure needs to be applied to launch it. The company noted even squeeze duration, either a short press or squeeze and hold, can be specified to add more functionality.
Unlike other touch screen functions that require an actual finger on the display, HTC said Edge Sense is dependent only on the pressure applied. That, the company said, means you can use the feature while wearing gloves or in inclement weather situations.
HTC is also adding new virtual assistant functionality to the U11 with the incorporation of Amazon’s Alexa. While Huawei introduced support for Alexa via an app on its Mate 9 device earlier this year, HTC said Alexa will come already baked into the U11.
Alexa will be one of three AI brains included in the device alongside HTC’s own Sense Companion and Google Assistant. The full extent of Alexa’s capabilities is unclear, but HTC indicated users will be able to control smart home products, ask for news, weather, and music, and utilize some of the other 12,000 tools available in the Alexa skill store. The Alexa voice service will be available to customers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, the company said.
Speaking of U.S. customers, HTC said it has partnered with Sprint as its exclusive stateside launch partner. That means the U11 will come with Sprint’s new HPUE technology enabled – making it the fourth such device in Sprint’s lineup.
Some other key specs to know before you buy include the U11’s water resistant body and lack of a headphone jack. The device comes with a 5.5-inch display, liquid-finish glass body, 64 Gb of storage, a 16 mp front camera, 12 mp main camera, a 3,000 mAh battery, fingerprint sensor, and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology. The U11 also runs Android 7.1 on a Snapdragon 835 processor.
Sprint will reportedly offer the HTC U11 in Sapphire Blue and Brilliant Black on presale starting today. The device will hit Sprint retail stores on June 9. The U11 will run Sprint customers $0 down and $29 per month for 24 months (or $696 retail). The carrier is throwing in two Amazon Echo Dots with U11 preorders for a limited time.
For those not on Team Yellow, an unlocked version of the HTC U11 in Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, and Amazing Silver will be available for presale beginning today at htc.com and amazon.com, shipping in June.